APEX magazine Revive the Drive!


I hear you love science fiction. Well, me, too. Have you read Apex? I know, right? The covers are absolutely stunning. Agreed. The stories are always top notch. Have you heard about the promotion? It’s super cheap to subscribe and there’s some great stuff to be had now and in the future . . . so check out their Revive the Drive campaign.

I had an opportunity to speak with Managing Editor Lesley Conner about some interesting stories from the past, what they’re up to in the present and some exciting news about the near future.

 

What is the most memorable submission you’ve received, good or bad?

I don’t actually remember the story, but one time an author was incredibly insulting in their cover letter. The gist of it was that if we didn’t accept their story it was because we were discriminating against them and were too stupid to understand the genius of the story. According to them they had experienced everything in the story and had written it based off those experiences so clearly it was the best story ever. Somehow I feel this logic is flawed. We did not accept the story—1. Because it in fact was NOT the best story ever, and 2. Insulting the editors before they even have the chance to read your story doesn’t exactly make them clamor to work with you.

I’ve received lots of insulting letters after rejecting stories (even had someone threaten to sue me once), but this was the first time it happened prior to rejection.

What kinds of stories are you looking for that you don’t see enough of?

I’d love to see more dark SF. We get a lot of fantasy, magical realism, and straight up horror submissions, but the slush pile can be a little light on dark science fiction.

Do you think reader taste changes? Or are there certain stories they never seem to tire of?

I think it goes in cycles. For a while one type or style of story will be really, really popular and then at some point you hit a market saturation—readers can’t absorb one more zombie story or fairy tale retelling or whatever—so those types of stories fall away and something else moves up to take its place. Eventually those stories will come back around and readers will be ready for them again.

What was the day like when you first knew APEX was going to be your full time gig?

There wasn’t one day in particular where suddenly Apex was my full time gig. It was a gradual thing. I started by volunteering 5-10 hours a week, working on marketing and social media. As I learned more about editing and publishing, and as Jason Sizemore and I built a working relationship, I began taking on more and more responsibilities. Then in October of 2014 the opportunity came up for me to step into the managing editor role. Jason Sizemore had moved back into the editor-in-chief position and we already knew that we worked really well together, so it seemed like the next natural step. Best decision I’ve ever made.

What’s upcoming with APEX that you can’t wait to share with readers? Any teasers?

The slush pile has been especially amazing lately and we’ve snatched up some gems for futures issues. Stories by E. Catherine Tobler, Lavie Tidhar, and Rich Larson to name a few.

In addition to the fiction Jason Sizemore and I are lining up, Dr. Amy H. Sturgis is guest editing the August issue, focusing on Native American and First Nation authors. I’m really excited to see what she brings to Apex Magazine.

With the Revive the Drive campaign we are running right now, we’ve lined up amazing things for the January 2018 issue—original fiction by Tade Thompson, Delilah S. Dawson, Cherie Priest, and Jacqueline Carey, more nonfiction,  and poetry! Pretty exciting stuff! Hopefully we reach all of our goals and unlock everything. If we do, the January 2018 issue will be epic!


Apex Magazine is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field. New issues are released the first Tuesday of every month.

http://www.apex-magazine.com

Details about the Apex magazine Revive the Drive campaign

http://www.apex-magazine.com/revive-the-drive-2017/

Apex Magazine is an online prose and poetry magazine of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mash-ups of all three. Works full of marrow and passion, stories that are twisted, strange, and beautiful. Creations where secret places and dreams are put on display.

Each month we bring you a mix of originals and reprints, interspersed with interviews and nonfiction. We have published many of the top short form writers working today: Mary Robinette Kowal, Saladin Ahmed, Genevieve Valentine, Amal El-Mohtar, Forrest Aguirre, Nick Mamatas, Theodora Goss, Nalo Hopkinson, Lucy A. Snyder, Cat Rambo, Jeff VanderMeer, Seanan McGuire, and Jennifer Pelland. And we’ve also presented the first professional work of amazing new writers such as Indrapramit Das, T.J. Weyler, Alex Livingston, Ursula Vernon, Kathryn Weaver, Kelly Barnhill, Douglas F. Warrick, and Jeremy R. Butler.

