In this podcast, we announce and speak with the winners of the Fiction Magazine and Publisher of the Year in the This Is Horror Awards 2021.
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The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, narrated by RJ Bayley
Author Carson Winter presents Soft Targets, a novella of new weird horror out now from Tenebrous Press.
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 with the world's best writers and creatives about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today is the third and penultimate episode of our This Is Horror awards conversations. And today we are announcing the winners of the fix your magazine and publisher of the year. Now if you want to hear our other awards episodes and do listen to episodes 490 For novel a novella of the year, and 492 for short story collection and anthology at a year. But before we get into the episode, let us have a quick advert break.
Bob Pastorella 1:30
Carson Winter presents soft targets out March 22. From tenebrous press a pair of Office drones to discover a loophole and time that makes some days less real than others, allowing them to act on their darkest impulses without fear of reprisal. Their morals become more slippery and their fantasies more violent. And soon they'll have to decide what line they won't cross soft targets in timely reality bending novella about the easy surrender to violence in the addictive appeal of tragedy is entertainment. More information at tenebrous press.com.
RJ Bayley 2:02
It was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.
Bob Pastorella 2:11
From the crater of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly rousing video, his life descends into paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know. But who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything. Every one he loves. The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction for iPhone generation. Available now in paperback ebook and audio.
Michael David Wilson 2:40
Okay, well, it is now time to announce the winner of the fiction magazine of the year. And the nominees are apex magazine, fantasy magazine, and lamplight magazine, Nightmare magazine and a dark. Okay, let us go over to the winner now. And the winner of the fiction magazine of the year is nightmare magazine. And we have Wendy Wagner here. Wendy, how are you doing?
Wendy Wagner 3:28
Great. I am beyond excited about this. It's such an amazing honor and delight. So tiring.
Michael David Wilson 3:39
Yeah, and this is two years in a row that you've done this now. So yeah, it's a double achievement right there.
Wendy Wagner 3:50
It's, yeah, what a wonderful surprise. I just feel like we've had a lot of luck getting defined and work with terrific writers. And I'm so happy that we found stories that have resonated so much with the horror community.
Michael David Wilson 4:06
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, as as everyone knows, we are a little late recording the This Is Horror 2021 awards. So this may be a difficult question given we're now in 2023. But if you can recall, what the evening some of the highlights were for you in 2021?
Wendy Wagner 4:35
Well, two of the biggest highlights were, you know, in my first issue of 2021. In February, we ran a story by EA Patrick Kony called Oh, my gosh, the title of this links in my head is like the girls, the world forgot or something kind of like that. And it's a story about like the ghosts of all these victims. Some serial killers. And it was a fact. A horrible, beautiful, thought provoking story. And people responded to it so passionately, it won a Shirley Jackson award for novelette. And it was just really great. And EA, Petra, Kony hadn't been published in very many locations before this. And so they were just like, so excited to get their work out in the world. And getting to work with new writers is an absolute joy, and so fun and exciting and fat. That was just amazing. And then, the other big highlight of the year was we ran an extremely fun story by Gordon B white, and the story is called, it's meant to look like a Patreon page, right? was sort of inspired by Patreon, it's called Gordon B. White is creating haunted horror. And so it's like somebody has subscribed to a Patreon page, and they get these postcards and terrible things happen. And it was just so meta. And it was also fun. Because the story started out as flash fiction, it was quite a bit shorter when he sent it. And I felt like it could just be like, it had already had quite the scary premise. And I said, Hey, Gordon, you think you can make this a little longer? Because I feel like we deserve to be scared here in this environment a little bit longer. And he was like, Are we okay, whatever, then he was like, I had so much fun making it longer than good. It was. It was a real hit.
