Author Interview: Orrin Grey

It’s finally October and that means it’s time for this month’s Author Interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month I’ll be talking to horror fiction’s favorite skeleton Orrin Grey.

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Hello Orrin and happy (28 days from now) Halloween! I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy autumnal schedule to have a quick chat with me. I’d like to start with an easy question: What made you want to be a writer? What turned you into the skeleton you are today?

I’ll be completely honest and say that I don’t know what originally made me want to be a writer. For as long as I can remember, it’s all I ever wanted to do. My mom had this book where she kept my report cards and class photos and stuff from all my years of elementary school, and for every grade it had a space where I could write what I wanted to be when I grew up. From about third grade on all it ever said was, “writer.”

That said, a lot of different things formed the specific writer that I am now. I went through various phases when I was younger, writing fanfic, trying (and failing) to write big epic fantasy sagas, all that jazz. I know that reading Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber was a turning point for me, in part because it was a very different kind of writing than I had read before then, and the zest with which he mixed and matched genre tropes was thrilling to me at the time.

Of course, I’m known by now for writing about and around film quite a bit. I’ve always loved movies, but I didn’t get into the older horror films that have become some of my chief influences until after I had graduated from college. When I was a kid, though, I used to have these Crestwood House Monster Books, which some readers may remember. They were little board books that I would check out from my school library, filled with black-and-white stills from old monster movies of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. I used to pore over those things obsessively, mentally conjuring the movies that I imagined went with those images.

Probably the biggest turning point for me was getting into Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics. Here was someone who was doing so much of the stuff I wanted to be doing, who was bending and blending genres, telling numinous supernatural stories built around chewy pulp centers (and vice versa), but perhaps more importantly, who was wearing all of his influences on his sleeve, so that reading his stuff became a gateway to countless other writers, artists, movies, and more that have since become huge influences on my work. Mike Mignola tells a story in interviews about how reading Dracula made him realize that all he wanted to do was draw monsters. Reading his work did something similar for me, but I can’t draw, so here I am.

I love your work. Your stories find the perfect balance of cosmic horror and creepy beasties. ‘Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts’ should be made mandatory reading for all young ghouls and ghosts. I’ve heard tell that you have a new collection getting ready to come out. What can you tell me about it?

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Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales should actually be out by the time this sees print! It’s being released by Word Horde, the same publisher who put out Painted Monsters, and I’m extremely lucky to be working with Ross Lockhart again. He was an early booster of my stuff, and I owe a lot to his faith in me and my weird stories.

Guignol collects fourteen of my spooky tales, four of which have never seen print before. Of the ones that have, several are hard-to-find, out-of-print, or seldom seen, so I think it’ll be a treat Orrin Greyfor fans of my work. There are two novelettes in the book, “The Cult of Headless Men” and “The Lesser Keys” and I’m really excited for people to check it out. Like Painted Monsters, it draws a lot of influence from movies and the theater, and its title, in fact, comes from the one-two punch of the Theatre du Grand Guignol, an early French horror theatre known for its bloody and lurid plays, and “Contes Cruel,” both a subtype of horror story and the title of a couple of early collections of same.

Guignol is filled with more of the kind of stuff that readers have come to expect from me, but this is also possibly my grimmest collection to date. While I hesitate to call the stories in it cruel, they certainly aren’t kind. Painted Monsters had a sort of unintended thematic underpinning of death and what comes after, while Guignol is more about dealing with trauma, and how the past, especially the painful past, never entirely leaves us alone.

It also probably has more monsters per page than anything else I’ve ever written, so there’s always that.

You, like so many other awesome folk, love horror cinema. I’m sure you have all kinds of movies ready to go throughout this entire blessed month. As a fan of the genre, what are some of the movies you’ll be watching leading up to All Hallows’ Eve?