Apex Magazine received a Best Semiprozine Hugo nomination in 2012,2013, and 2014. We placed two stories in the 2010 Nebula Award category of Best Short Story, and our stories won the category in 2014 (“If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” by Rachel Swirsky) and again in 2015 (“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon).

Each new issue is posted piecemeal throughout the month and placed on sale the first Tuesday of every month. Content can be read for free via the website. Alternatively, annual subscriptions are available and all our issues can be purchased in single issue formats (ePub/mobi/PDF or from the Kindle and Nook stores–these versions contain exclusive content such as classic reprints and novel excerpts).


We are reviving the subscription drive that was cut short in November. The new revived drive will run from March 27 to April 17th with a goal to raise $10,000!

Tier levels we will have to unlock during the drive will be:

  • $500 – Polls will open for readers to vote for the cutest/best Apex animal mascot: Pumpkin versus Oz! (Expect loads of adorable pics on social media as our editors try to sway you to vote for their pet!) Also, Jason and Lesley will make personal donations to the Humane Society
  • $1,000 – Apex will donate two short story critiques (one each from Jason and Lesley) to the ConOrBust auction, as well a membership to Imaginarium this October
  • $1,500 – Jason and Lesley’s It Follows debate goes live! Join our editors as they watch It Follows and live tweet the entire experience. If you’ve been following their conversations about the movie on Twitter, then you do not want to miss this!
  • $2,000 – an original short story by Tade Thompson in the January 2018 issue
  • $2,500 – add a poem to the January 2018 issue
  • $3,000 – add a reprint to the January 2018 issue
  • $3,500 – Andrea Johnson will conduct a video interview with Jason Sizemore, asking him questions submitted by our readers
  • $4,000 – add a a nonfiction essay to the January 2018 issue
  • $4,500 – add a second poem to the January 2018 issue
  • $5,000 – an original short story by Delilah S. Dawson in the January 2018 issue
  • $5,500 – podcast a second original story in the January 2018 issue
  • $6,000 – Apex donates a membership to ConFusion to ConOrBust
  • $6,500 – raise cover artist rates to $75
  • $7,000 – original artwork for all original fiction unlocked during the drive for the January 2018 issue
  • $7,500 – an original short story by Cherie Priest in the January 2018 issue
  • $8,000 – behind the scenes video with Jason
  • $8,500 – original artwork for all six stories in the January 2018 issue
  • $9,000 – a new print issue of Apex Magazine: SFFH #1
  • $9,500 – raise author rates to 7 cents per word
  • $10,000 – an original short story by Jacqueline Carey in the January 2018 issue
  • STRETCH GOAL!!! $15,000 – raise author rates to 8 cents per word and artist rates to $100!

Amazing, right!?! If we unlock everything for the double issue in January 2018, it is going to be phenomenal!!!

We are also collecting donated items from awesome people that you’ll be able to purchase during the drive to help us reach our goal.

Some of these donated items include:

  • story critiques from Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner
  • flash fiction critiques from Anna Yeatts, editor at Flash Fiction Online
  • a query letter critique by literary agents Laura Zats and Eric Hane of Print Run podcast
  • signed prints of cover art from issues 80, 83, and 86
  • signed books by John Scalzi
  • signed books by Brian Keene
  • signed copy of The Crow God’s Girl by Patrice Sarath
  • signed copy of The Buried Life by Carrie Patel
  • signed copy of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
  • a handwritten poem by Brandy Schwan
  • cool collectors pieces by Justin Stewart
  • hats crocheted by Janet Harriett
  • coffee from Nate’s Coffee
  • Gamut/Apex Magazine subscription bundles
  • Shimmer/Apex Magazine subscription bundles
  • Flash Fiction Online/Apex Magazine subscription bundles
  • Personalized postcards from Lesley Conner for everyone who donates at least $5

‘All That Withers’ short fiction collection now available

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In 2016 Bram Stoker Award® winner John Palisano’s first collection, All That Withers, the stories range from Lovecraftian musings to terrifying explorations of the inhuman condition, with Palisano creating vivid images of desperate people engaged in ordeals which could happen to many of us . . . how they respond is the difference between their survival and oblivion.

Including several Bram Stoker Award®-nominated tales, as well as the 2016 Bram Stoker winner for Excellence in Short Fiction, “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop.”

