Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A. R.'s Interview with Sammi Cox

I met Sammi on Facebook, of all places, and have found her to be a good writing buddy, 10/4. She's also the editor of the House of Horror e-zine and a horror author in her own right. Sammi lives in the U.K. with her two children. She's dating artist Darren James, whom she's also buildig a career with. Also known as S. E., she gave up writing for a while to focus on a singing career and also worked part time in cabaret. Awesome! Her stories have been published in Pandora's Imagination, Pill Hill Press, Elements of Horror anthology, Flashes in the Dark and more. She's also the author of many novels. Everyone welcome Sammi!

A.R.: Hi Sammi. Thanks for being my guest. I know you’re the editor of House of Horror. What is an ideal submission, in your opinion, and have you ever received one?

S. C.: Hi A.R. and thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview. I don't think of a submission as ideal, because being a horror e-zine, the word "horror" is open to a wide range of different types of stories. I know I have my favorites and I have read some excellent stories that sometimes make me feel honored to have them in House of Horror because in my opinion they are most definitely pro-rate stories and of course I tell them that. So I guess as long as a submission follows the guidelines and I really enjoy it and think my readers will enjoy it then it’s a winner for me.

A. R.: Tell us a little about the books you have coming out, and where you're going as far as content.

S. C.: Wow, well right now we have a lot going on which is making me have to put certain things on hiatus until I am all caught up. We have just released Stitched Up and also A Pint of Bloody Fiction. Those are on sale right now from the House of Horror Bookshop for £9.99 and £6.99 which are both inclusive of shipping. I am at the minute working on The Duel Anthology. This is a book made up of all the stories that were used in The Writers Duel that was held in The Dungeon for the Last three months. The book is split up into rounds and shows the duelers and their real names, the winner and of course the battling stories. This is now available for pre-order at £10.99 from House of Horror and will be widely available everywhere else in around two weeks time. Also I am beginning to put together the HOH Best of 2010. I am choosing stories from issue #8 onward to appear in the anthology and will soon be notifying the writers, artists and photographers etc. Unfortunately, unlike last year, there is no monetary payment for this antho’ but for every book they themselves buy or every book bought quoting a contributors name, said contributor will receive $5 every time. So I guess in a way, the better HOH does, the better the author does. I am hoping that this will be a big incentive for the writers and that everyone wins in the long run.

A. R.: What books/short stories/authors influenced you, and why?

S. C.: You know what, I don't really let other stories/authors etc. influence me as I end up writing just like they do or doing stories based on that. I hate it when I hear other people doing that because to me, it isn't very original. It is so hard to be original these days and trying to be like someone else just makes it even harder. Of course I have certain writers that I read over and over—Christopher Pike, Stephen King and just recently Linwood Barclay. Barclay’s ability to set up a scene and then take you on a 400 page ride of chills and thrills is remarkable. You have no idea where you're going in his books and I like that about it. It keeps me reading. I read his 420 book, Too Close to Home, in three days—I just couldn't put it down.

A. R.: What are your favorite horror movies, and what do you think about the state of the macabre flick today?

S. C.: I think my favorite horror movies would have to be classics like Psycho, The Birds, Carrie, and some of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I do enjoy present day horror films but for some reason they are becoming more and more predictable. And with all the special effects and money budget movie makers have these days, it leaves nothing to the imagination. I think in the case of the old classics, sometimes what you didn't see frightened you more because they left it open for the watcher to imagine and think about long after the film had finished. These days it’s just thrust into your face and once you have seen it, it’s gone - nothing to really think about. Of course, I am not bashing all present day horror flicks because I have still enjoyed quite a few and will continue to catch as many of them as I can when they come out. This week, Darren is taking me to see The Last Exorcism. I just hope that it lives up to all the hype. I think over done hype can sometimes kill a movie.

A.R.: What are your thoughts on Print on Demand and e-books taking over?

S. C.: Especially in the UK, it is very hard for British authors to get a step on the ladder that will take them to the top and I think small press publishers and indie publishing allows the little people to shine. With e-books, I really don't think that they will ever truly take over. Not everyone has the money to buy the equipment to read them on or even a computer and especially at the prices they are advertised at. I love the smell of a brand new book, I love being able to touch the pages and read it in obscure places such as the bath. I wouldn't take my laptop or mobile phone in the bath me so I sure as hell wouldn't take an e-reader with me and I think quite a few people think along those lines too.

