Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tag, You're It: The Cosmicomicon Joins in the Electronic Parade of The Next Big Thing

cover art (c) by Arnaud de Vallois
Author, screenwriter, devoted Star Warsian, and fellow Weirdo Angelino Edward M. Erdelac was kind enough to tag me into The Next Big Thing on his blog posting last week, in which he discussed his most recent novel Terovolas, which is available now from JournalStone Publishing.

Here's a synopsis taken from his excellent blog Delirium Tremens:
"Following the events of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and his killing of the nefarious count’s vampiric wives, Professor Abraham Van Helsing commits himself to Dr. John Seward’s Purfleet Asylum, suffering from violent recurring fantasies, where he is diagnosed with melancholic lycanthropia. 
Upon his discharge, seeking a relaxing holiday, Van Helsing volunteers to transport the remains and earthly effects of Quincey P. Morris back to the Morris family ranch in Sorefoot, Texas. But when he arrives, he finds Quincey’s brother Cole embroiled in escalating tensions with a neighboring outfit of Norwegian cattle ranchers led by the enigmatic Sig Skoll. 
Men and animals start turning up dead and dismembered. Van Helsing suspects a preternatural culprit, but is a shapechanger really loose on the Texas plains, a murderous cult, or are the delusions of his previously disordered mind returning? He must decide soon, for the life of a woman may hang in the balance…"

In turn, I tag the following Filthy Five:

Matt Cardin
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jeffrey Thomas
Brian Sammons
Peter Rawlik

As now one of the It, I will answer the ten stock questions below, and then pay this hot potato forward.

Hope you enjoy.

1)    What is the working title of your next book?

I Am Death, Cried the Vulture, a joint collection of short fiction by me and my wife - author, editor, essayist, and intergalactic heartbreaker Ives Hovanessian.

2)    Where did the idea come from for the book?

My co-author.  My co-pilot
I was offered a short fiction collection deal last year, and then Ives and I were offered a joint collection deal at the beginning of this year.  While both sounded great, and were huge honors, it seemed as time wore on and various issues arose, it made more sense to cut out middle management, fold my solo collection into the joint collection, and put out our debut joint collection ourselves (which was a goal of ours all along), allowing us complete control of cover, layout, format, platform, paper quality, binding, length, story selection, release timing, print run, deluxe editions, marketing, etc.  Not to sound like control freaks, but all of those things matter to us, as we take the tactile and sensory experience of reading a timber and ink book very, very seriously, while also realizing the importance of having an eBook version available for those who prefer it.  Moreover, as long time book buyers, we are keenly aware that the smallest things can be make or break when it comes to finding (and most importantly, keeping) a potential reader unfamiliar with your work, that only has a cover and a few blurbs to go on when deciding if they want to spend their hard earned money.  That window is very narrow, and you need to grab an interested party immediately.  Hence, we're going to publish it under our own banner, with I Am Death, Cried the Vulture serving as the launch release for SlaughterHaus Press, a boutique small press that will focus on writers and projects that we find exceptional, published with an eye on aesthetics and quality, respect for writers and artists, and a celebration of the enduring legacy of the physically printed written word.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Weird fiction, as a sub-genre.  Horror if viewed more broadly.  Anything from cosmic horror to ghost stories  to tales of murder.  The uncanny, the monstrous, the brutal, even the (twistedly) whimsical.  This is dark stuff, with lots of range and plenty of genre blending.  I think it has something for everyone who enjoys a wide swath of modern speculative fiction rooted in the Classics.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm... As this question is most likely aimed at those participants discussing a novel, this might get a bit convoluted for raft of short stories.

Ben Foster - Poster Boy for Insanity
That said, throwing out a few of my stories that will be included in my portion of the collection, I think Casey Affleck would make for an interesting Boyd in "The Screamer."  Chris Evan could play the nameless protagonist in "Transmission."  For "Flutes," I'd love to see Ed Harris or Harvey Keitel play Assistant Director French, while Ryan Gosling, Cillian Murphy, or Ben Foster would be an interesting Dansby.

For "In the Cave, She Sang," I think Christian Bale could do a bang-up Charles Manson traipsing through Death Valley on the eve of a very momentous decision.  I think Mandy Patinkin would be a great father in the story "Twinkle, Twinkle," while James Caan and Susan Sarandon would be fantastic as the vacationing Vahlkamps in "Something We Ate."  Robert Duvall and Gene Hackman as the fishing buddies in "Beer & Worms," and James McAvoy in "Corpus Arcanum."  Daniel Day Lewis for my story "Old Whiskey," or any story I've ever written, will write, and would be forced to write if he said he wanted to play one of my characters.

 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A collection of Weird fiction tales by T.E. Grau and Ives Hovanessian spanning the cosmos, the underground, and various shadowed places in between.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither of us have sought out representation as of yet, and although we could have relied upon a publisher to put out I Am Death, Cried the Vulture, we both opted to do it ourselves, for the reasons listed above.  DIY is the only way to ensure total satisfaction in the finished result.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Tough to say, as it's a collection of short fiction from two people, and is ongoing.  In the end, it will cover our writing from the last three years (2010-2013).  With our hectic schedules, various gigs, and penchant for rewrites, we're not the speediest scribes on the planet, but we do put in the work every day.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I dub "The Screamer" as an example of Lovecraftian Noir.  Ives' story "Dog Will Hunt" has been compared to Lansdale, and is a Weird Western with a streak of wrathful black running through it darker than most anything else going.  These are our two anchor tales, as they have received the most feedback.  Our other stories pretty much run the gamut of fantastical and supernatural fiction as noted above.  As for parallels to other books or authors, I think the collection will appeal to those people who read Richard Gavin, Matt Cardin, Simon Strantzas, Laird Barron, Landsdale, M.R. James, Bradbury, T.E.D. Klein, Ligotti, Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, etc., as the stories seem to twirl in those same wheelhouses, and have drawn thematic comparisons to many of the above from reviewers, readers, and peers.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The book was always going to be written, it just arrived sooner on the docket.  But what inspired us to  publish it ourselves was our goal of making a book interesting and worthy of purchase, and especially the time invested reading our book.  In every phase.  Inside and out.  A customer - and especially a reader - is worthy of that respect and extra care, as they are investing days/weeks/months with our words and world.  Because of this, we want to make the experience as wonderful as possible, as a way of showing thanks.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Picking up I Am Death, Cried The Vulture is a chance for a reader to experience two writers in one book, who have differing styles and stories to tell, but are bound by a love of the unsettling, the terrifying, and the beautifully macabre.  A split collection, or an anthology of two.  It will also provide the opportunity to pick up what will (hopefully) be the first of many books to come by Ives and I, mostly individual.  We have plans for another joint collection, titled Dark Tales for Bright Children - which we will rename slightly, as people seem to think it's a kid's book, when in fact it is a very adult book about very bad things done by and to children.  Cheery stuff, right?  Welcome to Grau Haus...

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Happy Thanksgiving, all.  Eat, drink, sleep, drink, eat, and be very, very merry.  Life's too short to not celebrate the lovely times.

Please keep an eye out for the responses of the above-named Now Its this coming Wednesday, November 28th.

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