JM VanZuiden


JM VanZuiden was born and raised in northern Illinois in a small town on the Mississippi River. After two years attending a local community college, JM joined the US Army at age 21. After being stationed at Fort Hood, Texas for three years, he was deployed with the US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division to Iraq in 2004 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. His experiences as a combat soldier have greatly impacted not only his writing style, but his world view.

JM now resides in Springfield Illinois with his amazing wife of seventeen years and four children. He now works as a Veterans Service Officer, helping his fellow Veterans, and enjoys expressing himself through his writings, primarily horror and fantasy short stories.

Smashwords Interview

What motivated you to become an indie author?
After showing my wonderful wife, Ayla, the first five chapters, I was surprised by her response, being a very critical reader and having a dislike of fantasy fiction. Her reaction encouraged me to continue, and the idea began to form of publishing this work as a creative platform to provide regular people with insight into the mind of us damaged warriors.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Shadows of Illyria series began in a truly bizarre way. I am an Iraq War combat veteran and had begun receiving treatment for PTSD at the VA's Vet Center. One day, my Therapist suggested finding something I enjoy that I could do when I found myself dealing with the haunting memories of war. I have written for years and always found joy in doing so, especially as a means of expressing my thoughts more clearly. I combined these ideas into a project to express the feelings that myself and so many others experience both during the fight, and the lasting effects afterward. From this simple concept, I began writing the first novel and was amazed at how therapeutic it proved to be and how easily the story developed as I wrote, despite being a work of fiction and having never story-boarded any of it.
Read more of this interview.

Where to buy in print


Seven Ways
Price: Free! Words: 160. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2019. Categories: Poetry » Themes & motifs » Love
A simple poem in a classical rhyming style expressing the things I love most about my wife.
The Wretched
Price: Free! Words: 5,760. Language: English. Published: August 6, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead
In the near future, the remnants of civilization march toward their bitter end amid the ruined monuments of man's past glory, ever fearful of the Wretched, a plague upon humanity that has infected the one hope that had remained; the children.
Price: Free! Words: 2,680. Language: American English. Published: August 15, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Horror » General
Based on a fictionalized true story, this war horror/thriller takes place in the Al-Dora neighborhood of southern Baghdad, during the intense fighting in Iraq of 2004.
Shadows of Illyria: Draken Slayer
Price: Free! Words: 3,130. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
(5.00 from 1 review)
Draken Slayer is a dark fantasy fiction short story, part of the Shadows of Illyria Series. Written by author JM VanZuiden, the Shadows of Illyria Series is a unique twist on fantasy fiction, incorporating his real-world combat experience into the characters and events of an epic fantasy world.

Smashwords book reviews by JM VanZuiden

  • The Teithwyr on Aug. 19, 2017

    Great short...everything you want in a flash-fiction horror piece.