Yesterday, the authors received word from Samhain Publishing’s President, Christina Brashear, that their doors were closing.
“It’s with the heaviest of hearts and a great sadness I bring you the news of Samhain beginning the process of winding down due to our market share’s continuing decline.”
The signs had been there over the past few months that this day was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier to hear the news. Samhain will gradually wind down this year. They’re not closing up shop right away. Books that are in their queue for publication, like my upcoming I Kill In Peace, will still be released. I just can’t tell you how long it will be available. I’m hoping for the remainder of 2016.
It’s truly sad to see Samhain go. They, and editor Don D’Auria, were the first ones to give me a chance. They nurtured my growth as a writer, giving me free reign to be as creative and twisted as I wanted, providing the means for my stories to be told and, hopefully, enjoyed by thousands of readers. I remember when I got my acceptance letter for my first novel, Forest of Shadows, way back in early 2011. I was over the moon. To be asked to be part of the premier of a horror line was just astounding to me. I mean, I was a total nobody, and they wanted to print my book next to Ramsey Campbell. What the fuck were they thinking? I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. But I’m damn glad they did it.
Over the next 4+ years, I made it a point to write 2 books for Don and Samhain. I wanted Samhain’s horror line to succeed and grow. And grow it did. In the end, I’ve published 10 books with them. And I wasn’t even the most prolific! Samhain gave voice to some of the best new talent in the business – writers like Jonathan Janz, Kristopher Rufty, Brian Moreland, Russell James, David Bernstein, Frazer Lee, Catherine Cavendish, Aaron Dries, Adam Cesare. The list goes on and on. This gang is no longer the future of horror. They are the present.
Samhain gave you that.
It was an honor and a pleasure meeting my fellow writers at conventions like Horrorhound, Scares That Care and Horrorfind. We’ve formed bonds that I know will last well beyond the Samhain era. And the people who work at Samhain were top-notch. You couldn’t find a more likable bunch. There was Jacob and his kilt, Amanda, Kaitlyn, Tera, Tanya. All good people with enough enthusiasm to power a V2 rocket.
Unfortunately, the sales never matched expectations. I see it when I go to horror cons. Horror fans are devout and loyal as hell. They are the best people I know. But I also know that most would rather spend $40 on a terribly produced movie or signed headshot of the woman who guest starred in Maniac Cop 2 than buy a book or two.
I’m not complaining. I can’t complain. So many of you have bought my books, I’ve been astounded. Though I can’t count the number of times people have told me, “I don’t read horror” or “If they make that book a movie, I’ll watch it”. Really, it’s not just the horror genre. We’re not a nation of big time readers, especially in a world with limitless distractions. We never have been. Don’t believe me. Next time you go to the beach, count how many people lay on their towel reading a book. You’ll get an accurate percentage from just one visit. Last time I was at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, a one mile stretch of white sand with thousands of sun worshippers, I counted only 2 other people in my immediate area, which encompassed about 200 or more people. I made book lover #3.
Could Samhain have tried better? Sure. Maybe lowering the cost of books and working at better distribution would have helped. But then again, Dorchester/Leisure books were everywhere, and even they collapsed.
If you love horror, I encourage you to read more in the genre. Don’t just wait for the next insipid tits-n-zits slasher flick to pop on-demand. I guarantee you, any book you read from a Samhain author will be better than that $5 movie.
And now is the time to pick up print copies of the Samhain books you either love and have in ebook or have on your wish list. There’s no telling when they will be no more and maybe someday become collector’s editions.
Thank you, Samhain, for the opportunities you’ve given me, and the career you helped me build. I can’t repay you enough for that (though my Samhain logo tattoo should come close). And for introducing me to a posse of wonderful writers and your amazing staff. It’s been a wonderful 5 years. I just wish it could have been many, many more.
I first became acquainted with Robert E. Dunn when I read his alien novel, BEHIND THE DARKNESS. You know I’m a sucker for anything that deals with aliens, especially nasty ETs. Since then, we’ve spoken quite often, becoming pen pals of sorts. I was very fortunate to get an early read of his brand new release, THE RED HIGHWAY, a road trip to hell and redemption and other dark and light places.
Well, Robert’s here today to talk a little about the wiring of a horror writer and to give you a peek of THE RED HIGHWAY. Buckle up, baby!
Horror Writer? How Weird Do You Have To Be?
I have a lot of people in my life, friends and family, strangers at the supermarket, and the occasional random e-mail ranter/fan, that ask me how do I write a novel. The subtext of this is usually, how do I write the novels I do-scary, weird, gory, and sometimes a bit desperate. Most of my characters seem to have a bit of desperation in them and they look at me, a regular guy kind of guy, and wonder about the secrets in my basement. I’ll tell you this, no one goes into my basement. Don’t even ask. What I’ll tell you about writing my books is that I have my own way of doing things and my own love of the macabre.
