On March 30, Cutting Block Press will unveil Horror for Good, a new anthology featuring some of the horror genre's most promising up-and-comers alongside some of its favorite voices. The anthology will benefit amfAR, a foundation dedicated to AIDS research. Just prior to its release, editors Mark Scioneaux and R.J. Cavender were kind enough to answer a few questions about their effort to give horror a "good" name.
Tell us the "origin story" of Horror for Good – where did the idea come from, and how did you go about getting the project off the ground?
MARK SCIONEAUX: Though I am credited with the creation of Horror for Good, it took many people to make the idea into a reality. As an indie author, networking has been vital for someone at my level, and through Facebook I have connected with many talented authors - both indie and established - as well as different groups dedicated to writing. In one such group, I noticed there were so many writers trying to get their stories out that the idea of putting together an anthology appealed to me. But for what purpose? The idea of charity was the clear answer.
Robert Shane Wilson, author of the vampire novel Shining in Crimson, immediately teamed up with me and allowed this idea to take off. He and I went to work setting up a Facebook page and contacting some well-known authors. When our page was set up, we listed three charities for people to vote on. amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, was the winner of the vote.
Horror for Good was starting to pick up steam as more authors were contacting us and interest was growing. The one thing we lacked, however, was credibility. R.J. Cavender, a Stoker-nominated and industry-respected editor in the horror writing community, came to our rescue. He took the challenge of Horror for Good head on, rounding up friends and numerous contacts to donate their time and services to ensure that this act of charity did indeed remain so. Boyd E. Harris and Cutting Block Press quickly followed, and this little idea was now a respected and successful project.
Tell us a little about amFAR, and why it was important to put this book out for them.
MS: Since 1985, amfAR is one of the world's leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. This charity gave the best chance to not only help those living with AIDS in the USA, but also worldwide.
For me, this book is dedicated to my uncle, Louis "Setchie" Scioneaux Jr. He lost his courageous and hard-fought battle with AIDS and Hepatitis on February 1, 2002. On that day, the world lost a man who embodied what was good about humanity: love, passion, selflessness, and a sense of humor. In the United States, approximately 49 others will lose their battle every day, and for 154 the battle will have just begun.
This book is important because with each sale, much needed money is donated to amfAR to assist them in funding the fight against AIDS and HIV. Though it is unlikely, proceeds from this book may give the money needed to find a cure. A world without AIDS is attainable, but we need to all do our part to ensure we live to see that world, and that those with AIDS and HIV get to see it as well.
How did you fill this anthology - open submissions or by invitation?
MS: Both actually. We started with a general call for submissions and received stories promptly, mostly from indie authors. As the weeks went by, and the project became well-known, more established writers began submitting stories. Robert and I began to solicit some of the biggest names in horror since we both felt it could never hurt to try. R.J. also worked hard to contact established authors and budding new talent. We didn't expect to receive such a big response from these titans of the writing world, but we did. To our surprise, many great authors pledged their help. It seemed everyone wanted to send a story in, and did just that. Submissions went from five a week, to ten. Then twenty. And then more.
We couldn't have handled all the submissions we received if it weren't for three wonderful women who volunteered their time to read hundreds of submissions from the slush pile. Jennifer Wilson, Selene M'Only, and Ann Magee all worked tirelessly with the two editors and myself to process submissions. Because of these three, I can say every story submitted was read by a member of the Horror for Good team and received a fair chance.
Can you preview some of the stories for us?
R.J. CAVENDER: I'd love to! This collection contains stories about arcane secret societies, carnivorous mermaids, séances gone wrong, murderous inanimate objects, and hungry mouths that consume entire communities. Like every Cutting Block collection, we look to create an ebb and flow, almost like a mixtape, taking readers on a complete journey from Point A to the very last page. I think it's both fun and challenging to stack stories so there's a complexity and continuity of tone and theme, having certain aspects of stories playing off one another. I believe this lends every anthology a more complete and satisfying reading experience and gives each of our books a unique identity.
Are these all new stories, or will there be some reprints in the mix?
RJC: Well over half of the 400-plus pages are new stories, with some handpicked favorites and rare reprints filling out the table of contents. I was really jazzed to get one of my favorite stories by Jack Ketchum in this collection, as we have a strict no-reprints policy for the +Horror Library+ books, so I never thought I'd get to request and publish one of my favorite stories from one of my all-time favorite writers. It's been a lot of fun weaving exceptional new tales from budding authors in with some of our favorite stories from the Masters of Horror Fiction. I can't wait until we can bring this book to our readers.
Was there a particular theme or tone that you were looking for, and how did that evolve as you began selecting stories?
RJC: There was a brief moment when we considered having a theme of "good" present for this collection to play off the book title, but that was dismissed almost as soon as the idea surfaced. We found it too limiting to impose this sort of construct upon the book, and instead decided to just put together the best collection of stories we could get our hands on. But if you look closely, there are some recurring ideas that are explored throughout. And this book is in no way a "light" collection filled with feel-good horror stories simply because it's a book for charity. We went all-out on our selections for this one and I think readers will appreciate that we pulled no punches bringing together a collection that's both intricately layered and darkly disturbing.
When is the book coming out, and how can people order it?
RJC: The book will be out on March 30th and all you need to do is check the Horror For Good page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/horrorforgood) or the Cutting Block Press homepage (http://www.cuttingblock.net/) for further ordering details!
All revenues, less direct costs for production, marketing and distribution (net profits of each purchase, estimated to be at least 10% to 15%) will be donated to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research."
Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country, and contributes interviews to the Horror World website. Follow him on Twitter at @BluGilliand.