A.R.: How many hours a day do you write? What education did you acquire for this work?

S. C.: I write up to eight hours a day, sometimes more. But at the minute with House of Horror becoming more and more popular, I seem to spend more time answering emails, filing contracts, reading through several piles of slush and formatting and editing anthologies and on top of that trying to advertise. I haven't really written many short stories. When I get time to write it’s usually on my several unfinished novels. I acquired no education in this field other than having a gcse and A level in English Literature. The rest is just learning through others. I have the ability to edit someone else’s work but when it comes to my own I struggle a lot.

A. R.: Are you going the agent route, or will you sign with a publisher or self-publish?

S. C.: I plan to eventually seek representation for my fourth novel but all of my other books have been self published and I am not afraid to say that. I have a decent following and steady sales and as I said earlier, it’s very hard for British authors at the minute especially in the horror field.

A. R.: Are you a crafter (must get paid for your stories) or are you an artist (does it for the love of the genre)?

S. C.: I guess I am a mixture of both. Primarily I am a crafter. I get paid for my short stories and of course my short story collections, novel and anthologies. But I also love the craft and love to see my work in print and also online and be able to link to for friends and family to see. House of Horror ezine is for the love and I am most appreciative of those who allow me to use their stories for free. I do try and give back to other free ‘zines as much as I can.

A. R.: Will you ever podcast your stories or write a graphic novel?

S. C: I am not sure about podcasting my stories. I used to do an audio section for stories under 1,000 words for House of Horror and that was because I can read about 1,000 words without getting tongue tied and even that still takes me a good few tries to do it. My stories are usually between 2,000-5,000 words long and I think I would get very frustrated. As for a graphic novel, my boyfriend Darren James is an artist. You can find his work on Deviantart under the name Dyce-Bastion or you can just Google that name and find him. He and I talked about doing one together once we have finished all of our commitments. He at the moment has been writing his book for 13 years and has almost finished the final draft of book one out of about 6 I think. And I also have two novels already in the works and all the work I do with House of Horror. Right at the minute no, but possibly in the near future, so watch this space.

A. R.: What is your Web site and blog address so we can check out your work?

S. C.: The website address is www.houseofhorror.org.uk. Please check out the open calls we have and maybe have a look around my house. The blog is updated with news and all the interviews and reviews we do. Also if you sign up with HOH you will receive a monthly newsletter just announcing what we have going on so readers can keep up to date with everything.

Thank you again AR. I must rush now for there is a man hanging upside down in my basement and my stomach is rumbling.... happy nightmares everyone!


Friday, September 17, 2010

A. R.'s Interview with Jordan Krall

Week two of my interview series comes crashing in on ya with bizarro author, Jordan Krall. He writes bizarro, horror, and crime fiction. His work has been praised by Edward Lee, Tom Piccirilli, and Carlton Mellick III.

A. R.: Hi Jordan. Thanks for being my guest. A lot of horror fans, including me, don’t know anything about bizarro fiction. What separates bizarro from straight-up horror?

J. K.: Not all bizarro is horror. Bizarro fiction in general means fiction that is weird to the max. Think the literary equivalent of cult movies. There’s bizarro humor, bizarro SF, bizarro horror, bizarro westerns, bizarro fantasy, etc. As far as bizarro horror vs. the traditional kind, bizarro horror is a lot weirder. You’ll get strange characters, plots, and settings that you just won’t see in your average horror story. You will get the unexpected.

A. R.: I love cult movies! By the way, how was the Horrorfind convention? You know I’m dying to hear about that. Explain to those who don’t know what Horrorfind is.

J. K.: This was my first trip to Horrorfind. It’s a weekend convention that is mostly based around actors and directors in the genre but this year they had more writers such as Brian Keene, Joe Lansdale and Jack Ketchum. It was a pretty cool event. The bizarro authors that attended were a part of the BIZARRO POWER HOUR which was sixty minutes of craziness. It was me along with Andersen Prunty, William Pauley III, and Eric Mays. Greg Hall (of the Funky Werepig) also joined us. The reading went really well except for two dumb assholes getting offended at my use of the word “flesh-pistol”! Anyway, other than meeting some fans and selling books, we also drank a lot and made fun of people.

