Archive for the ‘ Interviews ’ Category

CREATOR OF HEROES

The following is an interview with New York Times bestselling author David Morrell, master of the high-action thriller, creator of Rambo, author of such fine novels as First Blood, The Protector, and Murder As a Fine Art. He writes nonfiction, and for comics, and is a mentor to emerging writers and has a passion for protecting wildlife. And his latest collection, Before I Wake, is available June 30th from Subterranean. He’s all over the place, but at this moment he’s at Written Backwards to share a few things. Enjoy!

the_chosen

The interview [ by Michael Bailey ]:

My first exposure to your work was in the form of a Halloween costume. This was either 1983 or 1984, which means I was either four or five years old when I first met a character by the name of “Rambo” (only knew him by that name) because my older siblings talked about him often. You published the novel First Blood in 1972, and ten years later, in the fall of 1982, the movie debuted (directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring Sylvester Stallone, who also contributed to the screenplay). Back then, movies stayed in theatres much longer, for years even, and First Blood was a huge success, grossing an unheard-of $125.2 million, which, way back when, was a lot of money.

Here’s where the costume comes in. My oldest sister came out of her room the following year (or the next) with fake blood dripping down her face and neck, her long hair tied back with a red ribbon around her forehead, and I believe she wore a tank top and a long black survival knife belted to her waist, the kind with a compass on the hilt (back then, you could wear such weapons in public). “I’m Rambo,” she had said, for Halloween, introducing him to me, and she explained the blood was there because Rambo had apparently jumped off a cliff and into some trees, scraping his face and neck. Let me repeat that I was either four or five years old, so I wasn’t allowed to watch such violent movies. This Rambo guy sounded kinda cool, I thought. And my sister, she’s kinda cool.

first_blood

Fast-forward another ten years, and I’m considered old enough to watch the Rambo movie (or perhaps not), and it quickly becomes a favorite. I watch First Blood a couple dozen times, and my older brother and I often play “Rambo” in the backyard, throwing knives at trees, making bows and arrows from fallen branches, scavenging to make forts in trees, crawling on the dirt, always running from something (like in the film). John Rambo becomes part of my childhood, and for the course of about twenty years, I don’t know there’s a book about this Rambo hero of ours.

Fast-forward another ten years, and I start writing fiction, poetry, anything I can think of. I don’t want to be a writer (and hate reading in general, at this time), but for some reason I have to write, like it’s some kind of disease. Sometime around then, I discover there’s a novel version of First Blood (why’d he call it that?), by some guy named David Morrell. And then I find his other books, such as The Brotherhood of the Rose, The Fraternity of the Stone, The Protector, The Naked Edge. I become a constant reader.

brotherhood

Fast-forward another ten years, and I’m still writing, but seriously. I’m at some kind of boot camp hosted by Borderlands Press, with the likes of Thomas F. Monteleone, Douglas E. Winter, and F. Paul Wilson, and this David Morrell fellow I’ve come to know through his words and through his characters. The creator of Rambo! I’m thinking. The guy who created one of my (and my siblings’) childhood heroes! It’s thirty-something years later, and wouldn’t you know it, the idea behind First Blood is still relevant. My oldest brother, he’s been in the military all this time. He’s my own Rambo. He’s fought in the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and countless others, and he’s there during the fall of Saddam Hussein, helps take over the Baghdad Airport and later shows me a picture of him and a few others underneath a sign proclaiming that such a thing would never happen. And each time he returns from war, like many others, he’s perhaps looked down upon.

Fast-forward to the present, and I’m interviewing the creator of Rambo, and so many other incredible characters. And I’m falling in love with new series altogether, such as the Thomas De Quincy series, which starts with Murder As a Fine Art.

murder.jpg

The questions:

Michael Bailey: I promise this will be the only Rambo-related question, but his story is important to me and to so many others, so I must ask: Why do you feel the story of John Rambo is forever-relevant?

David Morrell: It depends on which Rambo we’re talking about. The character in my novel First Blood is furious about what happened to him in Vietnam, whereas the character in the film is a sympathetic victim while the character in the second and third films is jingoistic. Sly told me that in retrospect he wasn’t happy with the treatment of violence in Rambo II and III, which is why he saw the fourth film [Rambo] as his version of a Sam Peckinpah movie. The character was more like the one in my novel. “Wars. Old men start them, young men fight them, and everybody loses,” Rambo says at one point in the fourth film (the director’s-cut DVD amplifies the theatrical version). If we look for a common denominator, I suppose it comes back to the military virtues of courage, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice, which are virtues that everyone, not only those in the military, should emulate. I mention those virtues in my Captain America; The Chosen six-part comic-book series.

sly

David Morrell with Sylvester Stallone

MB: Movies based on comic book characters are perhaps the most costly but also the most profitable of all movies, with Avengers: Endgame recently grossing over $1.2 billion worldwide over a single weekend, and movies like Black Panther and Captain Marvel and many others making over $1 billion worldwide before their short runs (compared to the long-ago). Movies are only in theatres now for months, yet raking in insane amounts of money. Why are comic book characters such a big part of our lives?

DM: It’s about promotion as much as the characters. After the collapse of the DVD market, Hollywood producers looked elsewhere for revenue. They found it in China and India, where the theatrical-distribution systems were starting to make Hollywood films available in a big way. Comic-book heroes (and characters from films such as Star Wars) are so universally familiar that Oriental audiences recognized them, despite the differences in cultures. In marketing language, these films are “pre-sold.” As the revenue from Oriental audiences increased, studios made more films to satisfy that market. Meanwhile, to use the United States as an example, the binge-watching of television series is so popular that only films with a visceral magnitude motivate families to leave the house as a group. A family of four spends more than a hundred dollars to go to a movie (a low estimate). The impressive CGI effects and the wall-rumbling sound of superhero films aren’t anything they can get at home. The spectacle is the attraction. Marketers have brilliantly convinced families that these are experiences they ought to share, even though the action scenes can be prolonged and repetitive to the point that they’re numbing. That isn’t to say I’m negative about superhero films. I loved the origin films for Wonder Woman and Black Panther, which emphasized characterization as much as spectacle.

MB: Why are we, as people, so in need of superheroes?

