TIH 450: Kevin Lucia on Clifton Heights, Charles L. Grant, and Cemetery Dance

TIH 450: Kevin Lucia on Clifton Heights, Charles L. Grant, and Cemetery Dance

In this podcast, Kevin Lucia talks about Clifton Heights, Charles L. Grant, Cemetery Dance, and much more. 

About Kevin Lucia

Kevin Lucia is the ebook and trade paperback editor at Cemetery Dance Publications. His first short story collection, Things Slip Through, was published by Crystal Lake Publishing in November, 2013. He’s followed that with the collections Through A Mirror, Darkly, Devourer of Souls, Things You Need, October Nights, and the novellas Mystery Road, A Night at Old Webb, and The Night Road. His first novel is forthcoming from Thunderstorm Books in October 2022.

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Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat we're masters of horror, about writing, a life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is Kevin Lucia. He is a great short story writer and novelist, and he is also the editor for cemetery dance paperbacks and ebooks. And cemetery dance is one of the best in the business and the horror genre. So it was fascinating to talk to the head honcho about all that is going on in terms of the paperbacks and the ebooks. Now talking about talking to people, Bob Pastorella and I have just finished recording four days and 11 hours of conversation. We have had some three hour marathons we've been speaking to microsite Linda, Paul Tremblay, Clay McLeod Chapman, and Tyler Jones. For mornings that will turned into the afternoon because they went on so long. And wow, exhausted but also inspired as I often am when I have these conversations. So you're going to be getting an influx of This Is Horror Podcast at the end of this month, which is now it's upon us the influx has happened in my friend. But if you want to support the show, if you want to keep things going keep the show alive, and goodness, I would really appreciate it if you did. I'm not in the best situation myself at the moment, but I'm trying to create good artists Neil Gaiman and Chuck Wendig would say, but if you can support us do consider becoming a patron. Go over to patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. You can submit questions to each and every interviewee you can get every episode ahead of the crowd. You can become part of the writers forum on Discord. You can listen to all the exclusive podcasts, the q&a sessions story on box on camera off record. And believe me, if you support this Sasara it's going to mean a lot to me it's going to mean more than you probably know. So I would love it. If you did go over to patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Check it out and see if it's a good fit for you. Okay, before we get into the conversation, a little bit of an advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 4:24

Okay with that said, here it is it is part two of the conversation with Kevin Lucia on dare says hora. So I wanted to talk a little bit about your fiction and a good place to begin is to talk about the Clifton heights mythos, talk us through the genesis of that.

Kevin Lucia 4:54

So the genesis of that was a combination of things. Right about the time that I discovered Stephen King was getting a little tired with science fiction, you know, I didn't take many rejections and for me to have a kind of honest appraisal that my science fiction just sounded like bad, bad Star Wars fan fiction. So, in the, you know, the what I found in in Stephen King was really something that I felt like this is, I don't know, there's something there. So I started writing. And I read, of course, tons of Stephen King books, and I'll be honest, a lot of my early attempts of writing were basically me rewriting it rewriting needful thing. Yeah, I mean, you read all these books, and you don't realize you're copying him at the time, you kind of really are, you know, and I was trying to write this small town horror novel that was big and sprawling, and you're not like Salem's ly, you know, Salem's lie, to me is one of my favorite and really one of the all time great small town horror novels, just the way King personifies the lot, you know, and the way he does these broad, you know, third person omniscient, looking at all the people and I really had a hard time finishing stories at the very beginning. And you know, I had three or four years there, where I probably just, you know, prior to me selling the first story, I was just rewriting the first half of a novel over and over again. And what I found it as I finally decided, I kind of decided that we're gonna just, or obviously can't get a novel done. For some reason, let's try to start learning how to write shorter stuff. So I started turning my attention to short fiction. And I realized that a lot of these little character sketches that were supposed to be part of his big composite novel, they realized there was a lot there that could turn these people into, you know, short stories of their own. And then the idea occurred to me, because of course, again, every young writer thinks they're brilliant, and they're doing something no one has ever done before. I thought, wow, it'd be great if all my short stories happen in the same small town, you know, because nobody's ever done that before.

So that's what I kind of started doing was, you know, when I started trying to submit my stories, it wasn't really thinking consciously about it, I just was sort of thinking I'd be kind of cool. If, you know, someday, a collection could be put together or whatever. Like, I didn't think anybody would ever notice these short stories would take place in the same place. But I had so many of these collected bits and pieces of characters. And I think that's what was intrigued me was I was trying to write this big composite novel. But then I started thinking of the town and thinking about how everybody's got a story, you know, and what if you have this town where everyone's stories are awful, or, you know, but at first as, as time went on, and I matured as a writer, it wasn't that everyone's story was awful, but I realized that there are people that live on the fringes you know, the marginalized the things like that, you know, in a small town like this, they'd be easy prey for something supernatural. And of course along the way, as I'm selling these stories, and I started One summer I, as much as I love Stephen King, because I had the the holy trinity of horror there for the for a while, Stephen King, Peter Straub and Dean Koontz. That was all I was reading. And as fine as those authors are, I want somewhere else, like I really gotta start, like, you know, I've heard people saying all these names, like Charles grant, and TM Wright, and some newer guys like Gary Brodbeck, I really need to start reading all these books. And then when I discovered Charlie grands oxygen station, which was an absolute revelation, and I was, I was so I have such an amazing discovery. I wasn't even bummed that No, somebody had thought about this before. I was like, This is awesome. I want to do something like this. And of course, Gary Brodbeck has a Cedar Hill cycle. You know, Stephen King has his Castle Rock stories. And then where I started doing was going back and reading a lot of Ray Bradbury short stories. You know, he wrote all of his story, all the stories that take place in Greentown, Illinois, is supposed to be a standard for his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. And someone mentioned Oh, you got to read Winesburg, Ohio and I might go Winesburg, Ohio, you know, by Sherwood Anderson. So in this formative period, I'm searching out all these other authors are doing the same thing. And rather than, you know, bummed me out, because I hadn't come up with his original idea, I was like, Well, this is, this is great. This is some this is what I want to do. And to me that that concept of you know, every single person has a story that gas station attendant has a story, that lifeguard that bore lifeguard at the beach, who just looks like a board college student, that person has a story that burned out elementary school teacher or this or that they all have a story. You know, because I'm a horror writer. Of course, those stories end up straying into the supernatural and often dark places.