To tell you the truth, I think most people would be disappointed to meet a horror author. We’re the normal guys. Genre writers in general, I think, are the grounded ones. It’s the unique individuals that write In Cold Blood or Catcher in the Rye. Our basic normality comes from a life-long love of the kind of stories we end up writing. I grew up loving the old Universal horror movies and reading Tales From the Crypt. When I discovered Vampirella I turned my hand to art trying to draw beautiful vampires in skimpy costumes. My drawing skills never really improved that much but the stories and art that inspired me stuck. Monsters and weirdness infected my mind while at the same time inoculating me against the petty poisons of the real world.
Looking back, it was the same way with the kids that had a love of cowboy culture, literary readers, math geeks, jocks, drama kids…etc. Young people that have something to love, to inspire, have a framework that is both refuge and community. That makes for strong, healthy people.
Something that the rest of the world is just beginning to realize, is that almost all culture, is geek culture. We’re all geeks about something and it’s normal to be passionate about the things that give us understanding of who we are in the world. A guy who paints his body to attend a football game is no different from a gamer girl that cosplays at a ComicCon. We’re all normal and I think it’s in large part due to our connections to touchstones that speak to us.
All of that raging normalcy allowed me to write THE RED HIGHWAY, a novel about how a homeless drunk, a porn star, a foul-mouthed dwarf, two preachers, and a reporter save themselves and a burning city from an ancient evil. I’m telling you it takes a sane person to write about monsters that demand sacrifice and imagine a world where ghosts can forgive us.
All of that being said-stay out of my basement.
Now I’d like to give you a little synopsis of THE RED HIGHWAY and invite you into the weirdness.
In January of 1992, the fading life of Paul Souther, a homeless veteran, is changed by two events. He witnesses a murder committed by a big black man who, for a moment, seemed to have wings. And, as Paul hides from the man in a XXX theater, Mary Prince, the adult actress on screen, begins to speak directly to him.
On the other side of the country, the real Mary encounters the same big man when she visits the site of the Rodney King beating. He infests her life and her mind then traps her in a mental health ward, impossibly, pregnant.
In LA, two other black men, a tabloid reporter, and a celebrity TV preacher, are on the trail of the same mysterious man. They follow the tracks of rage and race leading throughout the city. At every hot spot the man is seen pulling strings and spreading the message of race war.
Paul and a mix of outcasts is called to Mary’s side just as the baby is born. None of them have any idea that the city of LA is sitting on a ticking bomb of anger. As riots explode, the big man, who now claims to be a god, reveals himself to be an ancient, dark power using the rage of the people to stoke his own, literal, fires. He demands the child as sacrifice to keep the city, and perhaps the nation from burning. It falls to Paul, a faithless man, and a drunk with blood on his own hands, to make the impossible choice between a child or a city and to save the people he has come to care about.
Twenty years later, as the grown child is spreading her own message of practical faith, as protesters picket and shout a new hate, a mysterious man shows up in the new crowds. This time his message is, God Hates Fags.
The Red Highway, Synopsis
Necro Publications/Bedlam Press
ISBN: 978-1-939065-82-7 Trade Paperback (List: $12.95)
Distribution: Trade Paperback: Amazon, LSI and CreateSpace eBook: Kindle, Smashwords, Baker & Taylor, Nook, LSI, Apple, Kobo, Sony and others.
In 1992, as Los Angeles begins to simmer in the heat of racial injustices, one dark man appears everywhere, spreading his message of race war. At the same time, Paul Souther, a homeless drunk, joins a strange group of outsiders. Some black and some white, they all carry the weight of broken lives and lost faith. They are all drawn to LA, for the arrival of a child, impossibly carried by Mary Prince, a sterile porn star.
Through back roads and freeways everyone is pulled into LA and Mary’s side just as the baby is born. None of them have any idea that the city is a ticking bomb of anger. As riots explode, the mysterious man reveals himself to be an ancient, dark spirit using the rage of the people to stoke his own, literal, fires. He demands Mary’s child as sacrifice to keep the city, and perhaps the nation from burning. It falls to Paul, a faithless man, and a drunk with blood on his own hands, to make the impossible choice between the child and the city, and to save the people he has come to care about.
Biography, Robert E. Dunn
Robert E. Dunn was born an army brat and grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. He wrote his first book at age eleven, stealing, or novelizing, as he called it at the time, the storyline of a Jack Kirby comic book.
His college course of study, philosophy, religion, theatre, and film/TV communications, left him qualified only to be a televangelist. When that didn’t work out, he turned to them mostly, honest work of video production. Over several years he produced everything from documentaries, to training films and his favorite, travelogues. Still always writing for the joy of it he returned to writing horror and fantasy fiction for publication after the turn of the century. It seemed like a good time for change even if the changes were not always his choice.
He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead but makes no promises how interesting those little posts will be.