I live in the suburbs of Kansas City, and we’re lucky enough here to have a really passionate and active horror film community. We also have a great local theatre, in the form of the Screenland Armour, which does Halloween programming all month long in October, so I’m hoping to catch a lot of that. As part of the launch festivities for Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales, I’ll be presenting a free screening of Mario Bava’s Black Sunday on October 14, and every year the Nerds of Nostalgia podcast hosts a horror triple feature sometime around Halloween, which has become my annual birthday tradition.

Beyond that, I watch a lot more horror cinema than anything else all year long, but as the Halloween season rolls around I tend to gravitate even more toward the old classics. There’s a new Blu-ray release of some William Castle titles on its way that I’m really excited about. Like every other horror fan on the planet, I’ll be watching the new Halloween when it hits theatres, even if I am less sanguine about it than many of my peers. And I am really looking forward to Apostle, the new folk horror flick from Gareth Evans and Dan Stevens that’s coming to Netflix this month.

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A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any advice for any writers looking to get published?

Maybe the best piece of advice I ever got in this business was, “Know your victory conditions.” Know what success looks like to you. It’s easy to lose focus when you’re in the proverbial mines, but if you can remember what it is you’re trying to accomplish, you can work towards it. For some people that means critical acknowledgement or winning awards, for some people that means getting a lot of fans or readers, for some people that means making a living at writing. For some it means something else completely. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive, you may get all of them, but if you know what’s important to you, it’ll help you make the hard decisions when they come, and keep you from getting turned around in the dark.

Also, don’t be in a hurry. It’s better to sell a few stories to good markets than a lot of stories to markets that no one will ever see. It’s better to wait a few years until you have a collection that’s really strong than to break out with a first collection too early.

Let’s talk about books for a minute. What’s in your TBR pile currently? Are there any stories/novels you like to read to get into the October spirit?

My TBR pile is so careeningly, terrifyingly cyclopean that it beggars belief, let alone description. I am so far behind on my reading that I barely know where to begin. That said, I recently finished Matthew M. Bartlett’s first collection (I had already read his later ones, but had missed the first) and, like all of his other work, it blew my mind. He is, for my money, one of the best authors working today, and I am always wowed by his stuff. I’ve got a gobsmackingly long list of stuff in my queue, but right now I’m trying to make my way through William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, which, as I had been warned countless times, is a slog.

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Last  question: Where can people find your works?

Probably the best place is in one of my collections, which I will have three of by the time this sees print. Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, my first collection, is now available in a deluxe hardcover from Strix Publishing, while Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts and Guignol& Other Sardonic Tales are both available from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold. You can keep up with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and you can always find out the latest stuff I’m doing on my website. I have a few stories available online, as well, including a recent one at The Dark and several on PseudoPod.

 

Author Interview: Michael Wehunt

Welcome to September’s Author Interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month I’ll be interviewing the spooktastic Michael Wehunt!

Michael Wehunt

Hello Michael! I’d like to thank you for joining me here. Let’s start with an easy one: tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to be a writer? What do you do in your spare time when you’re not at a keyboard?

Thanks so much for having me. As you requested, I’m pretending not to see the shockingly large number of human bones in the corner or the strange symbols painted in blood on the floor…

I grew up in Georgia and seem unable to leave. I almost have to answer your first question as if it were, What kept you from being a writer? Because that speaks more clearly to how I became one. I think I wanted to be a writer from the age of eight or so, but it never took deep enough root in me for some reason. I was drawn to horror as a child, developed the usual Stephen King loyalty, watched whatever horror films I could. I didn’t have a lot of ways to explore the genre when I was very young, but there was enough to keep me hooked. Still, I let horror literature drift away from me in early adulthood. I still sought out darkness in most things I read – Southern Gothic is a good example, as is anything about sadness and regret, for there is great horror in the everyday – but it would take me a long time to come back to capital-H Horror. I also let thoughts of myself as a writer (or any sort of creator) drift away from me for too long, and looking back it seems I was both not experienced enough in life to try writing seriously and much too scared to fail at it. The latter haunted me for quite some time, until one day in 2011 – I was reading King’s Skeleton Crew for maybe the fourth time in my life – something just clicked, and I was furious with myself for never having tried my hand at this. I felt I had things to say and hadn’t been letting myself speak. Horror felt like a full circle for me, and I didn’t hesitate for a moment as I began, at last, a shaking in my hands, to write that first creepy story.