It didn't get stitched together until about 2000. Let's see 13 When I sold my most most recent story at that time to this new fledgling publisher that was putting out an anthology called for the night is dark. And publisher was Crystal Lake, run by Joe meinhardt. And I sold a story to him and in that collection, and I asked about a collection that he was putting together. And he said, Well, we're looking to put together a different authors for this collection. So you know, we are had you in the first one. He said, Well, let me ask you this, I really want to publish a collection of yours. Like, do you have a collection? And I thought to myself, well, this is my chance. You know, this is my chance to write my Dandelion Wine, my Martian Chronicles, my linked narrative. And I said, I do I do have a collection, I had been thinking of writing, I told myself, but I want to try something different with it. I don't want to just be like, here's my 10 short stories, and I explained to what I wanted to do. He said, That sounds great. You know, so I developed the reinking narrative, I'm kind of an overarching thing. And that's, you know, things slip through. That's my first collected work of short stories. It's also kind of like, it's kind of meta narrative, which is also permanently free on Kindle, by the way, so in the US anyway. And that's what started off, you know, and I just, it's, it's in well, you know, it's been great fun. Someone wants to ask me if I got tired of writing in that same universe, or I felt that was hampering or limiting. And I just thought, I thought, like, what do you think of all the different people who live in a town like that, to me, the possibilities are endless, you know, and that's, it's been great fun to write, you know, in, in so I've, I've got, you know, several books and story collections in novellas that are, you know, centered in my mythical little town. It's in the Adirondacks, because I love the Adirondacks, my we went up camping there every summer as a kid, for the first five years of our marriage before we had kids, my wife would go on vacation there, you know, and we went to Vacation there several years after we had kids. And there's just something up there in the Adirondacks. You know, it's just like very easily. You know, it's so densely wooded up there. And I probably being a waxing poetic here, but the air feels heavier up there. So it's very easy to imagine, you know, a haunted town in the Adirondacks. So that's how the talk came about

Michael David Wilson 12:57

in terms of having the internet interconnected short stories and the wrap around I mean, that's kind of nail become your trademark with your short story collections, because the curse that happened in through a mirror darkly and also October nights.

Kevin Lucia 13:16

Yep. Yeah. And through a mirror darkly was kind of me. That wasn't developed quartet and I was kind of trying to probably did a poor job of that but I was really trying to pay a paying homage to Charlie grants oxygen station, you know, his novella, Cortez, you know, those were just just amazing. You know, the orchard? I think the black carousel was the other one. I came up with the other two, I've got them over my shelf over there. But yeah, that was collected and developed court quartets. And that was it. And then Halloween one, you know, I've always wanted to hot write a Halloween book. And I just decided last year, I talked to Jones and I've got some stuff I can put together. And I said I've always wanted to do a Halloween book. And he said, Yeah, let's do it. And that was that was that, in some ways is probably the most satisfying book that I've that I've ever written to date because there so much of me scattered throughout that whole book.

Michael David Wilson 14:17

Yeah, and I think yeah, you and Joe and the stuff you're doing with Crystal Lake have become almost so intertwined that it's actually quite difficult to think of Crystal Lake and to not think of you and your work now. I don't certainly how I feel anyway.

Kevin Lucia 14:34

Well, you know, I I've been with him since the beginning. And honestly, as far as all my cliffs and heights books, you know, I'm pretty much I mean, I've written to crib Clifton heights novellas for cemetery dance. I'm currently in the editing stage of a Clifton heights novella for a bleeding edge books. But when it comes to the bigger books, Clifton high He's supposed to probably always gonna go back to, to a Joe. You know, I've been there with him from the beginning. You know, I saw what he was doing there. I saw some of the early authors he was signing. And I was like, I think this this is this is going to be something, you know, and I've watched what he's built very carefully, very painstakingly, you know, he hasn't overreached, like a lot of small presses end up overreaching at some point. And the thing about Joe, that I always come back to, is, I know that every single release of mine through Crystal Lake, he's gonna put his full full effort behind. Like, he puts his shoulder behind every every book, he's always willing to try new stuff. He's the guy. How about we try this to market at this time? Or what do you think about this? And I'm always like, Yeah, go for it. Definitely try it. You know, what I think? I think Crystal Lake is is very easily become. I mean, this obviously, is self serving, because most of my books are published through Crystal Lake. When it comes to the small press out there. I think it's got to be one of the premier small presses at this point. You know, you know, it's they've, they're all about the business. They're all about, you know, horror, they're all about establishing relationships with not only writers and readers, you know, and Joe is just a solid guy who loves the genre. But he wants to do right by both his readers. And as writers, you know, that that's a winning combination right there.

Michael David Wilson 16:35

Yeah. Yeah, I second all of that. And, I mean, he's just such a good guy as well. And he's doing it for all the right reasons. And, yeah, everything you've been saying, I've been nodding my head along to it. And I mean, I've been in pretty close correspondence with him since really the start of Crystal Lake. And there's certainly a reason as well, why multiple years, our readers have voted for Crystal Lake as publisher of the year because they're consistently putting out damn good whack.

Bob Pastorella 17:13

Reading your work. I love how you take something that is, you know, kind of, you know, every day, and it's just everyday life. And as each paragraph you get, there's something more dreadful. That's happening.

Kevin Lucia 17:31

Well, thank you.

Bob Pastorella 17:33

And I love that and it's, it's a it's a creepy miss. And I'm really trying to tap into that. The, my, with my current work in progress now. And that's when I thought, you know, no, Charles Charles grant, I'm just not well read in in in Charles grant. I've read, you know, of his work. And I loved his anthology series. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It shadows was it was a guaranteed library checkout. For me. I've read every one of them. Yep. Yep. But, I mean, I guess what grant Where's where's like the best starting point.

