William Joesph Roberts: It Came From the Trailer Park

William Joesph Roberts: It Came From the Trailer Park

By Angelique Fawns

The Trailer Park Boys, Ozark, My Name is Earl, Raising Arizona…. 

Trailer parks in pop-culture are endlessly fascinating. The success of Three Ravens Publishing’s anthology, It Came From the Trailer Park, is no exception. It was so well-received (top of the Amazon charts) they are creating a volume 2. The guidelines ask for “original creature feature, horror-comedy with the same feel as The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, and Shaun of the Dead…”  Who doesn’t love heroes winning the day in redneck glory? I sat down with the brainchild behind these books to learn more.

AF: Tell me about your inspiration for “It Came From the Trailer Park”.  

WJR: I’d had my character Braxton Hicks, itching to come out to play, and his stories tend to be screwed up side tangents. Braxton himself is just a good ol’ country boy who knows how to get out of a situation by luck and wits alone. Then the title “It Came from the Trailer Park” hit me.  I looked at my wife and said, I don’t care if I make anything on this anthology, it’s just going to be fun. So, we did it. Shooting for fun, cheezy B-rate creature feature horror stories with the same feel as Army of Darkness, Shaun of the Dead, and Bubba Hotep. 

AF: What kind of stories did you receive for your first call? Anything wildly inappropriate? 

WJR: No, nothing inappropriate or anything that went into the WTF pile. The first volume was invite only. And we landed a good mix of stories, from ghosts to werewolves to vampires and a bunch of others in between, we covered the creature feature gambit pretty well. 

 

AF: Is there a kind of story you are looking for? How can writers tread the fine line between humor and bad taste? (Or is there a line?) 

WJR: Tell me a fun story, take me on an adventure.  I love cheezy B-rate, but there is a line. If you start leaning toward “Troma films” style C-rate, then it probably won’t make the cut. 

(Editor note:  “Troma films” refers to an American independent film production company called Troma Entertainment. They produce low-budget horror–comedy films, usually full of parody, gore and splatter.)

 

AF: Talk to me about your absolutely fantastic cover art. Who is the artist? Inspiration?  

WJR: The artist is Dawn Spears, https://www.dawnydawny.com, and her style lent itself to what I wanted to go for on the cover. Using Star Wars and Army of Darkness as a basic layout, I wanted to go with a redneck sheik feel, which she captured perfectly. That cover is perfect for the collection. You know exactly what you’re getting yourself into when you crack open the cover. As for the character, the dude with the chain sword is actually out of my story “Gimme some lovin'”

AF:  Please tell me about the conception and growth of Three Ravens? 

WJR: Three Ravens Publishing opened its doors in 2019, as a way for us to publish our “labors of love” without giving over control of everything to someone else. The Three Ravens, are myself, William Joseph Roberts, R.J. Ladon, and Benjamin Tyler Smith. From there we decided to open our doors to help others take a step up and see their dreams come true. I’ve been asked before how we keep our doors open with an Author centric payout percentage, (Normally 60% on standard contracts), and I tell folks, by the skin of our teeth. We aren’t out to get rich off of publishing others stuff. It would be nice, but it isn’t the goal. We aim to make our pay from our own works published through the platform. What we normally look for in submissions, are fun stories. They don’t have to be thought-provoking or profound, but they do have to draw us in and take us on an adventure. As for growth, the first step is getting our library and readership large enough that we can quit the day jobs and focus more on publishing and our own writings.

(Editor note:  When I see “Royalties” as payment on some anthology calls, I often think “no pay.” However, the writers contributing in the first anthology did receive a payout from Three Ravens.)

 

AF:  I see that you focus on Fantasy and Sci Fi. Which anthology has been your most successful?

