Monday, March 23, 2015

Scarlet Galleon's Beautiful Monster, DEAD HARVEST

(Bigger than a T-Rex!  Bigger than a Rocket Ship of the XM Variety!)
What's bigger than a breadbasket, as that old saying goes?  Well, okay, Dead Harvest, the gargantuan first-born spawn of Scarlet Galleon Publications, isn't big enough to house a family of four or drive to the supermarket in, but I'd wager you could use it to conk one of the living dead over the head -- though that would require having enough muscle mass to heft it up that high. Dead Harvest weighs in at a quite-monstrous and lovely near-700 pages, and its covers are crammed full of enough amazing stories by many of today's most exciting voices in the Horror genre to last a voracious reader until the next harvest.  My gothic short story, "Uncle Sharlevoix's Epidermis", is one of 50 tales in all, by such horrific household names as James A. Moore, Richard Chizmar, Lori R. Lopez, and Tim Lebbon. Up-and-comers like the brilliant Aaron GudmunsonE. G. Smith, and Patrick Lacey -- writers and friends alike, and some of the most exciting new voices out there -- round out this Who's-who beast of a read.

It was my pleasure to speak with Scarlet Galleon head honcho Mark Parker, the man behind the monster.

Mark, Dead Harvest is a colossus!  Why did you decide to super-size?
A lot of folks have commented on the size of DH, suggesting it could double as a doorstop, free weight, or lethal weapon. In truth, it was never my intention to do such a large anthology. I had the idea for a collection of about two-dozen stories or so. But what came as a surprise to me, was the sheer number of submissions Scarlet Galleon Publications received when the open call went out. I received nearly two hundred stories! Which, of course, made the process of reading them all quite arduous -- but very fulfilling. There was only one story in the bunch I simply would not consider, due to the subject matter. Culling through the stories was somewhat difficult, because I left the anthology un-themed, which is to say, when I titled the book, I was thinking more a harvest of stories, rather than stories with a harvest theme. That being said, it was challenging to put together a nice compliment of stories that would have a true kind of darkness to each of them. But in the end I think we achieved that balance. Readers have embraced the book and have loved the diversity of the stories. In terms of the large number, I found it nearly unbearable to pass on really cool stories simply for the sake of economy. I have learned my lesson, though. I doubt I would ever do such a large anthology in the future. I’m still not rested up from the first one. It was an audaciously daunting task for a first time publisher, to be sure.  

The book contains 50 stories by some pretty big heavy hitters in the modern horror scene.  When you were reading, what were you seeking, and what were some of the pleasant surprises that were accepted from the slush pile?
As a reader, I tend to enjoy stories that are atmospheric in nature. So I suppose that’s what I was looking for when I read through the submissions for DH. Because the book was subtitled, A Collection of Dark Tales, it left the un-themed theme almost too broad. I tend to prefer stories that haunt rather than shock. I’m of the school of Shirley Jackson, who Stephen King himself spoke of as a “woman who never felt the need to raise her voice.” For me that’s what I love in a well-written story. A story-line that sneaks up on you and leaves you with a kind of chill you simply can’t shake. In the stories that were finally selected for the book, I think each one imbues a kind of lingering chill, which was what I was looking for. In terms of what some of the ‘pleasant surprises’ were along the way, what surprised me most I suppose, was the affinity folks felt for the project from the start. The fact that DH attracted some of the biggest names in horror, still causes me to stop and pinch myself from time to time. That the book was graciously featured in the pages of Cemetery Dance magazine -- and is still selling in a limited number of signed copies by Richard Chizmar (Cemetery Dance’s founder) and his son, Billy, who both have stories in the book -- continues to make my head swim with disbelief. I’ve been reading the pages of Cemetery Dance since I was teen. To think that some of the industry’s largest, most well-respected writers are involved in SGP’s inaugural publication, is one of the greatest joys of my life, both personally and professionally. 

(Publisher Mark Parker)
In addition to running Scarlet Galleon Publications, which debuted with an amazing first book in DH, you’re also a writer with a pretty decent resume.  What are you presently writing?
Regarding my own writing, I currently have seven short stories to my credit. Biology of Blood, Lucky You, Way of the Witch, Halloween Night, and Banshee’s Cry. My first professional sale was a story titled The Scarlet Galleon, included in the anthology Wrapped in Red -- Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror by Sekhmet Press. And this year I wrote a longish story Killing Christmas that was published in the anthology for charity Return to Deathlehem through Grinning Skull Press. At present I’m finishing up a ‘50’s inspired B-Movie-style alien encounter story titled Eye in the Sky. Then I will dive into writing my full-length horror novel The Glowing. And then perhaps a collection of stories titled Dining with the Devil. I’m also planning to expand and republish some of the earlier stories that readers have all stated they’d wished were longer.  

What’s next for Scarlet Galleon Publications?
The next project planned for SGP will be Fearful Fathoms – Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror. Then the second volume in the Dead Harvest series.  

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