Kevin Lucia 18:17

Okay, so, um, and I've got a great story for later about going, you know, having that moment where you're like, oh, my gosh, I have to go read these all these authors is really, really great story. But we're talking about the axon station series that he's first, his first couple novels, the hour of the axon dead, the sound of midnight, the last call of mourning. Those are all very good, solid novels, you know, they have that kind of creeping dread. My favorite of that would be the grave. And the nice thing about his Oxford station novels, which I've tried to mimic with cliffs and heights, is you really don't have to have a lot of pre knowledge coming into them. Like if you read enough of them then they start to build on each other and you know, little bits and pieces of town lore, but you could just pick up I initially I think read all out of order and it didn't really make much of a difference. But the grave is a really great story. A novel I'm looking for his he's got some things lift all they haven't listened to the short stories that's why his horror novels, short fiction and he's you listen to the short fiction, I don't know why. He's got four novella collections. One is called the orchard. The other one is called Black carousel.

Bob Pastorella 19:53

Think I've read from that one. See, because I remember I remember having that book But you know, the grave. And that that kind of that kind of leads me in to, you know, because he had this place it's Oxford station, you have Clifton heights. Right? And and like Roger, you're saying you build up the lore. So like with Clifton heights, I'm trying to do the same thing with my own work and I think I think a lot of people are no, I have Grigsby Texas. And one of the things that I love about Grigsby Texas, and you may feel this too, is there's it's not really set. In stone, it shifts and that. So you, you you feel the same way. It's like, I'm not going to etch this thing in stone.

Kevin Lucia 20:42

No, it's ballot as far as the town lore.

Bob Pastorella 20:46

That and, you know, in locations and things like that. I mean, there are places that you know, that cover multiple stories, that they're all in the same location. But I think like we get into the outer edges a bit, it kind of, I don't know, I guess loses shape? And maybe that's a thing. I mean, do you feel the same way?

Kevin Lucia 21:08

Yeah. And that becomes part of the horror of the town, you know, that there's, like, I've, there are several landmarks throughout the town that are that the readers are going to be familiar with. But at that, at this point, I consider all the books to be, you know, you come in at any point, and maybe this book is going to be about a character who died as a secondary character three books ago. But you know, it's his story. Now, you know, and I don't really, I don't really worry too much like, I keep the geographical locations, vaguely specific. Does that make any sense? It does just specific enough. I'm not going to concern myself with, well, how big is the town? Actually, you know, how many streets are actually in this town? Maybe that changes every day? We're not quite sure how many streets are actually in this town? Nobody's quite sure. You know, and I just kind of leave it that way on purpose. You know, like I said, they're early on, I think I was trying harder to keep things. You know, I remember when I was writing devourer of souls, I think I referenced the character as being alive, who and things slip through it had them dead. But other than that, for the most part, are vaguely specific, if that makes any sense. Like the novella I'm writing now, one of the secondary characters is the main character in the dark tides collection coming out from Crystal Lake. And even though this book from bleeding edge will come out after the book from Crystal Lake, I don't necessarily need to, you know, these are not necessarily chronologically all lined up, you know, so there are times where I will askew dates entirely. You know, I have one developed collection that's sitting with Crystal Lake right now. It can't be published yet, because they're all very, super limited editions that I wrote for cemetery dance. And as soon as they're published by cemetery dance, the rice will revert back to me, and Crystal Lake can put up publish. But I specifically wrote those with a very little date references at all. So that, you know, we're not pitting, pitting myself in a certain time period. Vaguely specific.

Bob Pastorella 23:31

But I love that term. That's, that's, that's, that kind of encapsulates everything. I think that a lot of small town Hora falls into that category where everything is vaguely says, you know, specific, you know, and occasionally you want that story that's going to have like a map, you know, especially if things are kind of confusing. But even I found with Peter Strawbs work that neat, he describes things, but there's no real I don't think I don't think he has a map in any of his books. I don't know. I can't. I don't know. But um, I don't think it's necessary. You know.

Kevin Lucia 24:08

So the funny thing about the map, I have a young age coming of age novel. If I were to commit extreme hubris, I would describe it as my boy's life set and Clifton heights set in the early 90s. And I've outlined it, you know, is there a very first time I've ever outlined anything, I outlined it from beginning to end? And I haven't started writing it yet. Because I sense this is going to be a commitment. This is a big sprawling book, it's going to be a commitment. But I also realized because of the nature of this novel, because I have certain plot elements that need to make sense over the course of the novel, that I did actually have to draw a map of what I thought Clifton heights would look like, at least for this novel, just because I had Add, you know, it's a novel like Boy's Life Boy's Life roughly spans a year and a half of Corey Matheson's life. So if I'm gonna write something similar, um, you know, and we're tagging along with our 14 year old protagonist, I'm like, I'm gonna have to map out this town, especially because I had certain things that had to happen in certain, you know, the climax of the story. And I had to think, how long is it going to take them for me to get there? So so that was actually the only time that I have not yet written that novel? I will write it. You know, my, my tentative title for it is when we were young, it has a time commitment. That one is though, but that's the only time I found myself having a nap map cliffs and heights. Because the nature of this this sprawling novel, where I'm like, I really need know how far away the graveyard is from the main characters house, because how long is this bike ride actually gonna take?

Bob Pastorella 25:58

And the cool thing about having, you know, creative control over heights is that you can like literally do the map for this one, but you don't need it for the others. Right? Yeah. And it's like a different version of it. Yep.

Kevin Lucia 26:15

Just eat it for that story. Yeah. So I wanted to recommend some authors because you're talking about authors that build dread, like, Charles grant is definitely the one of them the other one, Nightmare seasons in dialing the wind. Those were his other novella collection. So it's, it's nightmare seasons, dialing, the wind, the orchard and the black carousel. Those are his novella collections. I like his novels, his novels are good. But his novella collections are are where he really shines. Another author that bears investigating as TM, right. I was at knee con 30. And just kind of poking around in the US. You know, one of the vendors was selling us books, and there was this novel called the place. And at that point, I was really trying to figure out what type of horror writer I wanted to be, you know, Brian Keene Ray garden, you know, John, Skip, these were novels that I really enjoyed, but I just didn't see myself writing this stuff. And I picked this novel up called the place by Tm, right? And I was just astounded it was this novel. Again, it was his it led me to discovering his work or again, very ordinary things. Just take on this this malice in this menace. And in the third will be Ramsey Campbell. You know, Ramsey Campbell, just, he just makes these normal things are just as they go. This is a snowstorm. Why am I like, scared to death of the snowstorm because Randy Campbell is, is doing his job. That's why, you know, those three writers in particular I would recommend,

Bob Pastorella 27:56

yeah, I'm very, very familiar with Ramsey because then he was one of the ones that is in the no dance. McCobb. And then my first Ramsey Campbell was actually I was probably a little bit too young to to read it at the time. But I read the parasite and put me a bed, and there's some there's some shit in there. That uh, you know, he's the thing with people like they say when quiet har was that stuff like horror light, you know? It's like, no, it's like, really fucked up emotional shit.