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MULTIPLE AWARD-WINNER AND HORROR WRITER’S ASSOCIATION (HWA) PRESIDENT LISA MORTON (TRICK OR TREAT: A HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN), AND AN AFTERWORD BY MULTIPLE BRAM STOKER WINNER GENE O’NEILL (CAL WILD CHRONICLES).

‘All That Withers’ is available now for pre-order at the Jasunni Press Store!

Direct Link: http://www.jasunnistore.com/all-that-withers-fiction-collection-by-john-palisano/

Halloween Collection ‘Starlight Drive’ now available!

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Four Halloween short stories from Bram Stoker winning author John Palisano, including the brand new tale, “Starlight Drive”.

STARLIGHT DRIVE 
‘John Palisano is exactly the type of writer horror needs right now: bold, brave, imaginative and unflinching.” –Bentley Little

STARLIGHT DRIVE
Four Tales of Halloween
‘This one’s for all those creatures for whom Halloween is the most wonderful time of the year . . . .’

From Bram Stoker Award-winning author John Palisano comes a collection of four tales from Halloween and Dios De La Muertos.

In “Starlight Drive” two boys find allies through unexpected friends who help them confront a neighbor from hell.

In “Outlaws of Hill County” a small town finds itself terrorized by a creature that only comes out on Halloween.

In “Samhainophobia” a group of college kids still find Halloween terrifying, although for a very different reason than they did while growing up.

In “Fantasma” a young boy searches for his lost cousin during a chilling Dios de la Muertos celebration.

View on Amazon.com

From the Author
With Starlight Drive, I wanted to collect a few of my Halloween stories that have appeared over the years, while also including a new short story exclusive to the collection.

Outlaws of Hill County has been reprinted in several places and languages since its premiere many years ago in the Harvest Hill anthology. It’s still one of my favorites, and includes the debut of the Long Fellow, a creature who can fold into the branches of trees and disappear, and who comes out on Halloween in order to suck the life out from kids, fingertip to fingertip. When I first wrote the story, I thought it was a little too insane to catch on, and figured it’d vanish. I’m delighted it has connected with readers around the world.
Starlight Drive is a story I’ve wanted to share for a long time and was based on a fantasy I had as a kid growing up. We had a really obnoxious neighbor. As kids, we had all sorts of myths about this guy. As an adult, I’m sure I’d have a very different perspective. But growing up, he served as the neighborhood bogeyman. It is exclusive to this mini-collection. 
Samhainophobia was an experiment in trying to make Halloween scary for college age kids. As we grow up, the monsters no longer scare us, and the holiday becomes more an excuse for sexy costume balls and drinking. I wanted to visit Boston and its suburbs again, which was wonderful. For those thinking it: this is NOT based on the publisher of two of my novels. It was written and published a few years prior. The coincidence in name is pretty comical, though.
Fantasma was a flash fiction piece I wrote for Terry West’s site. We are just seeing Dios de la Muertos crossing over into the mainstream. However, in Los Angeles, it’s something that plays a big part in the season and is an experience not to be missed.
I hope everyone who reads this mini-collection finds something to their liking. I appreciate the reads and am always delighted to hear from my readers. Thank you.

New Halloween mini-Collection, “Starlight Drive” now available

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Just released a mini-collection for Halloween, “Starlight Drive”—
 
4 stories for those who believe Halloween is the most wonderful time of the year! It includes a brand new, exclusive story, “Starlight Drive” and gathers some of my other Halloween stories.
 
It’s only $5.99 for the print book and $2.99 eBook.
 
Thanks! Please remember: leaving reviews, no matter how short, help independent artists tremendously! 
 

New Releases!

It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve updated my Bibliography, and with several new releases just out or coming soon, I thought it high time to do so.

 

Scales & Tales front cover

Scales and Tales: Finding Forever Homes
I was very honored to have spent the last year editing the charity anthology Scales & Tales: Finding Forever Homes. This book benefits three local animal adoption programs, and was released as a limited edition of 500 print copies at Comic Con in San Diego. There will be a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on August 28th, so please stop by and purchase a copy (or two!) and meet some of the terrific authors.

Los Angeles, CA William Wu Books 2016. First edition, limited to 500 numbered copies. Contains new stories by Tim Powers, Marv Wolfman, Lisa Morton, Jason V Brock, Sunni K Brock, William F. Nolan and more, including Clive Barker and Ray Bradbury. All proceeds benefit 3 adoption programs in Los Angeles: Southwestern Herpetologist Society, Kitt Crusaders, and Star Paws Rescue.

