The always-amazing Powers-That-Be at Grand Mal Press will soon unleash a quartet of fresh voices and four-edged long-form fictional horror upon an unsuspecting reading public. Mal Contents contains my 20-k novella of professional jealousy set in the culinary world, "The Mushrooms". Also included in the stellar lineup are David T. Wilbanks, Randy Chandler, and editor Ryan C. Thomas, who collected the tales for GMP in early 2011. The release, my third so far with this fantastic press, is available for sale in early October -- perfect timing for Halloween.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Mister Thomas, an editor I've previously worked with at GMP as well as on other projects, notably the brilliant Permuted Press homage to all-things-gargantuan, Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on submitting to GMP, his own impressive publication resume, his rock band The Buzzbombs, and the current state of print media.
In addition to being a first-rate editor, you're also a widely-published author yourself. Can you talk about your career on the other side of the editorial pen?
I've written four novels: The Summer I Died and its sequel, Born To Bleed; Ratings Game; and Hissers. I've also written a mashup, The Undead World of Oz, which is being published in Russia this year. And several novellas and short stories and other projects as editor.
You were also featured in Alien Aberrations. How did you become involved with editing for Grand Mal?
Networking, networking, networking. I've known Stephen [GMP's Publisher] for a little bit. He said he wanted someone more familiar with the genre to take the reins. So I did. I ran a magazine here in San Diego for seven years, and all told I've been in publishing for a decade, having worked for a magazine in New York City before that, so I know the ropes from the publishing side as much as the writing side.
What is GMP doing that's different from other up-and-coming presses? Other than the size of your books, which are not quite paperback nor trade paperback, but somewhere in between?
We do use the 5x8 format, which is unique. We will be doing some 6x9s now as well. As far as what's different, I'll just say we're completely concerned with quality, both in the production and the writing. I find we reject a lot more submissions due to poor writing than anything else, even if the ideas are good. We really want to find the diamonds in the rough. Beyond that, we create original covers for each book, and we have two other editors and a handful of proofreaders, so we're doing our best to make sure each book is error free.
What are you looking for in a submission?
What we want in submissions is a good idea executed with excellent writing skills. We really just like to read anything that's unique and fresh. Good dialogue and prose are a must, though. Try to wow us.What are you currently working on with your own writing?
Hissers just came out in audio book format from Audible Books. The paperback will be out in November from Permuted Press. It's a three-part series, so I'm working on part two right now. I'm also reworking a novel I wrote years ago about an autistic man accused of murder. The man can control insects, and we find out that the murders are part of a larger plan regarding his place in the coming apocalypse. It's a bit of a mythos story, but mostly a detective/horror story.
Please talk about your band, the Buzzbombs. What kind of music do you play? How did you come together?
I put an ad in the paper eight years ago and some whackos answered it. We play 3-4 nights a week now around San Diego, all oldies covers like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent. Very fun stuff, and to think I get paid to do it is amazing. It's my "day" job. I also play bass in a Johnny Cash tribute band that tours the country. We should be heading out to Aspen and Jackson Hole and such in a few months.
A lot of people have said that print media is dead. Apparently, they weren't considering independent presses in their obits. What's your take on the state of publishing?
I don't think print media is dead, but it's dying. E-books are fast outselling hard copy books. I myself read a lot of books on my iPhone. When I'm in the tour bus, it's just easier to have five books on my phone than carry five actual books around. But we just have to learn to adapt. I think there will always remain people who love to actually hold a book in their hands, but it may end up that print books are a bit of a collectors item in the future. Unless you mean that written media is dead, which is BS.
A little added Mal Contents bonus from author Randy Chandler on his novella, "Howler":
Blurb for Howler
From a stormy whorehouse in 1934 Arkansas to a hard-driving Dust Bowl carnival sideshow, a nameless orphan known as Wolf Girl takes life by the throat in a struggle for her humanity. Part avenging angel, part freak, she takes on all comers. Fighting all manner of monsters, she must avoid becoming one herself.
Randy is the author of Bad Juju, Hellz Bellz, and of the upcoming novels Daemon of the Dark Wood and Dime Detective. He is also author of the novella "Dead Juju". His short horror and dark fantasy fiction appears in various venues, online and in print. He lives near Atlanta.
Thanks to Ryan and Randy, and enjoy the malevolent contents!