Kevin Lucia 28:34

Election alone with the horrors should be required reading.

Bob Pastorella 28:38

Oh, yeah, that's amazing stuff. But yeah, he. And so I got on this gonna have this big Ramsey Campbell kick. But you know, and it's in. I see, I see that. I see that kind of that same mundaneness. And I hate using that word because it sounds like it's, like, derogatory, but it's not. It's like you write something that almost every day that you see it's mundane, and you turn it into something that's so creepy. And that's, you know, it's like it's something you entered. You try to study if you can't grab it, it's slippery, you know? Right. And I guess I guess the only thing you can do is a lot of my my own work is like kind of hard and punchy. Trying to get more I guess loose with it. And a really, you know, so I'm thinking that if I'm worried more quiet hard, then that's probably what I'm looking for, to get this kind of dread. You know, because I have a main character who is you know, basically throughout his entire life. He has suffered from nightmares he has suffered from pareidolia which is where he sees things that aren't that are mundane, but there's they're terrifying to him. You know,

Kevin Lucia 29:54

you know, another author, I would Oh, sorry. Go ahead. No, no, no, no,

Bob Pastorella 29:57

no, you're fine. Another author, I

Kevin Lucia 29:59

would read recommended it probably isn't brought up nearly as much. And Peter Straub loves this author. There's an author named Robert Aikman. And he, he didn't like to call his writing horror like to call them strange stories. And those ones were so subtle or you just like, this is really disturbing. I'm not sure why this is disturbing, but this is extremely disturbing. That was that was a huge impact to his work was.

Bob Pastorella 30:28

Yeah, he were basically these stories that you tried to the length of them, if you tried to get them published. Now, you'd probably exceed the word length. Oh, yeah, they were like, novelettes you know, they were. And it was like, he wrote stories back when stories were strong and big, you know? And it's like, now we need 2500 words. So it's like really? I'm doing like 810 Sorry. That's it. That's my typical short story 8000 words now but yeah, I'm familiar with with with him not as familiar as I've only read one volume of his work. So I'm definitely need to get more familiar with that. But that's, yeah, that's, that's what I need to look at while I'm trying to work on this story. Is I'm one of those people I like to do read while I'm writing and some people don't, but I do

Michael David Wilson 31:22

rely on the stand that this Halloween, you've got a new book come in from Thunder stone.

Kevin Lucia 31:30

So the horror at Pleasant Brook is my first novel full length novel. It is also my first work set outside of Clifton heights, but set in an even smaller town in the Adirondacks because I love the Adirondacks. And it is I would like I would hope that it is. is quiet would Quiet quiet slasher are quiet splatter punk is that a genre? I'm sure it has all the same sensibilities that I used to. But what I that isn't on my usual writing. But my real my real feeling was, you know, I want to write something that's reminiscent of those 80s small you know, small town schlocky sloth small town horror movies, or novels. I wanted it to be, you know, modern, though, I wanted it to be my story. But it was one of those novels where I one of those projects where I kind of my challenge was, what new interesting ways am I going to kill somebody in this chapter. That's what became my my guiding. And obviously, I'm probably selling myself short. I mean, there's still a lot of my normal stuff in there. I mean, when I started creating characters, whether it's quiet horror story, or it's something a little bit louder, like this novel, I'm obviously going to be looking for character development and really digging deep into them and their backstories and things like that. But this one, I just wanted to be like, you know, I kind of want to let it rip, you know, in a horror novel, you know, and that's, that's the horror at Pleasant Brook. And, you know, I was talking we were I had initially offered October nights to Paul at Hunter storm last year. But he caught COVID, around that time, that slowed things down, and we realized we weren't gonna be able to get out in time. And he was willing to do a limited edition of October nights this year. But I was like, No, I mean, it's already been out, you know, let me give you something brand new, or even better, I said, I'm probably going to be done my first novel, let me give you my first novel, I so that's gonna be limited edition, signed limited edition, the print run is going to be kind of decided by the pre orders. But if you've ever seen a thunderstorm book, man, those things are works of art. So I'm really excited for people to read it. I'm really excited to hold it in my hands, and really happy to kinda, it's kind of a milestone. You know, now, you know, I've had a couple of books and cemetery dance. And now I've got a book with thunderstorms. So that's pretty cool.

Michael David Wilson 34:03

Yeah, and I mean, all of these publishes that run by people who are passionate about books who are passionate about art, and you know, that they're not gonna skim. They're not gonna cut corners. They do this the right way. So I mean, well, a lineup to have things with Crystal Lake cemetery dance and thunderstone. I mean, you can't get much better.

Kevin Lucia 34:28

No, yeah. I feel very fortunate. Yes.

Michael David Wilson 34:31

And I mean, in terms of releasing a book at Halloween, is this now a tradition for you? And I mean, what do you see as both the advantages and disadvantages of that because obviously, you know, it almost goes hand in hand to release a horror book at Halloween, but because it does, it obviously means that so many other horror authors do it too. Yeah.

Kevin Lucia 34:59

I don't think is going to become a new tradition necessarily, although it kind of it like, I'm also the dark ties that I'm in. So I get you guys mature or have crystal lakes a dark tide series where three authors write novellas around a common topic. Mine is going to be in October, and it's going to be Halloween as a Halloween story, and even better, the other two authors who have joined me, I invited them to write their own cliffs and height stories. So that'll be that'll be interesting to see how that works out. And of course, more than likely, the horror at Pleasant Brook the following year will be out in paperback around the same time. I don't think I want to do that every year. You know, because I love and keep up that same kind of pace. But I've always wanted to you know, I'm like I said the drawback? Not necessarily ever the horror writers doing it. But like October nice, did awesome. It did really well. But it's October novel, a Halloween novel. So there's been a scattering of reviews since then. But it was mostly all the reviews were in September, October, November because of course, it was Halloween season selling, we'll probably put it on a Kindle sale again this year. So that's another reason why I don't think I'd want to always do a book on Halloween because, you know, they just that's just kind of how it's worked out. Because I've always wanted to avoid the timing was just never write. I've always wanted to love Halloween is my favorite time of year. You know, and I always have wanted to write a Halloween novel or Halloween book that's worked out last couple years. But I don't know if it's gonna be something I got to intentionally do from now on.

