Brian M. Sammons: As my position as editor has grown, so has the need to network with others: authors, publishers, artists, other editors, etc., on a daily basis. So the first thing I do in the morning is the email, text, and private messages on Facebook thing. Once I’ve cleared that off my plate, then I can get to serious work. I write as much as I can, time permitting, or until I hit a goal. If I have something of mine from the previous day that needs a second look or an edit, then I might do that instead of new work. After whatever time I can carve out for myself in the morning, I’ll take a break and then later I’ll read some submissions for whatever anthologies I have open, or perhaps proof/edit any stories that have already been accepted. After some time with that, I’ll take another break and then go back to my own work later.
As for my workspace, that would be my desk in my library, which is a shrine to all things me: various toys, posters, hockey masks, Cthulhu idols, a Ouija board, and more. All that stuff feeds my mojo, helps me get into the right headspace. Or I just like it. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
TLR: What genres do you work within? How did you come to focus on those genres?
BMS: I pretty much stick to horror and weird fiction, but I have blended it with other genres such as sci-fi or fantasy. I have been invited to write non-horrific things, but I have turned them down. If there is not some element of the dark in there somewhere, it’s hard for me to be really interested in it. That’s why I’m such a fan of blending genres. For Eldritch Chrome, an anthology I did with UK author/editor Glynn Owen Barrass, we did Lovecraftian cosmic horror and mixed it with cyberpunk, another genre that I really love. For Steampunk Cthulhu, well the title of that says it all. World War Cthulhu was merging weird fiction with military/espionage thrillers. When I did Dark Rites of Cthulhu, I drew a tight focus on the black magic elements of Lovecraft’s dark world, such as can be found in his “The Thing on the Doorstep,” “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” “The Terrible Old Man,” and many more.
In addition to telling my own tales, I have really taken to editing various books and anthologies. I make the books I’ve always wanted to read, but weren’t being done. I also see editing an anthology sort of like what directing a movie must be like. It is my overall vision, but I can’t do it alone. I must rely on a number of very talented people, but I must make sure they share the same vision as I do, and help them attain that vision in some instances, all the while trusting their skills and making sure their individual voices can be heard.
Most recently, with the launch of Dark Regions Radio, which I co-created and co-host with Jamie Jenkins, I get to talk to authors I have always admired, celebrate their work, provide wonderful audio versions of some killer horror stories, and hopefully introduce readers to writers that for whatever reason, they might not have read before.
So I write, edit anthologies, manage Dark Regions Press’ weird fiction line, and produce Dark Regions Radio. Oh, and a film company has been optioning one of my stories to become a movie for a few years now. Should that film ever actually be made, I can add another form of media to by resume.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers?
BMS: To steal a line from Nike: just do it. It’s easy to get distracted, to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, or to say, “oh I’ll do it tomorrow, because I have to do this, and this, oh and then some of that, and I can’t forget about this….” If you are a writer, then write. Make time for it. If you can’t do that, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
Also, have a thick skin. You will be rejected. It happens. It has happened to everyone, but the people who made it are the ones that didn’t let it stop them. Oh, and don’t forget a rejection is just one person’s opinion. I have had a story rejected from one editor, then took that same tale, didn’t change a word, sent it off to someone else, and they absolutely loved it. Now, if everyone rejects your work, then you need to be honest enough with yourself and take a long, hard look at it. Or get others to do that for you if you’re too close to it or not a good self-critic. But no matter what, write.
Lastly, enjoy it. If you don’t, it will show in your work, and if you don’t just love it to death, then why are you doing it? There are a lot easier, steadier, and better paying ways to make a living.
TLR: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?
BMS: I love the creative process. I’m not a big outline kind of guy. Usually, when I have an idea for a story, I know how it starts, how it ends, and maybe some key elements/scenes in the middle, but the rest I just sort of let happen. That’s the part of the process that I love most – the discovery. But hey, whatever works for you is good, as long as it works. I know some authors that outline everything, some that do tons of researching and others very little, some that use beta readers or peer groups and others that are strictly solo. There’s no right or wrong answer, and an author should feel free to try different things out and see what works best for them.
TLR: Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you? Intrigues you?
BMS: Who ever knows where their ideas come from? Sometimes mine pop out of dreams, others from some element I stumble upon such as a conversation, news story, something interesting I read on the web, some half-forgotten tidbit I learned about in school, etc. Once a tiny seed is planted, I then water it over time (days, weeks, even years), turning stuff over in my mind again and again, adding bits, mentally crossing other things off that don’t work. It’s only after the seed has sprouted and grown some that I start to put pen to paper, or more accurately, fingers to keys.
As for what inspires and intrigues me, that’s trying to do something new and different. There’s an old saw that there are no new stories, only new ways to tell them, and I believe that, for the most part. So I am always looking for a fresh take or a new angle to something. Taking the familiar and hopefully surprising people with it really makes me smile.
TLR: What interview question would you most like to be asked? Least?
BMS: Most liked to be asked? “So what’s it like to be a bestselling author, adored by millions?” Least liked to be asked? “Really, this is your latest effort? Why do you even bother?”
TLR: What about upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?
BMS: I always have far too many irons in the fire at once, so bear with me. Just released (so it’s still very new for me) is an anthology I did for April Moon Books called Flesh Like Smoke. It’s a collection of werewolf, shape-changer, skin walker, and were-everything-else horror stories. Coming out soon from Chaosium is an anthology I co-edited with Kevin Ross called Edge of Sundown that is a horror/western collection. Also from Chaosium is the upcoming Legacy of the Reanimator that I put together with Peter Rawlik and is all about, well Herbert West, the reanimator. And from publisher Golden Goblin Press a collection of Lovecraftian horror stories set in ancient Rome should be coming soon called Tales of Cthulhu Invictus. As for awards, Steampunk Cthulhu is up for best anthology from the Independent eBook Awards, so that’s nice.
TLR: What are you working on now?
BMS: Right now I am writing a novel with the excellent author, Jeffrey Thomas, I am reading for the tribute anthology for the late CJ Henderson, reading for another shared-world collection called The Children of Gla’aki, and finishing up my newest Cthulhu Mythos/Lovecraftian horror anthology for Dark Regions Press called Return of the Old Ones. If I don’t have three-to-six things all going on at once, I don’t feel like I’m doing enough.
TLR: Anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?
BMS: Thanks to anyone that has ever bought one of my books, read any of my stuff, and if you took the time to send me some feedback or do a review, then a double dose of thanks to you. Please stay with me and see what I’ve got coming out, and feel free to reach out to me on social media with any thoughts, questions, comments, feedback, or just to say hi.
TLR: Thank you again for creating the time in your incredibly busy schedule for this interview. I know my – and your – readers will enjoy reading about you!
Brian M. Sammons has been writing reviews on all things horror for more years than he’d care to admit. Wanting to give other critics the chance to ravage his work for a change, he has penned stories that have appeared in such anthologies as Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Twisted Legends, Mountains of Madness, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ new Weird Fiction line. He is currently far too busy for any sane man. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man,” you can check out his very infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.