In my spare time, I enjoy not being in a hurry. I’m happiest with my partner and dog in the woods, in inconstant shadow and filtered light. If my dog will allow me to, I like to be still in the trees. Nothing is so calming. It is a sort of cathedral. And, of course, I read as much as I can, with varying success. I try to read twice as much as I write and spend twice as much time outside as I do with a Word file open on my computer. It’s all about balance and peace.

I read and was subsequently floored by your collection ‘Greener Pastures’ when I read it last year. The stories in here are terrifying, but they are also richly drawn and complicated. Can you talk a little bit about how ‘Greener Pastures’ came together? I’d be interested in knowing how the creepy sausage gets made.

Thank you so much! Two and a half years of people saying nice things about the book, and it still seems surreal every time. Greener Pastures started coming together simply because a publisher asked if I was interested, and I realized, with a bit of surprise, that I had more than enough material.
Greener Pastures

Then another publisher asked the same question, and I started to think it could be a Real Thing. A pretty mundane origin. But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t all in on a collection just to have a collection. I needed to be 100% behind every single story I chose, with as close to zero filler as I could possibly get, or else it would be much better to wait.

But when I began to think of putting stories together in a group, I saw fairly obvious thematic threads running through much of my work – loss, grief, the creepy inexplicable bleeding into personal darkness, and the attempts to cope with these different sorts of terrors at once – and the eleven stories I chose seemed to speak together really well, cross-pollinating each other, echoing and distorting those echoes, with a couple of curveballs thrown in. It felt like a collection of the lost. Yet nothing felt repetitive or redundant with anything else, and I began to get excited and proud in a way I hadn’t been before.

One of my favorite stories in the collection is ‘October Film Haunt: Under the House’. I also just read ‘The Pine Arch Collection’ in The Dark Magazine for this interview (Props on making e-mails scary). Both stories feature film in some way. Are you a big horror movie fan? What are some favorites that always draw you back in?

I love hearing feedback about “October Film Haunt: Under the House,” and if readers have a cumulative favorite in the collection, it’s probably that one. It really sparked my interest in a dialogue between horror films and horror literature, which usually flows in The Dark Michael Wehuntone direction – a book is adapted as a movie. I wanted to write a love letter to found-footage horror and modern (or digital) folklore of the sort that you find in internet creepypasta. Last year I decided to expand upon the October Film Haunt world a little bit with another love letter to found footage, “The Pine Arch Collection.” It’s really interesting to try to comment on what horror fiction (both film and prose) truly is and how it connects with those experiencing it. A sort of meta horror, if you will. I find it fascinating to explore, and my novel interacts with it to some degree as well.

And yes, I love horror movies. They have been my one constant connection with horror since childhood, even when, as noted earlier, I foolishly (but perhaps, all things considered, fortunately as well) stopped reading the genre before I was able to drown in it. The Blair Witch Project remains my favorite horror film of all time. I have defended it many times and am prepared to do so many more times (not forgetting to hug all those folks who love it like I do). Nature as horror, the abstract occult, the periphery providing far more chills than the foreground ever could – the movie excels in so many ways, and I find it always rewatchable. It’s been a big influence, and I’ve enjoyed wearing that influence on my sleeve a bit. Kairo, Ringu, Paranormal Activity 3, A Tale of Two Sisters, Don’t Look Now, Let the Right One In, The Witch, Kill List, Picnic at Hanging Rock (if you want to stretch the definition of horror a bit), and Audition are some of my other very favorites. Hereditary is very recent, but I am certain I will be drawn back to it again and again. It’s vicious and unapologetic like few other movies.

