Category: Interviews

Interview with Juliana Rew, Publisher and Editor of Third Flatiron Publishing

As we all strive to find inspiration and cope during this unprecedented world pandemic, Third Flatiron is releasing an anthology we can all appreciate. 

 

Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses takes tales from twenty authors about their visions of a brighter future. A mixture of fantasy and science-fiction, these stories explore how life might change with increasing use of social media, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, space exploration, and medical advances. 

 

Third Flatiron Publishing opened its doors in 2012 and has dual headquarters in Boulder, Colorado and Ayr, Scotland. I had the opportunity to connect with the Publisher and Editor Juliana Rew when she accepted one of my short stories for Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses -available for pre-order now on Smashwords and for purchase June 1.

 

Juliana Rew is no stranger to exploring the world of science with a background working for the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Geological of America as a former science and technical writer. We explore the world of publishing in these tough times and what is exciting her in the future.

 

AF: What was your inspiration for this anthology?

 

JR: Although the idea pre-dates the current coronavirus pandemic, we felt it was time for a positive-themed anthology. Luckily, our authors rose to the occasion. It’s currently available for pre-order on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1023097, and readers can set their own price (even free!).

 

AF: How is the present Pandemic affecting the production of Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses?

 

JR: It has slowed down our production process a bit, but nothing serious. We’ll probably only do three “issues” this year instead of our usual four.

 

AF: What do you do as a day job?

 

JR: I am a retired technical editor and software engineer, and have been publishing quarterly SFFH anthologies since 2012.

 

AF: Can you tell me more about your background and how you got interested in Speculative Fiction?

 

JR: I was formally trained as a staff editor at the Geological Society of America, which is where I learned the art of bookmaking. So, when electronic publishing became popular, it was easy for me to dive in. I also worked as a programmer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, so I heard about global warming, straight from the horses’ mouths. I’ve always loved science fiction, and I wanted to “give back” by publishing SF by other authors as well as trying my hand at writing fiction.

 

AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself and where have you been published?

 

JR: I’ve been published in around 20 short story anthologies, as well as in a YA SF novella series (Dragon Stead). More recently, I’ve published a historical fantasy set in 1880s Colorado Territory (“Mountain Ma’am”), and two high-concept space opera novels in the “Unwinding” series. My latest one comes out in August, entitled, “Extremophile: Violet Rain.” More info’s at my author page: www.julianarew.com

 

AF: How do you find time to write/do your own publishing?

 

JR: I belong to a local writers’ critique group, which helps keep me on track with my own writing. And of course, it’s always fun to see what other writers are doing when we open up Third Flatiron anthologies for submissions on various themes.

 

AF: Is there any profit margin in publishing anthologies?

 

JR: Heck, no. Why would you even ask that? I do try to market via social media, like Twitter, Facebook, and the website at www.thirdflatiron.com. We mostly publish on Amazon, although the upcoming book will be published on Smashwords, so that we can give it away for free. It’ll be our little way of thanking our readers and helping people on a tight budget these days.

 

AF: What sort of stories and/or writing are you looking for?

 

JR: I have a small cadre of First Readers in Colorado, who help out with the submissions and proofreading. We each have our personal tastes (I like Pratchett-style humor and dislike zombies), but in general I would characterize our books as offering fresh speculative takes. Mild horror is fine, but nothing too graphic (think PG-13).

 

AF: What is really exciting you in the speculative fiction field currently?

 

JR: I’m encouraged to see more women rising to the top of the science fiction/fantasy field, especially Nnedi Okorafor, Aliette de Bodard, Jo Walton, and Ada Palmer, to name a few. In my personal reading, I’ve been dipping into old classic horror/dark fantasy tales, such as by M. R. James, Manley Wade Wellman, and Lord Dunsany. They show there’s more than one way to deal with your surroundings.

 

AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?

 

JR: Since our press is partly a family enterprise, we hope to keep publishing by sharing the work with our “Scotland contingent.” My daughter does the artwork, while her husband does the audio engineering for our podcasts.

The Horror Tree presents an interview with Tim Meyer

New Jersey horror author Tim Meyer is a self-professed “coffee connoisseur” and “beer enthusiast” who likes his coffee like he likes his beer.

“Coffee, black,” Meyer said. “Not a grain of sugar, not a drop of milk. The bitterer the better. That also applies to my beers. I’m a huge IPA fan, so pretty much any IPA with a high IBU will do. Really digging this tangerine IPA that New Belgium recently put out. New England IPAs are also my go-to.”

Meyer’s tastes are more eclectic when the topic is writing. He “prefers to blur genres and let the story fall where it may.” With his latest book Dead Daughters, the story falls into the thriller category.

Released April 16 by Poltergeist Press, Dead Daughters is about the Lowery family, who are living the American dream in New Jersey. However, a blank envelope in the mail upends their ideal life.

Early reviews for the book are positive. Horror author Hunter Shea wrote in a Goodreads review: “By far, Tim Meyer’s best book to date.”

Meyer isn’t one to judge his own work, but he did spend more time writing Dead Daughters than any of his previously published books. His other titles include Kill Hill Carnage, The Switch House, Sharkwater Beach, and In the House of Mirrors.

