January 24, 2017
Kickstarter. Indiegogo. GoFundMe.
Worthwhile for independent publishers? I guess we’ll find out.
Smart Rhino Publications is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming ZIPPERED FLESH 3
anthology. We’ve lined up 14 writers so far, and we’d like to pay them pro rates—they deserve it. But it all comes down to the success of the campaign. It’s all or nothing with Kickstarter. Tricky. Suspenseful. Worthwhile? We certainly hope so.
Check out our campaign site, see what you think.
To help the campaign along, we’re providing great rewards for those folks who pledge in support. You can get a thumb drive containing e-versions of ZF3. Paperback books. A Smart Rhino mug. Books. A print of the cover art. Editing of a short story by yours truly. Did I mention books?
We even created a rather icky promo video for the campaign. (Not for the squeamish!)
And I also made a personal appeal for the Kickstarter.
So, what do you think? Does this interest you? Do you feel compelled to support ZIPPERED FLESH 3
and its writers?
We’re crossing our fingers …
January 16, 2017
Armand Rosamilia knows quite a bit about horror writing. His work has appeared in many publications, including his story, "Creeping Death," in the Smart Rhino anthology Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad!
He's also written a good many novels, including his Dying Days
series, Chelsea Avenue: A Supernatural Thriller, Middletown Apocalypse, Dirty Deeds
, and others. We were thrilled to have a chance to talk with Armand about one of his favorite topics--horror writing.
Zombies seem to be the rage, especially with the success of The Walking Dead TV series. You've written a good deal of zombie fiction, particularly in your Dying Days books. What do you think is the appeal?
It depends on the person. Some readers love zombie fiction because it is a mirror held up to society. Some think it foreshadows our future. Some think it is an analogy for the way the world is today, and is falling apart. For me, I just think zombies are really cool. I love reading about them and, as a kid, I loved watching zombie movies. So I can see the entertainment value of them first and foremost.
You're an incredibly prolific writer. Where do the creepy, often bizarre ideas come from?
I read a lot. Always have. Dean Koontz books started me on this journey at 12. I read mostly nonfiction now and watch Discovery Channel Investigation shows. The real horror is all around us, and is easy to tap into as an author. I have so many ideas for novels and shorts I'll never get to, and it would be a large chunk of my day just to write them all down. Whenever I don't have a specific contract on my desk and I'm able to add whatever I want to my writing schedule I simply tap into my brain and see what's at the front of the ideas and if I'm excited about writing it right now.
What's your latest (or impending) release? Can you tell us about it?
I always have a few projects on the horizon. I just released Green River Blend: A Supernatural Thriller
with Devil Dog Press. It is a story about coffee. Yep, coffee. A mysterious man opens a coffee shop in a small Florida town and, when the residents get addicted to his coffee, strange things begin to happen. Beta readers said it was very much Bentley Little-ish, and I agree. When I began writing the novel, I was looking for that exact feel to it.
Next up is my crime thriller Dirty Deeds
. I won a Kindle Scout contract with it. Look for it the end of January. I'm excited about it because I've never strayed this far from what I normally write. The advance readers love it, so it will definitely turn into an ongoing series.
Thanks, Armand, for giving us some background on your incredible work!
For more information about Armand, visit his website
(This interview was originally published in the January 2016 issue of the Smart Rhino Publications e-letter.)
December 19, 2016
Chantal Noordeloos lives in the Netherlands, where she spends a lot of time arguing with characters (aka writing). In 1999, Chantal graduated from the Norwich School of Art and Design, where she focused mostly on creative writing. There are many genres that Chantal likes to explore in her writing. Currently steampunk is a focus of hers, leading her to write her Coyote
novels about a female bounty who faces bizarre challenges.
But Chantal's "go to" genre will always be horror. "It helps being scared of everything. That gives me plenty of inspiration," she says.
Chantal is one of Smart Rhino's favorite writers, and we always enjoy talking with her. She gladly provided the following interview--which captures much of her inherent wackiness. Enjoy!
Your Coyote novels, Coyote the Outlander and Coyote: The Clockwork Dragonfly, are uniquely steampunk. Coyote is a strong and fascinating heroine. How much of Coyote is Chantal?
