An interview with Natalie Brown, the creator of Scary Snippets and Nocturnal Sirens Publishing
I met Natalie Brown when she picked up stories from both me and my mother for her Scary Snippets Halloween anthology in 2019. Brown is a fierce female voice in the horror genre, and an interesting publisher to work with. She is approachable, candid and treats her authors like friends.
Not only does she publish anthologies, but Brown writes her own horror stories, and does voice work and writing for podcasts, such as Creepy Podcast. Her two most recent releases ae Scary Snippets Campfire Edition, and Calls From the Brighter Futures Suicide Hotline. She is also working on her own solo anthology of short stories called Door to Door Damages which is due out before the end of the year.
Brown’s philosophy is to encourage first time writers and she has a high acceptance rate for her multi-author collections.
AF: Hi Natalie, it was exciting for both my mother, Della Sullivan, and I to be in the same publication with Scary Snippets Halloween . In fact, it was her first attempt at writing a horror story. For this anthology how many submissions did you get and how many did you take versus reject?
NB: The project manager and myself accepted about 78% of all submissions received. It was our first and one of our largest collections. We wanted to showcase a little bit of everything and got a lot of really great submissions.
AF: Can you explain why you accept so many stories?
NB: The founders of Nocturnal Sirens Publishing were at one time themselves, first time authors. It means a lot to us to show people and the world how talented they are. So many new authors doubt their ability and talent; we want them to know that that’s simply not true. We have published Mothers and Daughters (You and Miss Della) as well as a husband and wife who had never been published together before. Everyone has to start somewhere, we want you to start with us.
AF: Can you introduce yourself and give us a bit of your background?
NB: I’m a stay at home mom from Saint Augustine, Florida with three sons. A 2-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 10-year old.
My writing career began with a story that I wrote for a marriage counseling exercise called “You Have New Messages”. I had to take an action that I had done and write it from my husband’s perspective. Don’t worry, we are still together and doing very well; we’re going on 16 years now.
As far as my writing background, I took a nine week creative writing class in 10th grade. Besides that I have no formal training. I’m just a horror junkie. I’ve been reading, listening to and watching horror all of my life. That along with my OCD and lack of inner monologue seems to make me decently good at what I do.
AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself?
NB: I love to write psychological and domestic horror. I write what I can sympathize with and understand. If it terrifies me, maybe it will scare someone else as well. I became a member of the online horror writing community in February 2019. During that time, I have had so many ideas for future collaborations and anthology topics. Since then, I have been offered so many amazing opportunities as an author; I really wanted to pay it forward. It means a lot to help other people’s dreams come true like others did for me.
AF: You use a royalty share for many of your projects, can you explain how that works?
NB: Melody Grace and I were authors before we ever even thought of publishing. We’ve submitted to all kinds of companies around the world and based our payment system on things we liked and didn’t like from other companies, along with mistakes we have made in the past. Our company gives 70% of all profits/earnings split evenly amongst its authors quarter-annually.
AF: What sort of profit have authors seen? What’s been your most successful book to date?
NB: Our two most profitable books are the Scary Snippets Christmas Edition and our charity anthology No Safe Distance: Stories From Quarantine, which raised over one hundred dollars for Doctors Without Borders in its first month of release.
For Scary Snippets Christmas Edition each author was paid by how many stories they contributed to the collection. At its peak, the authors who had the most stories received about $7.00 and the authors with a single story received about $1.02. Which doesn’t seem like a lot at all, but when you take into account how many authors were involved in this collection, it really is something to be proud of.
One thing I’ve learned is that the more authors that are involved in a project, the fewer profits are received by all. However, our company refuses to ask authors to submit for free unless it’s a drabble or charity anthology, which we have had only two in the year and a half we have been making books.
AF: How has your publishing business evolved? I’ve noticed some name changes.
NB: Initially, I had opened a publishing company called Suicide House Publishing. Melody Grace helped me with formatting and taught me so much of what I know today. She’s an amazing publisher and author. On that note, when she had the initial idea for Mother Ghost’s Grimm, we knew we couldn’t publish a children’s book with the words Suicide House on them. So we promptly changed our name and LLC to Nocturnal Sirens Publishing.
AF: What sort of stories and/or writing are you typically looking for?
NB: I like to read stories that stay with me mentally after I’ve read them. As cliche’ as some people say it is, I LOVE twists. Like break my freaking neck with your story. A good twist is so hard to achieve. It has to be subtle enough to make sense, you can’t have something coming out of left field that makes no sense. As Ryan Reynolds says in Deadpool 2, ‘That’s just lazy writing’. And hey I’ve done it too! But at the same time, you shouldn’t be able to see it coming as plain as the nose on your face either. It’s difficult to achieve in 3,000 words or less, but when it’s accomplished it’s beautiful.
AF: What is really exciting you in the publishing field currently?
NB: Well, we released the second volume of our children’s horror set, Mother Ghost’s Grimm Volume 2. These two books are the creepy brainchild of my publishing partner, best friend and fellow horror author Melody Grace. A few of them were featured in the Halloween special called the NoNap Podcast, that was very exciting!
AF: How is the current pandemic affecting you and your company?
NB: It’s been affected in many ways. I’ve found that several authors, myself included, have slowed down their writing for various reasons. As far as myself, my two eldest children have been homeschooled since the school year began, and that took a huge toll on my productivity. Having to tread these new waters along with these brave teachers who do the best they can has been challenging all around. Me giving that anything less than my full attention is not only a disservice to the teachers but my children as well. And other authors/ creators/ artists are experiencing these same situations.
Not to mention the fact that 2020 has been a larger horror story than any of us could have thought of. There’s almost too much material to choose from to avoid more or less. Our stories are fun because they’re fictional. No one wants to make light of the nightmares people are facing everyday ya know?
AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?
NB: In the year 2021, Melody Grace and I are going to focus on smaller anthologies containing longer stories/fewer authors. We also will be focusing on single author novels and novellas, as well as getting back to basics by working on our own writing
AF: Any final notes or things you wish to mention?
NB: I have been working for Jon Grilz’s Creepy Podcast for about a year and a half now. I am responsible for arranging payments, author communications, permissions and just recently have been promoted to help with our new Email submissions system. We love our authors so much and want to hear your work! We are looking for stories between 1,500 and 3,400 words. If you have something you’d like for us to read, please send it over to [email protected] for a chance to be on the show! We pay $1.00 per 100 words and are excited to see what you’ve got.
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Angelique Fawns writes horror, fantasy, kids short stories, and freelance journalism. Her day job is producing promos and after hours she takes care of her farm full of goats, horses, chickens, and her family. She has no idea how she finds time to write. She currently has stories in Ellery Queen, DreamForge Anvil, and Third Flatiron’s Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses. You can follow her work and get writing tips and submission hints at http://fawns.ca/.