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“Eternal Valley”
In Cemetery Riots

In my short story, “Eternal Valley” a family relocates away from the city in order to help their sick son have a fighting chance. When he falls ill again, his father must make a journey to summon a doctor. On his way, he meets a mysterious woman who tells him of an entity in a lake that just might be able to help. Here’s the rest of the table of contents.

Imagine yourself in a cemetery. Void of all light at the base of a tree. But it’s no ordinary tree. This tree abounds with the dead. Now envision that each tree limb is a short story with its own vision, its own length of words, and its own insanity.With that said, beware of the widow makers and the strange foreboding dwelling beneath. Remember, nothing’s heavenly in Cemetery Riots. Cemetery Riots is a new collection of dark cautionary tales edited by T. C. Bennett and Tracy L. Carbone. With great pride, we introduce you to our stories and their authors… THE WAITING DEAD by Ray Garton, ABUSED by Richard Christian Matheson, CHILDREN’S HOUR by Hal Bodner, CARMICHAEL MOTEL by Kathryn E. McGee, THAT STILL, BLEEDING OBJECT OF DESIRE by Chet Williamson, LUNCH AT MOM’S by Tracy L. Carbone, FATHER AND SON by Jack Ketchum, THE DEMON OF SPITALFIELDS by Karen and Roxanne E. Dent, ERASURE by Lisa Morton, THE WINDOWS by T. C. Bennett, CERTAIN SIGHTS OF AN AFFLICATED WOMAN by Eric J. Guignard, THE MAN WHO KNEW WHAT TIME IT WAS by Dennis Etchison, THE RE-POSSESSED by James Dorr, CLOWN ON BLACK VELVET by Michael Sebastian, THE CELLAR by Kelly Kurtzhals, ETERNAL VALLEY by John Palisano, BLOOD by Taylor Grant, AMONG THE TIGERS by William F. Nolan, ALL OUR HEARTS ARE GHOSTS by Peter Atkins, THE ITCH by Michael D. Nye, and DRIVING HER HOME by John Everson.

Beauty of Death cover
“Mulholland Moonshine”
In The Beauty of Death

It’s the turn of the century in old Hollywood. It’s a time when being gay was even more dangerous than it is today. Falling in love has always been dangerous, and transformative, so when the object of your affection invites you up into the hills for a camping trip, and leads you to a mysterious body of water, you drink, and to hell with the consequences!

The Beauty of Death Anthology, edited by Bram Stoker Award® Winning Author Alessandro Manzetti.

Over 40 stories and novellas by both contemporary masters of horror and exciting newcomers. Stories by: Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Edward Lee, John Skipp, Poppy Z. Brite, Nick Mamatas, Shane McKenzie,Tim Waggoner, Lisa Morton, Gene O’Neill, Linda Addison, Maria Alexander, Monica O’Rourke, John Palisano, Bruce Boston, Alessandro Manzetti, Rena Mason, Kevin Lucia, Daniel Braum, Colleen Anderson,Thersa Matsuura, John F.D. Taff, James Dorr, Marge Simon, Stefano Fantelli, John Claude Smith, K. Trap Jones, Del Howison, Paolo Di Orazio, Ron Breznay, Mike Lester, Annie Neugebauer, Nicola Lombardi, JG Faherty, Kevin David Anderson, Erinn Kemper, Adrian Ludens, Luigi Musolino, Alexander Zelenyj, Daniele Bonfanti, Kathryn Ptacek, Simonetta Santamaria.
Cover Art by George Cotronis


COMING SOON! 
13346551_10201892623753141_8788014962900180884_n“Paso Robles”
In The Junk Merchants: A Literary Tribute to William S. Burroughs
(Coming Soon)

“The Space Between”
In My Peculiar Family
(Coming Soon)

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VOICES OF THE DEAD preview at Shades & Shadows

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Last July, I was one of the featured readers at Los Angeles reading series Shades & Shadows. We had a full house, and it was wonderful to premier the first chapter of VOICES OF THE DEAD, the sequel to DUST OF THE DEAD. Many readers have asked me what happened after the events of DUST OF THE DEAD, and here’s the first taste.