Michael David Wilson 6:49
Yeah, and I think that, of course, we are very aware that nightmare, always has a fantastic diversity of voices and highlights those from well from across the gamut from all spectrums. But something you have, of course, highlighted here and I wanted to bring up is that you also published your diversity of form, you're not afraid to take something a little bit experimental or unconventional. And so, I mean, a few things that came to mind, because I've, of course, been really focusing in on the 2021 fiction in preparation for this is you've got, let's see this taking control of your life in five easy steps by p h, Li. And this takes the form of a self help article. Now, as you know, a self help article that if you were to take literally you would probably go in saying that is a fantastic piece. You've also got darkness, metastatic by Sam game Miller, where there are all sorts of different forms within that story. So we've got a screenplay, for example. And it also, I mean, it includes a pitch email and document and that story is actually one of my favorites of the of the 2021. Yeah, I mean, there's so many to choose from, but I mean, in terms of these, like experimental forms, is that something you're actively seeking out? Or is it more that people are just submitting it because they know that nightmare a game for anything?
Wendy Wagner 8:50
I think part of our identity has become exploring different ways of playing around with telling story. Back in, I think 28 teen, you know, we have a story that was told as like an annotated bibliography Right. And, and that was such an unusual piece. But the writer found a way to make what would normally be this incredibly dry and dusty, scholarly piece, like chunk of information, tell a story. And that was such a neat challenge. You know, I felt that was terrific. And so that that is a big inspiration to me. Well, a piece we had in 2021 by and she, oh my gosh, I should have prepared better for this. I even it was all told in in like, it was like an article in a catalog for an art display an art show. And then it has all these different footnotes that tell like sort of this much creep Your story about the artwork. And I felt like that was a completely fun and original way to tell a story that only that writer could could have come up with. Because I do have this art history background. And that's so that's something I'm always really looking for in the fiction is finding a story that nobody else could have written. It's like unique to that particular writer and it feels fresh and exciting because of that. And yeah, if it can do something weird and fun, so much the better.
Michael David Wilson 10:35
Yeah, yeah, I think so. And, I mean, of course, you've also got experimentation in terms of parody, and pastiche. And one story that I'm thinking of, and I may absolutely booked here this off his name, so apologies in advance to them, but we've got some times boys don't know. Maybe by Dawn Yay. Oh, oh, my God, I got it. Right. I, I have a history of like, really badly, pronouncing names. So okay, I'm great. So that's by Dawn yay, codes. And that, of course, takes the idea. And I think everyone knows what I'm about to talk about where you've got men, not only writing bad sex scenes, but writing badly about the anatomy of women. And so here we've got this story where it's a parody of a girl who is completely comically enamored by a boy that she's just met. And I'm gonna read some lines from it, because this is a hilarious story. It's so easy to say yes. I want to say yes to everything he asks. Yes, yes. Yes. So that bit I love and then this is shortly before it goes full on crazy. He turns into an alley leads me into an abandoned building. Do you live here? I ask what a stupid question. Of course he doesn't. I know that. So it's just such a brilliant story. And I just realized that I'm not sure that there's a question attached to this. I just wanted to tell everyone was damn good story. It's
Wendy Wagner 12:42
I feel like that character. I mean, first of all, we've all been there when you like, meet someone, and you're smitten with them. And you just can't stop saying like, really dumb things and put it in your mouth. But also, this character does have like this delightful naivete. And to see how that kind of blows up at the end of the story winds up being a hilarious and gross and delightful treat.
Michael David Wilson 13:12
Yes, yes. People just need to read it. And it is another flash fiction piece. So they can read it very quickly. So there's absolutely no excuses for not checking that one out. And I mean, yeah, talking about flash fiction. I know that when we were speaking with you, and John Joseph Adams, last year, or probably more like one and a half years ago, at this point, you were talking about the importance of including more flash fiction, so I'm wondering, what do you think it is, that makes it such a wonderful vehicle for storytelling, and particularly for horror?