Michael David Wilson 36:45

Yeah, and speaking of those reviews coming in, in September in October, I mean, that's the thing that, I guess as writers and publishers, we have to consider, I mean, initially, when we put a book out, we can get a lot of buzz if we do our job, right, as marketers, but how do you keep people engaged with your time or once again, Bofors right around a publisher, when it's been out for let's say, six months, or eight months or nine months? What are you doing to, you know, ensure that you're still selling those books, and you're still peeking people's interest?

Kevin Lucia 37:26

Um, part of it, obviously, a certain amount of that is out of my control. You know, obviously, as a writer, and I know they always say this online, never revert read your reviews. And then I'm always late, but this is the fifth time I checked Goodreads today. I, first of all, I probably shouldn't, but I'm always checking all my books to see if there's a new review. So I'm never shy about sharing a review, you know, so I'm always kind of keeping an eye on my books to see oh, there's a new, there's a new review of mystery road this morning, I'm going to share that. Oh, there's a new review of the night road. So I'll share that I'll never be you know, Joe is great as far as consistently running Kindle countdown deals and all of his backlist, you know. So he's, you know, he's always trying to get it out in front of new readers and purchasing new ads and, you know, tinkering with things. And he's always kind of tinkering with the Amazon categories to try to keep them in, you know, under fresh eyes and things like that. So, as a publisher, I don't I'm not privy to all the things he does there. But I do know that throughout the year, he will let me know, okay, we're gonna put these three of your books on a countdown on sale, and you'll let me know and things like that. So now, like I said, as a writer, I just always kind of keep my eye, you know, on or if I haven't had any reviews in a long time, I'll just be like, here's the unabashed This is my latest work. Here's what people have said about it. You know, I mean, I post lots of stuff on my Facebook and Twitter. So the writing is on it says right in the bio that I'm a writer, so you expect that I post about my writing. But, you know, I post anything relevant to the writing any new reviews, any sales, things like that, um, you know, when they pop up in my memories, I'll share the covers things like that. You know, but that's the that's what I try to do as much as I can, you know, and, but of course, the inevitability of your oldest title, kind of, that's gonna happen, you know, and that's why I think it's also why it's important for younger writers, just to always keep writing. You know what I mean? You don't forget about the books that you had out there, but you should always be like, you know, yes, I got the horror present. The horror pleasant, Brooke on preorder. I've got the dark ties out in October, but I'm currently Editing a new one right now, you know, when I'm done editing that one, I'm going to jump to see I've got two other projects in the wings. So it's kind of a, do whatever I can to keep my books in people's minds. But sometimes you can't always do that. So you just make sure you focus on the next projects.

Michael David Wilson 40:17

It's pretty evident from talking to you that you have a lot of projects on the go right now. So you're not going to run out of any anytime soon, that's for sure.

Kevin Lucia 40:28

Well, I've always told people I said, my problem has never been I'm not having enough ideas. It's been which ideas are good in which art. I can't tell you how many stories have gotten to about 4550 pages, and this isn't going to go. Or at least, this isn't going anywhere. Right now. You know, all writers are pack rats, I'll put that in the trunk. And, you know, perfect example of the, the novella that's going to be coming out in the dark tides in October, that initially, I started writing that the summer before COVID. And then during COVID, I tried to write it and I wasn't in a good headspace. I don't think a lot of this work. So I just put it in a trunk. And didn't I really wasn't sure if I'd ever finish it. And then I took it out and started tinkering with it for October nice because it was a Halloween story. But Mike and it's not gonna fit. And then a little while later Joe's like, Hey, we're doing this developing. Do you have a novella? I'm like, Yes, I do. Even though it wasn't finished. I always I've learned that's another thing. If someone asks, do you have this? The answer is always. Yes.

Michael David Wilson 41:35

Yeah. Yeah, we you said that you're coming of age novel is the first time that you've properly outlined something. I wonder what does your typical process looked like going into writing a novel? I mean, how much see? Are you pantsing? And what kind of notes or ideas do you have? Because I'm, I'm pretty intrigued by you saying you'd only outlined once and then also say, and here are some ideas were at 40 or 50 pages. It's like, yeah, the gases run out.

Kevin Lucia 42:14

So it Bears Bears noticing that I've only outlined one novel. And I haven't written them. The floor at Pleasant Brook. I didn't have to outline that one. Because my, my intention was that with that one was to I wanted to try to give the characters depth. But I didn't make the plot very complex. Like I said, My my, my framework for that plot was cheap, 80s small town preacher feature, you know, so that was fairly easy to write because I didn't outline it. I've got two other novels. One that I want to start shopping around to an agent one that needs extensive rewrites that in addition to that, the pleasant and the horror pleasant Brook are the only novels I've ever written because I I found a lot of success pantsing short stories and novellas that seems to work for me, you know, I, I zero in on an emotion or the characters needs and flaws and how is he going to resolve those that he or she's going to resolve those things that usually works out? I've had so many novels, though, where I've gotten, you know, to 600 pages, and it just collapses under its own weight. In fact, one of the novels is waiting to be revised. I finally just threw my hands in the air. And I sent it to a good friend and colleague and an amazing writer. I sent it to random, Alfie. I say could you read through this for me? And Ron read through it and made some notes and he told me, you've got a good 300 page novel? somewheres. He's in the 6600 pages. I'm like, Yeah, I know. So um, yeah. So that nine not outlining novels has not really worked out too well. So that's, you know, so for example, the one novel that is I'm gonna be trying to talk to an agent, which is a weird Western, to weird Western involving Billy the Kid. That one I did extensively outline as well, because it just knew there is no way to get through, you know, the novel so. So yeah, that's that's kind of how it's worked out. For me. I don't have to outline my short stories and developers, but I've learned the hard way that I am not a pantser. When a correct novel. That is that has generated a lot of words in a very unproductive manner.

