J. W. Zulauf

J.W. Zulauf

Joseph Wade Zulauf III (born October 7, 1984) is an American author of fiction, horror, fantasy, literary fiction, children’s literature, and poetry. He is the author of the chapter book series, The Balderdash Saga and Kingdom in Chains. His writing style is clean and concise but often found with dark undertones.

Zulauf has received numerous awards, including the Marjorie Flack Award for Fiction. His novel The Underground Princess (The Balderdash Saga, Book 1) received the Awesome Indies Approved badge, the Reader’s Favorite Finalist badge, and the Reader’s Favorite Five Star badge.

Early Life

J.W. Zulauf was born on October 7, 1984 in Truckee, California, the son of Janet and Joseph Zulauf Jr. He lived there for his first five years before moving across the country with his family to Maryland, where he spends his adult life with his wife and daughter.

Zulauf has referenced his struggle with school throughout his life until adulthood. He’d always had an interest in storytelling and books, though he didn’t read very often. In fact, it wasn’t until his father gave him a copy of The Stand by Stephen King that he decided to commit to writing. Up until that point, he claims he could barely read. “The Stand and Harry Potter pretty much saved my life,” he once said in an interview.


Zulauf took to horror right from the start, writing short stories laced with the macabre tones of King, Stine, and Burton. His style changed as he met teachers who helped push him in different directions. After writing about ten unpublished stories, he found one teacher in particular who pushed him toward literary fiction and poetry.

His first publication was a self-published short story titled, “Till Death Do Us Part,” through the online writing platform, Wattpad. The story was short and dark, centering on a man digging up his recently deceased wife. This was the first example of his early writing. You can find that story here.

He then won the Marjorie Flack Award for Fiction for a short story titled, “The Left Behind.” This, too, had dark undertones. It followed a couple’s journey and their reactions to finding a dead body in a cave in West Virginia. Amaranth, the same magazine that published “The Left Behind,” also published one of his poems, “Will.” The poem also focused on death. You can find the story in this blog post.

In October 2013, he’d sold his story, “For Halloween,” to Canadian magazine Inaccurate Realities. This story, written for the children’s market, follows a young boy who fought against creatures and parents to save Halloween. You can find that story, here.

Also in 2013, Zulauf co-created the adult horror series, Daylight Dims, an annual short story anthology. The first volume was co-edited by Zulauf and Kristopher Mallory. The second volume included the story “Special Delivery” from Zulauf. He also performed the role of narrator in the audio version of “Exploration of Room B,” a story by Aric Sundquist from Volume 1. You can find Volume 1, here, and Volume 2, here.

The Horror Writing Association purchased his poem “I am” for their Poetry Showcase: Volume 1, published in July of 2014. You can find that here.

On July 30, 2014, Zulauf signed with Evolved Publishing to write The Balderdash Saga. The series evolved into three main installments, plus a collection of short stories. Here he teamed up with illustrator Luke Spooner and editors Dave Lane and Deb Hartwell, creating the dream team that brought forth The Balderdash Saga.

You can find these stories here:

The Underground Princess – Book 1 of The Balderdash Saga

The Prince’s Plight – Book 2 of the Balderdash Saga

The Shaman’s Salvation – Book 3 of the Balderdash Saga

Roland the Pirate Knight – A Balderdash Saga Short Story

Hurlock the Warrior King – A Balderdash Saga Short Story

Scarlet the Kindhearted Princess – A Balderdash Saga Short Story

The Balderdash Saga – Special Edition (A Short Story Collection)

Most recently, he has finished his novel, Kingdom in Chains. This story is an Adventure/Fantasy (think Robin Hood meets Game of Thrones), and it’s intended for the older YA crowd through adult (ages 14+). Originally, this story was called Quest but changed as the story developed.

WIP (Work in Progress)


The Grimoire of Kuldaire – This new story will be illustrated by Luke Spooner and is a hybrid novel/comic. The left side of the book is text, while the right side has a comic style that reflects the text on the left. This will be a three part series.

Kingdom in Chains 2 – Not officially titled, but the project is in the works and should be seen by the end of 2018.

Untitled project code named: T7YS – This project is in the very early and secret stages. We should see more on this by the end of the year.

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