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any advice for any writers looking to get published?

Yes, writing can be deeply discouraging as well as deeply rewarding. In 2016 I wrote a blog post about turning five years old as an author. I tried to give several pieces of advice there as I looked back over what I had learned and how the tired, sounds awake Michael Wehunt.jpgI had learned it. I also wrote a blog post (for Kendall Reviews) after I finished my first novel, which I think could be helpful to beginning writers. The single most important piece of advice I would offer a beginning writer would be to do the best you can with what time you have. Everyone’s life is unique, with different responsibilities, different circumstances, different rejections and different reasons for those rejections, not all of which have anything to do with the author. Try not to be jealous of those who are able to write far more than you do, or those who are finding success more quickly or easily than you are. You have your own variables, your own toolbox, and all those other writers are not your competition. Be happy for them, and they’ll be happy for you. We’re all in this together, just telling stories.

What’s next for you? Any new books or stories on the horizon?

I am, unfortunately, taking 2018 off as an author. It was a sad but necessary decision. But I have my first novel’s first draft waiting for edits, and my second collection of stories (tentative title: The Pine Arch Collection) is ready to go and will be a bit heftier than Greener Pastures. Before long I’ll be getting those two books into shape and sending them out on submission, so they are very much on the horizon, delayed as they are. Then I will turn to writing something shiny and new. Well, maybe extremely dark rather than shiny, but new all the same.

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

I am painfully behind on my TBR pile. The books I’m looking forward to have already been out for a while. Julian Barnes’ novel The Noise of Time. Lucia Berlin’s posthumous collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women. Kristi DeMeester’s first novel, Beneath. (Her story collection, Everything That’s Underneath, is really good.) Gwendolyn Kiste’s debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. But there’s some exciting stuff out recently. Gemma Files (one of my favorite authors) has a new collection out. Jeffrey Ford’s new novel Ahab’s Return was just published. Simon Strantzas has a new collection in October. In the literary world, it will be a matter of doing some research to learn what 2018 releases I’ve painfully overlooked since being out of the loop. For now, though, I’m trying to focus on the mountain of books that already exists in my house.

Last question: where can people find your works?

I have a bibliography page that lists everything I’ve published with relevant links. I try to post regularly on my blog’s home page when something comes out or semi-regularly about miscellaneous topics such as thoughts on writing or the horror genre. Feel free to follow my blog and stay connected!

Author Interview: Kristi Demeester

Welcome to another Author Interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month’s interview is with the insanely talented Kristi Demeester. Kristi’s short fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and her collection and debut novel (Everything That’s Underneath and Beneath respectively) have recently been released.

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Hello Kristi! I’d like to thank you for joining me here. Let’s start with an easy one: tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to be a writer? What do you do in your spare time?

I started as a voracious reader, so story has always been a deep, intrinsic part of my life. But I wasn’t the kid who tried to write her own stories. I didn’t start writing seriously until my early 20s, and then it was because I wanted to be able to write the stories I wanted to read but couldn’t find. In my spare time, I wrangle a kid and squeeze in what writing I can. My spare time is my writing time. 

I’ve noticed that a lot of your stories concern the tumultuous relationships between mothers and daughters. Is there something particular that draws you to that theme? Or does it crop up organically as you work?

That’s a theme I revisit because it’s something I was working through as I was writing those stories and am still working through as I come to terms with it now. There is a lot of emotional fear for me wrapped up in how mother’s can prey on their daughter’s emotions and use it for their benefit. And so I was working through much of that fear in my stories. 

‘Beneath’ was one of my favorite novels of the year last year. It felt like a takedown of toxic religion wrapped in a gonzo horror tale. How did the process of writing the novel go?Beneath

Thank you so much! I started Beneath almost four years before it ever saw the light of day. I originally planned for it to be a possession story, but it slowly morphed into something else. I’d completed about a hundred pages of it, and then set it aside and started writing short stories. The summer of 2014, I finally got back to it and finished it in earnest. After that draft, it went through another draft where I added in Cora’s character. It was truly a labor of love getting that book out. 