DM: It depends on how we define a superhero. Remember that in the 1930s Hitler used elements from Germanic mythology to promote his agenda. For a superhero to appeal to me, that character needs to personify fairness, selflessness, the belief in equality, the protection of the weak, etc. Fortunately those values are what traditional comic books and Hollywood superhero movies represent. In our crisis-ridden culture, we need as many representatives of those values as we can get. I’m reminded that the mass shooter at the film theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012 opened fire at an audience watching The Dark Knight Returns. He could have been a villain in the movie. When I wrote my Captain America: The Chosen comic-book series, my theme was that each of us has within us the capacity to be a superhero. In my Spider-Man: Frost two-parter, my theme was the selfless meaning of Spider-Man / Peter Parker’s mantra: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

capain_america

MB: It’s not as well-known as some of your other projects, but you have dipped into Marvel comics, writing such series as Captain America: The Chosen (one of my favorite short-run comics of all time, the story you created as relevant as (or perhaps mirroring) that of John Rambo’s, once again making me think of my brother in the military), as well as a two-parter of The Amazing Spider-Man (#700.1 & 700.2), and an issue of Savage Wolverine (#23). The question: How much easier, or more difficult, is comic-writing vs. prose-writing?

spider-man

DM: I think of comics as stop-action stories comparable to storyboards for films. The dynamism comes from the jump between panels. One contrast between prose fiction and comics is that in fiction I can use all five senses to try to achieve a feeling of three dimensions whereas in a comic book I’m working in an emphatically visual medium, with limited sound effects that are printed on the page and require the reader to imagine them. Some readers might be surprised that a comic-book writer chooses the number of images per page (a single image or two or four or even eight images on a page) and describes what happens in each of those images. A 22-page comic book might have a script that’s as long as the comic itself. Moreover, what characters say or think needs to be kept to a minimum in favor of letting the images tell the story. I think of each page as a paragraph and try to use the bottom panel on a page to catapult the reader to the top of the next one. Similarly, when a reader turns a page in a physical comic book, I try to have a “reveal” on the page that’s uncovered. My essay about writing Spider-Man: Frost, can be found on the Writing page of my website, www.davidmorrell.net. The essay includes script pages and matching illustrations from artist Klaus Janson and colorist Steve Buccellatto.

MB: If you were given the opportunity, which comic series would you write next?

DM: Probably Batman, because of the psychological implication of caves and bats. He’s a DC character, of course, but I think my contract with Marvel has expired.

wolverine

MB: Okay, no more comic-related questions. You are well-known to up-and-coming writers (100% of those I encounter, at least) as a person always willing to offer advice and support, always going above and beyond, such as with your involvement in the Borderlands Press boot camps. Why is it important to help those new to the business?

DM: A couple of reasons. One is that the writing world is contracting. It’s increasingly difficult for beginning writers to get established. I recall the writers who gave me generous advice at the start: William Tenn, Stirling Silliphant, Donald E. Westlake, Brian Garfield, and Lawrence Block, to name some. I also recall how grateful I was. They told me to pay it forward, so that’s what I do. The second reason is that I‘m by nature a teacher. I love sharing information and explaining, which might be another example of paying it forward.

MB: You are also often involved with wildlife rescue, and have a few stories you’ve shared in the past with the wildlife where you live. What first sparked this need to help other animals and why is so important we do so?

DM: I’ve always felt close to animals and nature. One of my most transformative experiences involved living in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming for 33 days as a member of a Wilderness Expedition course through the National Outdoor Leadership School. That was research for my novel, Testament. I’ve always had my home in small communities with easy access to the countryside. I’m a gardener, especially when it comes to vegetables (and in New Mexico, that’s a task). I see my world as if it’s a Van Gogh painting with the universe’s spirit swirling through everything. The wildlife rescues started four years ago. I live in Santa Fe, near the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. One day I stepped outside and found a mother bobcat with two kittens. She stared into my eyes as powerfully as I’ve ever been looked at. But she wasn’t threatening me. Young and weak, she was pleading for help. I don’t feed wildlife. But I did let her use a copse of trees near my house as a den. I never bothered her. She and the kittens were there every day. Then one night, I heard three shots and knew in my heart that a neighbor had killed her. She never came back. I learned about the New Mexico Wildlife Shelter, who sent someone to teach me how to capture the kittens. I took them to the shelter, learned about its worthy mission, and have supported it since then. Last summer, the director brought a sharp-shinned hawk in a cage. The hawk had been injured but was now healed. I kept the hawk for a day as it became used to the sound and look of my wooded neighborhood. Then I released it. The hawk came back many times after that. On one occasion, it perched on a rain barrel and looked through our kitchen window. For me, that’s like going to church.

MB: As a creator of heroes, what single piece of advice would you share?

DM: If you mean advice about writing, my mantras are, “Be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of another writer.” And “Don’t chase the market. You’ll always see its backside.” But the larger issue is the responsibility that comes with writing in genres that attract more readers than other types of writing. My work emphasizes action and suspense, but underneath there are embedded themes, and they go back to what I mentioned that I felt were the qualities of a superhero: fairness, selflessness, the belief in equality, the protection of the weak, etc. It’s no accident that I wrote three novels and three short stories about protective agents and that one of them is called The Protector.

* For additional writing advice, check out The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons About Writing and Publishing, and also his Writing page at www.davidmorrell.net.

A VISIT FROM THE TOOTH FAIRY

The following is an interview with Zoje Stage, author of Baby TeethWhile this was put together prior to StokerCon (a conference run by the Horror Writers Association), I had the opportunity of meeting Zoje at the event. So, without further ado …

baby_teeth_1.jpg

The Interview [ by Michael Bailey ]:

Baby Teeth seemed to have hit the ground running. The cover for the hardback is simple: blank white-ish background, shattered red lollipop, and those two words, which somewhat suggest that yes, this particular book is going to bite. I remember seeing the book for the first time displayed in a local bookstore in Santa Rosa, California, or maybe Petaluma, and it was like one of those presidential portraits that sort of keep staring at you as you pass, not wanting you to pass. The cover as striking as the title. And I remember thinking, Who is Zoje Stage? I didn’t buy the book, then. And I didn’t buy it the next two or three times it wanted me to buy it.

