In my book mail this week: The Parasite and Other Tales of Terror by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (available here). This is a release from the Haunted Library of Horror Classics, a line of reissued classic horror literature books from over the past 250 years. From Poisoned Pen Press and The Horror Writers Association (HWA) these books are recognized as literary masterpieces of their era.
Today they are remembered only through distorted theatrical or movie versions, have been relegated to academic study, or have otherwise been nearly forgotten entirely. Series editors Eric J. Guignard and Leslie S. Klinger now bring back these seminal titles of the genre, making them easily available to modern readers.
I grew up reading classics but most of these I’ve never read. Over the next year I’m going to try to work through this list, starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… I thought I read all his works but I think I may have missed this one. Thank you to the HWA, Poisoned Pen and Eric J. Guignard and Leslie S. Klinger for bringing these back.
I’m honored to have an interview with Peter Adam Salomon on my blog today. His debut novel, Henry Franks, published by Flux in 2012, was named one of the ten ‘Books All Young Georgians Should Read’ by The Georgia Center For The Book in 2014. His second novel, All Those Broken Angels, was published in 2014 by Flux and was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in the Young Adult Novel category.
When did you first begin to write? What did you write at that time?
I still have poems dating back to when I was 7. They are not very good. But after over 40 years of writing, mostly poetry, but also short stories and novels, I like to think I’ve improved. A little, at least.
Throughout the years, the same themes have always been evident in my writing: memory, identity, isolation, abandonment, religion, and others. I’m not really sure where those theme came from but they’ve been pretty consistent over the decades of poetry.
However, those first poems, especially in my teen years, had a heavy dose of teenage angstian (yes, I know, it’s not a word…but it should be and I plan to keep on using it until it is one) drama. Thankfully, I got through that phase relatively unscathed, though as I like to say now that I write Young Adult Horror: nothing is more terrifying than high school.
When did you first decide to pursue writing as a career?
After I graduated college, I took time off to finish my first novel. While it didn’t sell, I learned a great deal from the experience. As for wanting to be a writer, that was an ‘always’ sort of thing. Making a career of it, obviously, didn’t become a reality until my first novel sold.
You published your first novel, Henry Franks, in 2012. Please tell me about the events that birthed that work.
I’d written a number of ‘adult’ novels (in the thriller/suspense genre) that hadn’t sold and my wife suggested I write something our children could someday read. In trying to come up with an idea, I stumbled upon Frankenstein and started thinking about how to place that story, of a crazed scientist trying to defeat death, into a modern setting. In combining that idea with the concept of a child raised isolated from the world, knowing only what they are taught by someone who may, or may not, be telling them the truth, I ended up with the story that became Henry Franks.
You have been lauded many times as an author. What are some of the awards that mean the most to you, and why?
Without question, the Bram Stoker nomination for my second novel, All Those Broken Angels, means the most. I am a proud member of the Horror Writers Association and that nomination from the HWA thrills me to this day. Especially since that was such a personal, difficult to write novel that I knew would have a lot of detractors. The ‘voice’ of the novel is so unique and extremely poetic, which makes sense because I basically threw out all the typical, standard ‘rules’ of fiction writing (no run on sentences, no sentence fragments, no repeated words) and replaced them with the ‘rules’ of poetry. It made it very intense to write, and I knew people would either ‘get’ the style I was using, or they’d hate it. I’m ok with that. So, the honors for that book are incredibly gratifying.
Your latest book is PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners. Please tell me about the events that birthed that work.
With my first poetry collection (Prophets, though when it’s re-released it’ll be re-titled PseudoPsalms: Prophets), I had a more general ‘biblical’ overtone, relating back to those themes in my writing of memory, identity, religion, etc. So when it came time to put together my second collection, PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners, I wanted to focus in a little more, not only on the negative/dark/horror elements of those themes (‘Sinners’) but on the lighter side as well (‘Saints’) so the collection contains both dark poems and light.
With my third collection, (PseudoPsalms: Sodom, due in 2017 from Bizarro Pulp Press), I’ve taken these themes even further into the darkness and, at the same time, this collection contains something different than anything I’ve ever written before in the entirety of the second half of the collection, which you’ll have to wait to find out about.
What projects will you be pursuing next?
In addition to the new poetry collection, my agent currently has two novels and one picture book out on submission with a third novel hopefully to be going out shortly. The novels are YA horror/sci-fi and, yes, they all deal, to some extent, with those same themes.
Hopefully, in early 2017 I’ll start writing something new…just not quite sure what that will be yet.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
In addition to ‘read, a lot’ which is pretty popular advice, I like to talk to aspiring authors about ‘attitude’ because I feel as though that’s something that gets left out a lot.