“I think it’s easy for an author to say ‘my newest book is my best book.’ And for many reasons, the biggest being that writers are constantly getting better and honing their craft each time out,” Meyer said. “So, naturally, the newest is always going to be the ‘best’ thing they’ve written. (more…)

The Horror Tree Presents an Interview with Tim Lebbon

Tim Lebbon

Ruschelle: The Horror Tree is thrilled to have you perched here on one of its twisted branches. This imagery is the perfect backdrop for your new novel Eden in which a new world is created from the old. Can we hear a little about to how Eden came to fruition?

 

Tim: It came about from something I love, and something that frightens me––I love endurance sports such as trail running and triathlons, and the looming climate crisis frightens me. I’m a big lover of nature, too, so combining these three aspects into an action adventure story was a little bit of ‘writing what I know’. The story always came first, but confronting my fears over the environment made it a tougher, more personal novel to write.

 

Eden Cover

Ruschelle: Eden is described as a “horror eco-thriller.” With global warming, and the Novel Coronavirus how real does Eden feel?

 

Tim: I like that tag, my publisher came up with that. As I say above, the increasing concern over global warming was a big inspiration for writing this novel. As for Covid-19, a pandemic was bound to happen in our lifetimes, so many scientists have been sounding warnings.  

 

Ruschelle: Knowing what you do now with the Coronavirus going global, how would you twist Eden if you were writing it NOW…or wouldn’t you?

 

Tim: I’m not sure I would, the story is pretty contained within Eden itself, which as readers will find is almost apart from our world, whatever its problems. Maybe I’d drop hints about a pandemic outside Eden, but it wouldn’t really affect the story I tell.

 

Ruschelle: You have had two of your stories produced into film, The Silence and Pay the Ghost. That’s an author’s dream. How did words you scrawled on paper become film?

 

Tim: Every single journey from page to screen is different. I’ve had a dozen options or more, and each of them has moved along different development paths before fading away. These two just happened to find their way through! 

 

Pay The Ghost started with an independent producer from New York. He commissioned a script and tried to get it made, but it all went quiet. Then a couple of years later he teamed up with bigger producers, and through various routes I didn’t know much about, Nicolas Cage came on board and the film was made.

 

The Silence happened very differently, with producers, writers, and film company all coming together over a very short period. It was a dream process from start to finish, and one of the highlights of my career.  

 

Ruschelle: When adapting your book to film, most authors would be a bit nervous of the movie not being true to their original vision, and worse- Hollywood not developing your work into a good, solid film. Did you have your own doubts when they gave your books the Hollywood treatment?

 

Tim: There are always doubts, but I’m also comfortable with the fact that it’s always going to be something different from my novel or story. And even if I’m not happy with the result, my story always remains in book form. Saying that, I’ve been pleased with both films, especially The Silence, which I thought was a terrific adaptation of my novel. And having it air on Netflix meant that a mind-boggling number of people actually got to watch it.   

 

Ruschelle: Did you assist in any of the script development or was it purely their interpretation?

 

Tim: I had some involvement with The Silence. That adaptation was a pleasure from beginning to end, and I’m still friends with the director, producers, writers, and film company now. I wasn’t officially part of the creative team, but I did see script pages and offer input, and helped talk through a few problems as and when they arose. 

 

Ruschelle: Is there a story you’ve written that begs to be made into a film but you don’t feel will transfer into celluloid?

 

Tim: I’d love to see Coldbrook made into a really big budget TV series, I think it would be fantastic. 

 

Ruschelle: Okay, I promise not to tell anyone, but were you happy with the choice of actors who portrayed your characters? Were there any that you would have preferred to see in the role instead? Again…this is just between you and me….and a few  hundred Horror Tree readers?

 

Tim: Yes, I was really happy. Nicolas Cage is sometimes divisive, but I think he did a great job in Pay The Ghost. And the cast of The Silence was just wonderful, and I honestly couldn’t have wished for better actors. I mean … Stanley Tucci! Kiernan Shipka! Incredible. Oh, and I was in it too, of course, although I didn’t get an award nominations (Best Bloodied Corpse)

 

Ruschelle: You were a corpse in the movie?  You lucky bugger. Now I need to rewatch it. 

         From your Facebook page and website, you have a love of running? You imagine yourself being chased by some creature, don’t you? Lol. Do story plots pop into your head while running or are you simply in “the zone?”

 

Tim: Ninety percent of the time the exercise I undertake serves to blow away the cobwebs and clear my head ready for work. Sometimes — just occasionally — an idea occurs to me, and I have to duck into cover on top of a mountain and dictate some notes into my phone. A writer is always working really, but mostly my exercising is a form of therapy in that it allows me to focus, lets my mind wander at random, and sometimes that’s sorely needed. I’ve never been one of those writers who can sit still for eight hours crunching out words. Even if I’m not exercising, I’m rarely at my desk for more than half an hour before getting up to walk around, make coffee, eat cake. 

 

 

Ruschelle: Question-Of all the monsters out there…which one or ones do you believe have what it takes to crush it in a triathlon?

Tim: Maybe my favourite monster of all time, the xenomorph (Alien). We’ve seen from Alien 3 that it’s able to swim, it runs quickly, and … well, I’ve never seen one on a bike (yet), but with those long, strong limbs I’d imagine its power output through the pedals would be significant! Also, if it got close to the finish and someone was ahead of it, it would just eat their face off. 

 

Ruschelle: The Alien! The finish line never looked better- or bloodier. Lol. What do you think is tougher, writing a novel or running in a triathlon? My opinion is both-but I’m lazy…in writing and moving. I’m part sloth.