Some backstory: My wife and I have a yearly tradition of getting each other two books for Christmas, ones we’d not typically buy for ourselves; that way, each year, we are each introduced to two new writers minimum. The books I chose for her were, of course, Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, and Cherry by Nico Walker (which he apparently wrote while in prison … or is still in prison, I don’t know). Both books were debut novels by writers I had never heard of before, and both had dust jackets that were a mix of white and red. They captured my attention in their first few pages (along with the back cover copy). The problem, however (at the time) was that I bought the books for her, as gifts, and the rule we have is that we can’t read them until the other finishes. She’s a slow reader, so this had me a bit worried because the two books (yours in particular) kept haunting, kept calling. Luckily, she breezed through it in a matter of days.

Suddenly I’m reading the book, and doing the same, alternating between chapters from the point of view of little, troubled Hanna, and her mother. Every time I’d finish a chapter, my wife would ask, “Where are you at?” and I’d tell her, and she’d follow it with a smile and say, “Oh, just you wait” and so I’d keep reading. I haven’t read Cherry yet, because she hasn’t yet read it, but I was lucky enough to have read Baby Teeth. It’s a real page-turner. This book is going to do well, I told myself, and This Zoje Stage is going to do well, and before I know it the Bram Stoker Award nominations are announced and Baby Teeth is on the list for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

By the time this interview goes live, we will have already met in Grand Rapids, Michigan for StokerCon, hosted by the Horror Writers Association, and perhaps by then you will have taken home one of those heavy haunted house statues. But for now, we are complete strangers, and so I have a few questions as if we haven’t yet already met (like some kind of strange time-travel). That said …

The questions:

Michael Bailey: What made you want to write Baby Teeth, and why do you feel it’s connecting with readers?

Zoje Stage: I’ve long been fascinated by “bad seed” stories. I hate to say it, but sometimes children seem like otherworldly creatures to me, and it can be pretty freaky when you get a bad vibe from a kid in real life (which has happened). While “evil children” is a trope I’ve enjoyed especially in films, I hadn’t found a book that really delved as deep as I wanted to go, and you know what they say: write the book you want to read. I was particularly interested in exploring the dichotomies of such a child, as I do believe that a tiny percentage of the population may be truly psychopathic, but more often children—as highly sensitive beings—are influenced by the world around them. And I also wanted to see a realistic possibility for how a family would ultimately deal with a disturbed child, and there are parents who really have to confront this.

Part of why I think the book is connecting with readers is the dual-sympathy and dual-revulsion they experience with both Hanna and Suzette. Society puts an incredible amount of pressure on mothers, and that aspect is something a lot of people can relate to. And simultaneously, it’s very compelling to explore the inner workings of a child—especially one who is smart but off-kilter. Apparently even parents of the most wonderful children have glimpsed bits of Hanna-like behavior in their little progeny, and I think this has only increased the relatability of the story, as it makes people really ponder nature vs. nurture.

MB: This is your debut novel, but have you written others that are not-yet-published? If so, what can you tell us about those other manuscripts, and if not, how were you able to land this one so gracefully with St. Martin’s Press?

ZS: Baby Teeth was the sixth novel I’d written, and the fifth I’d queried. The first four were Young Adult, with the connective element of being fairly dark, but the genres were all over the place (sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, and something too weird to classify but inspired by Shirley Jackson). Then I made a startling realization that maybe I wasn’t the best person to be writing YA (for a number of reasons). While Baby Teeth is technically the second of the adult novels I’ve written, I recently did a complete overhaul of that first adult novel—and maybe it will become my third published book? I do not, otherwise, plan to revisit my earliest novels, and have written a few new things since Baby Teeth.

MB: A Bram Stoker Award is for horror. Do you consider Baby Teeth horror? How fine is the line between that genre and thriller, which book publishers seem to be using for dark fiction. That said, how fine is the line between horror and any other genre? Alma Katsu’s The Hunger comes to mind, which is historical fiction, yet recently won an award for westerns and is up for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel.

ZS: The first inkling I had that my book might be considered “horror” was in Aug. 2018—one month after publication—when it showed up on a Bustle list called “15 Horror Books to Pick up If You’ve Already Read Everything by Stephen King” (The Hunger was also on that list). Prior to that it had never occurred to me that my name would ever be mentioned in proximity to Stephen King! But more lists came out, and Baby Teeth ended up on Bloody Disgusting’s “10 Best Books of 2018 for the Horror Fan” and finished in the Goodreads Choice Awards for Horror in the #2 slot, right behind Stephen King. Suffice it to say, I’ve been thinking about the “horror” designation a lot over the last year.

I submitted Baby Teeth to my agent as a suspense novel, and so far as I know my publisher marketed it as psychological suspense. But since then I’ve heard it referred to as a thriller, domestic suspense, psychological thriller, and horror. I’ve been told by many, many readers—a large portion of them via social media—that Baby Teeth was the “creepiest” thing they’ve ever read. I’ve had readers report that the book gave them nightmares, or that they couldn’t read it at night, or while their young children were in the house … And that’s when I came to understand that Baby Teeth is a horror novel because it scares readers. It’s that simple. From the publishing world’s perspective each genre may mean a very specific thing, but from a reader’s perspective a “horror” novel is one that scares them—and I really can’t argue with that reasoning.

MB: The bio on your website states that “Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful.” What can you share about your film-making experience, and why the move to fiction writing?

ZS: My storytelling goal with film was actually quite similar to what it is with novels: to create realistic stories with well-developed characters who were in odd situations. Film had been my passion for decades, but ultimately it was not a truly viable way for me to be my “best” creative self. It took me a long time to realize that, as it was a dream I wanted very badly, but I had to concede, as time went on, that I was not making the kind of progress I wanted to make, and my health and finances were becoming bigger and bigger obstacles. It’s also possible that I was intimidated by the prospect of writing novels, and it wasn’t until I was able to see the correlations between directing a film and writing a book that I felt ready give it a try.

As a DIY indie filmmaker (forever dreaming of a budget that never materialized), I basically wore all the hats: writing, directing, producing, shooting, acting, editing, etc. Early in the process, I realized that a novelist also wears many hats. The writer of a novel “directs” the reader’s attention toward what she wants them to see and know. She develops and performs all of the roles. In addition to being the production designer, the novelist stages all the scenes, and sets the mood. Each chapter of a book is like a sequence in a film, written, directed, and edited … But the big game changer? I didn’t need to secure locations or props, or upgrade or rent equipment, or beg friends for help in front of or behind the camera. I didn’t need more money to write a book, and I could realistically aspire—with sufficient practice—to “wear all the hats” with some degree of competence.

