KillerCon 4 Interview with eds. Mark C. Scioneaux, R.J. Cavender, Robert S. Wilson, and Boyd Harris, Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology
R.J. Cavender is the horror specialist editor at The Editorial Department, an Associate Member of the Horror Writers Association, and the twice Bram Stoker nominated editor of the +Horror Library+ anthology series from Cutting Block Press. Horror Library IV (co-edited with Boyd E. Harris) won the 2010 reader's choice Black Quill Award from Dark Scribe Magazine in the Best Dark Genre Anthology category.
R.J. is a publishing consultant and editor on Horror For Good: A Charitable Anthology, which includes stories by Bram Stoker-winning authors Jack Ketchum, Ray Garton, Ramsey Campbell, and Benjamin Kane Ethridge. He is also a contributing editor at Dark Continents Publishing and has worked closely with some of the most talented authors in the horror genre.
Boyd E. Harris is the publisher for Cutting Block Press, a small press company that specializes in anthologies for short and long horror fiction. His books +Horror Library+ Volume 3 and +Horror Library+ Volume 4 were nominated for Bram Stoker Awards for best anthology, and his novella anthology Tattered Souls 2 was nominated for a 2011 Bram Stoker Award. You can find more about his company at www.cuttingblock.net.
He is a two-time Black Quill Award winning editor, one for Dark Recesses Press magazine, and one for +Horror Library+ Volume 4.
As a writer, Boyd has seen dozens of short stories and novellas published in magazines and anthologies, and several pending releases for later this year.
Mark C. Scioneaux is employed as an industrial hygienist by day and a horror writer by night.
He is the author of numerous short stories appearing in various anthologies. His short story, “The Demon in the Water,” is published in Dead Bait 3 by Severed Press. His newest short story, “The Lady with Teeth Like Knives,” will appear in Blood Rites by Blood Bound Books. He is also the author of the thrilling zombie novel, Hollow Point, and the editor of the anthology Bigfoot Tales. His smash-hit novelette, “The Glass Coffin” is available for download on Kindle.
He is the founder of Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology. Teaming up with Cutting Block Press, all revenues, less direct costs for production, marketing and distribution, will be donated to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. It features some of the biggest names in horror and several stars on the rise. He is a co-owner of Nightscape Press, and a member of the Horror Writers Association.
He is a graduate of Louisiana State University and currently resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife, Jessica.
Robert S. Wilson is the author of the critically acclaimed dystopian vampire novel, Shining in Crimson: Empire of Blood Book One and a post-apocalyptic novella called The Quiet. He is also one of three editors of the Horror For Good charitable anthology series and the Editor in Chief of Nightscape Press.
KC: How did the original concept for Horror for Good come about? Who came up with the idea to do this anthology?
MCS: I remember it vividly. I was sitting inside the break room for a local chemical plant where I do consulting, playing around on Facebook, chatting with people and such. When I checked on a group I stay active with, the Kindle Horror Books group, and I noticed the number of talented authors, I thought it would be neat to put together a book of short stories featuring them. Someone encouraged me to pursue the idea, and suggested donating the proceeds to charity. That made the most sense and the idea was born. Robert Shane Wilson approached me almost immediately and expressed interest in doing this. A budding editor at the time, he knew how to format and sell his own books. He was also a nice guy I had gotten to know through Facebook conversations. It went from there, and we worked together to solicit stories from well-known authors and set up a Facebook fan page, which became quite popular.
To say I came up with the idea is true, but I never could have done it alone. If Robert hadn’t approached me to help, I doubt it would ever have become the success it is today.
RSW: Mark for the win…The Kindle Horror Books Facebook group for the rebound.
KC: When did Cutting Block Press come on as the publisher?