Ha! You caught me there. There’s quite a lot of me in Coyote, more so than any other character I’ve written so far. I think that also has a lot to do with that she’s an old role-play character of mine, from back in the days that we played Dead Lands.
There are a great deal of differences, of course. I can’t shoot a gun to save my life (in all honesty, I would more likely shoot myself than an opponent) and even if I could, I don’t think I’d have it in me to kill anyone. In a fight of flight situation … well, let’s just say I do the worst … I freeze. *cringes*
So, not so much the heroic bounty hunter, more the useless cannon fodder. If the *insert scary monster here* Apocalypse should ever happen, I would be among the first to die—and I probably won’t even die with dignity.
But at least I get to live vicariously through Coyote, right? Right? *bites lip*
Where I think we’re similar, she and I, is that Coyote has my zany outlook on life, and my sense of humor. One could argue that all characters I write have "my sense of humor" since, ehm … I wrote them, but that’s not exactly true. There is a difference between what I write and how I am in real life—there are plenty of characters I’ve written where I thought: "Dude, wtf is wrong with you?" Not sure what that says about my own mental state, but there you have it.
Coyote reflects how I feel about subjects such as inequality. She also mirrors some of the awkwardness I felt as a young girl/woman for being a tomboy. When I write Coyote, I base her very much on the parts of my personality that are confident, yet at the same time I give her some of my own insecurities, too. I would say she is the braver version of me—one who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
Your novel Angel Manor is straight up horror. Do you think your writing will lean more toward that genre in your future work? (more…)
July 21, 2016
Aaron J. French is one busy guy! Besides being a prolific writer, he is an accomplished editor and has pulled together some of the best horror and weird fiction anthologies now available. His story, "Whirling Machine Man," appeared in the Smart Rhino anthology, Zippered Flesh
. His latest novella, The Dream Beings
, is a hard-boiled Lovecraftian tale involving a serial killer and an investigator who is pulled into cosmic horrors.
Aaron agreed to answer some questions for us--and we hope you'll learn something from his vast experience!
Aaron, you and I have similar backgrounds: writer, editor, anthologist. Let’s start with your own fiction. Your collection of stories, Aberrations of Reality, has been described as a “modern grimoire of mystical horror,” and you’ve also written a zombie collection, Up From Fresh Soil. Your The Dream Beings is an incredibly creepy serial killer/occult novel. Plus you’ve written a number of novellas. How do you manage to juggle your time to write your own work, considering your many other obligations? Do you have a defined routine?
Thanks. Yes, it’s a lot of work, there’s really no getting around that. But it’s work I love to do, so that makes it worth it. I used to have a steady routine of writing 1000 words a day, and I did that for many years. But at this point, I’m basically just working all the time, whether writing, editing, and working academically (still writing). So I basically just do as much as I can on all fronts, but focus on whichever one has the nearest deadline (ha). But whenever I have a break, I try to write a new short story, or at least revise one that I have already written. It’s a way of keeping myself working on my own fiction, given everything else I do. And yet, I will say that more and more—as you mentioned with AoR and The Dream Beings
—I have been using my own personal experiences and my research into science, religion, and magic to inform my stories. Yes, life is weird. So, while I still write to entertain (as it were) or for a certain market, lately I have been formulating more of a specific agenda with what I want to do with my fiction. You can see this most explicitly with Aberrations
. I feel almost like a scientist, and I am doing experiments with my work to see what I can tease out of it. Ultimately, I want to explore how horror and science fiction affect states of consciousness.
You’re a book editor for JournalStone Publishing and the Editor-in-Chief for Dark Discoveries magazine. What advice would you offer horror and other fiction writers looking to publish their work? What are the common “mistakes” you see in the submissions that come across your editor’s desk? (more…)
June 30, 2016
W.D. Gagliani is the author of many novels, including Savage Nights, Wolf’s Trap, Wolf’s Gambit, Wolf’s Bluff, Wolf’s Edge
, and more. Wolf’s Trap
was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award in 2004. Bill has published fiction and nonfiction in numerous anthologies and publications. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), the International Thriller Writers (ITW), and the Authors Guild. Raised in Genova, Italy, as well as Kenosha, Wisconsin, he now lives and writes in Milwaukee.
Bill, with his co-writer David Benton, wrote the story "Piper at the Gates," published in the Smart Rhino anthology Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad!