I found there were things I could do with novels I couldn’t do with film—like exploring thoughts and language—but my background in film and theatre proved to be extremely transferable. And somehow, in spite of living in a society that prefers “watching” over “reading,” from my perspective there are more opportunities for a book than a film, and room for more kinds of stories. One of the unexpected thrills of being published is the “presence” of my book in the world, and the chance for readers to keep discovering it. The publishing industry may not be perfect, but it’s a world away from the film industry and I’ll never go back.

MB: Do you also write short fiction, or do you tend to stick to longer works (asking for a friend)?

ZS: I have a weird relationship with short fiction (similar to my weird relationship with short films). With both, I’ve had the sense that I need a longer format to produce better work. There was a time when I wrote a ton of speculative short fiction and tried—and failed—to get it published. I haven’t written short fiction in years, although I do have a writing “to do” list that includes a couple short story ideas. Will I ever write them?

MB: To see if we can predict the future, what are your goals for attending StokerCon? Who are you most excited to meet? Do you have any predictions for the other award categories? For the last five years, during the award ceremony, I have circled who I think will win prior to everything starting, and then underline those that actually win; I think last year was my best, something like 90% correct.

ZS: I’ve never been to any sort of writing convention so I’m excited to see what it’s all about and hang out with so many writers. It’s a little funny that I have to travel to Michigan to meet “local” author J.D. Barker—especially since he invited me to participate in a local panel discussion taking place a week after StokerCon—but I’m definitely looking forward to meeting him. As a debut author I still feel very new to publishing (am I even qualified to be on a panel? LOL), so I’m hoping to glean info from more experienced authors. I’m also looking forward to meeting some folks whom I currently only know in an online capacity.

As far as predictions … There are only a few categories I’ll even wade into, as I am way behind on reading all the nominees. Needless to say, the nominees represent a standard of excellence and they are all worthy of winning. But here are a few guesses:

Superior Achievement in a Novel: Paul Tremblay, The Cabin at the End of the World

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection: Gabino Iglesias, Coyote Songs

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, Bird Box

MB: After all the baby teeth have fallen out, what’s next?

ZS: I have multiple things in the works, though the only one with a definite home at the moment is my next novel, Wonderland: On the cusp of winter, a hardcore artsy New York City family moves to a place not quite on the map in the Adirondacks, and begins to experience bizarre and extreme weather. Being so out of their element, they aren’t sure at first if it’s just the influence of global warming, or some sort of haunting, or the decline of their sanity … But the situation becomes life threatening.

I also hope to find good publishing homes for My UnderSlumberBumbleBeast—the children’s book within Baby Teeth—and a short novel I refer to as a Wary Tale, which is a Fairy Tale for adults. And I have two other novels in various stages of completion.

WHO’S WHO / THE LIST

Written Backwards has survived over the years publishing a wide array of creativity: short stories, novelettes, novellas, poetry, illustrations and, most recently, graphic adaptations. Most of the work appears in original anthologies, but a few select novels, debut fiction collections, and other strange projects have popped up over the years.

The goal: to seek diverse work, to push literary boundaries, to create the most beautiful books imaginable (and to provide professional-rate payments to contributors when at all possible). The result: a who’s who list of writers and artists. Millions of words. Hundreds of illustrations. Familiarize yourself with these wonderful people.

So, just who has Written Backwards published over the years, and where? Here’s a start, alphabetically by last name. All are short stories (unless specified, like this).

Addison, Linda D.

  • “Things That the Earth No Longer Bears” (poem) and “Life Poems” (a series of haiku) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Alfrey, Aeron

  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)

Anderson, Paul Michael

Arcuri, Meghan

  • “Inevitable” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Watch Me” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Introduction” (nonfiction) – The Near Future © 2017
  • “What’s in a Mentor” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Arnzen, Michael

  • “Why the Bram Soker Award Matters” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Bahr, Laura Lee

Bailey, Michael

Baldwin, Ben

  • Illustration – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprint)

Balog, Jonathan

  • “Fail-Safe” and “Insomnia in Reverse” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Barron, Laird

  • “Swift to Chase” (novelette) – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Loveliest Form of the Dark Side” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Batson, Michael Ian

Bear, Elizabeth

  • The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” (novelette, with Sarah Monette) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018 

Biggs, John

Blackthorn, Rose

  • “Prescience” and “Arbitration” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Bodner, Hal

  • “A Rift in Reflection” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “Keepsakes” – You, Human © 2016

Booth III, Max

  • “Flowers Blooming in the Season of Atrophy” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Neighborhood Has a Barbeque” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Blood Dust” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Big Question” (Guest of Honor Interview of Victor LaValle) and “The Importance of First Novels” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Boston, Bruce

  • “Reflecting on Reflections” and “Beyond Symmetry” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Carnival of Ghosts” (poem, with Marge Simon) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Boyer, Ann K.

  • “In the Eyes of the Beholder” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013

Braoddus, Maurice

  • “Wolf at the Door” (with Anthony R. Cardno) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Braunbeck, Gary A.

  • “Need” – Chiral Mad © 2005, 2012 (reprint)
  • “The Great Pity” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013 (Bram Stoker Award winner)
  • “No Fixed Address” (novelette) – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Tales the Ashes Tell” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • “Silver Thread, Hammer Ring” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Falling Faces by the Wayside” – You, Human © 2001, 2016 (reprint)
  • “Somewhere Between the Mundane and the Miraculous” (introduction, with Janet Harriett) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Brenchley, Chad

  • “Ch-Ch-Changes” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Brittany, Michele

  • “Furthers Horror Studies Scholarship for Second Year” (essay on the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, with Nicholas Diak) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Brock, Jason V

  • “Simulacrum” – Qualia Nous © 2013, 2014 (reprint)
  • “Windows, Mirrors, Doors” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Unity of Affect” – You, Human © 2016
  • “When Horror Gets Real” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Brozek, Jennifer

  • “Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger'” (with Seanan McGuire) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Bulkin, Nadia

  • “A Luta Continua” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Bundschuh, Mason Ian

Burke, Chesya

  • “Peregrination” (novelette, with LH Moore) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Burge, Weldon

Burke, Kealan Patrick

Cabeen, Bob

  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)

Cardno, Anthony R.