Praise for The Red Highway
“The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read! It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story.” –2 Book Lovers Reviews
“A thoroughly gripping read. Dunn is a writer with guts and the chops to grab his readers by the eyeballs and dare them to look away.” –Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned
Barnes & Noble
Enter for your chance to win either a copy of The Red Highway, Behind the Darkness, or a print of the beautiful cover artwork from The Red Highway done by Erik Wilson! You can do multiple things each day to gain more entries! Just click the rafflecopter link. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at email@example.com.
Calling all horror hounds from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The amazing charity event, Scares That Care Weekend, is nigh! Held in Williamsburg, VA, I’ll be there this weekend selling and signing books, hanging out with amazing writers like Jonathan Janz, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene and Kelli Owen and doing some celeb watching.
Hope you can catch me in the author reading room on Saturday at noon where I’ll be teamed with my Samhain bud, Jonathan Janz. I promise to have something a little…different than your normal reading.
I’m stoked to be there and hope I can catch some of the film fest as well. The best part is meeting you, the folks who read my books and spread the word! I’ll have copies of my newest Samhain novel, Hell Hole, available a week before the official release date.
There will be copious paperbacks of The Montauk Monster. I’ve also loaded up the monster mobile with Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal.
Come on down to stock up on books, get some awesome autographs and horror gear. It’s a wonderful charity event and one of the best horror cons around. And you never know, I may just resurrect my “buy a book, get a beer” promotion I’ve been known to do when I get antsy!
The wonderful folks at Dreadful Tales were nice enough to dedicate an entire week to Samhain Horror, with interviews, reviews and articles with authors (such as myself) and editor Don D’Auria. If you’re a fan of horror, this is a treasure trove of insight and hopefully a reason to add to your “to read” pile. You can catch up on everything right here! Dreadful Tales Samhain Celebration Wrap-Up.
A few days ago, I took part in a radio interview for Diabolical Radio with several other Samhain Horror authors. We talked about our roads to getting published, why we love and write horror and of course, our current releases and upcoming books. I believe we were all sober and no one can be heard cheering or cursing in the background, since Game 1 of the World Series was on at the time. If you’ve ever wondered what makes a horror writer tick, you definitely want to check this out. Click here to listen to the interview.
Roll call of those who were part of the interview:
Kristopher Rufty, author of Angel Board.
Ronald Malfi, author of Borealis.
Brian Moreland, author of Dead of Winter.
Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows.
And of course, me, The Forest of Shadows guy.
Don’t forget to check out my fan page on FB where I run a new contest every Saturday with lots of cool giveaways. OK, have to get ready to go see Paranormal Activity 3 so us Monster Men can post a new review. Remember, if a vampire knocks on your door, DO NOT let him in. The bastard will think he owns the place.
This month’s inspiration comes from author Shaun Jeffrey. He’s been publishing short stories and novels for years, and his latest novel is now a movie!
So, without further ado, the following page is Shaun’s stage…
The old adage goes ‘Write about what you know’, but in the case of monsters and serial killers, that’s easier said than done. Now, although monsters are figments of the imagination, serial killers are rea – but how can you write about killing people if you’ve never done it? This was my problem when I wrote The Kult. OK, aside from risking imprisonment and actually going out and killing people, which I’m not going to admit to in public, you have to make shit up. You have to let your imagination run riot.
When I started writing the novel, I set out to write something that I’d like to read, but sadly, at first it didn’t work out that way, and the novel I wrote was nothing like the novel that was published.
The story started out about a group of mutated individuals seeking revenge for the continual harassment they suffered at the hands of others. I finished the novel, landed an agent and then waited for it to sell. And I waited, and I waited. But nothing happened. A publisher expressed an interest, but then nothing came of it. So in the cold light of day, I reviewed what I had written and realised that I didn’t like it at all. To cut a long story short, the agent and I parted company, but I knew there was something in the novel that I liked, so I went over it again, and realised that there was another story there, a much better story that needed telling. So I rewrote it, and as I did so, the story flowed. It was as though it had been there all along, but I had tried to shape it into what I wanted it to be, rather than letting the story be what it wanted to be. Once I had finished, I was much happier about the whole thing and the new novel was nothing like the original apart from containing a few of the same characters. Next thing, I knew I had sold it to a small press publisher (who has sadly since gone bankrupt, but the book is available in various ebook formats) and then, before long, the book was optioned for film. Shooting finished last year and the first trailer has just gone online.
So it’s not always about what inspired you to write the story as much as it is about the story wanting to be written, and that’s something you have little or no control over. Of course when you’re writing about a subject that you know little about, such as when I wrote, The Kult, you have to research. My study involved reading about heinous crimes and the mindset of killers so I could ‘walk in their shoes’ so to speak. Because of course I’d never really kill anyone, unlike the characters in my novel …
For more info, please check out www.shaunjeffrey.com
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