 

Tim: Very different things … although curiously, there are similarities. A novel takes me maybe 6 months from beginning to end. And for an Ironman I’ll train 6 months or more before the actual race. And to break it down even more … an Ironman swim (2.4 miles) is like the first act of a novel, you’re putting in the groundwork, settling in for a long haul, planning and plotting ahead. You’re glad to finish the swim (the first few chapters) because it gets you onto the 112 mile bike, which is the real meat of the race. You’ll have some doubts halfway through (the dreaded ‘middle of the book this is shit’ moment), but then you’re into the marathon, and the long road to the end of the book. I’d like to say I make a sprint finish in both, but truth is by the time I get to the end I’m a gibbering knackered mess, and all I want is a plate of chips and a beer. When I reach the end of an Ironman, too 🙂  So yes, that’s a long answer to come to the conclusion –– they’re both really really hard.

 

Ruschelle: You have written novelizations of many popular films, 30 Days of Night, Alien, Hellboy and the ultimate, Star Wars! Tell us about how you weave your tellings into the beloved worlds of such iconic franchizes.

 

Tim: Each of these projects is different, with various rules and restrictions about what I can and can’t do (“You can’t destroy that planet, we need it for a future comic”). I enjoy tie-in projects, and I try to make them mine as much as I can. So especially with the original projects as opposed to the novelisations, I treat them as much as one of my original novels as I can with planning, plotting etc. Sometimes the characters are already in place for me (such as with my forthcoming Firefly novel), sometimes I get to create them as well (my Star Wars novel). From a pure business perspective, I’m a working writer and these books are a different strand to my novel writing, and they get my name in front of people who’ve never heard of me before. But I also take on these jobs because they’re fun, and I’ve never written for a franchise that doesn’t excite me. 

 

Ruschelle: What do you feel, is the best piece you’ve ever written?

 

Tim: That’s a really tough question! I could be glib and say, ‘The book I’m working on now’. (Actually I do think it’s turning out to be one of my best, but I can’t talk about it just yet). But I can throw a few out there. The Silence, Fallen, The Reach of Children, White, The Map of Moments (with Chris Golden), Echo City, Relics. And honestly, Eden is definitely one of my best novels. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves (or in current situation, on virtual shelves). Reaction has been fantastic so far, both from reviewers, and peers.   

 

Ruschelle: There are many writers that can work on several books at once, and there are others that focus on one story from beginning to completion before they begin another. Which category do you fall into? 

 

Tim: I’m always working on several projects at once. Different things excite me, and I love progressing several projects all at the same time (although some slow down or even fall by the wayside). My main projects at the moment are a new novel and a TV series pitch with a friend in the US, but other projects at various stages of completion include another spec TV pilot and proposal, notes on a feature script, a novella with a great artist friend, another collaborative novella that’s just been started, skirting about another TV project with another friend… I like to keep busy. 

 

Ruschelle: Was there a specific book or story you read that made you think- yeah, I can do this?

 

Tim: Not that I remember. I was a prolific reader when I was a kid and teen, reading a book each day. So I guess I can influenced by loads of stuff. I did read The Rats by James Herbert when I was about 10 years old (my mother gave it to me to read), so that was definitely my bridge between children’s books and adult novels. But I was writing stories even before then.  

 

Ruschelle: You are delving into the role of becoming a musician, kudos! No one is ever never too old to learn something new. What is your ‘guitar goal?’ To play out, for yourself? Rhythm or leads? I ask this question to all beginners. 

 

Tim: No idea! I just fancied trying something new, and I’ve always wanted to learn guitar. Turning 50 made me keener than ever to start, and encouragement from family and guitar-playing friends helps. I’m really not very good yet, and I’m learning from the ground up. But with Covid-19 restrictions, I’ve got the time.

 

Ruschelle: Do you write to music? Does each scene you pen have its own soundtrack?

 

Tim: It depends on what I’m writing, and what mood I’m in. At the moment with my wife, son and daughter all home and working in different parts of our house, I do tend to have music on the try and isolate myself from external hustle and bustle. It’s usually music I know really well so that lyrics tend not to interrupt, or sometimes classical or movie soundtracks. There’s no hard and fast rule.

 

Ruschelle: Thank you so much for chatting with us here at the Horror Tree and making new fans! We’re excited for Eden to invade our brain space. So could you let your newfound fans learn how discover your projects and follow you on the www?

 

Tim: Thanks so much! It’s been fun, and I hope everyone enjoys Eden. I have a website at www.timlebbon.net, and I’m on Twitter (@timlebbon) and Facebook. I also run a newsletter, there’s a signup form on the front page of my website.

Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Kristi Peterson Schoonover, publisher of 34 Orchard

Interview with Kristi Peterson Schoonover,  publisher of 34 Orchard

There are two types of writing that I really love. Literary stories with prose that takes your breath away and transports you into another world. Then I also love to be scared, made uncomfortable and sometimes even shocked. 34 Orchard is a new literary on-line journal that combines both. The first issue will be unleashed in April, and promises that “the most frightening ghosts are the ones within.”

 

Kristi Peterson Schoonover is the publisher and brain child behind 34 Orchard, so I took some time to figure out the passion and purpose behind her new venture. 

AF: What do you do as a day job?