  • “Wolf at the Door” (with Maurice Broaddus) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Caruso, Santiago

  • Illustration – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprint)

Castle, Mort

  • “The Counselor” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2011, 2013 (reprint)
  • “Prayer” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Robot” – You, Human © 2016
  • “Hey, Kids! Comix! You Can Play, Too!” (nonfiction) – Mort Castle

Campbell, Ramsey

  • “The Word” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 2 © 1997, 2013 (reprint)
  • “Know Your Code” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “How He Helped” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Way of the Worm” (novel excerpt) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Cantella, Julian

Cataneo, Emily B.

  • “A Guide to Etiquette and Comportment for the Sisters of Henley House” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “The Black Crow of Boddinstraße” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire (novella, with Gwendolyn Kiste) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Catronis, George C.

Chadbourne, Glenn

  • Illustrations – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)
  • “Firedance” (graphic adaptation, with Jack Ketchum) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Chambers, James

  • “Mnemonicide” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Price of Faces” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Why Graphic Novels Matter in Horror” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” (graphic adaptation, with Jason Whitley & Christopher Mills) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Chapman, Greg

  • Cover artwork – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)

Chizmar, Richard

Christian, Autumn

Clark, G.O.

  • “Her Apparition Walked Right Through Him” (poem) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Clasen, Dr. Mathias

  • “The Science of Horror: Why Dark Horror Seduces” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Cockburn, D.J.

  • “Peppermint Tea in Electronic Limbo” – Qualia Nous © 2014

Conquest, Lawrence

DeMeester, Kristi

  • “Golden Sun” (novelette, with Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Derwin, Theresa

  • “Guest of Honor Interview” (of Sam Weller) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Diak, Nicholas

  • “Furthers Horror Studies Scholarship for Second Year” (essay on the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, with Michele Brittany) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Di Filippo, Paul

  • “Fifty Super-Sad Mad Dog Sui-Homicidal Self-Sibs, All in a Leaky Tin Can Head” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Dioses, Ashley

  • “The Ocean Queen” (poem, with K.A. Opperman) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Dixon, John

  • “The Fundamental Importance of YA Books” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Edelman, Scott

  • “That Perilous Stuff” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “100 Things to Do Before You’re Downloaded” (novelette) – You, Human © 2016
  • “Only Humans Can Lie” (novelette) – Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them © 2017
  • “Faking it Until Forever Comes (novelette) – Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them © 2017 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “Introduction” (nonfiction) – The Far Future © 2017
  • “Pity This Busy Monster Not” (novelette) – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Words + Pictures = Our First Nightmares” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “I Shall But Love Thee Better” (novelette) – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Ehmann, Jim

Evenson, Brian

  • “Nameless Citizen” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Shimmering Wall” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Everson, John

Fallon, Amber

  • “Guest of Honor Interview” (of Ciatlín R. Kiernan) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Fenn, J. Lincoln

  • “The Secrets of My Prison House” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Freivald, Patrick

French, Aaron J.

Gak

Garrison, A.A.

Gilberts, Steve

  • Illustration – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprint)

Golden, Christopher

Goldsmith, P. Gardner

Goodfellow, Cody

Gonzalez, J.F.

Guignard, Eric J.

  • “Experiments in an Isolation Tank” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Those Who Watch from on High” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Hagelslag, Peter

  • “Lead Me to Multiplicity” – Qualia Nous © 2014

Harriett, Janet

  • “What Goes Up Must Come Down” – You, Human © 2016
  • “Somewhere Between the Mundane and the Miraculous” (introduction, with Gary A. Braunbeck) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Hayden, S.C.

Hearn, David

  • “Brighter Her Aura Grows” – Chiral Mad © 2012

Hertz, Chris

Hodson, Brad

  • “Opening Script” and “Closing Script” (screenplays) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Hook, Andrew

Jacobs, John Hornor

Jeffery, Dave

  • “Guest of Honor Interview” (of Craig Engler) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Johnson, Eugene

  • “Lifetime Achievement Award Interview” (of Linda D. Addison) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Johnson, Erik T.

  • “The Inconsolable Key Company” – Pellucid Lunacy © 2010
  • “The Apologies” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Welcome Home, All You Uninvited” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Angel Chaser” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Whisper #1 (a Warning)” and “Whisper #2 (a Prophecy)” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Immigrants” – You, Human © 2016
  • Yes Trespassing (fiction collection) © 2017
  • “I Was Not There,” “Circle,” “The Lay of Aldrian,” and “Vespertine” (poems) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Science of Modern Horror Cinema” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Ghost Drawl” (with J. Daniel Stone) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Jordan, David

  • “The Truth Box” – Pellucid Lunacy © 2010

Kaplan, Barry Jay

Keene, Brian

Kelley, Jon Michael

  • “The Persistence of Vision” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “The Tended Field of Eido Yamata” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Effigies of Tamber Square” – Qualia Nous © 2014

Kemper, Erinn L.

  • “Versions” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “Night Guard” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Phantom on the Ice” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • “A Flash of Red” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Gumi-Bear” – You, Human © 2016
  • “A Laughing Matter” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The HWA Needs You” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • The Long and the Short of It (novella, with F. Paul Wilson) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018
  • “There is Nothing Lost” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Ketchum, Jack

  • “Amid the Walking Wounded” – Chiral Mad © 1998, 2012 (reprint)
  • “The Right Thing” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “Seconds” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “On Readings” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Firedance” (graphic adaptation, with Glenn Chadbourne) – Chiral Mad 4 © 1998, 2018 (reprint of text only)

Kiera, Mackenzie

  • “Conjuring the Uncanny” (Guest of Honor Interview of Ramsey Campbell) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Kiernan, Ciatlín R.

