Today I was spoiled with an opportunity to interview author Andrew Cyrus Hudson, the mastermind behind Somewhere in the Shadows: The Anthology. See, he's the guy who designed the book and had it made.
He's worked with multiple aspects of publishing, and his passion resides in producing a book from the ground up. He's also the guy who asked me to be in the short story collection. You know that "Charlatan" thing I've been, admittedly, self-promoting like crazy as of late? That's the short story I contributed.
For now, here are the publishing-related questions and his uncensored response to them all.
C.M. Humphries (C):
How long did the entire publishing process for Somewhere in the Shadows take?
Andrew Cyrus Hudson(A):
If we're talking about the time it took to produce it, not that long. The short story, all drafts, just took an hour a day for about a week or two and the rest of the time was simply contacting people (ironically the email updates probably took the most time). However, it's not a simple matter of writing a short story and getting everyone together. It's waiting on the production to take place and for people to get back to you. So with that taken to account, I started contacting everyone December of 2011 and finally got it out December 2012, making it about a year to get it made.
C: How did you decide which authors would be in the anthology?
A: There were several different methods of figuring out which authors should be on the list. The easiest ones were my writer buddies I already knew, such as Jonathan D. Allen. All I had to do was shoot him an email asking if he'd be interested in doing an anthology (or in the case of writer buddy Andrez Bergen, he contacted me with an interest in doing it). Everyone else though, was a discovery. Marissa Farrar was an interesting find because I found her through the "also purchased" links in Drift (back when I miscategorized Drift as horror instead of thriller). But everyone else was mostly discovered through a simple process. I'd look at various followers and followers of followers on Twitter, see if they wrote in a vein close to horror, check out their site, determine if they're decent writers (as in check out their samples or bibliography and see if they can in fact write a short story), and then get into contact with them. Some indie/small pub writers who wrote big horror novels politely declined because they weren't comfortable with writing short stories (lesson learned: not every authors has written a short story or knows how to). Some authors who climbed on board backed down later due to obligations that are completely understandable. So in the end, the author list was more by chance and it ended up working out perfectly.
C: What were the overhead expenses for producing such an anthology?
A: The overhead cost of an anthology is the same for any self-published novel. Meaning that it can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. Remember that it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg if you do your research. But also remember that cheap people get cheap results, and you can't cut corners and rip people off if you want to have a good anthology (and be a decent human being). The total cost (mainly formatting and art) was about $120.00 all together. But as stated before, it could be a free or a few grand depending on how much of it you do yourself and who you hire.
C: What are your future plans for Somewhere in the Shadows or for other story collections?
A: I'd like to eventually get Somewhere in the Shadows in CreateSpace and Smashwords format early next year. As well as try to get it in the hands of a few more readers who aren't my friends or family before it inevitably falls off the charts. As far as other plans go..
-Somewhere in the Stars: If Somewhere in the Shadows is about horror, then the next logical progress would be science-fiction. It would be a collection of short stories having to do with either space, exploration beyond the ordinary, or other planets. I'd like to bring back all of the crew from Somewhere in the Shadows and possibly a new writer or two (I guess making an anthology is kind of like The Expendables). Although I'd have to wait until early summer before I even think about doing another anthology. Otherwise I'd burn out and go crazy.
-Collaborative Book: I always wanted to do a collaborative book. Perhaps write a novel with a fellow author or even multiple authors to see how crazy the direction would take us. Or maybe write a fictional world/town with a specific set of rules and then we'd all get to write stories set in that place.
-Writer's Faction: This is the most important thing above all. This wouldn't be like a writer's group, which is essentially a support group. This would almost be like a publisher, except that we wouldn't have to pay into it. Basically we'd help each other out. When we do promotions (e.g free book), we do it together. A larger fan-base for one writer would be a larger fan-base for all. I don't want to sound doom and gloom here but I think writers who go it alone in the digital biz are going to find it increasingly difficult as time goes on. Self-publishing doesn't have to mean alone-publishing.
C: Where can everyone find you online?
A: Everyone can find me at andrewcyrushudson.net . I'm actually starting a website all over again (long story short, GoDaddy.com now owns andrewcyrushudson.com), so apologies for the site being somewhat under construction.
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Ask Andrew Cyrus Hudson Anything About Somewhere in the Shadows or independent & self-publishing in the comments - and earn points towards a hand-bound edition of No-Injury Policy!
"And the Zombies Starved"
Zombies were all the rage back then.
