Today marks the launch of a site that I am sure a lot of people will be slapping their foreheads and saying "Why didn't I think of that?" (Sort of like the Pet Rock or The Snuggie...laugh all you want, but the creators made MILLIONS!). I was fortunate to receive an email from J. Thorn inviting me to showcase two of my titles for the debut of his site ChillsAndThrillsMonthly.com which officially launches today. I had a chance to pin him down long enough to answer a few questions. So check out what he has to say and then pop over to the site. No more sifting through the millions of titles to find a great horror read, let ChillsAndThrillsMonthly.com handle it.
Since this is your baby, introduce the site and tell everybody why they need to visit?
ChillsAndThrillsMonthly.com is an author-curated site that brings readers together through authors they currently read and others similar in style or genre. There is no shortage of recommendations these days and while the self-publishing explosion has allowed everyone to sell a book it has also led to a massive volume of choice which can be hard to navigate. This site is different because the suggestions are coming from us, the authors, and not a third party. There are also emerging platforms that will help readers find the books that interest them, like BookBlast.com which will email you daily deals based on your reading preference. They are currently supporting our efforts at ChillsAndThrillsMonthly.com.
What did you use in making your selection for the authors featured for the site’s debut?
I identified some of my favorite books in the horror/thriller genre and asked those authors if they wanted to participate. I’m a fan of everyone on this page and have read at least one title from each person’s catalog. Readers smell bullshit from a mile away. I asked authors I love to read, ones that I normally recommend to my friends.
What can you share about your writing process?
I started out as a seater (fly by the seat of it) and I’m now more of hybrid between a seater and a plotter. I cannot outline my chapters as I feel it pulls the fun and spontaneity out of the story, and if it doesn’t entertain me I can’t expect it to entertain anyone else. I have a general sense of where the story is headed but I don’t control the decisions my characters make. They surprise me sometimes. However, method does not matter as much as discipline. I write every single day, at least 2000 words if I can. I just keep writing.
You obviously have a love for the horror genre, where did it begin for you?
There is something really authentic about being scared. It’s an emotion we all share that is inescapable. I have always loved horror flicks and the adrenaline that comes with that level of suspense. I’m like a junkie for the thrill. I believe in the imaginative power of the horror novel, the escape from reality it provides, and it all began with Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. That was the first book that made me turn the light on in the bedroom when I was reading it at night. I was probably fifteen or sixteen and I thought (and still do) it was the most horrifying print ever put to paper. Folks will crow about The Stand or It and I love all of King’s stuff. The Dark Tower is epic beyond scale. But I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for reanimated baby corpses.
What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?
I don’t think it matters anymore. Those lines are so blurred that it’s hard to categorize an “indie” vs. a traditionally pubbed author. If you’re a writer, write. Write and write and write.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?
I try to keep my nose out of all of that. I recently had an exchange with a fantastic woman on Goodreads (in my blog comments) about the fact that I have zero books in my Goodreads profile. I don’t add books I’ve read because those sites belong to readers, not authors, and I don’t feel I should infringe upon that. I want to stay off the “authors behaving badly” list. My approach to the community and writing as a whole is to remain positive and always look for ways to pull everyone up. There is no such thing as competition when it comes to art. There is more than enough pie for everyone and believing that putting someone else down will somehow boost your own sales is sad. All of the best professional relationships I have in the industry came about because I made an offer and not a request. I’m fairly tech savvy and so I’m always offering to help those that aren’t, and in every case the person was so grateful that he or she turned around and helped me in an area where I’m weak. It sounds corny, but it’s true and it works for me.
The social media is…
Intoxicating. I have to be careful not to go down that rabbit hole too often. I Facebook and Tweet but I recognize that if I’m on social media then I’m not writing. On the flipside, I interact with all of my fans personally. If you hit me up on social media or via email you will get a personal reply. I’m not making Stephen King money yet so I can’t afford to pay someone to manage my social media accounts. Maybe someday…
Have you read all of the titles featured this month? Of any that you have read, give a one sentence review that would get a reader to go check it out.
No, but I have read every author on the page (including Mr. TW Brown). The Zomblog series is my favorite of yours, probably because I love the pace of the story and the dream Sam has of being a rock star. Scott Nicholson never disappoints. He writes with a voice that is authentic. I’ve read many of his novels and have been a fan for a long time. I have to say that although After: The Shock is a departure from his other works, it might be my favorite. It’s tough to find a new twist on the end of days and I think he has. I’m upset that I have to wait for him to write the next book in that series. I’m currently about 40% through JET and loving the bad-ass chick that Blake created for the series. I visualize Jet donned in black leather while ripping through the agents of the Israeli secret intelligence; sexy and violent. I’ve got Daniel Pyle’s book on my TBR pile. I discovered him through a short story which I’ll talk about later.
Everybody has a favorite (mine is The Stand) so what is yours and why?
This is a tough call because it’s like asking me my favorite album (Led Zeppelin 4). The Dark Tower was so epic and combined so many genres that it’s hard to go with anything else.
How much reading do you get in?
I try to read an hour or so each day. I hear some authors say that they don’t have time to read and I feel very sorry for them. I write because I love to read and if I didn’t read it would feel like something was missing from my life. Some days are busier than others, but I keep my Kindle by my bedside and it’s always loaded with 3-4 novels that I have yet to start.
When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?
As soon as you do it (laughing)! In all seriousness, I can’t say I have this figured out. I’m not sure anyone does because it’s all so new. I don’t have major name recognition yet so I have to be careful that I’m not self-promoting aggressively. Other writers have a huge fan base and so a tweet about their recent book is more like a quick memo letting their fans know it’s there. I’m building my base and I don’t want to alienate potential readers by selling at them. My blog is a great place to hear my “voice” as a writer and I try to direct my social media towards the blog. The truth is, the only self-promotion that works is more writing. Nothing sells your books like more of your books.
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
I’ve got Daniel Pyle’s Dismember ready to go. I recently met him and read Drain which was so disgustingly grotesque (that’s a compliment for you non-horror folks) that I had to grab one of his full-length novels. As I mentioned, I’m making my way through Russell Blake’s JET and will be continuing on in that series as well as the Zomblog series. I also try to revisit classics in the genre, such as a Lovecraft compilation I’ve been meaning to read.
I love to read, to write, and to share that passion with others. However, I don’t shy away from controversial themes like sex or violence. My stories are not for the squeamish and I don’t write for any specific audience. I don’t chase trends or mimic convention. If you enjoy esoteric tales with complex characters set in unique situations, you’ll love my work.