I’m a receptionist and run the front end at the local branch of a national firm. My responsibilities have changed over the years—I guess I’m sort of a cross between an operations and an office manager. I chose this field for two reasons: So that my brain would stay untaxed and my creativity wouldn’t get exhausted; I have my MFA and could teach, edit, or go back to the newsroom, but that would wear me out in terms of pursuing my passion, which is writing short fiction. The second reason is that I really need stability; I wanted the steady paycheck, benefits, and vacation time. Having to write and scramble to put food on my table, although I am awed by many of my friends that do it, just isn’t my idea of a good time, or my idea of freedom. If I can’t write whatever I want when I want, and do whatever the hell I want with it, there’s no point. I also couldn’t invest financially and time-wise in esoteric art projects like 34 Orchard—or chair writing-related committees, or help other writers in their walks—if I was freaked out by needing to find an agent who sells my novel by this date or we can’t afford the groceries. I find my life as a writer is much more fulfilling and joyful because it’s not my bread and butter.

AF: What motivated you to start up your small press?

My father was an English teacher, and from the time I could read really well on my own, he’d bring home the short stories he was teaching in his high school classes for me to read. I’ve been hooked on short fiction ever since, but sometimes, in a magazine or collection, I’d find only one—possibly two—stories that really spoke to me in such a visceral, emotional way they haunted me (I actually have a file where I keep all my favorites). I don’t like to use the word ‘triggered,’ but I’ve found the best writing—in film as well—is the stuff that pushes personal buttons; that’s the stuff that can truly affect a reader or viewer—change his perception, or even his life. While that’s all subjective to the reader or viewer, I’d always dreamed of putting out a literary magazine in which every single story just grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go. Although I had plenty of experience as editor or curator of other literary journals, magazines, and anthologies, the production part was always taken care of by someone else, so I didn’t think it was possible.

Then, I stumbled across a magazine called Orca. They were publishing amazing work; work that grabbed, work that went out on a limb. Nearly every story spoke to me, and the issues were released as downloadable PDFs. I sat there one night, reading it in bed, thinking, wait—I can do this! A downloadable PDF is no more difficult than my holiday chapbooks I send out every year. So 34 Orchard—which was going to feature work with the same power as Orca’s, just much darker and mostly in the speculative realm—was born.

AF: What sort of stories are you looking for?

When I started 34 Orchard, I had a specific vision in mind, but as the work came in, it morphed into something much more intense … and I just know if something has that 34 Orchard “vibe” when I read it. I’ve had to turn down so many excellent—I mean, seriously, excellent, it killed me to write rejection letters for some of them—pieces of work by both incredibly talented and accomplished writers simply because they didn’t match whatever that “zing” is that 34 Orchard wants. That’s why, in our guidelines, we just ask that writers send us anything dark and intense and let us look at it. It’s not something we can tell someone to write, and it’s also difficult, because no one’s read our first issue yet; there are no examples to follow. So don’t overthink it. Just send.

AF: Is there any profit margin?

People think I’m insane, but no, there isn’t. This is my “hobby,” if you will. The overhead isn’t terribly high—we only pay for the website and the work that we want to publish. We’re always open for donations, and we’ll put $1.99/donation link for each issue, but it’s more important to me to get the work out there. While it’s been said that many magazines fold because they can’t afford to keep going or don’t have an effective business plan for generating cash, I figured out what I used to spend going to events and cons (sometimes to sell my own books), and on trips to Disney World, neither of which I do anymore. All of that travel cost significantly more than a magazine would. I decided how many issues I could afford, time/energy and cost-wise, during the year, to keep it manageable and not all-consuming (I’m a writer, too); the amount of work I purchase for each issue can be adjusted based on how many donations I receive, or how much I’ve set aside during the ten months of the year I’m not purchasing work. So as long as I’m excited about doing this, it’s sustainable.

AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?

I’d like to be able to find some awards (in addition to Pushcart) to nominate what we’ve published; I’d like to join the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses—those are my goals to have met by January of 2022.  My plans for the next two years are just to get this up and running, tweak workflow issues, and publish great work.

Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Jemimah Halbert Brewster of Underground Writers

Interview with Jemimah Halbert Brewster, operations manager and editor-in-chief at Underground Writers.

Underground Writers is an Australian-based zine and resource for writers around the world. It grew out of Perth’s Edith Cowan University in 2009. Four times a year they publish a zine, and the next three issues are looking for stories in the genres of Thriller, Sci-Fi, and Horror.

I submitted a story to them for an upcoming issue, and although it was rejected the editors gave me some wonderful advice. One of Underground’s promises (and what makes them different) is they always give feedback to every submission -accepted or not.

Jemimah Halbert Brewster has a day job as a university administrator, and took the time to answer some of my questions.

AF: What motivated you to start up your small press?

Technically I didn’t start Underground, but I’ve kept it running since 2015 because it fills a real need in the writing community, particularly in Australia, in providing a safe, constructive space for all new and emerging writers to get that first step up into the world of publishing, which can be daunting, cruel, and discouraging when you’re just getting started on that journey. I also love the freedom that we have as a small, not-for-profit organization; we decide what topics we write about for the website, we set our own schedules and deadlines and goals, and this means we can adjust what we do as we please. For example, we’ve had a lot of questions recently about self-publishing books, so we’ve just started a series on that. Last year we received many queries on freelancing and how a writer can set themselves up as a small business, and our Marketing Manager Jess wrote an amazing 16-part series that is everything you could ever possibly want to know on the topic! And, on a more personal note, I keep Underground going for my own joy and passion in writing and editing; it’s amazingly rewarding and only takes up most of my spare time!