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any advice for any writers looking to get published?

Be the most stubborn asshole you can be. Discouragement and rejection happen to all of us, but pick it back up and keep going. Find a good beta reader who you trust and respect. You’re going to get jealous of other’s people’s success but don’t let it stifle your own work. And don’t be a jerk to an editor who rejects you. As a matter of fact, don’t respond to a rejection at all. Not even to say than you for reading. Just send it on to the next. 

What’s next for you? Any new books or stories on the horizon?

Everything That's UnderneathI have stories forthcoming in Apex, Pseudopod, Shimmer, Ashes and Entropy, Welcome to Miskatonic University, Chiral Mad 4, Disintegration, Eydolon, Lost Films, Lost Highways, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 5, and Fairy Tale Review. 

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

I’m currently reading and loving Julia Elliott’s The Wilds. Next up is Victor Lavalle’s The Changeling. I’m looking forward to reading some Caroline Kepnes and Paul Tremblay’s newest The Cabin at the End of the World. 

Last question: where can people find your works?

www.kristidemeester.com or on Twitter at KMDemeester. 

Interview: Author Pete Rawlik

Welcome to a new monthly post here on my site! I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month’s interview is with Lovecraftian extraordinaire Pete Rawlik. Pete has written over fifty short stories, the novels Reanimators, The Weird Company, and Reanimatrix, and the newly released The Peaslee Papers.

Pete Rawlik

Hello Pete! I’d like to thank you for joining me here. Let’s start with an easy one: tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to be a writer? What do you do in your spare time?

I was born in North Dakota but grew up outside Philadelphia with summers in Ocean City Maryland. I went to Florida Tech where I studied Marine Biology and Aquaculture. To put myself through college I had a variety of jobs including making donuts, phlebotomist, medical lab technician, and shellfish testing technician. For the last twenty-seven years I’ve been studying ecology and managing environmental monitoring programs in and around the Everglades. I’ve been a life-long book collector, particularly Lovecraftian fiction. For more than twenty years I ran my own rare book shop before I was convinced to stop selling other peoples books and write my own. In my spare time you can find me rummaging through book sales, used book stores and flea markets, or out on the ocean deep-sea fishing.

As for writing, I can remember back into middle school writing short stories during rainy summer days when I couldn’t get out on Big Assawoman Bay. I still have some of this, including a trunked novella, a pastiche of Robert E. Howard’s Skull-Face stories. I wrote some in college, mostly bad poetry but a few science fiction stories in the Larry Niven vein. I dabbled a little bit after college writing for various fanzines. I had my first professional sale in 1997. As for why I write, I can only say its because I want to tell stories. I see things and just get ideas that won’t let me rest unless I put them down. I’ve spent many a sleepless night just writing notes down so that it would clear my head.

I’m a big fan of your novels and the interwoven stories of the Peaslee family and Dr. Stuart Hartwell. It’s truly impressive the way that your books include so many events/characters from Lovecraft’s body of work. Did this take a lot of planning to pull off? What kind of effort goes into a Pete Rawlik novel?

Reanimators, The Weird Company, Reanimatrix and The Peaslee Papers all grow out of this idea I had of doing a timeline for Lovecraftian fiction. Peter Cannon has already done this for Lovecraft’s fiction, but I wanted to do it for other writers as well. In doing so I made copious notes (some of which have been published as the Lurking Chronology) and wrote a chapter of the history of pre-colonial Miskatonic Valley (published in Crypt Reanimatorsof Cthulhu #104). It was while prepping the next chapter of this project that I realized that several of Lovecraft’s characters from different stories where all in or near Arkham at the same time. The possibility of a crossover piece occurred to me and I began writing what was at times called The League of Lovecraftian Gentlemen, The Club Miskatonic, The Miskatonic Men’s Club, and finally became my novel The Weird Company. The problem I had was that I really wanted the Reanimator to be in this book but based on the time lines I had made Herbert West and his partner were simply unavailable. To resolve this, I decided to invent my own reanimator, someone who would act in West’s place who had all his abilities but none of his history. But in order to make this person work he needed his own back story, so I wrote a story about him, and then another, and another and another. Doctor Hartwell actually comes from Lovecraft, he’s Armitage’s doctor in The Dunwich Horror, I just tweaked him a bit, Doctors are wonderful professions to use as characters because they tend to encounter many people who are outside their usual circles, and whom often have problems. Integrating him into the other stories of the mythos was just easy. By the time I understood his character I had a whole novel written about him, that became Reanimators.