  • “Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)” (novelette) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2014, 2017 (reprint)

King, Stephen

  • “The Jaunt” – Qualia Nous © 1981, 2014 (reprint)
  • “The Last Rung of the Ladder” – Chiral Mad 3 © 1978, 2016 (reprint)
  • “I Am the Doorway” – You, Human © 1976, 2016 (reprint)

Kiste, Gwendolyn

  • In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire (novella, with Emily B. Cataneo) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Krisch, Glen

  • “Sudden Sanctuary” (graphic adaptation, with Orion Zangara & Matt Stockwell) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Lacey, Patrick

Langan, John

Lannes, Roberta

  • “A Raven in the Dove’s Nest” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • “Painting the Burning Fence” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Girl with Black Fingers” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Larsen, Christian A.

Larson, Amanda

LaValle, Victor

  • “Spectral Evidence” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

LaValley, Dustin

Lebbon, Tim

Leigh, Sydney

Levinthal, Marc

Lin, Jessica May

  • “Red Runner vs. the Surgeon, Issue 18” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Little, John R.

Lucia, Kevin

Macae, Frisco

Macleod, Bracken

  • “A Sense of Dread” (nonfiction, with Douglas Wynne) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Afterword” (nonfiction) – Bones Are Made to Be Broken © 2018
  • How We Broke (novella, with Bracken MacLeod) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

MacLeod, Jay

Malerman, Josh

  • “The Bigger Bedroom” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Jupiter Drop” (novelette) – You, Human © 2016 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “The Challenge” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Malik, Usman T.

  • “Blood Women” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” – Qualia Nous © 2014 (Bram Stoker Award winner, Nebula Award nominee)

Marcley, Valerie

  • “Detritus Girl” (novelette, with P. Gardner Goldsmith) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Marrs, Chris

Mason, Rena

Massie, Elizabeth

  • “18P37-C, After Andrea Was Arrested” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Black River #1” and “Black River #2” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Down and Out on Poplar Street” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The House at Wydham Street” (novel excerpt) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Substance of Belief” (with Marge Simon) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

McBride, Michael

McGuire, Seanan

  • “Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger'” (with Jennifer Brozek) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

McMahon, Gary

McQuiston, Rick

Meloy, Paul

  • “The Serile” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Gearbox” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Michelle, Lori

Miller, Eric

  • “Yes, Horror Films Are Important” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Mills, Christopher

  • “The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” (graphic adaptation, with James Chambers & Jason Whitley) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Monette, Sarah

  • The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” (novelette, with Elizabeth Bear) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2012, 2018 (previously audio only)

Monteleone, Thomas F.

  • “Fun with Your New Asymmetric Head” (introduction) – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “When I Was” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “Good and Faithful Servant” – Qualia Nous © 1976, 2014 (reprint)
  • “The Star-Filled Sea is Smooth Tonight” – You, Human © 1977, 2016 (reprint)
  • “Are You Sure You Really Want to Do This?” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Moore, LH

  • “Peregrination” (novelette, with Chesya Burke) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Morrell, David

  • “Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 2 © 1988, 2013 (reprint)

Morris, Mark

Morton, Lisa

  • “Introduction” (nonfiction)- The Burden of Indigo © 2016
  • “Eyes of the Beholders” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Afterword” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Muslim, Kristine Ong

Mynhardt, Joe

  • “Illustrations and the Horror Genre” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Navarro, Yvonne

Nolan, William F.

Ochse, Weston

O’Neill, Gene

  • “The White Quetzal” – Chiral Mad © 1985, 2012 (reprint)
  • “Tight Partners” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Shaking Man” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Broken Lady” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • At the Laxy K (novella, Allevon #1) © 2015
  • “3-Dot People” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • The Confessions of St. Zach (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #1) © 2016
  • The Burden of Indigo (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #2) © 2016
  • The Near Future (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #3) © 2017
  • The Far Future (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #4) © 2017
  • “Spirits” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Some Thoughts on Short Story Collections” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Existentialism, Progressive Jazz, and the Blues” (introduction) – Artifacts © 2018

O’Neill, Patrick

Opperman, K.A.

  • “The Ocean Queen” (poem, with Ashley Dioses) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

O’Rourke, Monica J.

Ottino, Amanda

  • “Enchanted Combustion” – Chiral Mad © 2012

Palahniuk, Chuck

  • “Observations on Horror Burnout” (introduction) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Palisano, John

  • “Gaia Ungaia” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “The Geminis” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “Welcome to Our Show” (foreword) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Parkes, Ciarán

  • “The Speed of Sound” and “Recognizing Trees” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Partridge, Norman

  • “Special Collections” (introduction / novelette) – The Library of the Dead © 2015 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)

Payne, R.B.

  • “Cubicle Farm” – Chiral Mad © 2012

Perron, Philip C.

Pillar, Amanda

Piorkowski, Dan

Quigley, Lisa

  • “Emcee Interview” (of Jeff Strand) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Rollo, Gord

  • “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers” – Chiral Mad © 2005, 2012 (reprint)

Rucker, Lynda

  • “Encore for an Empty Sky” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Samuels, Mark

SanGiovanni, Mary

Scheuerman, Ashlee

Scully, B.E.

  • “Dog at the Look” – You, Human © 2016
  • “The Mythic Hero Most Likely to Squeeze a Stone” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “We Come in Threes” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Serra, Daniele

Shoebridge, Ian

Simon, Marge

  • “Shutdown” (Rhysling Award winner) and “Tomorrow’s Femme” (poems) – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Mirror Image” and “Reflections Through the Raven’s Eye” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Fourth Law” – You, Human © 2016
  • “In Accordance with the Laws,” “Less than Human” and “Future Imperfect: Broken Laws” (poems) – You, Human © 2016
  • “Carnival of Ghosts” (poem, with Bruce Boston) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Importance of Poetry in the Genre” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Substance of Belief” (with Elizabeth Massie) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Skipp, John

  • “Empathy” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2011, 2013 (reprint)
  • “Other Music, Indeed!” (introduction) – Other Music © 2016, 2018
  • “Hopium Den” – You, Human © 2016

Smith, Michael Marshall

  • “The Motel Business” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Snyder, Lucy A.

Speegle, Darren

  • “The Cosmic Fair” – You, Human © 2016
  • Co-editor – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • Artifacts (novel, Allevon #3) © 2018
  • Co-editor – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Spooner, L.A.

