Having published the novel, Seeing Evil, with Red Adept Publishing, I was thrown into the extensive editing scheme I’ve been looking for my entire writing career (which isn’t as short as one might think). I’ve paid lots of money for editors who haven’t even come close to giving the treatment Seeing Evil received, and I truly believe Red Adept made a good product into something great.
So I had to wonder what they would be like as editors for my other material, horror and dark comedy that doesn’t necessary fit the mold of what the publishing arm puts out. Did I get such expert treatment because they were throwing their name on the book, or would I receive the same masterful level of editing for my other work? I am very happy to say that I received the same high-quality service each and every time I’ve used Red Adept Editing, be it Stefanie or Kelly or Angela or Jessica or any other of the wonderful content and line editors. (And let’s not forget the proofreaders!)
I may sound like I am just touting them, but they are by far the best editors I have ever used and worth every penny. I wouldn’t trust my own work with them if they were not, so the proof is in the acknowledgment sections of my published work.
You’ve worked with Stefanie. What did you enjoy most about working with her?
Her professionalism, knowledge, and attention to detail. Sometimes it’s hard for writers who have edited their work over and over again to pick up their own errors—I swear the mind reads what it wants to read too often. Stefanie edited Wrathbone, which was released in my own collection published through Comet Press . In this tale, I tried to emulate Poe, and I think I succeeded, taking chances with a first-person point of view that I think readers will really find surprising. I thought it was my best work when I submitted it to Red Adept for editing. Stefanie found ways to make it a hundred times better.
An author is only as good as his or her editors. He or she should always give credit where due. Stefanie’s expertise deserves all the credit I can bestow.
Are your books standalones, or do they need to be read in order?
All my books are standalones. I hate reading a book that ends without an ending. Open endings are fine where they make readers think and spawn imagination, but when it’s left open for the sole and gratuitous plan to force readers to buy the sequel to finish a story . . . well, that’s just not my thing.
With that said, I like my works, where possible, to be interconnected. A subplot here, a minor character there, may come into their own in a separate work. Seeing Evil was never intended to have a sequel. The book has a clear resolution of the main plotline. Yet, I am finishing up a sequel now. And ties to a different storyline may or may not come to be . . .
You write horror. What do you like about writing in that genre?
What’s not to like about horror? I think the urge to shock people and, in many ways, the desire to be shocked have led to an excess of extreme horror, which turns some away from the genre. I have no aversion to excessive blood and guts, taboo subjects, gratuitous torture porn, et cetera—if it furthers an interesting story. Too often, it sits there like a maggot in poop, something revolting to make already revolting garbage more revolting. It’s revolting.
Not my best analogy. Anyway, to answer your question in a very roundabout way, that isn’t what I look for in horror. I like atmosphere. I like conflict. I like to be chilled to the bone. But good horror holds a mirror to the ugliness of life and has monsters that are all too real. Except vampires. You won’t see those in the mirror.
Watching them grow and try new things and being a part of their creative process. I work with some great people on a yearly Halloween anthology, Bad Apples—shout out to Evans Light, Adam Light, Edward Lorn, and Gregor Xane!—and we have all participated in beta reads or edits of each other’s stories. It is some of the most fun I have writing. We all just seem to do it because it’s our shared passion—and readers seem to like it. Writing is so much more fun when you can share the process with like-minded psychopaths . . . I mean, um, writers.
Consequently, Kelly Reed edited this year’s Bad Apples story and my last Bad Apples contribution, “Dia de los Muertos.” The piece made the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards, but alas, it did not make the final ballot. My deepest hope is that Wrathbone will receive a nomination next year. Fingers crossed.
You have some great covers. Who does your cover work?
For Bad Apples, we came up with those covers ourselves (the other four did—it’s beyond my skill set). They are simple but very recognizable. My more artistic covers—my two novellas, Unseemly and Where Wolves Run (my one foray into the prototypical monster)—as well as an anthology the Bad Apples crew did with a sort of twisted love/horror theme called Dead Roses, were created by the immensely talented Mike Tenebrae. Unseemly has got to be my favorite of all my covers, but people seem to love the cover to Where Wolves Run, for which Mike should also be proud.
If you are interested in Mike’s art, he can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/MikeTenebraeArt
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work. All the time. I am such a dull person. I have no life. My idea of a vacation these days is going to a convention. I do like to travel. Every chance I get. Feel like going somewhere?
What are you working on right now? Something in a current series or something entirely new?
I have been very busy. I am finishing up a sequel to Seeing Evil. I am working with editors on my upcoming collection (for which a horror great has provided me with an introduction). I have a novel presently in a competition (hope I didn’t jinx it—sci-fi horror). I have two or three novels (sci-fi, horror, and thriller) set to come out in 2017. And of course, Bad Apples 3 by this October.
Then there’s the stuff I want to write but haven’t gotten to yet . . .
What advice would you give to a new author?
I see many authors answer this question with: “Read, a lot, particularly in your genre.” While that’s good advice, let me add this: network. Find a team of editors, beta readers, friends who can be objective, and other writers with whom you can work quid pro quo. Get help. I always wanted to do everything myself, to stand on my own two feet. It took me a while, but I eventually learned how stupid that is. People with different experiences and points of view will strengthen and enrich your writing. Don’t push them away or be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes, I have a hard time following my own advice, but that doesn’t make it any less good.
Where can readers find you?