The Peaslee Papers and Reanimatrix were built in similar ways, focusing on characters that were in Lovecraft’s stories, but were never really resolved. In The Shadow Out of Time we spend a great deal of effort looking at Pr. Peaslee and what happened to him and his son Wingate, but very little time is devoted to his wife Alice, his other son Robert, and his daughter Hannah. I wanted to write stories from their perspectives, to see how what happened had impacted their lives. I was also very inspired by noir fiction, Reanimatrix is an homage to noir, particularly the book Laura by Vera Caspary (made into a fine movie by Otto Preminger). The Peaslee Papers was a very experimental piece, not quite a novel, but nor is a strictly a collection of short stories. I like to think of it as an epic, one that follows members of the same family across the entire life-span of the human species from when we were little more than primates until the heat death of the universe. A little ambitious, but people seem to have liked it. One of the things that all of these efforts have in common is extensive timelines, that often range from floor to ceiling. This allows me to make sure I maintain continuity both within and between books.

I love the way that your novels are dotted with references to stories and characters from all different genres and mediums. The first time I spotted an Indiana Jones reference, I nearly lost my mind. How do you go about including them? Do you keep a reference master list somewhere?

My fiction is often full of references to other pieces of fiction, both within the horror genre, but also in mysteries and in popular fiction. It’s a habit I picked up from writing for the anthology series tales of the Shadowmen (Blackcoat Press) which focuses on crossover characters in French literature. I love dropping these little jokes in, although admittedly some are never caught by my readers, while others send them into hysterics. I’m able to do this because I tend to be obsessive about things I love, particularly when it The Weird Company.jpgcomes to media. I’ve been collecting Lovecraftiana for most of my life, but I also have collections of Nero Wolfe, The Thin Man, Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto and more recent things like Dexter and Wicked. I want to stretch the boundaries of genre, and at the same time play with solving problems or discrepancies that haven’t been discussed by their own authors. For example, in one of his early movies Charlie Chan mentions that he is eighty years old, he then goes on to keep having adventures into the 1980s which would push him well past one hundred and twenty-five years of age, he’s pretty spry for someone that old. My solution is to make him an early and unknown benefactor of the reanimation treatment, like wise a few other ageless or wound-resistant detectives. The problem is I don’t keep track, and I end up having to reread my own books or ask my friend Rick Lai what particular references mean. For example, I mention Darrow Chemical in several of my books and this is a direct reference to the film Return of the Living Dead, but as has been noted, it is also a nod to Geof Darrow who created the comic book Doc Frankenstein. Many writers do this, and Win Scott Eckert and Sean Levin have written several volumes documenting such events throughout literature going back centuries.

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any advice for any writers looking to get published?