Attitude is vital in this business, as it is in any. Specifically, it is very important to never lose sight of the fact that publishing is a business. And not just any business. It’s a creative business. And it is VERY slow.
Patience is a virtue. And it’s vital. There’s a lot of waiting, which gives the author time to write more. And to keep writing more. So that the waiting doesn’t drive you up the proverbial wall.
But attitude goes far beyond that in this business. Because, and this was hard for me to learn, not every first draft is brilliant and publishable. I kid. NO first drafts are brilliant and publishable.
What that means is simple: Learn to LOVE the editing/revision process. Love it and embrace it and then love it some more.
Because you will be editing/revising for FAR MORE TIME than you’ll be writing. Yes, you should celebrate finishing a first draft. But then, get to work.
You’ll be editing and revising that first draft until you’ve lost track of which draft number you’re on. Then, and only then, you’ll need to send that polished manuscript off to beta readers. Who will give you vital feedback and critiques. And, again, your attitude is priceless. Those beta readers are taking time out of their lives, from their writing, to help you make your work better.
Appreciate them. Treasure them. That doesn’t mean you have to take every suggestion they make, it’s still your work. But you need to accept their help with a great attitude so that they’ll want to work with you again.
And then, guess what? You’ll have more editing/revising to do with all that precious feedback you’ve received. Then, and only then, will it finally be time to think about querying an agent. And then, you land an agent. Celebrate again.
And then, that agent will send you their feedback and critique on your ‘polished manuscript.’ And, yes, you guessed it…more editing/revising. With a GREAT attitude. Always.
And then, after you’ve spent even more time editing/revising, your agent might decide it’s ready to go out on submission. Time for more celebration. Even more celebration after it sells. At which point, the editor at the publishing house that just bought your novel will send you an editorial letter. Yes, that’s right. Still MORE editing/revising.
So, I’m telling you now: LOVE the process. Love every bit of it. Love the people helping you to make your book the best it can be. Thank them, sincerely and genuinely for their help. Attitude is that important. Or the editor won’t want to work with you again. And might talk about you to other editors, who won’t want to work with you. Why risk it, when loving the process is simple.
That’s what I tell aspiring authors.
And always keep reading. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Dreams, after all, come true. I know.
I am pleased to announce that my recent poem, Death Waits, has been accepted into the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume III, set to be published as an electronic chapbook later this year.
My poem, The Braid, was accepted and included in last year’s Showcase and became the inspiration behind my short story, also titled The Braid. I am currently working on a short story based on Death Waits.
About HWA: The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is a nonprofit organization of writers and publishing professionals around the world, dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it. HWA was formed in 1985 with the help of many of the field’s greats, including Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and Joe Lansdale. It is the oldest and most respected professional organization for the much-loved writers who have brought you the most enjoyable sleepless nights of your life. Find more information on the HWA at Horror.org.
Find past Poetry Showcase volumes by following the links below.
Mr. Smith and I attended the gala Bram Stokers Award Banquet. Photo courtesy of S. Kay Nash.
How can I possibly express what it was like to be at StokerCon 2016?
The best of the horror community walked the halls, mingling with the up-and-comers. It was a blur of friends, new and old. There were workshops teeming with more information than could possibly be absorbed in the time allotted. The panels were full of audience participation, demonstrating what a close knit community of writers and authors the Horror Writers Association remains.
Set all this collaboration and cooperation into the glittering Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The result was a singular experience–exhausting, invigorating, thrilling–and nothing will ever compare.
There will be other StokerCons. The next one is already set to take place in 2017 aboard the Queen Mary in California, but this one will always remain at the top of the list. Mostly, it’s because it was the first StokerCon and must, by the mysterious powers of numbers, remain in the number one spot. It will also remain in the top because the horror community demonstrated that, despite growing pains, we remain together.
Words are my livelihood, but sometimes a picture can express things an exhausted writer can’t. Tonight, I take the easy route and share the images I caught over the past week. Please enjoy while I go finish unpacking.
October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month and today a beautiful story unfolded about one dog who has been living in a nightmare and how he has been saved.
Today my daughter went to look at a property to possibly purchase. There were some abandoned buildings on the land, and as my daughter and the realtor were looking things over, a skinny dog came out of one of the buildings, whimpering.
He came right up to her crying. The little hair he had left on his back was teeming with fleas. He was starved and limping. He looked up at her with big brown eyes, desperately begging for help. The buildings weren’t the only thing abandoned on this property—the owner had left his dog as well.