  • Illustrations – At the Lazy K © 2015
  • Illustrations – Ensō © 2017
  • Illustrations – You, Human © 2016
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)
  • Illustrations – Artifacts © 2018

Spratford, Becky

  • “Librarians’ Day” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Steiner, Pat R.

  • “The Shoe Tree” – Chiral Mad © 2011, 2012 (reprint)
  • “Kilroy Wasn’t There” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • Illustrations – Qualia Nous Illustrated © 2014  (personal project)
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • Illustrations – Bones Are Made to Be Broken © 2018

Stipes, Julie

Stockwell, Matt

  • “Sudden Sanctuary” (graphic adaptation, with Glen Krisch & Orion Zangara) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Stone, J. Daniel

  • “Ghost Drawl” (with Erik T. Johnson) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Storm, Kia

Strand, Jeff

  • “A Flawed Fantasy” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Kind of an Introduction” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Stroup, Chad

  • “Asperitas” (novelette, with Kristopher Triana) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Taborska, Anna

  • “Daylight Robbery” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Taff, John F.D.

Thomas, Jeffrey

Thomas, Richard

  • “Playing with Fire” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Jenny Store” – Qualia Nous © 2011, 2014 (reprint)
  • “The Offering on the Hill” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Golden Sun” (novelette, with Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018
  • “Saudade” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Tlotlo Tsamaase

  • “District to Cervix: The Time Before We Were Born” (novelette) – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Triana, Kristopher

  • “Asperitas” (novelette, with Chad Stroup) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Waggoner, Tim

  • “Where No Horror Writer Has Gone Before” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Walters, Damien Angelica

Watson, Ian

  • “The Birth of Venus” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Wehunt, Michael

  • “Golden Sun” (novelette, with Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas & Damien Angelica Walters) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Weller, Sam

  • “Böse” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Wetmore, Jr., Kevin

  • “The Human Emotion within the Frightening Stories” (Guest of Honor Interview of Elizabeth Massie) and “Writing Nonfiction & Fiction for Beginners” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Whitley, Jason

  • “The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” (graphic adaptation, with James Chambers & Christopher Mills) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Wilk, Dyer

  • “It Can Walk and Talk, and You’ll Never Have to Worry About Housework Again” – You, Human © 2016

Wilson, F. Paul

  • “Introduction” (nonfiction) – You, Human © 2016
  • The Long and the Short of It (novella, with Erinn L. Kemper) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Winter, Douglas E.

Witherspoon, Cynthia

Wynne, Douglas

  • “A Sense of Dread” (nonfiction, with Bracken MacLeod) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Wytovich, Stephanie M.

  • “Welcome Home, Darling” and “Put Me to Dream” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Final Frame Film Competition” (nonfiction), “The Color White,” “The Girl Who Slept with Monsters” and “Dare I Keep the Body” (poems) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2014, 2017 (reprints)

Yardley, Mercedes M.

  • “The Dead Collection” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Magic in Minutes” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Zangara, Orion

Zumpe, Lee Clark

Fun fact: Gary A. Braunbeck, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Erik T. Johnson, and Jack Ketchum have appeared in all four volumes of Chiral Mad.

KNOW A NOMINEE

Prior to the Bram Stoker Awards ® this year, volunteers within the Horror Writers Association began a series of interviews called “Know a Nominee,” in which final ballot nominees of the various award categories were asked a series of questions to provide readers insights and information about the nominees and their work. Some of these interviews were posted on the official Horror Writers Association’s Facebook page (I’m not sure if any made it onto the HWA website or newsletter, as they have in the past) and for a while it was going well. This is typically a great series of interviews. Unfortunately, because this is a volunteer-run organization, life sometimes gets in the way for volunteers, and well-loved projects, like this one, get pushed to the back burner, forgotten like a pot of previously-boiled hot dogs found floating in cold water the next morning. My own interview was for The Library of the Dead, which was nominated (and eventually won) for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

As it turns out, a handful of interviews took place this year (some posted, most not), and sometime between pre- and post-Stoker season this interview project sort of disappeared into the ether. A handful of interviewees (like me) were left scratching our heads, wondering if the interviews were ever going to be published as the first StokerCon drew near. And then that date flew by, and a few others, and then a dozen more. What happened to the interviews? Upon asking about this very question within the organization, this prompted more confusion among members: “I was never interviewed…” and “What happened with the Know a Nominee interviews?” and “Interviews?” and my own question of “Since the Know a Nominee interviews sort of fizzled out, can we post our interviews elsewhere so they don’t go wasted?” (or something like that). Apparently, not all nominees this year were interviewed, which is too bad… This is a fun part of the award season, where you really “get to know” the nominees in the various categories (hence the name). For me, this interview series is an opportunity to get to know those outside the con scene (which is where we really get to know each other).

Know a Nominee was left abandoned mid-stride this year because of understandable, unforeseen happenstances in the lives of organization volunteers (it happens), yet here we are now, well past StokerCon and the Bram Stoker Awards ®, and there are interviews waiting to be exposed. There are shriveled hot dogs floating in cold water at the back of the stove, and they either need to be reheated and finally served, stored for later consumption, or thrown out.

After reaching out to the Horror Writers Association, those interviewed (and still stuck in interview limbo) were told we could use these Know a Nominee interviews elsewhere on the interwebs, if we so pleased. Three options: throw it out, store for later, or reheat and serve now. Interviews take time away from other projects we could be working on, so why let them go to waste? Why not put them out there? Who cares if it’s still hot or not, luke-warm, cold… Okay, yeah, interviews are best served hot, but so what. Most of the forgotten interviews run between 1,000 and 2,000 words (I have only asked four others, so you will have to deal with that estimate); mine runs about 1,600. So, without further ado, here is my reheated, barely palpable Know a Nominee interview, which was conducted by Brock Cooper, a member of the Horror Writers Association.


Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project?

