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!