Writing advice seems to be all over the place these days, because there are lots of new and interesting ways to get published. What I have seen work, and what has been my experience is that you have to start small and work your way up. The purpose of publishing houses is not to publish your book, it’s to make money, pure and simple. And these houses have limited slots every year, so shoving in a novel by a new writer isn’t at the top of anybody’s list. It happens, but that person is in competition with well-established writers with established readerships. Think of it this way, you don’t walk into an architectural firm, get a billion dollars and just start designing skyscrapers, you start small, show people what you can do, develop a track record and then when someone asks what your big plan is you whip out that thing you’ve been working on in secret for the last five years. Also, when you develop that track record, make sure its good. If you wrote a story for anthology x and it was rejected, don’t scream about how unfair things are, that won’t look good in the future. Editors talk to each other all the time. Similarly, if you are invited to an anthology, and promise them a story about vampires, with a length of 5,000 words and a deadline of January, you damn well better do it. Don’t deliver a 10,000 word story about werewolves two months late. Its bad form and won’t win you any friends. I can’t tell you how much work I have gotten because I’m capable of delivering on subject, on word count and on time, where other people haven’t. Its not just about talent, its also about professionalism, and doing what you said you would. That can go a very long way.

The other thing I’ll add is don’t throw away the trunked stories. Once you’ve established a relationship with editors those stories are going to become very valuable. They might be early work, and not up to your new standards, but they can be rewritten. You know now what was wrong with them. Fix them, and put them in your back pocket for when suitable and suited venues suddenly show up. I keep a whole stack of holiday-themes stories laying around just in case, because every few years somebody inevitably wants to publish a scary Christmas anthology.

Reanimatrix.jpgThe Peaslee Papers

What’s next for you? Any new books or stories on the horizon?

What’s next for me? For writers that’s always the big question, right? Its an occupational hazard, your book comes out and you’re on tour and the interviewer asks what’s next? Never mind the blood I just spilled for the last two years, and how I haven’t seen my family during the daylight in months. What is next? Can I say nothing? I want to say nothing. But that would be a lie.

The sequel to Reanimatrix is finished, with a working title of the Eldritch Equations and Other Investigations, it follows the further adventures of Robert Peaslee and Megan Halsey as they open up a detective agency in Arkham and have to deal with what appears to be the deaths of several math students at Miskatonic University. Its inspired by a line in the Lovecraftian rock opera Dreams in the Witch House.

I’ve put together a collection of my short fiction for publisher Gehenna and Hinnom, we’re calling it Strange Company, which is a reference to one of my stories, a one-time publisher of weird fiction, and the general tone of the book. We’ve pulled together a bunch of my stand-alone mythos stories, some mythos stories set in alternate histories, and some stories that are just plain weird but don’t belong to the mythos at all. Its my first collection and I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

I’ve got a handful of stories subbed and another handful waiting to see print. Look for things – no, I can’t talk about that – well I wrote this piece for – no that’s not announced yet either. OK, I have ten stories and three poems awaiting publication, and another four stories awaiting acceptance/rejection. Is that enough?

No, well how about this. There’s an anthology I edited, called The Chromatic Court, it’s a riff of the common trope that the Yellow King is an avatar of Hastur, asking what are the avatars of the other Lovecraftian gods? How do we merge the themes of art, color and mythos into a single story? We got a bunch of good stories, more than we could use in just one volume, by some familiar names, some by people who I always wanted to work with, and some by new people who are just starting out. 18th Wall productions is the publisher and it should be out in 2019, I think.

Is that enough, please let that be enough. I’m dying here.

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

I have a very deep stack of books right now in the to be read pile. Scott Sigler’s Pandemic, all of David Hambling’s Harry Stubbs novels, Sherlock Holmes books by James Lovegrove and Lois Gresh (separately), Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide, Byers’ Hep Cats of Ulthar, Kiernan’s retrospective mythos collection, and a few other things. I was a big fan of Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Some where along the line that series got away from me. I was in a library store recently and they had the entire series in hardcover for a dollar a piece, so suddenly I added a dozen novels to the stack. This is just the top of the stack, what I pick up to actually read is anybody’s guess. And that guess will be as good as mine.

Last question: where can people find your works?

All of my books appear to be available from Amazon, or in finer specialty bookstores. I’ve seen fair representations in Providence and Portland, where I would expect to find my stuff. If you can’t find something you’re looking for let me know, drop me a line on Facebook, I usually respond within a day or so. If I don’t have an extra copy, I might know who does.