We had fun in the following interview!
You tend to write a hybridization of horror and crime fiction/suspense. Do you find this combination easy to write, and why?
I do find it easier (no writing is truly easy, as you know). But not because there’s something magical about the mix that I’m tapping into. I find it easier because I grew up loving thrillers (and mystery and other genres, but thrillers were big), and later fell under the spell of one S. King, who blew my mind and sent it reeling into that black hole of terror I’d always been circling anyway. I had enjoyed horror before, such as James Herbert’s The Rats
and The Fog
, but when King came along with ‘Salem’s Lot
, I truly was lost. I went all in on horror then. I took a break for my first couple years of college, then jumped back in. It became my favorite genre to read.
But, in any case, I never quite lost the thrill of the thriller. I loved the British authors the most. I admit, writers such as Ian Fleming, Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, and Duncan Kyle. Although David Morrell made a huge impact with First Blood
and I started discovering great American writers, too. After quite a few years concentrating on horror, I just naturally started to channel the thriller people I’d always liked so much. So, the idea that thrillers and horror aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive swirled around in my head, but subconsciously. I think in the long run I found that I couldn’t always sustain that sense of terror or dread needed in a horror novel, but if I mixed in a sense of more realistic suspense, maybe less supernatural and more grounded in what happens every day in the world (violence seems to be the true universal language, unfortunately), I was able to fill out the plots in a way that seemed more fulfilling to me. Since I came to love the so-called splatterpunks of the '80s, whose work tended to be more visceral and less supernatural, it was like blending two primary colors to create a third (secondary) color, you know? Whether or not it works, I don’t know. I have fun with it, so I hope that sense of fun translates down to the reader.
The sixth Nick Lupo novel was recently released. How did you develop a character who is a werewolf homicide detective? (more…)
May 29, 2016
Michael Bailey is a multli-award-winning author, editor, and publisher of incredible speculative fiction. He recently won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology for The Library of the Dead
. His nonlinear horror novel, Palindrome Hannah, was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Awards. His follow-up novel, Phoenix Rose
, was listed for the National Best Book Awards for horror fiction, was a finalist for the International Book Awards, and received the Kirkus Star, awarded to books of remarkable merit. Scales and Petals
, his short story and poetry collection, won the International Book Award for short fiction, as well as the USA Book News “Best Books” Award. His short fiction and poetry can be found in anthologies and magazines around the world, including the US, UK, Australia, Sweden, and South Africa.
Michael has published a number of anthologies (including Pellucid Lunacy, Qualia Nous, The Library of the Dead
, and the Chiral Mad
series) and has just released Chiral Mad 3
, published by his own imprint, Written Backwards, at Dark Regions Press. He is currently the Managing Science Fiction Editor at Dark Regions. Michael took some time off from his busy schedule to talk with us.
Chiral Mad 3 was just released, and you must be ecstatic. An introduction by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, stories and poetry by incredible writers (Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Mort Castle, Gary Braunbeck, Gene O’Neill, and 15 others). Wow! This is your most ambitious project to date. Can you share with us some of your process when pulling together such an impressive anthology?
I’m not even sure where to begin. I knew there would be a third Chiral Mad
someday (I was hounded for it immediately upon release of the second volume). I knew if it were to exist, the book would have a specific story by King: “The Last Rung on the Ladder,” so I guess it all started with Steve. Apparently he digs my anthologies, or at least I hope he does, since he’s found his way into three of my books. “The Jaunt” appeared in Qualia Nous
last year (a literary blend of science fiction and horror), and “I Am the Doorway” will appear later this year in You, Human
, my first science fiction anthology with Dark Regions Press. (more…)
April 26, 2016
Shaun Meeks was born and raised in Toronto, and still lives there with his partner, Mina LaFleur. Shaun was formerly a semi-pro skateboarder. Now he enjoys sharing his nightmares in his writing--and scaring the hell out of his readers! His short stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies, including Smart Rhino's ZIPPERED FLESH 2, SOMEONE WICKED, and INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS. He is also the author of the books SHUTDOWN, THE GATE AT LAKE DRIVE, and DOWN ON THE FARM.
Thanks, Shaun, for hanging out with us for a few minutes!