While you’re there, I urge you to check out the other podcasts. The readings are short . . . around seven minutes each . . . so you can get a good taste of a new author without too much time. They’ve all been pretty damn good, if you ask me.

Podcast Episode 5!

 

13 Things You Didn’t Know About Stuart R. West

Stewart West-1

Stuart R. West’s novel Demon with a Comb-Over quickly won me over. At first, I believed I was in for a saucy romp. Soon, though, the story turned in some of the creepiest moments in a book I’ve read in recent memory. We learn that Charlie has accidentally singled out a man who he initially thinks is a good target during one of his stand-ups. Turns out it’s actually Kobal, who, naturally, turns his own sites on Charlie and his long-suffering daughter. It’s a brilliant twist.

Here’s the thing that makes it all work for me. Charlie is painfully real. His passion is standup comedy, but he is not so good at it. He perseveres, regardless. I think most of us can relate to that. We all want to be great at what we’re passionate about. When we’re not, and the world cruelly tunes us out, it can make most abandon ship. On the flipside, it can make a dedicated few work harder and try harder, hoping there’s some magic, missing quotient for them to discover. That’s where Demon with a Comb-Over feels like a classic tragedy, and succeeds. It’s also very funny, at turns. Having reached out to Stuart, I found him to be equally funny and charismatic as his book.

We also both have been crouched under the Samhain tent as the hurricane has hit. Our last books with the imprint didn’t get the push or attention as much as we’d hoped, so we thought we’d do what we could, and talk about them here. I do hope someone takes on Stuart. I mean, check out this bit about something that almost came out from Samhain:

Dread and Breakfast. Think “Psycho” but with a bunch of damaged, darkly amusing characters: a psychotic, religious married couple; a germophobic mobster; an embezzling wallflower accountant; a hitman who puts family first; an abusive husband; a charming but sociopathic cop; a woman on the run fighting for her young daughter’s life; and of course, Jim and Dolores Dandy, bread and breakfast owners and serial killers.

Welcome to the Dandy Drop Inn. A finer bed and breakfast can’t be found in the Midwest. Hospitality’s the name, murder’s the game. Kick your shoes off, warm up next to the cozy fireplace during the winter storm. Delight over the chocolate pecan pie, everyone’s family here. Don’t fret about the mounting bodies piling up. Try not to let the other strange guests get under your skin, it takes all kinds. And whatever you do, don’t go into the cellar. Business as usual at the ol’ Dandy Drop Inn. A wonderful getaway you won’t soon forget. You just might not survive the night.

I also thought it’d be fun as hell (get it?) to do something a little fun instead of a straight interview. So here’s …

13 Things You Never Knew About Stuart R. West!

*I was in an alternative/art performance band where I played a mentally unstable person (“Cousin Bo”). I wore pajamas on stage, swung around a saxophone and rarely played it. I also shaved my head on-stage with fake stage-blood which once caused the bar owner to call 911.

*I saw Dr. Joyce Brothers in lingerie! I worked at a PR firm. My job was to take photos. When my fellow gal worker went with me, she knocked on Dr. Brother’s door. The doc asked, “who is it?” She answered just for herself. The door opened. My eyes, my eyes!

*Back in the day, I was a world-class videotape trader. The best in the business. I accumulated 30,000 movies from across the world, mostly horror, a lot of them unsubbed and undubbed. Late last year, my “nest egg” went the way of a dumpster. Mold happens. One of the saddest days of my life. My wife and I spent two solid days carrying them out from the basement.

*As a school-skipping kid, I once shared a cigarette with Frank Gorshin (in town for a radio interview to plug his comedy review at “The Golden Buffet”). He was standing on the lawn of the radio station. I told the girl I was with who he was (Batman’s “Riddler”). She didn’t believe me, so we went forth. He ended up signing her paperback novel of (can’t remember the title) a tale of demonic and sexual possession.

*After college, I tried stand-up comedy. Burned worse than my protagonist, Charlie, from my novel, Demon with a Comb-Over.

*For over twenty years, I was a graphic artist and manager of a big North Kansas City publishing company. And I still don’t trust my talents to do my own covers.

*I’ve written 12 novels, put out by three publishers. I also have a children’s picture book coming late in the year. Eventually I’d like to try my hand at most genres. Except erotica. Not that there’s anything wrong with it! I just find it boring after a while. Still…it sells!