Wendy Wagner 14:01
Well, I feel like I feel like horror when it's distilled into a tiny little cap fuel. You know, take a punch right in your brain. And it's, I just feel like that tiny size can really impact you in a way that it's outside for the number of words. I've always felt that horror shorts, and the shorter the horror story, the more interesting it can be like as a young person, I loved reading short horror stories I love like Stephen King short stories, but I didn't really like short stories. After I like, as I got older and started reading more like literary fiction, it felt like oh, short fiction. That's something you're supposed to read. And I what got me back back into short stories was like discovering, like short story, horror, anthologies, and just realizing like, you could have just these tiny little horrible bonbons. And like, I think there's kind of almost a game and seeing like, how much can be done in so little space. That's another reason why we started running poetry as well. I think it's fun to have like a variety of textures and sizes in the magazine, it keeps it makes each issue have just like a more interesting shape, I think it's nice to have like a much longer story, and then followed by like a little poem. Just feel like your reading pattern. If you're shaking it up, it can make things have like a different kind of impact. And you can be, you can access more feelings. Without being so stuck in a rut or, you know, you've got to have like different rhythms and textures to keep it fun.
Michael David Wilson 16:23
Yeah, and I think having all these different types of writing, I mean, it can create as well, a kind of choose your own adventure for the reader. And obviously, depending on my mood, and also time constraints, there are going to be times where I want a poem when I want a longer piece of fiction when I want to read one of the nonfiction pieces. So in giving us such a broad range, we can dip in and out depending on our mood. So I think that is a fantastic highlight of nightmare. I mean, it's been voted fiction magazine of the year for a damn good reason. So there it is.
Wendy Wagner 17:09
Yay. I'm so glad that you like having all those different sizes and different categories to pick and choose from. Yeah, I like to think there's like a little bit of something for everybody, you know, like, some people do love, like having the opportunity to read that nonfiction. And some people just really want to read like long stories. And sometimes people want everything. And yeah, I just, I love knowing that we're like serving up a bunch of different flavors for people.
Michael David Wilson 17:41
And I mean, of course, the H word is a fantastic nonfiction column that you put out every month. And I think these pieces are amongst the most important articles for horror writers today. And there's always so much to ponder. I mean, one of the articles from December 2021 is ambiguity. What does it mean by Simon strand says, and I mean, this idea of suggestion of implying but not necessarily naming terrible events, or things. And I mean, in terms of ambiguity and horror, what are some of your favorite books or stories or films that play around with this?
Wendy Wagner 18:36
I think a good example that I think might actually be from 2021 is Ronald, Mel five come with me, which was a great novel featuring ghostly things. And it a lot gets revealed at the end. But you're sort of like, in a very nebulous and gray zone throughout the midpoint of the novel, where you're trying to figure out the backstory of this man or this man like missing wife, and or I guess everything she said, and then there are like, mystery elements. And that aspect of ambiguity is such a wonderful driver for the mystery. And also, because there are so many ambiguous things. You don't quite ever feel like you've quite have your footing here are very, like, is this supernatural? Is this mental is this other stuff? And it makes when horrible things happen makes it particularly exciting and confusing and difficult. And I thought that the way that he used ambiguity in that work was extremely successful. Yeah, definitely. One of my favorite reads from that year, that's for sure.
Michael David Wilson 20:03
Oh, yeah, definitely up there with the best of them. Let's check in Bob didn't want to jump in, I had a little, little noise of approval, but that's just that's just the classic Melfi approval noise evidently.
Bob Pastorella 20:21
Well, I mean, the article, and is probably one of my favorites of that year, because I'm real into ambiguity. And especially, you know, coming from Simon, who is, you know, probably one of the, you know, forefront writers of our generation, especially when it comes to ambiguity. It was very interesting, his take on it. And it's, it's one of those things that when you, I strive strive to read it, you know, in a story, I'm really I'm like, every story, I approach it like, Man, I hope there's a lot a level of ambiguity here. Because, to me, that only increases the tension. Is this real, this is not real is this, you know, a combination of both. And those those kind of feelings, that, to me, that kind of mirrors our real world, in a lot of ways we encounter things in the real world that were like maybe confused about or something and, and it's like, it's this is really happening, is this how things really are. And I think it's a good reflection, you know, and of course, like, what Simon says, you know, horror is is is, you know, is is a lens that we view the world from, and I think ambiguity can be also part of that lens, or at least a shade of that lens.
