Q: What is your background as a publisher? What got you interested in the genre?
My background as a publisher is a pretty short story. I got into the game starting in 2004 and started putting stuff out on the Internet in early 2005. At that time, Insidious Publications wasn't even the name of our company. That came a little later.
I don't think there was really just one thing that got me interested in this genre. It's always just kind of been there for me. But, if I had to peg one event down it would be a flat tire when I was five-years-old. I was with my father in Lexington, Kentucky running errands. Well, he was running errands, I was just kind of along for the ride to annoy him, I think. I remember we were crossing a bridge when the rear tire blew out. Dad managed the car to the side of the road and got out to assess the damage. No big deal, just a flat. The bad part was, the spare was even flatter.
Across the street was a garage and Pops had them come and tow the car to get it fixed up. The place was busy, so we had lots of time to kill. Dad decided a movie would be perfect for this and as luck would have it... a theater right down the block. So that's where we went. Showing that day was none other than, Friday the 13th. And, my dad was just sick enough to take me in to see it. Scared the shit out of me. When Jason Voorhees' hand came out of the lake at the very end, I literally came out of my seat and screamed like a little girl. I was only five or six, so I pretty much was a little girl anyway.
So, yeah. I'd say we could call that a pretty good starting point for my interest in the horror genre. That would have been sometime in 1980.
Q: How did Insidious Publications come about? Who is involved and what do they do?
The birth of Insidious Publications was a long and, at times, painful process. It started with me wanting to write a book several years back. While doing research, I started talking to other writers, aspiring and otherwise, via the Internet. We started a couple of message boards and by some strange twist of fate, ended up putting out an online magazine featuring the kind of stuff we all wanted to write in the first place. We didn't care if the writer was well known, or established as long as the fiction was good and as long as it had a dark and twisted slant to it. We were a paying market and folks were starting to take notice of us, so we did what a lot of other small e-presses do... we went to print. Thus, Insidious Publications was born.
We carried the print magazine for four issues. Got a small distributor out of New York to carry us and put us in about 100 stores across the country and in Canada. Then we landed a contract with Ingram to distribute the magazine on a large scale. We would be in every large chain in the country. But, when we crunched the numbers, it became obvious that our business plan wasn't strong enough to support such a large distribution. So, we decided that of we couldn't play with the big dogs, we'd put the magazine to bed and maybe pick it up again later when it made more sense to spend the kind of money it would take to do it right. That, my friend, was painful.
Not all was lost though. We learned a lot about the business and during our run, we came across a story that we wanted to turn into a book. Our first book under the Insidious imprint. The author, Fran Friel, actually pitched it to us as a serial she wanted to run in the magazine. I said, "Fuck that! This story is great! How about a book instead?" She agreed and almost exactly a year ago, our first book came out called, Mama's Boy.
Now we have three books under our belts and at least five in the early stages of planning for the future. Not a bad start, if you ask me.
There're three partners in the company. Paul Danda is the senior editor. He does all the layout and design for IP in addition to the typical editorial work that we both do. He also, just recently, took over as webmaster for the IP website. D'Ann Hedges is the business manager. She does all the books and keeps us straight with the IRS. She organizes all of our orders and basically keeps track of everything. Oh, and in case the last name didn't tip you off, she's also my wife. Me, I'm the printer and the binder. I also take care of all the shipping and deal with all the author and artist contracts. That's the IP hierarchy in a nutshell.
Q: What is Insidious Reflections?
Insidious Reflections is the magazine I mentioned before. It's a dark fiction quarterly publication that ran from January 2005 until the Fall of 2006. We featured stories from authors such as Joe Lansdale, Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzalez, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Brian Knight, and James Newman along with a host of up and coming authors that I wouldn't be surprised to start seeing on your locale bookstore's shelves on a regular basis.
Even though the magazine is no longer in production, issues 4-7 are still available for purchase though our website.
Q: What is your goal with printing these horror books? How do you go about finding manuscripts?