*When I was in grade school I knew I wanted to be a writer. Just took me a while to get there.

*I’m married to a college professor of pharmacy, a world-renowned specialist in natural products. Her drug expertise (um, not the kind I specialized in during high school!) comes in handy for some of my thrillers.

*True confession time! I love bad movies. Absolutely adore them. Give me a schlocky, awful Andy Milligan piece of junk over Titanic any day. During a recent visit, my nephew checked out my DVD collection. He asked, “Don’t you ever watch any good movies?” “Um, no,” I said. Don’t judge me!

*My friends and I almost kidnapped “Skippy” from Family Ties back in the day during a spring break in Texas. Long story, that.

*In high school, I worked at a McDonald’s for one day. When I blasted the tartar sauce gun too hard (which shot the fish sandwich off the table), I found it pretty funny. My boss didn’t.

*I brought my daughter up watching horror movies. I was so proud of her the other day when she gave a lecture to my young nephews about the trajectory of the Nightmare of Elm Street saga. She did it with confidence, knowledge, acting out and humor. My girl!

http://stuartrwest.blogspot.com/

Stuart R. West

http://www.amazon.com/Stuart-R.-West/e/B00B419X5C/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

http://cemeterydanceonline.com/2016/03/review-demon-with-a-comb-over-by-stuart-r-west/

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“Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” makes the Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot, and other news

Happy Joe's graphic
Thrilled to say that my short story, “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” has advanced on to the Preliminary Ballot for short fiction for the Bram Stoker Awards.

“Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” appeared in Eric Miller’s anthology ’18 Wheels of Horror’ last year. Here’s a bit about the story:

“When Greg looses his father at the infamous Happy Joe’s highway rest stop, he must fight his way through impossible odds at surviving a horrific slaughter by the Man in White Without a Face.”

Thanks in advance to those who’ve read and recommended: “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop”.


NEWS: I have a good amount of work being released over the next few months. My first short fiction collection, “All That Withers” is coming in May from Cicatrix Press, I have short stories in “My Peculiar Family”, “Cemetery Riots”, “41-14” and more, the next Fangoria has an article I co-wrote with Tim Chizmar, I have a story in the upcoming Dark Discoveries…and I am now Vice President of the Horror Writers Association. I’ll have a public statement on that as soon as the organization releases it. This role feels like a natural progression and I’m pinching myself it’s real. Thanks for all your support. It’s a very exciting period.

“Flowers” to appear in Dark Discoveries #33

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Got a brand new short story “Flowers” in the upcoming issue of Dark Discoveries. Having a piece of short fiction in a national magazine has been a goal of mine for ages. So excited it’s finally come true. Hope you all dig it. And there are some phenomenal folks in this issue. Check it out.

Dark Discoveries – Issue #33 THEME: Bizarro  Laird Barron! ONLY SUBSCRIBERS TO DD CAN ORDER THE LIMITED EDITION OF LAIRD’S NEW CRIME NOVELLA *MAN WITH NO NAME*!

This issue:
All new Fiction by: Cameron Price, John PalisanoMax Booth IIIMP Johnson, Mary A. Turzillo and Shane McKenzie!

Interviews with: Laird Barron, Hal Duncan and Thom Metzger

Articles on: “Bizarro Punk” by David Agranoff, “Bizarro World Got Me Dirty and Wet” by L. Andrew Cooper, “Coffee – Bootlegging – Labyrinths” by Aaron J. French and Bizarro Comic by Phil Differ and Gavin Boyle

Columns from Mike Davis, Laird Barron, Robert Morrish, Chris Kelso, Donald Tyson and Richard Dansky!

Don’t miss it! Order here: http://journal-store.com/fiction/dark-discoveries-issue-33/

An interview with author Brian Kirk

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 A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Kirk during pitches at World Horror. I was helping out a small press at the time. I was immediately impressed with his presentation, personality, and sincerity. When I looked over his manuscript, I was even more impressed. I’m thrilled it landed at Samhain and is gaining much well deserved accolades and publicity. Here’s a short interview with Brian. 

JP: Can you tell us a little bit about We Are Monsters?   

BK: Certainly. We Are Monsters is my debut novel, literally making it a dream come true. Although all books are basically dreams that have come true when you really think about it. I mean, isn’t a book basically the end result of someone extracting the contents of some subconscious dream-state into the material realm. But that’s off topic, and perhaps too esoteric for this early on in the interview. My apologies.