She scooped him up and drove him to New Beginnings Animal Shelter, also Niceville Animal Clinic, for help. The poor dog needed everything. Vaccinations, heart worm, flea and tick treatment—a grooming. She didn’t have money to pay for everything at the moment, but the Niceville Animal Clinic didn’t let that stop this canine from getting help. Each of them chipped in to help cover the costs, greatly reducing the final bill.
Tonight, this abandoned dog has hope. He is back at my daughter’s apartment while his owner is sought. If in 10 days he hasn’t been claimed, he is hers. For now this little beagle has a full stomach, relief from the fleas that covered him and a safe place.
Alone is scary, but for this dog, the nightmare is finally over.
This month the Horror Writers Association has been participating in the Alone Is Scary campaign to support the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month.
The Horror Writers Association is proud to announce we have entered into a partnership with the United for Libraries’ (part of the American Library Association) as part of the Authors for Libraries program. This is an unprecedented opportunity for the HWA to expand its Literacy/Library programming. What does it mean for membership? A lot.
Over the next several months, every dues paying member of the HWA will be enrolled in the United for Libraries database, which is used by libraries nationwide when they are looking for writers to do presentations, readings, or instructional classes. Libraries will be able to search by location and will also have the capability to contact writers outside their geographic area for Skype or other multi-media presentations. There is normally a $49 annual fee for any writer who joins the Authors for Libraries program, but enrollment is now a perk of being an HWA member.
In addition, throughout 2016 our Administrator, Brad Hodson, and the Library Committee will be working with United for Libraries to not only merge our databases but also post author profiles and book covers on the UfL webpage, share information about conferences, special events, literacy programs, and reading lists, while joining together to increase the visibility and funding of library programs and the special place horror has when it comes to getting people to read.
“This partnership isn’t just an exciting opportunity for HWA and its members, it’s also a major leap forward for the entire organization,” said HWA President Lisa Morton. “For years, HWA has engaged in library outreach and urged members to work more with their local libraries, so this is a perfect way to realize those goals. We look forward to working more closely with libraries to expand public awareness of, and appreciation for, horror literature.”
The HWA will also be participating in a special Horror panel at the 2016 American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Finally, this will enable greater reach for the recommended reading list and new releases list that are located on the HWA website.
Remember when I talked about how valuable a membership to the Horror Writer’s Association is? I recently signed up for the HWA’s mentor program and was paired with Bryan Thao Worra.
I feel like it’s Christmas—Worra’s accomplishments fill impressive pages and he’s going to give me tips?!? When I first Googled him I was in awe of all his awards, but from the first email exchange I could tell he was down-to-earth. He’s already given me some valuable insight I plan to utilize over the weekend.
My point is this—many of you that stalk the Dfluff posts are interested in producing or consuming in the horror genre. I urge you to join. I waited a year trying to decide if joining was worth it. It is worth every penny and more. From the conference in May, the mentorship program, the new publishing opportunities… in a month HWA gave me back 10 times what I paid for my membership.
Not only have a received great mentorship from Bryan, but other members like Peter Salomon and Patrick Freivald have been generous with sharing what they know. HWA is more than a professional organization—it’s a cooperative group of people that recognize when one of us succeeds, we all do.
Now is the perfect time to join the Horror Writer’s Association. Because of the pro-rated dues schedule, membership just prices dropped to $37 for an Active/Affiliate/Academic/Associate member or $27 as a Supporting member for the rest of the year.
About the HWA mentorship program: The program is offered to all members, but especially to new and aspiring writers, who are afforded the opportunity to be matched up with seasoned professionals, experienced and knowledgeable writers, including Active members who know just what it takes to create and tell a story, and all that follows soon after.
UPDATE: StokerCon tickets are now for sale and the official website is LIVE! Tickets are just $99 until June 5th. I predict StokerCon will sell out. Details at StokerCon2016.org!
Remember when I talked about the stunning news of the first ever StokerCon coming next year? Today it was announced on the Horror Writer’s Association Facebook page that registration will begin this weekend! From the page:
For those who missed the announcement, our Guest of Honor Authors so far for StokerCon2016 are: Jack Ketchum, Daniel Knauf, R.L. Stine, Leslie S Klinger, and our toastmaster is Stephen Jones-Editor. Expect Q&As with these guests, as well as readings, workshops, contests, critiques, pitch sessions, parties and the annual Bram Stoker Awards banquet! All of Vegas to entertain you and 500 of your closest friends in the horror business! Mark your calendars now: May 12th-15th, 2016 at The Flamingo!
Watch the StokerCon page for details, save your money and pack your bags – we’re going to Vegas!