Your novel, THE GATE AT LAKE DRIVE, is a great monster story. (And the cover is super, too!) What's your recipe for a great monster?
I’ve been writing a lot more monster stories as of late, and part of that has to do with this new series I’ve started, "Dillon the Monster Dick;" THE GATE AT LAKE DRIVE is the first book in the series.
What makes a good monster? Really depends on what you’re going for. Making one scary--the stuff of nightmares--is just fun. To do that, I usually think of what frightens people. Deep-sea life, spiders, demons, the dark--these are things I’ll splice into a monster so that, on a deep level, the elements strike a chord of fear within the reader. I love the idea of monsters with slimy tentacles, coarse hairs, a multitude of eyes, and a nest of sharp, deformed teeth. The trick is making the reader imagine what it’d feel like to be face to face with the monster. The idea of feeling the repulsive skin touching your own, the overwhelming odor of rot that lingers on the thing's flesh. That's what I want readers to be thinking as they read.
But what about the monsters that truly hate or can't change what they are, the ones that you pity? I enjoy playing with that theme--the monster that is hunted and feared, yet proves to be the character with which the readers relate. The humans who shun or hunt the creature prove to be the real monsters. Having a reader relate to the monster isn’t always easy, but it’s great when it works! (more…)
March 22, 2016
Billie Sue Mosiman’s NIGHT CRUISE was nominated for the Edgar Award and her novel, WIDOW, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Novel. She’s a prolific writer, one of our favorites here at Smart Rhino Publications, appearing in several of our anthologies. A suspense thriller novelist, she often writes horror short stories. Billie has also been a columnist, reviewer, and writing instructor. She lives in Texas where the sun is too hot for humankind. We are grateful that she took some time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.
You're a powerhouse short fiction writer, with stories in a great many anthologies and collections. Do you get more satisfaction out of writing short fiction than writing novels? If so, why?
I enjoy both forms of fiction writing. What do I find easiest to write, though? Short stories. One idea, a couple of characters, one forward plot. Novels are Olympic where stories are like college sports. I very much enjoy finishing a novel. I know I've run the marathon and made it.
Your latest novel, THE GREY MATTER, received a nomination for the Kindle Book Award. Your work often bridges the gap between horror and suspense. How much of this is intentional, and how much is simply "I write what I enjoy reading"? Do you think of marketing at all when you're in the "creation mode"?
Two of my suspense novels employed more than suspense. BAD TRIP SOUTH has a little girl who can read minds. It was the first time I mixed genres and I really liked how it came out. You're following a crime drama and meanwhile the girl knows exactly what's going on in the minds of the adults. I employed speculative fiction in THE GREY MATTER, which is essentially a crime suspense novel. The world goes dark due to EMPs and there's a serial killer in it. Otherwise, most of my books are straight suspense novels. I figured if whatever I write is something I like, others will like it too. Now I'm writing a new novel, THE BLACKEST PLACE, and it will be noir suspense. I do write what I enjoy reading. (more…)
March 2, 2016
Husband and wife team, Bram Stoker Winner L.L. Soares and Laura Cooney, having written some truly incredible and entertaining horror fiction over the years. L.L.'s stories have appeared in a number of Smart Rhino anthologies ("Sawbones" in ZIPPERED FLESH
, "Seeds" in ZIPPERED FLESH 2
, "Sometimes the Good Witch Sings to Me" in SOMEONE WICKED
, and "What the Blender Saw" in INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS
). Smart Rhino also had the pleasure of publishing their SF/horror novella GREEN TSUNAMI
. The two of them took some time out of their busy schedules for a few interview questions.
Most of your writing tends toward horror, but GREEN TSUNAMI definitely has a science fiction flavor as well. What sparked the idea for the novella?
: Well, a lot of it had to do with the initial concept. Our first short story collection, IN SICKNESS
, had just come out from Skullvines Press (which featured solo stories by both of us, and a novella called "In Sickness," which we wrote together). A couple of writers we knew were starting their own small press, and they wanted another collaborative novella from us. The only stipulations were that: 1) it had to involve the end of the world, and 2) it had to be told in correspondence format between a husband and wife (letters, emails, etc.). At this point, apocalyptic fiction had just started to really get big, but we didn’t want to do anything that had been done before. No zombies or cannibals or stuff like that. In fact, the entire idea of the end of the world can instantly bring to mind ruins and barren spaces and death. And we wanted to do something the complete opposite of that. Where, instead of death and desolation, there was going to be life. It just wasn’t necessarily going to be human life. Not as we know it.
