by Jay Wilburn
Mark Cusco Ailes is looking to conquer the literary and genre world with the help of his brother Derek. They blasted into my world as I was looking through the work of authors interested in this year’s Summer of Zombie tour. There was a lot of material to look through with both Ailes brothers together and apart.
Mark Ailes had the most titles to his name. As soon as I started combing through the material he had out, I knew that he was a writer that zombie fans, horror fans, and fans of great writing would want to know.
When Mark writes with Derek, it is a little bit of a different tone and style than a lot of the work I read from him individually. Both brothers excel at parody and pushing the lines as they send up various aspects of pop culture. With Derek, Mark writes more short stories and a number of horror stories that stray farther from zombies.
When he works by himself, Mark Ailes still produces great work, but it is a different tone and style than the co-written work. Mark still credits Derek with reading through Mark’s zombie work and giving suggestions. Whatever he does to produce his zombie stories, I think it is working well.
There is a certain edge to Mark’s work. It’s not that all his work is extreme horror. I just get the sense as a reader, that Mark is always reaching for something more in his writing. Stories like Zombie Park have a wild, broad premise, but there is also character and heart. None of the scenes in his story feel like filler or undeveloped. Everything is honed and sharp. It makes the zombie stories he creates something special for the genre.
He always wanted to be a writer of horror and zombies. For a number of years earlier in his career, he wrote a lot of fantasy. He was a reader of zombies stories, but felt that there were a lot of examples out there that were weak on story. They displayed the cruelty of the world and the gore of the zombies, but did not have the character work to make that stuff mean anything. As I read Mark’s stories, I can see where he always keeps that in mind as he is creating his stories, characters, and action.
With Zombie Park, he was surprised by the positive response. What was initially going to be a standalone novel grew to an offer to make it into a seven book series. Looking through the other books in the series, he has kept the great standards for stories through all his zombie work.
Mark and Derek both are active when it comes to getting their work in front of people. They are at signings, conventions, and appearances regularly putting their books in the hands of readers. They have long term goals of seeing their work on screen and are actively pursuing those options. Not all books would translate well to movies or TV, but having read the work from Mark and his brother, I could picture it from the stories they have created.
Mark appreciates good story telling. He enjoys a number of zombie writers that tell a good, balanced story. His goal is to produce stories which stay true at their core and entertain readers in the process. He thinks as long as writers in the genre stay true to that goal, then the zombie genre will only ever continue to grow. I think Mark Cusco Ailes is doing his part to see that happen.
I hope I have made the case for Mark Cusco Ailes. Read Zombie Park and see for yourself what he has to offer you as a reader.
And Zombie World is slated to come out this September 2016
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com