AF: What sort of stories are you looking for?

Each issue has a theme or a genre; our most recent issue was Romance, our next issue is Thriller, then Sci-Fi, then Horror, so we expect submissions that fit into these genre requirements as set out on our Submissions page. But more than just complying with genre or theme requirements, we look for stories that are clever, thought-provoking, interesting, well-considered, well-written. This doesn’t mean they have to be perfect; we take our authors through an editorial process before publication so that a story can be developed further, but we want to read that initial submission and see the thought, effort, and creativity that went into it.

AF: How long have you been publishing and how many issues have you produced?

Underground Writers issue 1 was published in October 2009, and in May this year we’ll be publishing our 30th issue. There was a hiatus from 2012 to 2014 when the zine took a break as the previous team moved onto other things, but we’ve been going strong since then!

AF: Is there any profit margin?

Ha, nope! All of our editors are volunteers and Jess and I are always looking for new ways to expand their knowledge and skills so that they keep learning and gaining from their time with us. We are able to pay our writers a gratuity due to the incredible generosity of our Patreon supporters, and we bolster this by providing feedback and a thorough editorial process so that everyone gains something, even if we can’t pay as much as we’d like to.

AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?

We always have plans, and each year we try new things. For example, in 2020 we’re taking on two junior editors for six months who will help us produce content for the website and will help us work on issue 30 and 31. At the end of that six months we’ll take on another two junior editors, and so on. These rotating junior editors will work one on one with authors for those issues, and with our current editors to develop their skills and knowledge. This is something Jess and I have been talking about for a long time, so it’s very exciting to see it happen. We also launched the Underground Bookstore in mid-2018, which was very exciting, and we’re always looking for ways to expand that. Our next step would be to hold workshops or classes in different areas of writing, editing and publishing – we talked with the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre about running some workshops on social media marketing and submissions processes for authors. So that’s an area we’d like to expand into when we have the time!

WIHM: An Interview with Azzurra Nox

Interview with Azzurra Nox, publisher of Strange Girls in Horror

 

Strange Girls in Horror has just been released in February, during Women in Horror Month. This anthology features 22 female authors bringing their dark tales of “girls who dare to be different”. Vampires, selkies, murderous mermaids, succubus and possessed dolls are just some of the strange ladies within these short stories.

 

Azzurra Nox is an avid fan of the horror genre, and this is her second anthology featuring an all-female cast. Her first anthology My American Nightmare had a successful debut and was published in 2017. Nox likes to showcase the work of women in a genre she feels is often dominated by men. She is the founder of Twisted Wing Productions, and also an author of a paranormal urban fantasy called Cut Here.

 

I have a story in this anthology, and took the opportunity to interview Nox about her obsession with the horror genre. 

 

 

AF: How did you get interested in horror?

 

AN: I’ve always been interested in horror. It started around the age of two when I used to watch Elvira’s Movie Macabre.  My dad was also a big fan of horror and so was my mum, so they didn’t mind me watching horror movies at a young age, even cause my dad would always tell me that everything in the movies were just “Hollywood” and unreal, so I never was scared or had nightmares. I always saw them as an entertaining genre. Kind of like how people love to go on rollercoasters, or go sky diving, horror is a genre that helps you explore fear in a somewhat safe setting of your own home.

 

 

AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself?

AN: I’ve done all sorts of different writing in the past. But I didn’t return to horror till I published my paranormal YA novel, CUT HERE in 2015. My latest publications have mostly been short stories as those are easier and faster for me to write. This summer, the short story “Fragile Fruit,” that I wrote with Erica Ruhe will appear in the anthology put together by Running Wild Press. It’s a literary short story with some elements of darkness to it, because I always love to explore the darkness in people and situations.

 

AF: How do you find time to write/do your own publishing?

AN: I actually make time to write. I used to do a lot of writing at night, but since I work a full-time job as a graphic artist that requires me to wake up early in the morning, I’ve found that harder to do. So now I do most of my writing in the early mornings before work and then work on editing in the afternoons. I also have a lifestyle blog www.theinkblotters.com that I update twice a week, so that’s another thing I have to plan a week or two weeks in advance. If you have time to binge-watch shows on Netflix, then you can find time to write if you’re serious about your writing. I know that we have far more distractions now than we ever did in the past, but you have to prioritize what is important to you, and writing is important to me so I make the time for it, even if it means that I don’t have time to watch shows.

 

AF: Do you fundraise, or how do you get the money and assets for your anthologies?

AN: No, I don’t crowdfund for the anthologies I’ve put together. The money that I use for the Women in Horror anthologies have been my own. And the money I made from My American Nightmare were invested in putting together Strange Girls. I know a lot of people do crowdfund and it’s a wonderful way to receive money for projects, and I did that for a short horror film I put together, but ultimately for it to be successful you have to put a lot of time and energy into it, and I’d rather use that time and energy towards the actual project, especially since I am the only one behind the whole publishing process.

 

AF: What is the best way to market your anthologies?