And that’s how the science fiction flavor evolved. There are also elements of bizarro fiction in there, since both Laura and I are big fans of surrealism, and the idea of a constantly evolving, mutating landscape seemed to tap right into that. Unfortunately, once the novella was completed, the small press that asked for it closed up shop. Here we had a novella we really thought came out great, but the place that had requested it was gone. That’s when Smart Rhino swooped in and came to the rescue. Which we’re both grateful for. (more…)
May 4, 2015
Austin S. Camacho is the author of five novels in the Hannibal Jones Mystery Series, four in the Stark and O’Brien adventure series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. Austin is deeply involved with the writing community. He is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. He is part owner of Intrigue Publishing, and was the chief organizer for the annual Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity (C3) Conference near Baltimore.
I had the pleasure of meeting Austin two years ago at the C3 conference, as well as working with him on his story “One of Us” for the Insidious Assassins anthology, published by Smart Rhino Publications. I recently managed to catch up with Austin and used the opportunity to talk with him about latest projects.
Weldon Burge (WB): You’ve written a good many suspense/thriller novels, including the Hannibal Jones mystery series, the Stark and O’Brien adventure series, and most recently a detective novel, Beyond Blue. Let’s start with the series. What do you find most appealing about writing series? Do you find the series easier to market than stand-alone novels?
Austin Camacho (AC): The most important point about character development is that people are changed by the events they experience. So the most appealing part of writing a series is that I get to follow up on those changes. I’ve followed the rising and advancing of Hannibal Jones’ spirit, and the rocky path along which Stark (a mercenary) and O’Brien (a thief) are following toward becoming actual heroes, in part due to their friendship. And I think series are easier to market because readers get caught up in characters more than in plots.
WB: Your latest novel, Beyond Blue, is about a team of detectives whose only purpose is to help police officers in trouble. What sparked the idea for this novel? How much research was involved in pulling the book together?
September 3, 2014
Chris Larsen’s first novel, Losing Touch, has garnered much praise and acclaim since it was published by Post Mortem Press last year, winning several awards and receiving rave reviews. The horror/sci-fi novel focuses on a typical beleaguered husband/father, Morgan Dunsmore, who is not only watching his life dissolve around him, but is also losing physical tangibility. Being able to “phase” through solid matter sounds like a superhuman ability, but for Morgan it proves to be more horrific than heroic.
Chris has also written numerous short stories for anthologies and other publications. I had the pleasure of working with him on his story “The Little Things” for the Zippered Flesh 2 anthology. I recently managed to catch up with Chris and used the opportunity to talk with him about his book, his writing, and his future.
Weldon Burge (WB): Your novel, Losing Touch, won the Preditors & Editors Award for “Best Horror Novel” of 2013. The book has been well-received just about everywhere. Not bad for a debut novel! To what do you attribute your success?
Chris Larsen (CL): I was talking to my wife, Maureen, about this the other day. I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much, but if you would have told me five years ago that I would have a novel published with a foreword by Piers Anthony—and won an award for it to boot—I’d have told you that you were shitting me. I think what I mean by that is that “success” is a relative term, kind of like “old” or “rich.” It’s not the sales or the accolades that make me feel successful—it’s the positive comments and reviews. When I know that I’ve reached a reader, that’s success, and it’s measured one reader at a time.
I really couldn’t tell you how I achieved that success, though. I just wrote a novel that I wanted to read. Or I tried to, anyway. There were times (many times) that I finished writing for the day and I thought that what I put on paper (read: “the screen”) was absolute crap. But a writer writes. You just keep pushing forward until people starting reading and liking what you’ve written. And it took me a while. I mean, I started “writing” when I was 10, finished my first novel at 27 (don’t look for it on Amazon—it’s safely locked in a trunk where it will stay, forever and always), and published a couple of dozen short stories before I even took a crack at novel writing.