RJC: Mark contacted me via Facebook and asked if I might have a story to contribute to a charity project he was putting together. It sounded like a great idea and it looked as though he’d already done a lot of the heavy lifting and organization, so I said I’d like to get involved. I rarely write fiction anymore, with most of my time devoted to editing, so while I didn’t have a story to offer, I thought I’d lend a hand behind the scenes, and I became a publishing consultant on the project, vowing to help them find a publisher once the book was complete. But as I helped with outreach and acquiring stories from authors with whom I’d worked before, I became more and more aware of the fact that this was going to be a fantastic project—one I wanted to be more involved with personally. At some point, I’d offered to help with the editing, and then as things took shape I knew Horror for Good was a project that would fit perfectly with Cutting Block Press. I’m so glad Boyd agreed.
BH: RJ followed what Mark and Bob were doing for a while and he kept me in the loop. I tend to rely on his judgement when it comes to projects that might interest us. After he became really excited about the team (Mark and Bob) and all their energy and knack for attracting attention to such a great project and cause, he asked me if we should approach them. They were entertaining multiple publishers at the time, but when I agreed with RJ that these guys could deliver the goods, we asked if they’d like to meet. They showed interest and we did a four-way conference call. We all hit it off and things blossomed from there.
Mark and Bob have since put together a very impressive publishing company of their own, Nightscape Press, and it appears to me that they are on track to becoming one of the next great small press options for authors at any career point.
We feel good telling authors that we work with in our anthologies to consider submitting to Nightscape Press and I’m personally planning to submit work to them.
KC: What were everyone’s individual roles in the editorial capacity?
RJC: It was the truest form of ‘group project’ I think I’ve ever worked on, with all of us doing parts here and there and as needed to get the job done.
MCS: We started to receive a favorable number of stories from well-known authors. Robert and I were nervous, and the project was becoming much bigger than anticipated. I put out a feeler to various publishers, and RJ responded with interest. Cutting Block Press and RJ Cavender have a great name and reputation in the horror industry, and the chance to work with them was a dream. RJ and I set up a phone conversation and it couldn’t have gone better. We hit it off and talked for a few hours. RJ committed, but as an editorial consultant at the time. As the anthology began to take shape, and RJ began to work just as hard as Robert and me, it was only fair he was brought on as the third editor.
Regarding roles, we never assigned any. We were all in charge of reading, editing, and proofreading the accepted stories. This led to us reading the same stories at least a dozen times each. It will be a little while before I can pick up Horror for Good and read it for pleasure. I tried reading it once and I was literally reciting the stories from memory! RJ had a large pool to pull from for story submissions, but Robert and I also contacted people and sent emails. It was a total team effort.
RSW: For the most part RJ, Mark, and myself had a hand in each role except for a couple of minor details here and there.
KC: How did you go about getting the more established horror authors like Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson to name a few?
MCS: Simple—we asked. We were honest from the start and told them what we were doing and what our intentions were. All the authors readily gave a story and were happy to help. I’ll never forget the feeling when Jack Ketchum gave us the story we had asked for—I was so excited I called RJ immediately. Or the feeling I had when I opened my email and sitting there was a story directly from Ramsey Campbell! I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. We are editors and creators, but we are also fans, and when these titans of the industry want to work with us, it’s a very humbling feeling.
RSW: We really just explained what we were doing and asked. And they were very happy to contribute.
RJC: Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Everything snowballed for us with each big new name we added.
KC: Did everyone have a say in collaborating on the directions for the cover art? How did the image of the hands placed together come about?
RSW: William Cook contacted me and offered any piece of artwork from his website that we wanted to use. I looked through and found an image of hands together and thought it was perfect. They were initially black and white and horizontal before I edited them and added the text we used for the Facebook page. In fact, we almost didn’t use the image because of its lack of color, but with some tweaking we were able to give it the red hue that contributed to the finishing touch. At that point, Bailey Hunter, who has been doing graphic design work for several years, swooped in and added the final design with the border and the beautiful typography on the cover.
RJC: Bailey always makes our books look gorgeous.
KC: Mark, in the introduction, you tell the story of your personal connection to amfAR. Was it always the charity you had in mind for this anthology?
MCS: From the beginning, I always wanted Horror for Good to contribute its earnings to an AIDS charity. Christine Sutton, an author who helped us in the beginning, set up a vote on our page where she listed three charities for our followers to choose from—amfAR was among the choices, and my favorite. I’m glad it won out. For me, it had to win, and I watched the votes closely. I wanted to do this for my uncle, who passed away from AIDS complications in 2002, and I was able to do it for him, and all those impacted by this horrible disease.
