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Walt Hicks
Horror Interview by The Cryptkeeper

Q: How long has Hellbound Books Publishing been in business and how did you get it all started? How did you get into publishing to start with? Why?

HellBound Books is pretty much brand new. Our first publication was DEATHGRIP: THE COLLECTION, published in early 2003. I wanted to try my hand at publishing some of my own work. After a disappointing run with a POD publisher, I decided to try it myself. I gathered up a group of investors, free lance editors, artists, proofers and formed HellBound Books Publishing.

Q: How does Hellbound's philosophy differ from other small press publishers out there in terms of product, image, and attitude?

One thing I wanted to do was produce mass market sized paperbacks -- the kind you can stick in your back pocket, throw in the back of the Jeep, take on the plane, to the beach, etc. Many of my fellow readers (including a couple of the investors) are not particularly fond of reading trade paperbacks. Also, I am a great fan of cross-genre work, writing that often defines categorization. I want to publish page-turners, books with interesting characters in extraordinary, but believeable situations.

Q: What project are you the most proud of thus far? The least?

BAD JUJU by Randy Chandler is our first novel and it is receiving a lot of critical acclaim at this early stage. It debuted in mid-December 03 and I think it has already garnered a couple of Stoker recommendations. I feel very, very lucky to have gotten this work for our first novel. DEATHGRIP: THE COLLECTION isn't nearly as polished as I would like it to be -- it was intended to be a 'test mule' for our production.

Q: What are your feelings on the current state of horror fiction and publishing?

I think it is a very exciting time for publishing in general. I believe conventional publishing is in the process of undergoing a revolutionary change. The POD phenomenon has allowed the average noodler to put out his/her own book. True, that puts a lot of dreck out there, but there is also a great deal of extremely good material that would never have seen print. This gives the reader an enormous selection of product. The individual small press publishers will have to work hard to get a cut of the audience, by presenting new and interesting, quality work. Old institutions need to be shaken up from time to time... and publishing's one of the oldest.

Q: How important is the Internet, mail order, and plain old word of mouth to selling your books?

All of those are extremely important to HellBound Books. In our infancy, we are just getting our distribution established. Barnes & Noble Online, Shocklines and other smaller outlets have been very helpful in our growth. Plus, some very measured advertising.

Q: Do you do the convention thing often? Which do you enjoy, hate?

I know I should... but I haven't yet been to a con. I'm considering WHC this year, but not sure yet.

Q: What are you looking for when it's time to put out a book? Explain how the process of putting a book out works?

We have an open sub policy and we read a synopsis of the novel and the first three chapters. We look for excellent characterization, fast moving plot, great prose. Based on this first look, we request the full manuscript. If the full manuscript is accepted, contracts are signed and we get started on formatting, proof-reading and galleys. Cover art/interior illos are usually also contracted at this time. The e-galleys are proofed, double-proofed and proofed some more, by myself, the author, and at least two proofreaders. Once we feel comfortable with the manuscript, we upload the formatted file and art to our printers and it's off to the races.

Q: Have you or your company been criticized for its products? How did you feel about this if so?

So far, no real negatives. Some of our novels and anthos are/will be considered controversial, I'm sure. We have disclaimers on the site indicating the nature of the material. We don't publish anything we feel might be considered offensive if it's not pertinent to the story. If it's important to the story, it's in.

Q: Who are some of your favorite writers to work with? Any you hate to deal with?

Randy Chandler is a terrific writer and an easy-going person to deal with. We plan on publishing his next novel, HELLZ BELLZ, in early 2005. So far, I haven't had any 'terrible' experience with our writers! Knock wood!

Q: What are some of the books, movies, and people that have influenced you? Are you a big horror film fan?

Early on, Poe hooked me. After that, Lovecraft, Masterton, King, Koontz, Barker, John D. MacDonald, Robert B. Parker. I'm a HUGE horror movie fan. I have an enormous DVD collection, including most of the Hammer Horror classics, and a weird mix of more modern titles.

Q: Have you read a book that really scared or disturbed you?

King's Pet Semetary was jarring because of the child's death. Lately, I got chills while reading Tim Curran's SKIN MEDICINE (coming from HellBound in April 04), a horror/western hybrid. Beautiful prose, scary as hell.

Q: What's the future look like for Hellbound? Anything big coming out in the near future? Any author you really want to do a book with?

We're very excited to be producing an original collection from the legendary William F. Nolan called ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, tentatively scheduled for September 04. We've got a couple anthos in the works, as well as T. M. Gray's delightfully evil MR. CRISPER, coming in June. I'd love to work with Richard Matheson.

Q: Do you plan to do much writing in the future or do you plan to just publish works from others?

I'm going to work at my own snail's pace and get a little writing in here and there, but it will be mostly new talent as well as some more established folks. Most of my stuff will hopefully find homes in other places.

Q: Last chance, anything else you'd care to touch on or complain about? Anything you wanna hype or some words of wisdom you can share? Any words for Hellbound fans?

Just thanks for all the readers (buyers!) who support the small press. It's greatly appreciated and we couldn't do it without you. Input is always welcome!

Visit the Official Hellbound Books Publishing Website

find information about Walt Hicks at imdb.com find horror stuff by Walt Hicks

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