Our goal? To take over the planet one mind at a time! But, we'd settle for a nice share of the market. Our real goal is to give authors a platform to be heard. Maybe open a door for them, in a vast hallway where all other doors seem to be locked tight. Writing is a tough gig, man. As aspiring writers, nobody knows this better than us. So, we'll take a manuscript from anybody. That doesn't mean we'll publish anybody, but we'll give what they have a chance. We don't care if you have one published story under your belt, no published stories under your belt or a hundred. If the work is good, that speaks louder than credits.
Finding manuscripts hasn't been a problem. We have a submission form right on the website. We get a lot of our stories directly from there and believe me our reading list stays full! That isn't to say we're against asking for one from somebody.
Q: What are the three most recent books and tell us a bit about them and their authors?
First, there's Mama's Boy by Fran Friel. Tom Piccirilli called it an, "... old school psych ward confessional full of blood and betrayal." I don't think I could have described it any better than that. The main character is Frank Doe who resides in a mental institution after being found burned unrecognizable. Rebecca, a brilliant young doctor, tries to help him through his issues, but not for the reasons you may think.
Mama's Boy is a twisted story that really did well for us. It sold out nearly before release and made it to the final ballot for a Bram Stoker Award for best achievement in long fiction.
Fran is one of those up and comers I mentioned a little earlier. She's a networking and self-promotion dynamo and a great writer to boot. Plus she's just a nice gal from Connecticut. Folks will be seeing a lot of her in the future. That's my prediction, anyway.
Second on the list is The Problem With Mickey by Tom Moran. Mickey is about four college friends that form a pact dealing with the dedication they have towards their moral and social values. When one of them strays from the herd, the remaining three organize an intervention that's as fanatical as the pact itself. If it sounds like things can go badly, you're right. This is a book that really makes you think.
Tom's a great guy and besides being a terrific writer, he's also the artist that illustrated the inside of this book. By day, he's a special education teacher and like Fran, hails form Connecticut... which makes me wonder if there just might be something in the water up there!
Our third book is Strawberry man by Eric Shapiro. It's about Ben Klein, a successful businessman who made his fortune selling strawberries. While in a restaurant at the top of one of the tallest buildings in the world, a storm of epic proportion wipes nearly everything out that wasn't thousands of feet off the ground. As the water climbs the building, Klein's violent past comes back to haunt him, and the three other people stranded in the building with him.
Eric lives and writes in Los Angeles and if I had to describe his writing in one word, it would be, intelligent. He's just a smart writer and his prose flow like poetry.
Each of these books are part of the Insidious Publications Soft Cover Novella Series. They're all signed and numbered, limited edition novellas and all feature parchment end papers, linen signature sheets and full color illustrations. They are also completely hand crafted right here in the IP office by yours truly. I'm proud of every single one of them and honored to be a part of them.
Q: I just finished reading STRAWBERRY MAN and thought it was great. Eric Shapiro is one of those authors whose work I'll just pick up-doesn't matter what it's about, I know it'll be a good read. Anyway, I thought Skipp's introduction worked against it just a bit (and kind of thought that the book didn't need it). Why pick Skipp with this particular book?
I'm glad you liked the book. My thanks on behalf of Eric and IP. As far as Skipp, there's a couple of reasons we approached him for the introduction. The first and foremost reason being, he's a fan of Eric's work. I'd seen several online posts on message boards were he talked very highly of Eric's stories. Having somebody who is recognized by a lot of folks writing the intro who is truly a fan of the author's work is a perfect situation. And, I happen to know that Skipp doesn't give endorsements unless he really believes in the project. That would be the second reason why we wanted him for this book.
As far as working against it? I don't know. I guess that would be up to the reader. As for me, it's exactly what I expect from Mr. Skipp. Loud and in your face. It worked for us.
Q: What are the top three horror books and top three horror movies that have affected you the most and why?
Ah, putting me on the spot, eh? Okay, here we go...