It started off with movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, all the comedic romance stories disguised by those flesh-eating beasts. Cara and I’d watched them all during their midnight releases. When it first began, I was just as much a fool as anyone else. That was true until I remembered my distaste for the film Pearl Harbor. Some said Pearl Harbor was a masterpiece in the way it isolated a personal story from something much larger. Critics said it humanized the United States involvement in WWII. I said it was populist bullshit designed to sell the same old Hollywood love-story. It was a multi-million-dollar rerun masked by something that looked like war in the background—a love triangle and explosions in the distance.
Such storylines could’ve been juxtaposed with any other set of circumstances: an interstellar dilemma, an ominous dreamscape on Elm Street, inside of a failing 50s diner. Back then, it was tongues in throats and, oh yeah, zombies eating brains. But it was all the rage and it had everyone hooked.
One night after work, Cara came home with an atrocious set of heels painted black and green with something I assumed to be a face of a brain-munching undead. “You like them?” she asked. “I don’t think they make too many of them. They’re Zombie Heels.”
I nodded and kissed her before we went to bed.
The next morning, on my way to work, I saw dozens of women pass by wearing green, red, and purple variations of the same goddamn Zombie Heels. When did the undead become so colorful? Even at work, women wobbled in and out of the sandwich shop with the click and clack of cliché until I had my first apocalyptic impulse. That was, I wanted to shoot every last zombie-sporting sucker right through the skull. Zombies were never meant to be cute, colorful, or cuddly. They were—and always would be—a mixture of medical and social experiment gone awry. If Hollywood turned the stories of Jack the Ripper or Jack Kevorkian into whimsical love stories, would women start dropping their day jobs for the glorious life of prostitution or start carrying around their own IV tubes?
My only sense of relief derived from the fact, when the customers ordered their sandwiches, they asked for BLTs instead of brains. And I only discovered sleep when I realized that one day the fad would pass. Be it the end of my beloved creatures as they were in their raw, gruesome forms, but the end of mainstream madness nonetheless.
But it only metastasized. The following morning, I awoke to a thump on the nightstand next to our bed. My eyes peeled open like fresh blood oranges to see Cara hovering over me with a grin that slit her face in half. “Look,” she shouted as she pointed at a book next the alarm clock.
I glanced over and saw a book with zombies on the cover. “Jesus, no,” I muttered. I read the back cover:
Roman and Julia are forced apart by their wealthy parents, never to express their love for each other again . . . That is until a scientific experiment to turn their parents into super humans turns them into flesh-eating monsters.
“Doesn’t it sound great?” Cara asked, truly impressed with her find.
“Do you realize what this is?” I asked her.
“Yeah, it’s a gory zombie book.”
“Gory—No, this is nothing more than Romeo and Juliet . . .”
Something boiled under my skin. Whatever it was, it hid under the façade of anger and consumed me in a matter of mere seconds. I snatched the book and showed Cara exactly what I thought of it by hurling all three hundred pages at her chest. The problem was, I aimed too high. The book smacked against her temple, and Cara dropped limp to the floor.
“Shit,” I yelled.
Back then, the police were overzealous and overabundant, and they didn’t care how or why your wife was unconscious in your bedroom. If you’d hurt her, the police would hurt you. So I ran.
Past all the houses on our street, down through the shopping centers and glass testaments to mankind, I sprinted for nowhere. It didn’t matter where I ended up so long as I was away. On my journey, though, something came over me.
Everywhere I turned there were watered-down zombies. Passersby wore tattered t-shirts with cartoon zombie prints. Chuck Taylors and high heels alike boasted some demented aspect of beauty coinciding with the zombie. Was I alone in the world? Maybe all these people were zombies in the Haiti sense; carrying on the last thing they were told or shown. On every corner, marquees contained zombie puns within the movie titles. There were zombies everywhere.
Enraged by the zombie rage, I hurried along my path of uncertainty, brushing by zombies on every crosswalk. I knocked down a woman in her forties when I saw her zombie earrings. I took out some punk on a zombie-themed skateboard and almost cried when I saw blood rushing onto the sidewalk from underneath his head. Right before I took a bus headed out of town, I knocked out all five members of a street band called The Lost Sombi.
Wiping off the sweat from my brow, I found a seat on the bus and tried to regulate my breaths. The bus reeked of cat-piss, cheap cologne, and mothballs. Together it stirred into a brew I’d associated with decay. Although my senses peaked and the bus ride was slow, I kept to myself. During the trip, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cara. Did I knock her out, or did I actually kill her? How many zombies did I take out during my escape from town? It wasn’t my fault—It was those stupid movies trying to cover-up tasteless and unmemorable plots with the walking dead. It was the devolution of mainstream society from Barbie to Zombie High.
