Hey there! Welcome back to Author Interview Corner. I’ve got another book giveaway for you guys. Not one, but TWO lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of A Very StrangeHouse Christmas.
This collection includes a story by yours truly and is published by the incomparable STRANGEHOUSE BOOKS. Also featuring a story by Kevin Strange (who we will get to know better in a minute), this book puts a whole new spin on Christmas. Here are the contest rules:
It’s very simple! All you have to do is ‘like’ or comment on this post, and your name will be entered in the random drawing. Two lucky winners will get a book. Easy, huh? It’s my way of saying, “Happy Holidays to you!” But I should warn you… this anthology is not for the faint of heart! 🙂
Hi, Kevin. Thanks for joining us.
Thanks for having me! It still amazes me, after all these years, that people still give a shit what I have to say. Haha
When it comes to horror fiction, you prefer hardcore/ bizarro. What draws you to this genre?
I’ve always been drawn to extreme stories. I grew up on the splatter punks, Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Ed Lee. I was reading that shit at 16, started working at a porn shop at 19. I’ve just always been drawn to extreme violence and sexuality. My favorite horror movies as a kid were Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive. The more blood, gore, and gross out gags the better. So as a creator, I very rarely find enjoyment in nuance and implied violence. The Hardcore horror (formerly Splatterpunk) and Bizarro genres allow me to ramp up the levels of violence and sex to the nth degree without losing my audience in the process. They love reading my crazy shit as much as I love writing it.
Your novelette, The Humans Under The Bed, is narrated from a very different perspective. I love the idea behind it. Please tell us about this story. Where can we find it?
I got the idea in my head to flip the roles of the classic fear children have of monsters hiding under their beds. I came up with a reality where humans created a super computer that turned on them and used their greatest fear against them: monsters. Now, hundreds of years later, monsters rule the planet and have normal day jobs, own homes and raise families, only now, the little monster kids have a fear of their own: humans.
I wanted to write it from a child’s perspective, but still include the ultra violent action I’m known for, so what it ended up becoming was a sort of children’s story for adults. Sort of like the movie The Gate, or Little Monsters. Child protagonists, but stories far too mature for a child audience.
I like to promote my anthology releases through StrangeHouse like bands promote new albums. I present a novella-length story as a stand alone paperback and kindle release a few months in advance of the actual anthology like a band releases a single. In this case, THE HUMANS UNDER THE BED is a part of the STRANGE FUCKING STORIES anthology that will be made available in January 2014.
In addition to the paperback and kindle release, THUTB is also being presented as a serial for free on my blog on Goodreads (goodreads.com/kevinstrange). This week is actually the final installment in the 5 part series.
In addition to writing, you are an editor at StrangeHouse Books. What is the most rewarding part of running a publishing house?
Sean Ferrari is our head editor, I co-own it with him and write for it, run the business side of it, but the guy who molds the books into what they are is definitely Sean. I couldn’t edit my way out of a wet napkin. Haha
The most rewarding part about running the thing is allowing the authors who write for us and the artists who draw covers for us to exercise their creativity and get the chance to have their voices heard in the very, very cluttered environment of small press horror fiction.
As an author, SHB allows me to create a vision for my books and execute that vision without compromise. I am a very independent creator. I don’t like publishers, or anyone else for that matter, mucking around with release dates and promotion for my projects. I want to handle them from concept to release, myself. (I’m trying to overcome this, and branch out to a wider audience through other publishers, but letting go of my babies is hard to do…)
The most challenging part?
The most challenging part is juggling all of the egos, including my own. We separated from one of our founders and a dude we hired as business manager this year, mostly over petty ego crap. We separated from a couple of authors this year as well, far in advance of their contract expiration dates. It’s very difficult to juggle all of those egos involved so that everyone is happy with the resulting transformation from un-edited manuscript to completed book. I deal with authors and artists every single day at all hours of the day and night and, I’d like to think at least, I’m getting better at it. The current roster here at SHB, both behind the scenes and the creative guys in the front are happy with the job I’m doing, so that’s something of a landmark. haha
StrangeHouse Books has a huge catalog with so many interesting titles. How long have you been publishing?
We started publishing in early 2012 with the release of our first anthology, STRANGE SEX. We really didn’t know what we were doing, but right out of the gate we knew we wanted to publish around 12 titles per year to start. We didn’t quite get that far, but we have managed to consistently release titles every single quarter since then. I believe 2014 will be the first year we actually reach 12 releases.
Are you currently open for submissions?