The Library of the Dead was conceived by the collaborative minds of a gruesome twosome: Gene O’Neill and Gord Rollo. They happened upon Chapel of the Chimes, a crematory and columbarium in Oakland, next to the beautiful Mountain View Cemetery. It’s a massive labyrinthine building, and within its walls are the ashes of over a hundred thousand of California’s dead, most of which are contained within incendiary urns on shelves reaching from floor to ceiling, three stories high. But these are not ordinary urns. Most are brass, or golden, and they are shaped like books, and because of the building’s unique interior design, most of the rooms (and their libraries) are lit naturally by the sun through stained glass, some entire rooms glowing gold. It’s a wonderful place, and I highly recommend putting it on your list to see if you’re in the California Bay Area. There are gardens inside, and fountains, and other treasures, but the books make this place unique. What if each “book” not only held the ashes of the dead, but their stories as well? What happens when opened? What if there’s a ghostly librarian who wanders the halls at night, a caretaker of sorts? That’s the premise of the anthology Gene and Gord wanted to make. Somehow it landed in my lap. And somehow I was convinced to write “The Librarian,” the intertwining story linking the tales together. And now I’m proud to see a book about this library of the dead nominated for the Bram Stoker Award ® for anthologies, along with the story/introduction by Norman Partridge called “Special Collections,” which is up for long fiction.

What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process? 

Each story in the anthology is something unique, written by different writers with entirely different voices, and some collaborative, such as Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene’s “The Last Thing’s to Go,” or “Fault Lines” by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. Different ashes. Different stories. Each golden book within the library had to contain a different story that needed opening, with characters ultimately finding their way back to the library, and that was the only common ground when I first started this book. Bringing the stories together into something cohesive required stylistic illustrations (which were created to perfection by the wonderful GAK) to help fuel the reader’s imagination, and photography of the real library of the dead in California, as well as “The Librarian” piece to help tie the stories together, which is its own story within the anthology. As you move through the book, this second-person narrative guides you along, your own personal librarian pulling golden books from shelves and opening them for you as you are guided from room to room, exploring the ‘tales the ashes tell’ (which happens to be the final story by Gary A. Braunbeck), until you realize you’re not only lost within the labyrinth of golden books, but becoming part of the library itself. The anthology contains black and white photography I took of Chapel of the Chimes, and 17 original illustrations by GAK (all inspired by the photography; if you look closely, you’ll see some of it captured within the art). All of these things had to be fused together seamlessly to make The Library of the Dead, which turned out to be quite a beautiful golden book. The most rewarding aspect of this process? Well, the book can be read like a novel, with each unique story serving as a different chapter of something larger. Something difficult that happened along the way was the loss of J.F. Gonzalez, to whom the book is dedicated. One of his final stories is in this book, called “It’s Getting Closer,” and GAK created a special illustration for him at the end of the book.

What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work for which you’ve been nominated fits into or helps give shape to that ideal?

All good literature, dark or not, should move the reader emotionally. Good literature should fling one’s emotional state around until left exhausted. Without emotion, we are nothing. Horror, when done well, evokes fear, dread, uneasiness, terror, anxiety, all sorts of things … And when done well, the reader shouldn’t even notice it’s happening to them until it’s too late, until they set the book down, perhaps swearing a single word under their breath. All they know is that the pages kept flipping by as they got battered and got lost in the story (or stories), which is the whole point of a book. Good literature should spark memories: loss, pain, hope, failure, redemption, sacrifice, and I could go on for pages and pages about everything a book should do to its reader, but I won’t. What I think makes The Library of the Dead work so well is that it makes the reader part the book itself, pulls them along from tale to tale, and I think that’s why so many people have reacted positively. Some readers skip around anthologies, looking for familiar names or whatnot, reading those stories first before reading others, and some jump from story to story in no particular order. If you do that with The Library of the Dead, you are missing out. The book is designed to be read from cover to cover, first page to last page. The book is a journey, and the reader is part of the journey. They should be pulled inside this golden book and trapped inside with its ashes.

I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?

Both my writing and editing processes are chaotic and should not be studied. My work is sporadically prolific, and periodically dormant. It’s probably unhealthy. If I find myself stuck, it means I’m not doing something right and should either do something else, or start over. Sometimes listening to music helps motivate the creative process.

As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?

Create the most beautiful thing you can possibly create. It’s as simple as that. When you die, what do you want to leave in your wake? What do you want to be remembered for creating, a half-assed story everyone’s read before, a half-assed book no one remembers, or something completely original, something that cannot be easily forgotten?

If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?

I’m not sure I’ll make WHC this year [note: I ultimately did, and was able to spend some time holding the ashes of the great Richard Laymon], but I plan to attend StokerCon. I look forward to hanging out with those I’ve connected with over the years. I’m planning a signing event for The Library of the Dead, as well as the launching the next anthology, Chiral Mad 3. About half of the contributors in those anthologies will be attending StokerCon. Should be fun.

What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to? 

Memory loss scares me more than anything. Alzheimer’s. Much of my work (both my own fiction/poetry, and those I publish) is considered psychological horror. Losing one’s mind, one’s thoughts, one’s memories of who and what made them what they are … that is the most terrifying thing I can think of happening to a person, and I constantly wonder if it will happen to me. I guess that’s why I put a lot of myself in my writing. Every story I publish, whether mine or another’s, holds a different part of me, something that moved me emotionally, something I’ve pondered, a thought, a feeling, an instance. If I someday lose those memories that made me, I hope I’ll at least be able to read about those parts of me, whether I know it’s me or not.

What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about? 

I don’t have as much time to read for pleasure as I’d like, so I guess I’m picky, a bit eclectic since most of what I read is unpublished. Read my anthologies and you’ll see a trend of new, emerging talent. Among the staples everyone should be reading, such as Ketchum, Braunbeck, Castle, Morrell, O’Neill and Edelman, look for work by those who have recently knocked my socks off with their writing: Josh Malerman, Emily B. Cataneo, Paul Michael Anderson, Erik T. Johnson, Damien Angelica Walters, Erinn L. Kemper, Meghan Arcuri, Mercedes M. Yardley (notice the amount of female voices in this list), Stephanie M. Wytovich, Autumn Christian, Laura Lee Bahr, Jon Michael Kelley, Christian A. Larsen, Usman T. Malik. How many names do you want? How about some voices I’ve recently discovered that have been around for a while, but I find quite remarkable: Jason V Brock, Hal Bodner, Darren Speegle, Lucy A. Snyder, Richard Chizmar, Michael McBride … I could seriously go on for a while. A full list of who you should be reading can be found in the anthologies I publish through Written Backwards and Dark Regions Press: all three Chiral Mad volumes, The Library of the Dead, Qualia Nous, the upcoming You, Human

Thank you in advance for your time and participation.