One book that comes to mind right off is Swan Song by Robert McCammon. I pick that book up about once every year or two. I've been through at least five copies and the one I have now is held together by packing tape. I'll wear that one out and buy another. Swan Song is an excellent tale of good vs. evil that taps into every aspect of human depravity. McCammon pretty much left no stone unturned and he wasn't scared to write on taboo subjects, which I respect in a writer. Opinions vary on this one, but it's still one of my favorites. At nearly 1000 pages it's a tale of epic proportion much like The Stand by Stephen King and it's a commitment to read this book, but it's worth it.
This is a series, but I think we can agree that it's one long story and that's The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I believe the first real horror novel I read was Halloween when I was 11 or 12 years old, but at about 13, I stumbled across The Drawing of the Three and within a few pages I was hooked on the book and on the series for years to come. I think it would be accurate to say that I've read each of the seven books at least 3 times each-maybe twice each for the last couple. But those books are what lead me down the road of horror, because they opened me up to so many different authors in the field. I was on a quest from that point forward for the next best thing out there. Those books are also what made me want to write. I wanted to be able to create new worlds like King did and make readers taste, see, smell and hear those worlds in the same fashion that he's mastered. Am I to that point in my writing? Are you kidding! Hell no. But a man can dream, right?
Both of those books are mainstream and most everybody that's interested in the field knows of them, so how about one that may be off the radar a bit and a little more resent. That would be Survivor by J.F. Gonzalez. Man, what a gruesome book. This one actually made me cringe. There was a part in it where I just knew he wouldn't "go there" and guess what... he did. And he did it with a smile. Taboo? Fuck yeah it was and damnit, it was good. It actually made me stand up and say, "Holy shit!" I'm not kidding. Now there were a couple of things I didn't like about the writing and I couldn't help but to write J.F. and let him know what they were, but over all that book was a nasty little gem. I loaned my copy to a friend and it's never found its way back home. I guess I need to buy another copy. You should check it out if you haven't already. Now before somebody calls bullshit on me and says that I'm only saying this because I've worked with J.F. and published his work before, I call bullshit right back. Would I have written him and complained about the writing if I was just out there to give a "good-'ol-boy-association-plug"? Nope. I stand behind my comments. Read it and tell me I'm wrong.
Now movies are a little harder for me. I'm one of those people that totally suspend my disbelief when I watch a movie. My wife, she can tell you if a song on the radio was on the soundtrack to a movie and my partner, Paul, can tell you pretty much every detail about a movie from lighting to score to direction to... you get my drift. Me, I can't even remember the main characters names 5 minutes after I walk out of a theater or eject the DVD. So this list will be a simple one and it will be movies that I could watch over and over again... and do watch over and over again.
1) American History X-Because it makes me think.
2) Armageddon-Because it makes me think and it makes me laugh.
3) The Exorcist-Because it scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. (The book didn't do a bad job of that when I was an adult too!)
Q: What does Insidious Publications have in store for us in the future?
We're always pluggin' away at something new. After Strawberry Man launches, we'll be working on a book with Brian Knight called 1200 AM Live. It's about a pirate radio show that's hosted by personalities that are a little less than normal. If you're a fan of Knight's work, you'll like this little ditty. We're going to shoot for having it out by around September.
Then we have a book in the works with Nick Louras called Times Square Apocalypse. A lot of folks may recognize Nick's name from Penny Blood Magazine where he's the head editor and owner. As it turns out, he's a damn fine writer to boot! TSA is a throw back to eighties horror in the spirit of Grindhouse. It's a nasty little tale that's very reminiscent of some of Edward Lee's work.
There's a few more that we haven't finalized the contracts for, so I'll not mention them now. But, rest assured, we're staying busy! And have enough books in the works to keep us busy through next year. We're always picking up new projects along the way though.
I appreciate you taking the time to let me ramble on about Insidious Publications here at Buried.com. It was a lot of fun. And if any of your readers are interested in checking out some our products, there are several places you can find them-