A. R.: Tell us a little about the books you have coming out or if one of your books just came out, and where you're going as far as content.

J. K.: My most recent book was KING SCRATCH. It’s a really twisted crime fiction story involving human flesh moonshine, Abe Lincoln, car crashes, and squid. I also just had a chapbook published called BLOW UP THE OUTSIDE WORLD. I co-wrote it with Ash Lomen. It’s a SF story that takes place both in space and in a sleazy grindhouse theater. As far as content, so far each of my books has been pretty different from the last one. I have similar themes and imagery but the subgenre differs. My next book is TENTACLE DEATH TRIP which Eraserhead Press is publishing. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel, sort of like Mad Max meets the Cthulhu mythos. Cars, tentacles, violence, tentacles, and more tentacles.

A. R.: What books/short stories/authors influenced you, and why?

J. K.: From an early age, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were both big influences. As I got to high school, I also got into J.G. Ballard (mostly his novel CRASH) as well as William Burroughs. Then came Elmore Leonard, Thomas Ligotti, and Edward Lee which have all had a big effect on me as an adult writer. Elmore Leonard has influenced me mostly in terms of the actual writing and structure. Most writers should look at how he writes dialogue.

A. R.: I love Lovecraft, Edward Lee and Elmore Leonard! What are your favorite macabre movies, and what do you think about the state of the macabre flick today?

J. K.: I’ve been a horror fan since I was a child. Some of my favorites include Psycho, Messiah of Evil, Halloween, Halloween 3, Videodrome, Suspiria, Video Violence, New York Ripper, Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive, Vacancy, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and a lot of other Italian horror/giallo films. Today’s horror movies are hit and miss for me. There are too many shitty straight-to-dvd movies being made that makes it so difficult to find something good. The horror flicks that hit theaters are usually disappointments.

A.R.: I agree. What are your thoughts on Print on Demand and e-books taking over?

J. K.: Print-on-demand is cool for people who want to start a small publishing business but it also gives people with no talent or work ethic the chance to clog the internet with their crappy books. E-books are okay but I don’t read them that much and personally, I think it’s just a way of big publishers to be able to make more money without having to dish out the cash to print actual books. I’m hoping it’s a fad that’ll just fizzle out. As a reader, I’d much rather have something tangible to show for my money. As a writer, I want something physical I can show off to people who come to my house.

A.R.: Do you write full-time or do you have a full-time job? What education did you acquire for this work?

J. K.: I have a full-time job as a teacher. I have a degree in Elementary Ed and certifications in Special Ed and History. I’m about midway through grad school so I’m hoping to get my Masters relatively soon.

A. R.: Did you sign with a publisher or self-publish?

J. K.: I signed with a publisher. I mostly work with Eraserhead Press but have also worked with Black Rainbows Press and Bucket O’ Guts Press.

A. R.: Are you a crafter (must get paid for your stories) or are you an artist (does it for the love of the genre)?

J. K.: I guess a little of both. It depends on who is accepting my story. If it’s a small anthology, I might be a little less concerned about payment. I do love the genre and don’t let the financial part get in the way. Of course, maybe I think that way because I do it as a side job so I’m not relying on the cash my writing brings in.

A. R.: Will you ever podcast your stories or write a graphic novel?

J. K.: I’m pretty inept technically so someone would have to do the podcast for me. As far as a graphic novel, I am writing a weird little comic strip with David W. Barbee. If someone else offered to draw a graphic novel for one of my stories (FISTFUL OF FEET would make a great graphic novel as would PIECEMEAL JUNE) I would definitely do it. So anyone interested should get in touch with me!

A. R.: Inept technically here as well. What do you envision for the future of the bizarro genre, as far as getting the word out to the people who aren’t familiar with it?

J. K.: It’ll get bigger and bigger. I envision there will be bizarro conventions all over the country (right now it’s only in Portland once a year) and then all over the world. People will refer to it as a genre just as often as they mention horror or SF. You will see celebrities showing interest in bizarro, too. You’ll see movie adaptations.