Just when I thought I’d regained my composure, a little boy turned around and stared at me, before he shoved his Game Boy in my face. He said, “I just got this.” While his mother tried to stop him from talking to a stranger, the boy kept yapping as a remake of Zombies Ate My Neighbors flashed on the screen. “See, you go around and shoot zombies with Super Soakers and kill them, and you can throw soda cans and twin-pops at them, and you . . .”
I punched the kid square in the face.
The mother screamed and swatted at me with a zombie purse, as I stood up and smashed her son’s Game Boy on the grated floor. At once, the bus halted, and one-by-one, the travelers came at me.
Swiping the purse, I wacked and pushed everyone in sight until I reached the front of the bus.
Tossing the purse to the ground, I ran as fast as I could to an old hotel at the end of the next block. Inside, I pulled out all of my cash from my wallet and told the woman at the desk, “I need a room as high up as you’ve got.”
She threw me a curious look and remained still for a moment. A phone resided next to her, a few inches from her anxious fingertips. She tapped along the countertop, her slight movements drawing more erratic by the second. The woman peered up at me, and I stared right back at her. As she started to reach for the phone, she pivoted around and grabbed the top left key from a pegboard behind her. “You’ll need to write yourself in,” she said before she slid a clipboard of forms in front of me.
Back then, time eluded me. I might’ve stayed in the room for a few days, although it felt like months. From time to time, I clicked on the television to see if I needed to find a new hideout, but there was one time when the evening news surprised me with a different sort of newscast. On the screen, a woman so starved she might as well been a zombie reported the tale of a new cult hero. A video package displayed dozens of people boasting hats, shirts, and lunchboxes with my face. Not only did the merchandise depict an unauthorized interpretation of me, but it my hand was a shotgun pointed at a mob of poorly sketched zombies. The videos of my fans cut short when the reporter pressed on her earpiece and said, “We’re now going live to the hotel, where our ‘cult hero’ was last seen checking in. Breaking news, folks: I’ve just received word that police are now in search—”
I slammed my thumb on the power button of the TV remote controller and bolted for the window. The window wouldn’t give as I tried to lift it open, so I grabbed the nearby end table and shattered through the glass no sooner than the police plowed through the door of my room.
Down below, reporters and a swarm of fans with my t-shirts all screamed up at me. There was a way out, for sure. I could’ve escaped through a set of emergency ladders around the hotel, but I hesitated at the sight of at least three hundred people cheering me on. Didn’t they get it? I guessed there were a lot of people who didn’t get it back then. Now I had to choose between escape and perpetuating the very thing I detested. It was either that or I’d have to succumb to the officers’ efforts to arrest me and go to jail as a wife-beater. One more glance at all the zombies below on the streets and I decided to do what was right. The right thing was not the rage back then. Arms straight out in front of me, I dropped to my knees and said to the police officers, “Please."
I wouldn't dare bore you with a comprehensive list of every novel containing sexual explicit material in this post. Honestly, I'm not even sure such a document could be composed considering the longevity of sexual encounters in fiction and the endless push of new romance novels that would make gothic romance authors, like Shelley or Coleridge, blush. It's no secret that sex and romance sell. The question really is WHY?
The flood of romance novels is not a recent phenomena. For a bit of brief history, visit here. In short, though, romanticism started in Western Europe during the 17th century as a rebuttal to "The Age of Enlightenment", which influenced literature with reason and logic. The Age of Enlightenment made no room for emotions, experimentation, or individuality. Romanticism offered all of the aforementioned and more.Although Germany and France still fight over who ignited the movement, it was the publication of "Lyrical Ballads" by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge around 1978 which more or less outlined the central elements of romantic literature.
Elements of Romantic Literature
The serendipity of love is often the first dose we all get high on, and it's this first taste that we become addicted to. In reality, it's rather hard to describe the feeling of love. Some say it exists; others say it doesn't. Despite your view, there are certain circumstances in which we grow close to another person and can't get enough of them.In literature, however, no one will wait 6,000 pages for the writer to accurately portray emotions such as love, so let's go with the outline that stems from the original romantic movement in literature. The main concerns in romanticism were the core feelings from human interaction and the horror felt by people when they started to embrace it. Remember, these were times when things went from peace to the chaos that ensued the Industrial Revolution. Let's face it, we all loved nature a lot more back then.
Romanticism also borrowed from folklore and popular art, which may also be why today's romance novels center around supernatural entities and the darker side to life. It's no surprise the bestselling romance novels focus on vampires, zombies, werewolves, demons, and so on. Although today's vampires may be a slap in the face to Bram Stoker, they still serve a similar purpose: We long for a stranger to come into our lives and reveal who we really are. Love could be considered a type of self-realization only someone else can show us. Nature was always associated with self-identity - being one with the larger picture - and the creatures in romantic literature are often associated with the wilderness. From there, you simply connect the dots. Or do the "chemistry".