We are currently open until February 1st 2014 for Hardcore Horror novels 55,000 to 85,000 words in length. We released a ton of great bizarro fiction in 2013. Titles like, ALIEN SMUT PEDDLERS FROM THE FUTURE, DAMNATION 101, DINNER AT THE VOMITROPOLIS, STRANGE VS LOVECRAFT, McHUMANS and more.
We’d like to focus on some really visceral, extreme horror titles next year. We’ve already got some Bizarro and Lovecraftian titles slated for release, and of course we’re open to more of that, but we’re primarily looking for extreme horror stuff. Contact Sean @ firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our submissions page at www.strangehousebooks.com/submissions for more details.
You write everything from articles to short stories to novels. Can you tell us a little bit about the titles you have available?
I wrote and directed movies for years back in the early 2000s, so I have a pretty extensive resume. I am 100% devoted to my fiction now, though. My books available through SHB are:
ROBAMAPOCALYPSE, the story of a cyborg Barack Obama ruling over the only city left on the planet after the zombie apocalypse.
VAMPIRE GUTS IN NUKE TOWN, another post apocalyptic tale. This time it’s vampires that have decimated our civilization, real nasty, feral, giant bat-like creatures. It’s up to one man, Guts, who has a very unusual mutant power to put an end to the vampire menace, before they wipe out the last vestige of humanity.
THE LAST GIG ON PLANET EARTH is my short story collection. This one is much more sinister horror and Lovecraftian menace than the over-the-top extreme gore shit I typically write. It’s for horror fans who want their horror quiet and terrifying.
COTTON CANDY is a short novella about cannibal were-teddy bear orgies. I’ll leave it at that.
McHUMANS is my newest novella and, you guessed it, focuses on a post apocalyptic world. This one is a straight Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos story concerning the Aqua-pocalypse. Cthulhu has flooded the planet and dragged the few humans left alive down to the watery depths to work in fast food type restaurants and serve their fellow humans to their tentacly masters. One brave and stupid young man, Ricky, decides to try to poison the food and kill Cthulhu… with disastrous results.
StrangeHouse Books is a powerhouse of promotion. In 2013, you had a table at several horror conventions in an attempt to sell books and spread the word. What is your favorite part about attending cons? Any plans for 2014?
I think we did around 12 shows this year. Over the summer I worked my day job Monday through Thursday and then travel to cons from Friday to Sunday for 3 months straight. I think I went 91 days without a day off. I’m a road dog, this is what I do. I get in people’s faces and sell them books. I don’t understand how anyone expects to be successful any other way. We sell a ton of books on Kindle, but most of those digital fans started off buying books from us at shows. The horror convention circuit is our home. It’s where SHB was born and it’s where we thrive.
My favorite part of shows is meeting the fans, watching them evolve from casual buyers into hardcore SHB StrangeHeads. We’ve hit all the major midwest cities three or four times now over the last few years and it’s amazing to see how many people’s eyes light up when they see our table and run over to chat, hang out for a bit and buy the new releases. It’s been an amazing journey.
Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
In ten years, I’d like to have a catalog of 200 plus titles. I’d like to be on the road full time doing conventions without having to bother with a day job, and I’d like to be a very successful, self-sustained author with dozens of books under my belt. Maybe I’ll make another movie, maybe I won’t. I’d like to write a comic book and a play, two of the only mediums I’ve yet to explore as a writer.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Stay humble. Check your ego at the door. New writers are the WORST! Especially in the age of instant gratification and social media, most brand new writers expect their first manuscript to be picked up by the very first publishing house they send it to within the first 30 minutes of sending the email. When three months go by and they finally get a rejection letter, they take to social media and bitch about it, sometimes getting as dramatic as saying they’ve been blacklisted by the press and almost always badmouthing them in some way.
Stop that shit. Be open to criticism, be patient. Write. A lot. All the time. For YEARS. Years doesn’t mean months. It doesn’t mean you’re a seasoned veteran after getting published in three obscure anthologies in 9 months. It means write for a very, very long time and be open to absolutely every piece of advice or criticism you receive. Befriend successful authors on social media, watch them work, talk to them, ask them questions, celebrate their successes with them.
I rejected a guy this year because I felt that his manuscript was rushed and conformed to the word count rather than the scope of the story. I rejected him, but I encouraged him to write his story out to novel length and gave him some suggestions for over-arching story lines that I felt were interesting in the short story, but could be great if explored at novel-length.
This guy did the right thing. He didn’t get pissed at me. He sat down and wrote the fucking book. He’s given me updates as time has gone on and is busting his ass to flesh out his great ideas. In the end, he might not get a contract from me, but he’ll have a great book on his hands that wouldn’t have been written had he gotten all pissed at me and told me to fuck myself.
Be humble. That’s the best advice any new writer can take.
Where can we find you on the web?