WB: What does your family think of all this? (more…)
February 25, 2014
D.B. Corey’s first novel, “Chain of Evidence”, a police procedural/thriller, was published by Intrigue Publishing this past summer. In the story, Moby Truax, an aging detective who is nearing retirement, must investigate a serial killer stalking the streets of Baltimore—and Truax suspects the murders are that of a copycat killer, and that he actually faces two serial killers.
After a stint in college, Corey joined the USNR flying aircrew aboard a Navy P-3 Orion chasing down Russian subs. During his time there, he began a career in IT. He didn’t begin writing until his mid-50s, and had to pay some dues before landing his contract with Intrigue and the subsequent publication of his first novel.
I asked D.B. to talk with us about his experiences during the creation, editing, and publication of Chain of Evidence, among other things. He kindly agreed to the following interview.
Weldon Burge (WB): Your novel, Chain of Evidence, was published by a new independent publisher, Intrigue Publishing. What have you learned from that partnership?
D.B. Corey (DB): I signed with Intrigue in July of 2012. The novel was released in August of 2013. Had I not missed my first deadline, it would have come out four months earlier. So the first thing I learned was not to miss deadlines. Once the book did come out, I discovered I had a second job—marketing myself; something I was unprepared to do. I found that writing the book was the easy part, there were not enough weekends in the month, and the publisher designs the cover. He may even want to change the title, but that was OK with me. My title was terrible.
WB: The hero in your novel is Moby Truax, an aging detective nearing retirement. The villain, Harvey Morral, is a serial killer who also happens to be a medical examiner who is into necrophilia. How did you research to develop these two characters?
DB: With all respect, I consider our military men and women and our first responders to be heroes, so I would never refer to one of my fictional characters a hero. Heroes are flesh and blood people who can be hurt, so my good guy is “the protagonist.”
WB: Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we forget who the true heroes are!
October 27, 2013
The horror fiction of L.L. Soares has appeared in many magazines, including Cemetery Dance
, Horror Garage
, Bare Bone
, and Shroud
, as well as anthologies such as The Best of Horrorfind 2
, “Right House on the Left, Traps
, and both Zippered Flesh
anthologies from Smart Rhino Publications. His first story collection, In Sickness
(written with wife Laura Cooney), was published in the fall of 2010 by Skullvines Press. He recently won a Bram Stoker Award for his first novel, Life Rage
, which was released from Nightscape Press in 2012.
Soares is an incredibly talented and versatile man, working not only as a writer but as an editor, publisher, and frequent film critic. He took some time away from his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.
Weldon Burge (WB)
: Your novel,
Life Rage, won the 2012 Bram Stoker Award for “Superior Achievement in a First Novel.” Aside from the obvious ego massage, how has the award benefited your writing career?
L.L. Soares (LLS)
: To be honest, I think it’s too early to tell. I’m actually still in shock – it all seemed kind of unreal at the time. I’m hoping it will make it easier to sell future books, and that hopefully more people will read my work. But I guess only time will tell.
I am proud of the fact that I can put “Bram Stoker Award Winning Author” on my book covers now, though. That’s very cool.
: Your second novel,
Rock ‘N’ Roll, was published earlier this year. It seems to be more of an erotic thriller than
Life Rage, but still laced with violence and horror. Which novel did you have the most fun writing, and why?
: Even though they are different in a lot of ways, both books do share a love of characters. My stuff is very character-driven, and I think that is what links the books. Life Rage
just deals with more characters, whose stories intertwine. For the most part, Rock ‘N’ Roll
is focused on one main character, Lash. Also, where “Life Rage” is more obviously a horror novel, Rock ‘N’ Roll
was harder for me to categorize. It’s almost more surreal than horrific at times. I hesitate to say it falls in the “bizarro fiction” category, because, despite rather odd elements, it is rooted in a real, recognizable world, so I don’t think it’s strange enough to be bizarro.
But the truth is, they’re all fun, and I am comfortable in several genres. The first stuff I wrote as a kid in manuscript format—the first stories I sent out to magazines and publishers when I was still in high school—was mostly science fiction, and some fantasy. I am also really into noir fiction—Jim Thompson is one of my heroes. So I incorporate all kinds of things in my writing. I do notice that horror is one of the more universal elements in my fiction, though. There’s always some horrific element in most of what I write. I just have that sensibility, I guess. I think of all genres, horror is the one I am most in tune with.