AN: Marketing takes a lot of trial and error. Luckily, Strange Girls is my second anthology, so I know what worked for My American Nightmare and what didn’t. Some of the best ways to market the anthologies or any book, really, is to have it up on NetGalley as that will help with finding reviewers. If you don’t have the money to pay for that then you can always use Booksprout, only you won’t be able to receive as many reviewers. Book blog tours are another way to get your book out there. And don’t underestimate the power of finding book bloggers and bookstagrammers (book loving influencers on Instagram) that focus on your niche, as they have a very powerful audience. I do a lot of marketing on Twitter too and have found that a lot of the preorders have arrived from there. Plus, if you have your own personal blog that has a decent following, it also helps in self-promoting. You have to be very proactive and seek people out in your genre. This can mean contacting indie bookstores that stock books in your genre to stock your book or newspapers or websites.

 

AF: How do you find your writers?

For both anthologies, I asked if I could have my call for submission listed on The Horror Tree as they specialize in horror writers and many of the writers I have accepted for my anthologies have come from there. I also put out my call for submissions on both my blog and website, Facebook, Twitter, and have contacted several horror authors asking if they would be interested.

 

AF: What is really exciting you in the horror field currently?

 

AN: I’m really loving the emergence of female directors in horror. Even people that you wouldn’t readily think would be in horror like the actress, Romola Garai who just debuted her first featured directed horror film, Amulet at the Sundance Film Festival. And I love seeing all the new horror female authors releasing some very exciting YA titles. Some of the past YA horror I’ve enjoyed have been The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, This is Not a Test from Courtney Summers, Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link, and Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn, just to name a few. 

 

AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?

AN: I look forward to putting together more Women in Horror anthologies in the future! By far, those have been the most fun to do because writing is a solitary task, but when you work with other authors then you’re able to forge new friendships and I think it’s important for writers to have friends that are writers too because they will be able to understand many of your struggles that your non-writer friends may not comprehend.

WIHM: An Interview with Zoey Xolton

Australian author Zoey Xolton begins her debut collection Darkly Ever After with a piece of flash fiction about a woman named Destiny who ventures into an ominous forest and is never seen again.

Yes, Xolton likes her fantasy dark.

Blood Song Books released Xolton’s collection of microfiction, flash fiction, and short stories on Feb. 4. It features dark fantasy, paranormal romance, mythology, and fairy tales with elements of horror.

“I do actually write a fair amount of horror, on its own; but speculative horror is certainly my favourite, so I find blending the genres comes naturally,” Xolton said in an exclusive interview with Horror Tree. “They all lend themselves to it!

“A paranormal vampire romance, in my mind, inherently contains an element of horror. It’s the love of a monster, a creature of the night, whose primary sustenance comes from sapping the life of humans. It bites, it stalks, and it charms — like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What is not horrifying about that? It all depends on the degree to which you take it, that defines which genre it will most accurately fall under.

“Fairy tales in their original form are notoriously dark; they give warnings and teach lessons to generations of readers and listeners (in oral tradition). They’ve only become hopeful, fluffy, princess tales since becoming commercialised.”

Xolton is a fan of dark fantasy author Anne Bishop and other fantasy luminaries like Terry Brooks, George R.R. Martin, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

“Dark fantasy is definitely just ‘me’ in a nutshell, because it contains all the trimmings of every genre that I love, all wrapped into one neat package,” Xolton said. “It usually contains paranormal romance, traditional sword and sorcery elements, and in amongst all that, the darkness and the horror dance! The dark creatures, the high stakes, the overwhelming odds, with often just the smallest glimmers of hope … I live for it.

“In my opinion, a good dark fantasy has to contain decent lashings of tragedy. Someone crucial has to die, a beacon, or embodiment of importance must be sacrificed, or fall … and the best part is, sometimes, it doesn’t end happily ever after! Or if there is some form of redemption, or hope, it comes at an incredibly steep price — the kind that leaves scars on the memories of the world and the reader.

“The best dark fantasies stay with me forever, the characters living on, beyond the words which brought them life. I want to achieve that. I want readers to feel emotionally involved, because to me, that is what reading is all about. It’s about living another life, about becoming part of a story beyond your own.”

February is Women in Horror Month, and Xolton appreciates the spotlight on female authors in the genre.

“I think it’s a meaningful gesture that women are being championed in a genre, that traditionally, society doesn’t seem to believe women write in often,” Xolton said. “However, I just don’t know, personally, how much of a tangible effect the event has as a whole — on recognition, or sales — for the authors, themselves. I certainly don’t think there are any negatives to promoting the voices of female authors, regardless. We’re here, and we’re talented!”

Married with two children, Xolton is not only talented but determined to pursue her passion for writing.

“I do love it,” Xolton said. “Outside of my family, writing is my reason for living. I make time for it, no matter what is going on in my life. With kids, I had to learn to make writing a habit. A lot of writers talk about ‘the muse,’ and that they can only write if they feel a certain way. I think if you’re serious about this craft, you can’t allow yourself to be held back by such trivial, constrictive notions. I don’t have a quiet office, or private space, of any kind in which to write. Even if I did, I couldn’t use it. My son is school aged, but my daughter is a toddler and needs constant care and attention. As such, I never get time alone.

“I have a lot of my colleagues asking me how I get so much done. At last count, I’ve been featured in 65 to 70 anthologies and had over 150 acceptances, most of these taking place in the space of one calendar year. The strange thing is people don’t really want to hear my truth — because it’s ugly. I sacrifice enormous, unhealthy amounts of sleep to write. I sometimes go 72 hours without sleep, when I’m on a roll. My logic is: I can sleep when I’m dead! My dreams are more important to me than some relative notion of sanity.