A. R.: What is your Web site and blog address so we can check out your work?

J. K.: My main site: http://www.filmynoir.com
My blog which is updated more often: http://jordankrall.wordpress.com


PIECEMEAL JUNE / Novella / Eraserhead Press / 2008

THE BIZARRO STARTER KIT BLUE (anthology) / story “The Longheads” / Bizarro Books / 2008

SQUID PULP BLUES / Novella Collection / Eraserhead Press / 2008

FURNITURE FANGS (zine) / story “Taboric Light Beer” / D.I.Y. zine / 2009

THE MAGAZINE OF BIZARRO FICTION Issue 1 (mag) / story “The Pistol Burps” / Bizarro Books / 2009

FISTFUL OF FEET / Novel / Eraserhead Press / 2009

THE MAGAZINE OF BIZARRO FICTION Issue 2 (mag) / article “The Weird, Weird West” / Bizarro Books / 2009

KING SCRATCH / Novella / Black Rainbows Press / 2010

BLOW UP THE OUTSIDE WORLD (co-written with Ash Lomen) / Chapbook / Bucket O’ Guts Press / 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A. R.'s Interview with Ty Schwamberger

I'm kicking off my interview series with horror and bizarro authors with a fellow horror author. Bloodlusters, meet Ty Schwamberger. He's had several short stories published online and in paper, and his first novel came out in 2008. One of his short stories, "Cake Batter," was optioned for a short movie and came out in 2010. A part-time faculty member at the University of Akron, he pens the monthly column, "Ty-ing Up the Genre" for Hellnotes.com and the quarterly column, "Guidance from the Dark Scribe," for Morpheus Tales magazine. Several anthologies and a novella are soon to come.

A.R.: Hi Ty. Thanks for being my guest. I know you write horror, but tell us a little about what kind of stories you pen, what you like to write about the most and where your short stories have been published. Congratulations on "Liquid Courage" in Shroud 9, by the way.

T.S.: Thank you for having me.

When someone asks me what sort of stuff I write; I normally respond with 'horror'. Although in reality I'd say half of my stories are suspense and the other half what I would consider straight-up horror. I enjoy writing about anything from a crazied person, the human psyche, creatures, new twists on classic monsters, and even adding in some scifi in one of my most recent penned short stories (this was more an experiment more than anything - though I think the story came out ok).

As far as my short stories prior to 'Liquid Courage' in Shroud Magazine #9; I was published on some ezines (which in my opinion shouldn't be overlooked by an beginning writer) and in some independent print mags. I do have a few flash stories coming out in anthologies at the end of this year, as well.

All other short stories (as of right now) will be published in forthcoming short story collections.

A.R.: I hear you have seven books coming out in the next year and a half. Tell us a little about that, what your first book is about and where you're going as far as content.

T.S.: I do have one novel that came out in 2008 - which is now out of print. You are correct; I do have seven books coming out in the next year and a half (as of this interview I have actually agreed in principle to an eighth book, but can't announce it until I've signed on the dotted line). The books which I've already signed contracts on are as follows: Fem Fangs (anthology - co-editor, end of this month), For After Midnight (short story collection, 4th Q 2010), Dark Things II (anthology - editor - 1st Q 2011), Twisted Tales from the Torchlight Inn (3-novella collection by Myself, Dean Harrison and Thomas A. Erb - February 2011), Relics & Remains (anthology - editor - March 2011), On Dark, Lonely Nights (short story collection, 1st Q 2012), Dinin' (novella - 1st Q 2012).

You can actually read more about each forthcoming book via various links on my website at: http://tyschwamberger.com

A.R.: What books/short stories/authors influenced you, and why?

T.S.: My favorite author is, Richard Laymon. I have all but 1 of his books (excluding chapbooks and magazines) and absolutely love his writing style. In fact, I've had more than a few people tell me that my writing style is similiar to his. This definitely isn't by design and I can only hope to ever be as half as good as he was. There are several other current authors that I absolutely love to read, as well, but I think that is better left unsaid.

As far as Laymon; I've always enjoyed how he can take such a common situation and turn it into something off-the-wall or macabre. His style is simple, yet effective, and can scare the ever-living hell out of you. It's perfect!