Michael David Wilson 44:42

Oh, yeah. Well, I wanted to talk a little bit about your work of cemetery dance specifically in an editorial capacity. So how did that first come about?

Kevin Lucia 44:57

Well, I've been involved with cemetery dance. Behind the scenes, probably as far back as 2011. I, back then I only had a handful of short stories published, I'd actually written a novella called Hyrum grace and the chosen one I wrote it that first V now gone shroud publishing. He, they had a little mini series about this, you know, monster fighter guy. And what I was good friends with Norman Prentice, and I brought on apprentice up to speak to my students at the high school that I teach at. And Robert and I were talking, and Norman's like, Hey, would you be interested in reading slush for cemetery dance? And I was like, absolutely. You know, because I learned in college, you know, reading slosh is a great way to just, you know, figure out the rhythm of what is someone trying too hard? And what is a story? Like, if you're caught up with all you know, all the if you're very aware of their quote, unquote, writing a story may not be that good of a story. If you're just like, halfway through the story, you're like, you're blinking. And you're like, what happened? That you're like, Wow, that's a story. So and I had that experience when I did slush reading in grad school. So I absolutely I would love the slush tree for cemetery and so I slush is some slush reading for the magazine and for their their first line of ebooks. And then, a couple of years after that, they offered me the review editor position because the person who handled the reviews editing position was moving on. And I was that I did that for several years. Ended up stepping down from that just because my writing was picking up. And then at the beginning of this year, I still can't remember the the QA came out of a conversation. But normally Prentiss was currently just the editor of the ebooks, they didn't really have a paperback line, they were just sort of publishing paperbacks kind of occasionally. And Norman so I wanted to let you know, first that I've got a full time teaching job again. So I'm going to be moving on from his position at CD. He said it's a part time, you know, part time position, part time pay, and he said, he said, I think you should throw your hat in the ring. And I said, even more I think you should pitch an entirely new ebook, paperback, small press arm of cemetery dance. You know, and, and do it through KDP. And, you know, Ingram, you know, so you can get on a regular publishing schedule. So I pitched it to Rich's Mar Chiz was talking chizmar Rich was totally on board with it. I think I almost called him the Chiz

Michael David Wilson 47:51

it don't sound like it. But I don't want you know what, why not? I mean,

Kevin Lucia 47:57

he's gonna be he's gonna listen to this and be like, alright, that kids getting too big for him.

Michael David Wilson 48:02

We'll get him back on the show. Hey, how's it going kids?

Kevin Lucia 48:10

So I just thought that was a great guy. Originally, it was a great idea. And so he brought me on and we started to build a small press arm of cemetery dance, republishing paperbacks, and ebooks, you know. It's an awesome, it's been an awesome development, because I've always wanted to be involved in publishing as well as writing. Like, right along in college, when I was trying to write my friends and I, we put together, we had grand plans for creating our own science fiction fantasy horror magazine. Again, we put it together and Carell, WordPerfect and Ninja copied it in a copier at our school. And we probably had one issue and that was it. But, you know, I sort of wanted to be involved in that end, as well. But I saw a lot of writers early on who would tackle, especially in the early days of print on demand, because everybody sort of wanted to be a publisher or do anthologies in the early days. And I thought to myself, well, let's just focus on writing first, let's let's establish a foundation there. You know, I, you know, because I love publishing, but I wouldn't ever Yeah, I love what I'm doing with cemetery dance now, but I wouldn't ever want that to overwhelm my writing. So let's wait and I just waited, you know, I waited for the right opportunity, you know, volunteered for a lot of places. You know, I worked as a contributing editor at shroud magazine when it was still around. You know, and this has turned out to be just a perfect opportunity because now I'm to the point where I've got a lot of dumb things that are done in the hopper, in waiting to be published my own work, and I have this set schedule where I get it every single morning and right. So I also am now doing publishing for cemetery dads and it's really been a great experience. You know, fight you know, having your reading work, you know, by authors and then it Creating their book together with the interior layout person and whatever art, you know, cover artists we've selected and, you know, finding ways to try to promote that book was really I'm just trying to, I'm kind of I'm not doing all the same things that Joe did, obviously at Crystal Lake, but I'm trying to adopt the same philosophy that you every release that we're going to we're going to have, you know, I'm going to try to put everything I can behind it. You know, and, you know, it's been great, you know, and I've got a great lineup of books to come, you know, I'm almost finished with my final reads of our first submissions, period, I'm probably going to have books booked out into 2024, you know, at this point. I mean, it's been it's been a really great experience. I've really enjoyed it.

Michael David Wilson 50:50

Yeah. And I know, when you were looking for things, one thing you said is if you have a novella or novel, which doesn't seem to be horror enough by other standards, then send it in. So I've got a relief, kind of like, This Is Horror and what we do with the podcast that you're really expanding that definition of horror. Yeah, I

Kevin Lucia 51:12

got a great like, for example, I accepted a great on a weird novella, by Nicole Cushing called the plastic priests, which, you know, may not necessarily fit the class definitions of horror, you know, but certainly, certainly unsettling and very kind of unsettling look at you know, belief and non belief and things like that and existence. You know, and I'm looking, I'm looking for it all. You know, I next October, we're going to be releasing that night in the woods, by Christopher Triana, great, great Halloween Horror slasher film, our novel great, you know, so I kind of want to, you know, I kind of want to find it all, you know, I, when I finally came on to the horror scene, you know, I discovered leisure fiction a little late, but I was able to enjoy their novels before they fell. And one thing that always impressed me about leisure is that leisure had something for every horror fan. You know, they had the Brian Keene novels the gourd Rolo or the, you know, the John Evanson novels, but then they'd have the Tim Ledin, or the Nate Kenyon novels, or very broad back, you know, they just seem to have something for everyone who are wise. And it's kind of what I would like to do at cemetery dance. You know, that's, that's, that's what I you know, what I want to do is have that kind of like, you're in a quiet horror, we got that you're a Creature Feature, we got that you ended slashers we got that or you end existentialist. existentialists, surrealism, Dread, we've got that, too. So

Michael David Wilson 52:49

yeah, now I wonder then, is there a type of horror or a type of aesthetic that you're not interested in? Or you're not concerned with either as an editor or as a reader? And I suppose that those answers might differ, you know, what you're interested in as an editor, or what you prefer as a reader might not necessarily be the same thing.