“I write when the kids are collectively louder than King Kong’s destruction in New York City, when Baby Shark is playing for the eight millionth time in a row, and when I should probably be doing some more, mundane, everyday mum tasks. I have dreams to achieve, and time doesn’t wait for anyone, that’s what my children made me realise. Children are additions to your life. They are my world, but they don’t rule it.”

So, when asked to share a piece of advice for writers who visit Horror Tree, a site that helps support authors, Xolton reiterated her own approach. 

“I just strongly advocate pushing your boundaries and making the time to write,” Xolton said. “I suggest ditching the concept of ‘the muse,’ or a ‘mood’, and just taking your craft seriously, and making a habit out of it.

“Bakers, teachers, boilermakers. and technicians don’t just work when they feel like it. If you want to succeed as an author moving forward, I think you have to treat your passion like your job, long before it officially is. Whether you’re tired, busy, or otherwise, you just have to make it a priority!”

LINKS:

Website: https://zoeyxolton.com/

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Zoey-Xolton/e/B06W52X3X7/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Twitter: @zoeyxolton

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorzoeyxolton/

 

WIHM: We Sat Down With Sarah Gribble And Here Is What She Had To Say!

Selene — Welcome to The Horror Tree, and thanks for agreeing to an interview. First, tell us a bit about yourself.

 

Sarah – Thanks for having me! I live in Columbus, Ohio, which just got named one of the dreariest cities in the world. (I’m hoping this works out well for my horror career.) I like pizza, pets, and Poe, not necessarily in that order. I have a Jason hockey mask in my office. Also a jar of tiny hands that I hope aren’t real. 

 

Selene — How long have you been writing, and what about the horror genre draws you? And what scares you the most? 

 

Sarah – I’ve been writing since I can remember. I just was always scribbling something, even if it came to nothing substantial. About seven or so years ago, I decided to take it seriously and started submitting short stories to every anthology and magazine I could find. 

I stumbled around for a little bit trying to figure out what genre I would focus on. I was leaning toward satire at the time. But the more I wrote, the more horror stories started popping into my head. I’ve always loved horror, so it’s a natural fit, and I’m not sure why I didn’t start there to begin with. Horror is just great fun, I think. You get to explore your deepest fears without actually experiencing them. There’s also a ton of horror that serves as a commentary on societal problems, but it’s wrapped in a nice little package of goosebumps. It’s just fun. 

My biggest fear is floating off into space (“space floating”). Those scenes in movies where an astronaut is space walking and their tether breaks? Yuck! I about have a panic attack over that. I know there’s a miniscule chance I’ll ever have to deal with space floating, but I did tell my husband if we ever have to evacuate the planet as a species, I’m staying here and going down with the ship.  

 

Selene — Your site describes you as a writer of “horror and dark fantasy.” While I’m sure there is a crossover, what’s the difference between the two genres?

 

Sarah – Horror and dark fantasy are very similar, but horror’s purpose is to scare, whereas dark fantasy doesn’t have to. Horror can have supernatural elements, but doesn’t have to (like King’s Misery). Dark fantasy exists in a fantastical world that has a dark, brooding atmosphere. I always make sure to tell people I write both because a lot of people are turned off by horror but don’t mind a little bit of dark in their story. 

 

Selene — February is Women in Horror Month (WiHM). Do you have anything planned?

 

Sarah – Yes! Not a ton because I’m neck-deep in editing, but my novella, The Hike, is currently on sale for .99! I’ll also be doing a couple book giveaways for my newsletter subscribers (sarah-gribble.com) and possibly something on Instagram. 

 

Selene — Looking over your website, and your Amazon author page, it looks like you mostly work in the shorter form, except for your new novella The Hike. What do you like about writing short stories?

 

Sarah – If I’m honest, the primary reason I love short stories is you can finish them in a day! That satisfactory feeling of accomplishing something doesn’t take months to happen with short form. Of course, they also force you to really cut the story down to the bone as well, which is always fun. I enjoy seeing how much backstory and world-building I can fit into such a small space. Sometimes just a sentence can paint an entire picture in your readers’ minds.

 

Selene – Have you considered writing a full-length novel? Working in the short form means you leave out so many of the details and character development you can play with in a novel. 

 

Sarah – I’ve actually written three novels! The first one was terrible and is hiding in my basement. The second is a dark fantasy novel called Surviving Death. It’s set in the afterlife (think The Divine Comedy, but darker and with a touch of rebellion) and will be published later this year. And my third is still a first draft. It’s a horror novel set on an island in Lake Erie. 

 

Novels are a lot tougher for me after working with short stories for so long. I still find that I tend to “write short” on my first draft and have to fluff out a lot of the characters and world-building on my second pass. I’m like the opposite of Stephen King, who insists you should cut something like ten percent from your first draft. For me it’s more like add ten! 

 

Selene — I have to ask the requisite question, since your story subjects and characters vary so much–Where do you get your ideas?

 

Sarah – Everything is a story if you pay attention. And anything can be creepy. I once wrote a horror story about mud. I’ve written one about an adult coloring book. Just last night my husband was talking about this awful candy concoction his co-worker brought to work and I started wondering if Halloween candy could possess or control children in some way. I’m not saying every idea is a good one (that Halloween candy thing probably isn’t going anywhere), but once you’ve written a few stories, and if you write pretty consistently, you’ll start to see ideas everywhere. I’m never out of ideas. If anything, I have way too many to write. I’ll die with stories still inside my head. 