A.R.: Great answer! I love Laymon. What are your favorite horror movies, and what do you think about the state of the horror flick today?

T.S.: I grew up watching the slasher films (Friday the 13th, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc) of the 80s. My favorite is definitely the original Friday the 13th movies. Though I don't particularly like the remakes of some of the 80s films, I think the horror movie industry (including some kick ass B-movies) is really pumping out some great stuff, today. I try to watch as many as I can get my grubby little hands on.

A.R.: What are your thoughts on Print on Demand and e-books taking over? I heard Dorchester Publishing has gone all e-books, which includes their Leisure Horror imprint.

T.S.: Listen. I remember two and a half years ago when I started writing (yes, believe it or not, I've only been doing this that short of time - if you couldn't tell from the number of books I have coming out over a relatively short period of time - I like to go balls-out when it's something I love to do); POD was taboo as all get-out. But, now...oh, now...the majority of small presses do it, along with some major publishers. From a business standpoint; how can someone say that isn't the way to go? Hell. You don't have to print thousands of books that you aren't even sure are going to sell and can instead just print them as they are ordered. This DOESN'T in any way diminish the quality of the fiction contained inside the covers (for the 'quality' presses, of course), but helps control overhead and therefore help these great companies not go by the wayside just because the economy of this country is in the dumps.

As far as e-books...some of my future stuff will be coming out in e-book form (though, every title WILL be in print, as well). I can't say I'm absolutely sold on the idea of reading an e-book, since I do write and read my stuff and others that I'm editing for on a 'screen' already, but I will say that tons of people are jumping on the idea of ereaders and such and can help the beginning writer (just as ezines) get in front of a large audience to showcase their stuff.

A.R.: Do you write full-time or do you have a full-time job? What education did you acquire for this work?

T.S.: I graduated from college in 2000 with a BA in History of all things. My degree basically means I can't, unless I would have gone onto graduate school, find a job in my major. For the past 8 years, I've worked for a few companies doing accounting-type work. I actually got asked recently in another interview; how in the world do I still have to work a 'day job' (as I call it) with all the stuff I have coming out. My answer is always; it's not as easy as some people think to be able to make enough writing to do it full-time. Writing full-time is my ultimate goal, and if things keep going as they are now, I hope to be able to do so in the next 5 years. That's if the stress of working full-time and keeping up my current output of material doesn't give me a brain hemorage first...

A.R.: Did you go the agent route, sign with a publisher or self-publish?

T.S.: I've never gone the self-publishing route. Although, if you have a dedicated following like Brain Keene, for example, I think it can work for you. Maybe one day...I don't know.

At this point, and I can say with some authority for the future, I will never sign with an agent. I do think that agents can be beneficial, but I actually enjoy the business side of writing just as much as the putting the words on the page part. All of the stuff I already have out there, and more specifically the future material, I have signed exclusively with a variety of publishers on my own accord.

A.R.: Are you a crafter (must get paid for your stories) or are you an artist (does it for the love of horror)?

T.S.: I consider myself a storyteller. I guess this would technically fall under the 'artist' category. And although I currently do a few things that are unpaid (which I'm not going to tell), I'm at a point now where I need to get paid for the work I do. Bascially, I'm just too damn busy for anything new going forward for which I'm not eventually going to see some sort of monetary compensation coming in.

A.R.: Clive Barker said "Horror is just a sticky-label," that writing a great story is what's most important. Your thoughts on this?

T.S.: How can anyone argue with a master of horror such as Clive Barker, ya know? I definitely can't. I think if you consider yourself a horror writer, which I do, you'll end up bringing in some sort of horrific material into some part of the story - whether it was your intention when you started the thing or not.

A.R.: Will you ever podcast your stories or write a graphic novel?

T.S.: Podcast - At this point, no. Perhaps in the future if the right situation comes along.

Graphic Novel - I would love to jump into this arena and have tried a few times. Graphic novels are really freakin' hot right now and I think it would be great fun to adapt something I've already written into pictures and dialog bubbles or create something new to format the story strictly for the use as a graphic novel.

Thank you, Ty, for your hard work at furthering the horror genre! I wish you much success!