Kevin Lucia 53:16

I guess, instead of picking a instead of picking a specific genre, I guess what I would say is when the genre trappings begins with a genre trappings are far more important than the actual story and the characters that I'm not interested in, like, for example, I am not a fan of splatter punk by enlarge. But I love John skip the father's fireball, because he's a great writer. You know, I just read the scream on vacation this summer. And it was, it's an amazing novel. And sure, it was brutal, and, you know, pretty, pretty graphic, but it was just so well written, you know, so, um, I guess for me, it's like, if, if shock elements are, and there's no substantial story there, then that's something I'm not interested in, you know, I'm not interested in something for shock value only. Yeah, no, I want there to be a story. You know, you know, and that's debatable, like I said, also to, you know, things hit editors at different times, you know, maybe this read a manuscript and they just wasn't ringing my bell. But maybe I'll read something similar to that like a year later and be like, nah, this is what you know, that's that's the weird thing about it. But rather than saying there's a genre I'm not interested in, I would say that if there are shocking graphic elements to the story that simply just outweighing any type of story or character development. That's, that's not something I'm interested in.

Michael David Wilson 55:01

Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I mean, of course, we're with any sub genre. And that can be great writing, even if you don't, you know, necessarily vibe with the genre as a whole. So I mean, we're splatter punk, as you mentioned, John skin, but also, there's some masterful stuff from the likes of David scow and Joe R. Lansdale. Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah. But I'm wondering as well, what the kind of slush reading what the submission, reading looks like, because he spoke to a multitude of editors and publishers before and, you know, for some people, it can be that they read the first page and that, you know, they get an idea as to whether they're going to continue or not, for some people, I think maybe Nick mammoth task, they'll read the first sentence. And if that doesn't grab him, then he's out. But there'll be others, you know, godlike figures who first or perhaps silly figures who will read the whole damn thing. So what's it kind of looked like for you in terms of tapping out and knowing, look, this one isn't for me.

Kevin Lucia 56:17

So this summer, especially, because that's what I've spent was doing is reading through the first batch of the first er, open open submissions. I did two reads. The first read was exactly that. I read a page got a sense for it. If it didn't, like if I didn't put his way it was ever a point where I was like, I don't feel like reading this anymore. That should tell you something. Right. Yeah. Then with the second round, that's why I spent a little bit more time on each one of them. You know, and I got I got a pretty quick sense. 234 pages in you know, there were a couple where maybe I came back to and gave it a second try. And then, you know, now I'm in my final reads. And in I've accepted a lot of several of the final reads. There's no, there's more to go. And I anticipate maybe that'll happen with some of the final reads where I'll be like, Man, you know, but yeah, for me, I'm really, I've always been a reader first, you know, so, I mean, if you misspell a word here, or there is not going to be a big deal on anything like that. I'm not one of those type of people. But really, it's just like, do I really want to keep reading this? Or am I like, checking my watch as I'm trying to keep reading it, then? You know, I It's pretty quick. It's pretty quick. Yeah, hard sell for me, it's gonna be like, do I want to keep reading this sort of thing?

Michael David Wilson 57:43

Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. And it sounds like you've got a pretty meticulous process then nailed down. I like these different stages that you'll go in for your that's great. But I mean, as you said, like you get, and you write early every day, you're also doing all these things for cemetery dance. So I'm wondering, what does a typical day look like for you? How do you plan out your working day?

Kevin Lucia 58:17

So um, summers are pretty easy. Summer is a lot of times, I won't necessarily get up early. As you can imagine we're up late tonight. So I won't be getting up early tomorrow, because I'm a teacher. So I have the summers off. So summers are usually spent, I have found that as a writer, unless I'm chasing a deadline. I'm not much use afternoon. I'm usually good up until noon. And then as far as writing goes, so what I'll do is I'll spend an hour or two doing some writing in the morning, you know, and then and at breaking for lunch, and then I'll focus on my cemetery dance duties during the afternoon. When we get back to school, that's when I'll go back to my early morning, three in the morning writing, and then I'll do my cemetery dance work. When I get home from school, you know, I'm fairly able to tune out, you know, for writing I need like silence, you know, I'm one of those like, you know, I need my absolute silence with my little scented scented candle. But you know, i That's why I get up at three in the morning. When it comes to other work. I'm pretty good at tuning other stuff out. So the CD work done will get done, I will come home from school, we'll have dinner, do the dishes, and then I'll spend a couple hours out in the living room, doing my CD work, you know, hanging out actually, my wife actually likes me doing CD work better than what I sometimes do when I come home from work. And it's just plug my headphones in and kind of doze out to Netflix. At least if I'm doing my CD work, I don't have my headphones in. And she's like, you know, if you're gonna ask me a question I'll hear so yeah, but but that's what I will do. You know, I try not to do anything on Saturdays or Sundays. Again, unless I'm chasing a deadline or something like that, you know, Saturdays and Sundays, we just totally try to leave those off completely. Yeah, I thought it was cemetery dance, because they do other things besides just manage the line, you know, I've taken on, you know, updating products in the website and things like that. I have found that for whatever reason, that work seems to come in on Mondays through Wednesdays and doesn't seem to come in very much on Thursday and Friday. So a lot of times Thursday and Friday, after school. I'm not really doing a whole lot either. So.

Michael David Wilson 1:00:53

Yeah. Yeah. And in terms of the weekends, are you doing work then? Or do you know, I

Kevin Lucia 1:01:00

try to, if at all possible, I don't do anything on the weekends writing or publishing wise? Yeah. I mean, obviously, again, if a crucial eat of a crucial email comes of emails coming from authors, I'm not going to ignore them. I'm kind of anal, I'm kind of obsessive about that. My email is always open. I want to I'm one of those people who emails and goes, Why have you emailed me back yet? So when people email me, I try to email them right back. So if others contact me over the weekend, I'm certainly not going to ignore them. But I don't really try to do any publishing work over the weekend. Same thing with the writing. You just tried to take those completely off?