WJR: Of the two anthologies currently out, “It Came from the Trailer Park” is our most successful. It took three Amazon orange tags on opening weekend. #1 new release in both horror anthologies kindle and horror comedy, plus a #1 best seller in the horror anthologies kindle over all store. And it was a total surprise. I think people fell in love with it because it’s fun and light hearted humor that most folks are familiar with. “It Came from the Trailer Park” is also a finalist for best anthology in this year’s Imadjinn awards at the Imaginarium convention, along with six other Three Ravens titles and my coauthored novel Smuggler’s Run.

(Editor note: The Imaginarium Convention is an event that has been running for 9 years and celebrates genre writing. This year it is being held in July in Louisville, Kentucky.)

 

AF:  Can you tell me about yourself as a writer? What have you published? 

WJR: Oh, lord, where to start… I started on this writer’s journey way back in grade school. All through high school and my military years I jotted down ideas or wrote out small scenes, but I didn’t know what to do with it. In the early 00’s, I started work on my first fantasy novel. I fumbled and stumbled for years with the novel and short stories, with no guidance on how to go about the business of writing and editing to make something publishable. In 2017, a work collogue told me about LibertyCon, a literary convention held every year here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. By the time I left that convention, I’d been invited to join my first anthology, “Sha’Daa: Toys” https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1943690243, and the switch had been flipped in my head. I learned so much at my first convention and made so many awesome contacts that it helped to springboard my writing career forward.  

I currently have four novels under my belt, 

fLUX Runners https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081M3XKBV

Widowmakers https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08QNBWCQ4

Wildcat: Foreclosure of a Dream https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08NSYFCZK

Smuggler’s Run https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08S71RJP5

and a slew of anthologies that I’ve been part of. The plan is to produce at least two more novels this year for Three Ravens, and I have another one that I want to write and submit to Baen before the year is over, life-permitting. 

 

AF:  Do you have a day job? What is it? 

WJR: Yes, fortunately/unfortunately. Besides being an aircraft mechanic, I’m also an Industrial Design Engineer, currently working as a draftsman on Asphalt equipment. 

 

AF: Any inside advice/secrets for submitting writers? 

WJR: My one pet peeve, follow the submission guidelines. One is particularly important that will get a submission rejected immediately. 

(Editor note: When I asked William Joesph Roberts what the one particularly important item was, he told me he was being deliberately vague. “Read the Guidelines.”


AF: Talk to me about “Pirate Radio”? What is going on with your podcast? 

WJR: TDB Pirate Radio, started in 2010 as a way to promote myself, under the Pen name of Timothy Dean. It was meant to be a “Starving Artist Podcast” Where folks could pimp their works and we could glean information from some of the bigger names that I managed to get on for interviews. One of the most profound was Ben Bova, who let me interview him twice because the recording didn’t take the first time. One thing that has stuck with me that he said was that if you’re going to do this writing thing professionally, then you have to do it and stop talking about it. You need to set up a scheduled time and do it. That’s why unless I’m dead to the world or sick, I get up at 0400 every morning, and my dedicated writing time is from 0400 to 0600. Now, as a side note. I had nothing to promote and it turned into a big distraction. I did manage to learn a lot about networking, talking with folks, etc. during the original run, as well as what not to do, because it nearly caused a divorce. I’m one of those folks that tend to hyperfocus on things and at the time, I still hadn’t found a good home/work balance. In early 2013 I shut it down due to life and my wife’s cancer.  Only recently have I started it back up because now I have something to promote. Keeping with a similar format as before, we have discussions on networking, writing, and everything in between. I try to do a monthly show, but if life is busy, we just wing it when we can or roll into the next month and do one. 

AF: What’s in the future for Three Ravens? 

WJR: Growth. I want to grow Three Ravens and my own writing to the point that I can quit the day job and focus on the passion. I’ve essentially been working three jobs (drafting/publishing/writing) since 2019. It does get tiring, but at the end of the day, there is a sense of fulfillment when it comes to writing and publishing. Even when I’m publishing someone else’s work. It’s a beautiful thing to hold something in your hand that you’ve helped to give birth to.

 

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