We Are Monsters is a story about a brilliant, yet troubled psychiatrist named Alex Drexler who is working to create a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.

JP: What inspired this story?     

BK: I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness. The idea that our own brains can turn against us is terrifying. It’s the ultimate enemy; it knows our deepest secrets and it’s something we can’t escape.

I also have a great deal of sympathy for people who suffer mental heath disorders. I’ve dealt with OCD all of my life, which produces chronic anxiety, negative thought loops, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell you. And I feel that mental disease is misunderstood by our society at large. In fact, many people who are mentally ill are often labeled as evil or deranged, which I feel is unfair, and precludes us from exploring proper treatment options.

I suppose I found the subject both fascinating and deeply personal, and I wanted to explore it further, so I wrote about it.

JP: How did you get started writing?    

BK: Reading and writing have been the two things I’ve enjoyed above all else for as long as I can remember. And I realized I had somewhat of a talent for telling stories early on, as students started looking forward to hearing my stories read aloud in class. My English teachers all encouraged my writing, and I won a poetry contest in 5th grade from a homework assignment that my teacher submitted on my behalf.

But I always considered it frivolous fun and knew that one day I’d have to get serious and find a line of work that I could turn into a career. So I studied marketing and took a job at an ad agency. But the urge to write stories never left. In fact, it grew stronger the farther away from it that I strayed. I returned to it a few years after starting my “big career,” writing short stories in the evenings and on the weekends, and then I began submitting them for publication. After accruing a massive stack of rejections for a couple of years, I finally sold one. Then another.  After a while I decided to quit my full time job at the ad agency to work freelance and write a book. That’s how We Are Monsters came about.

JP: What was the path to publication like for you?    

BK: Publishing my first short story and first novel were two entirely different experiences. For one, my writing was understandably amateurish when I first started out. With each story, my work got a bit more refined. The only way to learn how to write is by writing, which unfortunately results in the decimation of story ideas that could have been good if written with more skill.

And rejection stings, no matter what. Two straight years of generic rejections slips is humbling and will make you question your ability. But that just makes that first acceptance that much sweeter, I think.

Short stories helped me to refine my craft, but I didn’t really find my voice until I started writing We Are Monsters, which took about a year to write. And then I spent another five months or so rewriting, sharing with readers, and rewriting more. I considered pursuing agents, but didn’t feel like it was the right book for a large, traditional publisher. It’s a bit too unconventional. So I decided to seek out the proper fit on my own.

I knew about Don D’Auria, the head editor for the horror line at Samhain Publishing, from his work at Leisure Books, and was intent on pitching him. I flew from Atlanta to Portland for a ten minute pitch session with him at the 2014 World Horror Convention. The pitch went well and he asked to read the manuscript. I sent it to him and two weeks later he offered a contract. I was so excited I almost threw up in my lap.

JP: What’s in the future for you?    

BK: I’m excited to have We Are Monsters out in the world. Early reviews have been encouraging and very kind. It has the potential to be a polarizing book, but the people who get it really seem to enjoy it. So I know it fundamentally works, which pleases me.

I’m currently writing the second book in a planned trilogy of dark thrillers. The first book is complete and currently being considered by various agents. I hope to be able to share exciting news on that soon. We’ll see.

JP: What would people be surprised to find out about you?    

BK: Aside from writing fiction, I’m a father of five-year-old identical twin boys: the rarest form of human offspring (a very technical term for kids). Only fraternal twins are hereditary; identical twins are a random anomaly. So it came as quite a surprise. In fact, the first thing I did when I found out was Google search the phrase, “The best thing about having twins.” I needed a pep talk.

Fortunately, it turns out I didn’t. We were blessed with wonderful boys. Raising them has been a special privilege.

JP: Where can readers find and follow you?

BK: Thanks for asking. Anyone interesting in learning more about my work or striking up a virtual friendship can find me through any of the following channels. Thank you very much for having me.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Monsters-Brian-Kirk-ebook/dp/B00VNK4PL6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434202454&sr=8-1&keywords=we+are+monsters

Website: http://briankirkblog.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brian_Kirk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brian.kirk13

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142176.Brian_Kirk