May 29, 2013
Lisa Mannetti’s debut novel, The Gentling Box
, garnered a Bram Stoker Award, and she was nominated in 2010 both for her novella “Dissolution” and a short story, “1925: A Fall River Halloween.” She has also authored The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
, a compilation of novellas—including the story “Dissolution”; a macabre gag book, 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover
; two nonfiction books; and numerous articles and short stories in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. Her story “Everybody Wins” was produced as a short film by director Paul Leyden, starring Malin Ackerman and released under the title “Bye-Bye Sally”.
As an editor, I’ve worked with Lisa several times over the past year or so. She kindly agreed to the following interview.
Weldon Burge (WB)
: Your debut novel, The Gentling Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel in 2008. That’s like strapping on a jetpack and blasting off into a writing career. How has the award helped your career?
Lisa Mannetti (LM)
: Winning was the single most gratifying event of my life. Years earlier, when I began writing horror, I placed second in a contest at one of the World Horror conventions and when the publisher mentioned my story would probably “garner a lot of interest for a Stoker recommendation,” I practically passed out in front of the mailbox onto my front lawn. So winning such a prestigious award was beyond my wildest dreams. I always try to write my best, but I thought of the Stoker as a true pinnacle that might be always beyond my reach—so it wasn’t on my mind at all during the writing. My goal was getting the book published. Winning for The Gentling Box
actually meant even more because two major agents could not sell it to any of the houses in New York. When it received acclaim, it signaled to me that my belief in the novel wasn’t misplaced after all. That’s really huge.
In terms of my day-to-day career, it’s helped smooth the way for subsequent books and projects, a new agent, and the publication of my work in general. In the old days, I’d write a story and sit down with lists of places that seemed like a “fit” with the piece, then start making the manuscript rounds. Now I’m asked to contribute to magazines and anthologies, so my stories are essentially sold before I write them. I’ve never felt like the prescribed theme was any kind of creative impediment--most editors have given me tons of latitude. Those invitations to contribute have been terrific. One of my stories, “1925: A Fall River Halloween” which features Lizzie Borden as a character, was nominated for the Stoker in 2010.
It’s also helped in subtler, but no less important ways, and a few examples come to mind. I’m now an active member of the Horror Writers Association (a long-term goal I finally met) and a new edition of the book will be coming out from Nightscape Press (I couldn’t be more delighted!). Most of all, it makes me very conscious when I sit down to write that it’s critical—imperative—to set high standards and (whether the result can be deemed successful or not) to strive to produce the very best work I can—or die trying.
April 14, 2011
J. Gregory Smith’s first novel, Final Price
, won First Place in the Fiction Category in the 2010 Delaware Press Association's Communication contest, and was selected as a Quarterfinalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. First released as a self-published work, it is now under contract with AmazonEncore, a new publishing imprint from Amazon.com. Final Price
was re-released in November 2010 and is now available at Amazon.com, bookstores nationwide, and in e-book formats.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Greg worked in public relations in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Delaware, where he now lives with his wife and son. In addition to ongoing marketing efforts for Final Price
, Smith's young adult novel, Prince Dale and the Crystal Mountain
, made the Quarter Finals in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
I asked Greg to talk with us about his experiences during the creation, editing, and publication of Final Price
, among other things. He kindly agreed to the following interview.
Weldon Burge (WB)
: What inspired you to write Final Price?
J. Gregory Smith (JGS)
: Following layoffs in the PR industry, I worked for nearly a year selling cars. The dealership and coworkers were nice enough but the nature of the industry puts salesmen and customers in an adversarial position. Anyone in sales can relate to the frustration of dealing with unreasonable customers.
I got the idea for this story during a 12-hour shift on a snowy day with no customers. What if, instead of venting about a lost sale in the break room, a salesman completely flipped out? What if he tracked down his most infuriating prospects? Shamus Ryan was born. The rest of the story built around him and his actions. For setting, I found right where I worked to be perfect. Wilmington, Delaware, is a city that feels more like a small town. Everyone seems to know everyone else, but people from every walk of life come through doors of a car showroom. For the killer, annoying victims come in all shapes, sizes, colors and religions. Because of that, it took longer to establish a recognizable pattern for the cops to follow.
: What was your biggest challenge when writing the novel?