Michael David Wilson 1:01:35

Yeah, I am definitely not like that with an email. So if I don't email people back quickly, it's nothing personal. So

Kevin Lucia 1:01:44

Oh, no. Yeah, I'm obsessive that way. So I got a that's not a rational like, that's just why has this person email me back? Yeah. So I tend to make sure I answer everyone's emails as soon as I can.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:56

Yeah. Now, well, I'm sure people appreciate that. Well, I mean, we're coming up to the time that we have together today, but this has been enormously fascinating. And thank you again, for being so generous in terms of just like, spending this time with us and telling us

Kevin Lucia 1:02:21

it's been great. Have you really always enjoy just hanging out and talking about horror and stuff?

Michael David Wilson 1:02:26

Yeah, well, I mean, we'll have to do this again sometime. It certainly sounds like you have no shortage of things coming out in the future. So I mean, maybe we'll get you on for for the epic kind of coming of age your boys life on whenever that one. Yeah. But I mean, where can our listeners connect with you?

Kevin Lucia 1:02:57

Well, so I have two Facebook accounts. And I have two Twitter accounts. My personal Facebook account is let's see here, trying to manipulate things. So my personal Facebook account is KB Lucia, Facebook, backslash KB, Lucia. You know, my personal Twitter is, I believe, Kevin de Lucia, Kevin de Lucia on Twitter. If you want to look to learn more about cemetery dance, on Facebook, it is see the ebook paperbacks. Same thing with a Twitter role. That is cemetery ebook on Twitter for cemetery dances also on Instagram and I basically kind of run that as well. You know, that's really where I am most of the time is on those young and Kevin Lucia Twitter and Facebook. It has my writing and all the general mundanity and insanity that is my life. For example, a lot of people have heard me complaining about toast crackers, applesauce and rice all week this week because I've been battling a pretty stomach pretty nasty stomach virus all week. I'm on the upswing now. But so that's so the personal account is my writing just my random foolishness. The the cemetery dance, Facebook and Twitter, just all cemetery dance, just our releases, reviews, everything like that. All right.

Michael David Wilson 1:04:28

And do you have any final thoughts for our listeners? Okay,

Kevin Lucia 1:04:35

so I have to share this story. I guess my final thought is you really, you know, you start out in your urine, nobody and nobody knows who you are. And it's a little intimidating and it's very young imposter syndrome is a real thing. You're like, you're like, I'm never going to be this I'm never going to make it you know, whatever. But if you stay in you mingle and you get to know people and you go to conventions and you just stay in the game. Some amazing things can happen. Amazing things that you would just never ever dream of. And this actually happened to me back in 2011, and it's happened to me many times since. So I attended Borderlands press writing boot camp twice, you know, run by Paul Wilson and Paul Wilson and Tamati alone. Through meeting them, I also brought them up to my school to work with my students. They had mentioned that they had a friend in Binghamton. They're going to go see on the first night, and it didn't even occur to me that I have a friend in Binghamton, whatever. So I'm at home. thinking this is f Paul Wilson and Tom Monty alone. You know, like, Norman Prentice came to town and we went out had dinner. But I'm thinking I'm not gonna take those guys out to dinner. They don't want to hang out with me. That's as Paul Wilson, the guy who wrote repairman Jack and that's Tom Auntie alone. And here I am sitting out, just grading some papers. And then Paul Wilson calls me at home and says, What are you doing? I said, nothing. I like to joke that my house could have been on fire and I still would have said nothing. And he's like, he's like, we're over at our friend's house. You gotta come over and see this is pretty awesome. He gives me directions to his friend's house. Long story short. I love you guys are familiar with whispers magazine and the whispers anthologies of the late 70s and early 80s. I am Paula Tom's friend who lived in being attended with Stuart David Schiff. Oh, wow. The editor and owner of whispers magazine and the anthologies. And I spent the evening with Paul Wilson Tamati alone and Stuart David Schiff. Eating Chinese takeout and sipping scotch, and just sitting there and listening to them, like unroll this whole oral history of horror, sci fi and fantasy. And it was the most gobsmacking moment. There is why he called me over there. As an aside on a side note, Stu is a fanatical collector of things. And by things I mean nominally books. This is a man who, among other things, happens to have Steve McQueen's death certificate. I don't even know how you get Steve McQueen's death certificate. But he has Steve McQueen's death certificate. So he has this unbelievable museum of the weird in his basement. That's why they invited me over. But here's your I am a nobody. And I'm sitting here hanging out with Paul Wilson Tamayo and Stu Schiff. And they're just, they're talking about being generous with their time, they were just treating me like an equal and just hanging out. And I've been over to Sue several times since then. Even been over the stews by myself hanging out with him. And I mean, back in 2007, this would have been like, yeah, right, like it's ever gonna happen to me. But that was probably one of the most gobsmacking experiences of my career. And I guess if that's my final note to young writers, they just you never know. You know, you start out thinking you're nobody and not that I think I'm somebody, but I never would have thought these people would ever give me the time of day. And to be so generously invited over like that. That was that was absolutely amazing.

Michael David Wilson 1:08:39

All right, long conversation with Kevin Lucia. Very generous with his time and with his knowledge. So thank you so much to Kevin, for joining us. But next episode is the first of a a huge conversation with clay McLeod Chapman. So that will be dropping in a few days. But if you want to listen to it right now, if you want to get this ahead of the crowd, then become our patron@patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you can submit questions to our wonderful, wonderful interviewees. You can get exclusive podcast story unboxed a horror podcast on the craft of writing, when we analyze and dissect short stories and films, and of course, the q&a session so you can submit any question to me and Bob and we will answer them as also the writers forum over on Discord so you can get help with your current work in progress. You're part of a community we're all doing challenges we're all working towards bettering ourselves. And on top of all that, it would means so much to me if you support us, I'm going through some things at the moment, it will be invaluable. So if you didn't get sounds good head on over patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Have a bit of again though check it out, see if it's for you. And if it is, then join us. Okay before I wrap up a little bit of an advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 1:11:28

All right to wrap up to end the episode a little quote and this is from Kalispell grant I thought it would be apropos seeing as Kevin Lucia is such a big fan if all the world's a stage and all the people players who in bloody hell hired the director I'll see you in the next episode with Clay McLeod Chapman but until then, take care yourselves be good to one another or read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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