KC: Mark and Robert, when you set out to do this anthology, what were your original goals?
MCS: To put together a good book and prove to ourselves that we could do this. It was a big challenge, and there were a few times where we could have walked away before we went too deep, but we hung in there. As a result, we came away with a great friendship and our publishing company, Nightscape Press.
RSW: Our original goals were simply to put out a great anthology that would make lots of money for amfAR. I had been telling myself for a while before the idea even came about that if I ever got involved in an anthology I was going to do all I could to make it the best it could possibly be. So, when the chance presented itself, I put all my chips in.
When Mark first came to me with the idea for Horror for Good, I intended to help with a few things here and there. But when he asked me to co-edit and assist with the Facebook page, I decided that if I was going to be involved, it would be all in or nothing. So, all in I went. For me, the fact that we were putting together a book to raise money for charity made it even more important to ensure we made the best damn book we could.
KC: The reviews that have come in so far are overwhelmingly positive. How does it make you feel to see the fruits of your collective labors realized?
MCS: It makes me feel so proud that people are enjoying the book. How could they not? Have you seen the names in the table of contents? Horror for Good features some of the best in the business and a few people who are well on their way to making a name for themselves. These writers all brought their A-game. Not only does every reader who buys this anthology get a great book, but also they donate to a great charity.
RSW: Ecstatic! It’s great to see the book doing well.
BH: I’m also ecstatic. So many great and talented authors sent us their cherished works and trusted us with them. The book, thanks to the authors and the hard-earned efforts of the editors, Mark, R.J., and Bob, as well as the reading team, has earned its acclaim. With all that in place, I'm not surprised at all that the book is doing so well.
KC: Horror for Good has recently made it on the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards® Reading List for 2012. How did that make you feel?
MCS: Proud. I remember looking at that list years ago, and telling myself that one day, I would make my way on it. I did it. More importantly, we all did it. It was a group effort, and it paid off. But more importantly than any awards that the book could potentially win, we made numerous friendships, which is something you can’t put a price on.
RJC: In a word—satisfied.
RSW: It’s a huge honor for me to see Horror for Good on the list. However, my biggest hope is that being on the reading list will translate into more sales to contribute more funds to amfAR.
KC: You’ll be selling the book in the dealer’s room at KillerCon and some authors will actually be on hand to sign books in person, like Jack Ketchum. Will you have special autographed copies available for people to purchase?
MCS: We will have copies available for sale in the dealer’s room, and people can collect autographs from the contributing authors in attendance at KillerCon. We’re currently amassing as many autographs as possible in four books. When we have enough, we will put them up for auction and donate the proceeds to amfAR. We accumulated several autographs at the World Horror Convention this year in Salt Lake City, and hope to get more at KillerCon in Las Vegas, and even more at next year’s Bram Stoker Awards® Weekend Incorporating the World Horror Convention in New Orleans.
KC: Do you think you’ll ever collaborate on another anthology? Is a second volume of Horror for Good in the cards?
MCS: A second volume is certainly in the cards, but right now we are taking a well-deserved rest. This book was a time consuming monster, and when we gear up for the second one, we all have to be ready for it. But I think it will happen.
RSW: When things calm down, we have every intention of getting together and starting on the next one. I’m looking forward to it.
BH: Yes, and yes. Hopefully. The team of Mark and Bob have been a pleasure to work with and we have already begun talks about a future collaboration between Nightscape Press and Cutting Block Press, and possibly Horror For Good Volume 2. I think the only question that remains is when.
KillerConLV would like to thank Mark, Robert, RJ, and Boyd for taking the time out of their jam-packed schedules to stop by for this interview!
Horror for Good will be available for purchase in the dealer's room. As well, RJ Cavender will be involved in various events during KillerCon4, including the pitch sessions, as well as conducting the Self-Editing for Fiction Writers Workshop, both of which take place on Saturday, September 22. For more information, please visit the Schedule/Events page.