Weldon Burge is the founder and Executive Editor of Smart Rhino Publications, which published the horror anthology, Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad, earlier this year, and recently published the suspense/thriller anthology, Uncommon Assassins. His fiction has appeared in Suspense Magazine, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, Grim Graffiti, The Edge: Tales of Suspense, Alienskin, Glassfire Magazine, Out & About, and numerous other publications. His horror/suspense stories have been adapted for podcast presentation by Drabblecast, and have appeared in the anthologies Pellucid Lunacy: An Anthology of Psychological Horror, Don’t Tread on Me: Tales of Revenge and Retribution, Ghosts and Demons, and Something at the Door: A Haunted Anthology. Weldon also frequently writes book reviews and interviews for Suspense Magazine.
Well, I’d been thinking about self-publishing for a very long time. I actually bought the domain for Smart Rhino back in 2001! But, I couldn’t see a way to get the project off the ground, especially from a marketing/distribution viewpoint. I’d debated on POD services, but that still didn’t provide the marketing angles I envisioned. When Createspace and KDP came along, I finally saw a way to make Smart Rhino Publications happen. The company officially launched in February 2012 with the release of our debut anthology, Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! It’s the familiar “years of planning/overnight success” thing.
What attracted you to the horror genre?
I’ve always loved horror fiction, movies, comics, TV shows, even old radio horror. I started writing horror when I was 16. But, I’ve also been a professional editor and have had my hands in publishing for years. So, working with other horror/suspense/science fiction writers to produce books always seemed like fate to me. It was inevitable.
What type of horror do Smart Rhino Publications publish?
If you’ve read Zippered Flesh, you know how eclectic that antho is. My intent was to provide a buffet of authors with different voices, showcasing different horror styles. Michael Bailey’s story, ‘Bootstrap’ is chilling science fiction. Scott Nicholson’s story, ‘The Shaping’ is dark fantasy. Graham Masterton’s story, ‘Sex Object’ – well, you almost want to take a shower afterwards, it’s so creepy. There’s something for everyone in this collection of stories. I suppose, as the editor, my own broad tastes in horror fiction are evident as well.
Talk us through some of the key authors at Smart Rhino Publications.
Part of the mission of Smart Rhino Publications is to highlight talented writers that deserve more exposure to the reading public. So, although I love publishing stories by ‘name’ writers like Graham Masterton and F. Paul Wilson, I get a bigger thrill when I hear a reader say something like, “Wow, I loved that Adrienne Jones story so much, I immediately bought two of her novels!” The more I can champion my writers, the better it is for all of us, in my opinion.
We recently released the thriller/suspense anthology, Uncommon Assassins, which contains several horror-tinged stories. You’ll notice that some of the authors (Lisa Mannetti, Jonathan Templar, Greg Smith, Charles Colyott, Elliott Capon) also appeared in Zippered Flesh. That means a lot to me, that these talented folks trust me with their work! Wow!
Plenty of plans, but I can’t divulge much at this point. Suffice it to say that there will be a sequel to Zippered Flesh coming in early 2013. And I’d love to see a follow-up for Uncommon Assassins as well.
What are you most proud of thus far, and why?
When we released Zippered Flesh, I was anxious, in the true sense of the word. Much was riding on how successful the anthology would be. I was pleasantly surprised that the book has been well-received, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. But I’m especially proud that two of the stories, Michael Bailey’s and Charlie Colyott’s, are now on the HWA Bram Stoker Recommended Reading list. And, trust me, their stories deserve it!
Do eBooks threaten or complement the print industry?
Considering I’m selling eBooks over paper 10-to-1, I’d have to say ‘complement’. But, it’s also clear that the publishing industry is in a massive state of transition/evolution. The next decade should be a fun ride!
Are you currently open for submission?
We’ll be open for submissions to Zippered Flesh 2: More Stories of Body Enhancements Gone Bad starting in October until November 1, 2012. But keep your eye on the Smart Rhino website for future submission periods. We have a number of things waiting in the wings.
What authors would you love to see write for Smart Rhino Publications?
Well, the obvious and immediate answer would be Stephen King. But, I’d really love to publish a story by Joe Lansdale, one of my favourite writers, or Clive Barker. Maybe someday…
Who is the most influential horror writer of all time and why?
Tough question. Again, the obvious and immediate answer would be Stephen King—and it would be difficult to argue otherwise. But, for overall impact over time, I’d have to say Lovecraft. He was really the first to introduce cosmic, omnipresent horror. And, if you’re looking for monsters, no one has done it better than Lovecraft.
What does the future hold for Smart Rhino Publications?
Plenty! We’ve been in business for less than a year, and we’re now working on our third anthology. I want to keep the momentum going. Eventually, we’ll publish novels. But, for now, we’re building a strong foundation and (I hope) a solid fan base with the anthologies. As long as my writers and readers are happy, I’m happy!
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