During the era of Gothic Romance, Coleridge actually used the Kubla Khan (well as much as poet literally refers to anything Interesting subject, but a completely different story). What's important here is why we like romance so much. I've explained how and romanticism came to be, but now we must wonder why there's so much sex in the bestselling books. Ideally, romance and sexual encounters are different and should not replace each other.
So why would there be less romance and more sex now?
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After my long rants about the zombie's image going down the drain, my heart is all warm and fuzzy after the recent zombie attack in Florida and the guy who cut out his entrails awhile back and threw them at a cop. Why am I happy about such horrifying events?
Because people pointed at the face-eating man and said, "Hey look, a zombie!"
They didn't see some rockstar or comedic romance and say, "It's like Zombieland!"
No they saw one of the most gruesome news stories ever and recognized it as a good ol' b-movie style zombie attack. Distastefully so, but a zombie attack nonetheless.
With that said, I've toyed around with a zombie story for quite sometime now, and have decided to give it another go.
The story starts off on a ship porting in Long Brooke, Chase County after a long journey back from Haiti. Under a light rain, four crew members try to enjoy a smoke on the deck, when they realize one of their members is missing. An all-out attack occurs when they find him in a cabin - or what he's become.
All but one man is bitten and torn to shreds. Although bitten, he jumps overboard and swims to the shore. So does the missing crew member.
That's all I'll spoil for now. I'll keep you in the know, especially if you subscribe.
Do you think this sounds interesting?
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My thoughts exactly.
Please don’t let zombies join the ranks of poorly saturated vampires and werewolves. Sorry, I am using the word zombie is this blog. I know you should never use the z-word.
Any avid fan of horror will tell you, the abovementioned creatures are to be feared and occasionally sympathized with. In the past, it was okay if you didn’t enjoy the likes of Frankenstein, “The Return of Timmy Baterman” or The Wolf’s Hour.
Anymore, though, all the media giants are pushing a cult following into mainstream. Mind you, slipstream to mainstream is a natural evolution. It was the very downfall (or genesis) or Hot Topic. But monsters were doing so well in niche markets, which eventually lead to them being shoved down our throats.
When we read or watch something about a monster, we want to be too terrified to go to bed. We want it to come from the darkest shadows or the most horrifying origins and chase us back against a wall. Sure these creatures can be like Frankenstein’s Monster and have a rich background somewhat justifying their actions, but please don’t make them goofy.
Even Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Drag Me to Hell are goofy horror movies, but you know what, they still scare the hell out of people. What we are faced with – especially in film – is this watered down, PG version of horror. Even though I like John Dies at the End and Zombieland, I’ll admit those two stories lead to some of poorly constructed zombie movies we see now.
Zombieland, though enjoyable, re-introduced a crummy concept to film, which then bled back into fiction (how many zombie books are there now?). The film comes off as a quirky story of an unlikely group of survivors battling zombies in the search of love, a theme park, and Twinkies. It even has many of the zombie tropes.
But what is the film at heart?
It’s a story of a fledging love between two youngsters, AKA a romantic comedy. Yes, I said it. A romantic comedy.
Romantic comedy films, also known as "rom-coms", are films with light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as that true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One dictionary definition is "a funny movie, play, or television program about a love story that ends happily".
Another definition states that its "primary distinguishing feature is a love plot in which two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled".Romantic comedy films are a sub-genre of comedy films as well as of romance films, and may also have elements of screwball comedies and stoner comedies. Some television series can also be classified as romantic comedies.
During a game of Monopoly, Tallahassee breaks down and reveals that he lost his young son, Buck, to the zombies. While he and Little Rock take out their pain by shooting fine art, Columbus and Wichita get drunk. They almost kiss but are interrupted by Tallahassee.
The next morning, Wichita and Little Rock leave, afraid that any further bonds will break their sisterly bond. They go the amusement park. Believing it is deserted, they turn on the all the power and everything in the park turns on and lights up. However, the noise and lights attracts zombies from the surrounding area. The girls manage to get to temporary safety atop one of the rides.
Please make it stop. Even in literature we see this romantic zombie comedy style (Rom-Zom-Com) with Breathers: A Zombie's Lament , and as mentioned, John Dies at the End . Now, these stories don’t necessarily need a love relationship to be classified together. Pretty much, if it’s like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland , it’s exactly what we don’t need any more of.
My hope is this year the popularity of zombies will die down and later return to those gruesome tales we’ve loved so much.