 

Selene – What do you like most and least about writing?

 

Sarah – I least like editing books. Shorts aren’t so bad, but books are massive things that make your mind whirl around until you want to give up and cry. (But don’t give up!) I prefer writing first drafts where I can just let go and write as fast as possible and not worry about whether there’s a plot hole or if I changed a character’s description halfway through. But my absolute favorite thing is getting published. There’s a sort of high that comes with that that makes all the work so totally worth it. 

 

Selene — What inspires your characters? I really enjoyed the story “Crimson Ivory” from Crescendo of Darkness–I spent fifteen years volunteering for college radio, and I KNOW many people like those music geeks!

Sarah – Thanks! I had a lot of fun writing that one. There was a themed call for that anthology and I just thought it would be fun. I don’t know much about music—I love it, but was never in the school band and my singing sounds like a cat dying. I wanted to learn something about music so I did some research and out popped “Crimson Ivory”. 

 

In general, though, my characters just sort of come to me. I don’t do a lot of character planning before I start writing. Some people do all sorts of questionnaires and such and that’s just not for me. (Though I do normally find a picture to print of what they look like.) I find my characters develop on their own as I write. I do like to include little tidbits about real-life people in my stories, though. It makes for a more rounded, less cliché character. 

 

Selene — Fun question: If you could cast anyone in the movie version of one of your stories, which story and who would it be?

 

Sarah – This is a wonderful question because when I write a book, I “cast” characters and print out pictures of actors! Short stories I spend less time with, so I don’t think I’ve ever done that for them. How fun to think about! 

Let’s go with a story I wrote called “Thirst” that was published in Hinnom Magazine. The story’s about a waterborne parasite that was trapped in a Greenland glacier. I think Anya Taylor-Joy (she was in Split and The Witch) would be great to play my main character, Maya. She’s just great in general. 

 

In case anyone’s curious, I had Surviving Death fully cast with the likes of Emma Stone, Naveen Andrews, and Danny DeVito. Dreaming big! 

 

Selene — I noticed that in The Hike, the desert setting is as much one of the characters as the two couples involved in the action. What makes you decide on the settings of your stories? 

 

Sarah – I normally choose settings because I’ve been there, or somewhere similar, and something about the place was either fascinating or at least somewhat creepy. The Hike was based on a hike I actually went on a couple years ago. I obviously embellished the terror and added a supernatural element, but a lot of what those four friends encounter, my husband and I really encountered. The bees, the stalking coyote, the tarantulas, the air quality causing sound to basically not move more than two inches from your lips…all that was true. We spent something like six hours in that wash and it was awful. Made for a good story, though! 

 

Setting is often just as important (if not more so) than character development when it comes to horror. You need to know your setting like you do your friends. Feel it. Live it if you can. And if you can’t, spend plenty of time researching or imagining what it looks like. 

 

Selene — About a year ago, you edited your first anthology, Curse of the Gods. Tell us about that.

 

Sarah – I had respect for editors before I editing that anthology, but I came out worshipping them! I’d considered running my own female-centric anthology and when the opportunity came to edit Curse of the Gods, I jumped at it. I wanted to see how much work was really involved before deciding to do my own. And wow! It’s a lot of work! I love Greek myths, though, so I did enjoy the stories. Most of them that made it into the book were centered around female-empowerment. Any of the old myths that pictured women as damsels in distress were turned on their heads and the women were kicking ass. It’s a pretty great read because of it. 

 

Selene — Curse of the Gods is a re-imagining of Greek myths. What’s your favourite Greek myth? (I’d say mine is Selene but she’s only got one and it’s…questionable!).

 

Sarah – All the Greek myths are a little questionable! My favorite was always Arachne. For those that don’t know it, I’ll give the short version: Arachne is really good at weaving and brags about it, which upsets Athena. Athena comes down and challenges her to a weave-off, which Arachne wins. Arachne ends up hanging herself. I’ve seen two versions of the ending: In one, Athena takes pity on the girl and turns her into a spider; in the other, Athena turns her into a spider to punish her. I tend to prefer the former version, as Athena is my favorite goddess. The story is just a great origin story for spiders and it’s always interesting to see mortals stand up to the tyranny of the gods. 

 

Selene – What advice would you give a new writer?

 

Sarah – Read. It seems kind of obvious that you’d need to read a lot in order to write well, but in my work at The Write Practice, we see a lot of people who want to be writers but claim they only read a couple books a year. Reading is studying. You will not learn the craft of writing if you don’t study the books and writers that have already made it to publication. Read and pay attention. Note story structure, how character development and world-building are weaved in, and even punctuation. Pay attention to everything. Read everything. 

 

Selene – Thank you again for answering my questions today. Do you have anything else you’d like to talk about here? 

 

Sarah – I just want to say that I love that you guys do these interviews for Women in Horror Month. While I don’t believe I’ve ever been discriminated against when I’ve submitted to editors because of my sex, I can say that it is a little lonely when you’re the only female in an anthology. (That’s happened to me more times than I can count.) It’s also not fun to get looks of disgust or wonderment from people when I tell them I write horror. 

This entire month is a great way to promote those women out there who love horror, to show them they can write it if they want, and to squash the ridiculous assumption that horror is a “man’s” genre. 

Thanks again for doing this and thanks for having me!

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