Ruschelle: Welcome to your Horror Tree Interview. This is my first tag team-INTERVIEW…well except for my brief stint in jalapeno jelly wrestling. But that’s not important so let’s get this party started, shall we? You both teamed up to edit the anthology, Ghost Stories for Starless Nights. How did that come about?
Zach & Nate: We’re both pretty involved with the company and working to release the finished product. Ghost Stories for Starless Nights was already set to be a bigger project so we felt it would be best to tackle it together.
Ruschelle: What can you tell us about the publishing company DBND? Is it run by the Illuminati? Please say it’s so.
Zach & Nate: All we can say is [REDACTED]
Ruschelle: How many authors submitted to this particular anthology?
Zach & Nate: We had about 175 authors submit for Ghost Stories.
Ruschelle: What was your story selection process and how long did it take?
Zach & Nate: The selection process is always really fun. We try to keep up with stories as they come in, but it’s easy to fall behind. We like to read the stories separately and then meet up to bounce stories off of each other and see if we agree on them. For the most part, we’re working through the selection process from the first story hitting our inbox to about a week before contracts are sent out.
Ruschelle: I’m sure all the ones you chose were favorites, hence they made it into the anthology. But which ones really resonated with you as horror writers and readers?
Zach: Of the stories selected, Unwritten Songs by Tim Jeffreys is the one that really stuck with me. I found myself thinking about weeks after I’d read it, it has a unique and interesting take on ghosts and what they want from the other side.
Nate: The Ink of Inspiration by Jeremy Megargee is one that still sticks with me, without spoiling anything, what the character goes thorough hits home for me in a lot of ways…except for the ending of course. Text Messages from the Problem Solver by Justin Zimmerman is another one because it deals with one of my biggest fears when it comes to death.
Ruschelle: As editors, what is the toughest part about working with writers? What would you love to tell authors who might be considered for publication?
Zach & Nate: The toughest part is not being able to publish stories we love and want to because they don’t necessarily fit what we’re aiming for on a project. One of the most important things to us as editors is to not come in and drastically change a work. If we feel it needs major changes to be included in an anthology, we’ll usually pass. We don’t want to be the editors that dismantle a piece with a red pen just to end up with something the author isn’t in love with.
What would we love to tell authors? Submit and keep submitting, get your work out there as much as possible. Every story has a home, you just have to find it.
Ruschelle: You are longtime friends, sorry your secret is out. Did you find this an easy, natural project to work on together, or did it make you relive moments as kids when you wanted to throw down behind the school dumpster?
Zach & Nate: Haha no, we work together well. We’ve known each other for the majority of our lives, so for the most part we do a decent job respecting our differing opinions.
Ruschelle: Have either of you had any actual cryptozoological or supernatural experience?
Zach & Nate: We’ve both had our fair share of strange experiences. One we shared together in middle school led to us hiding in a creek bed from something chasing us through the forest.
Ruschelle: Fun question- If you could meet any cryptid or famous spook, which one would it be and why?
Zach: Shadow people. Someone needs to stop those bastards. It can be me.
Nate: Oh, Bigfoot easily. I’ve been obsessed with the subject since I first saw the Patterson-Gimlin film as a young child.
Ruschelle: From the little bit of creeping I was able to do, Zach appears to be an author. And a, ‘humor/horror’ author to boot. Yes! A writer after my own little black heart. What makes a good, solid story frightful yet funny?Zach: I think horror and humor fit together very well. Humor is a way that people deal with stressful, frightening, and horrific situations, so it feels natural for humor to seep through in dialogue and situations while keeping the tone and backbone of the story dark and horrific. I think that’s the main thing that lets a humorous horror story work well. I’m also a fan of juvenile humor worked into clichéd horror tropes.
Ruschelle: Which horror authors do you gravitate towards when reading for your own enjoyment?
Zach: Lately, I’ve worked my way through Grady Hendrix’s books and I really wish there were more. I’m also always on the lookout for any new horror authors from small presses.
Nate: Well, my dad is an English teacher, so I’ve always had Edgar Allen Poe works surrounding me. Stephen King isn’t so bad himself.
Ruschelle: NATE, I was reading somewhere on the not so dark web that when you were a kid, you met Pennywise in a storm drain out in the middle of the woods. Maybe it wasn’t Pennywise. The not so dark web doesn’t always get the facts straight. Care to give The Horror Tree the exclusive?
Nate: Haha! I can’t say I’ve ever run into Pennywise himself, but when I was a child, I woke up to a family member watching the original IT tv miniseries. The first thing I saw was Pennywise sucking a child through a sewer drain… so that didn’t help my love for clowns for sure. Also, I’ve never been able to bring myself to read that particular King novel.
Ruschelle: Has your creativity been inspired by books, movies or television? Fair warning, there may be a wrong answer. Lol
Zach: I guess I would have to say all three. I think it’s impossible to not be inspired by other mediums (I hope that’s not the wrong answer). I think it’s important to be in the know with what’s popular, to know what others are doing so that your creativity can go its own way or follow suit with a unique spin.
Nate: I would have to agree with Zach. All three of those mediums have provided inspiration. I would even throw in horror video games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. They capture the horror imagination well.
Ruschelle: Alien invasion, chupacabra invasion or insect invasion? They all sound like a good time, I know, but you can only pick one to live through. Which one and why? I took a break from inquiring about zombie invasions. You’re welcome.
Zach: Alien. No telling what they’ll be and that’s exciting. Unless they’re giants and they just squish us all immediately. Or millennia ahead of us and smite us. But that’s the fun of the gamble.
Nate: Chupacabra. Only because it increases the chances of Bigfoot being real haha.
Ruschelle: What projects are you both working on that your newfound fans should look out for?
Zach & Nate: We have some exciting things with DBND that will come out over the next year. We’ll be reworking our pay for authors, novel and collection submissions will be opening, and we have a few things under wraps that we can’t quite mention yet. We also have open submissions for some new anthologies that will be coming out this year and more on the way, including Halloween Horror: Volume II. And we’re very excited about that!
Ruschelle: Zach- where can your newfound fans find and connect with you?
Zach: Twitter @ZachAFriday and email are usually the best ways to reach me and see what I’ve been up to.
Ruschelle: Nate- where can your newfound fans find and connect with you?
Nate: Email. Or Facebook.
Ruschelle: Thank you both for chatting with me here at The Horror Tree! It’s been a pleasure.
Zach & Nate: Thank you for the great questions, this has been a lot of fun!