Wendy Wagner 21:51
Feel like the vast majority of other writing isn't as committed to using ambiguity as horror is, and for our genre, it's such a powerful tool. And it's, it's part of the reason why there's so much, you know, just weird stuff in horror, because being in an ambiguous situation, or being in a situation that feels weird or off, is, it's so unsettling and uncomfortable, I think, you know, that uncomfortable is kind of what horror does best, I think.
Bob Pastorella 22:36
Yeah, and we find comfort in the uncomfortable that is using the, you know, one word and twice in a sentence, but in totally different ways. And we find comfort in being disturbed. And when that ambiguity starts, it's like you there's a slip in reality. And it's, it's like when I when I encounter it, it's, it's, it's the coolest stuff. I love it.
Wendy Wagner 23:08
I agree. Me too.
Michael David Wilson 23:12
And another eight word column I wanted to highlight is better living through horror, by Donald McAfee. And I wanted to ask you as this is really what the column focuses on, but how do you think your life is better because of horror fiction.
Wendy Wagner 23:36
So I'm gonna rewind a little bit. And in 2017 I had a lot of depression for a lot of different reasons. It was a very difficult year for me. And I kind of just felt a little bit unplugged from the world and I wasn't functioning super great. And we got this video game that a friend that lent us is called until dawn. I don't know if you've met our video gamers, but it's Yeah. And it is full of jumps, scares. Really scary stuff. Hand, I started playing it. And it was like, I when I was playing it, I just felt so alive again. And I felt like afterward that it had recharged me somehow. And I just felt so much better about being alive than I did before I started playing that game. And it just seemed to me that when we confront really awful stuff in the form of fiction And then, you know, whether that fiction is video games or whatever media is in it is good for us, you know, and I after that I just really became committed to Yeah, Better Living Through horror. I, you know, I started writing horror and spending more focusing more on on emanating horror and just being more with involved with the horror community because I just think we live in a society that will often discourage us from being scared we have, we often have very comfortable live things, you know, we do our best not to be scared not to be uncomfortable. And I don't know that that's very good for us. And I feel like horror is a great way to practice being scared or practice being in unpleasant situations. And I am just a huge advocate for it.
Michael David Wilson 26:09
Yeah. Yeah. And what, an underappreciated a game as well, until dawn. I need to replay it now. And it's the kind of game where of course, there are various storylines. So is it well, worth replaying several times?
Wendy Wagner 26:26
Yeah, I agree. I would think I keep thinking I might do it. But I heard the same team put together a new game called the query that came out, maybe either last year or the year before. And it is very similar in the writing tone and the use of motion capture, and people say, it's very, very, very fun. And very, very scary.
Michael David Wilson 26:52
Well, there is another part. Yes, that one must have slipped under my radar. I wasn't even aware of it. But I appreciate it. Yeah.
Bob Pastorella 27:02
That's someone with with Ted rein us in that, or hey, yeah, motion capture, and his voice is in there.
Wendy Wagner 27:08
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Bob Pastorella 27:12
Yeah, I haven't played it. But I've seen I'm seeing some some gameplay of it. It looks fun. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 27:19
There's, there's so many good games that I haven't played yet. Because I mean, when I was young, younger, I was playing a lot more games. But then, I guess like, as happens, like when you're taking your writing more seriously. And as the podcast is editing, it kind of means that having time to play video games is, is more of a premium. But I mean, the good thing about that is it makes every video game feel like it's a lot better value for money. Because I remember when the original Resident Evil two came out, when in the UK, that was 60 pounds. So you know, I guess it was getting on for $100. And then I just blitzed through the entire thing in a weekend. It just felt like oh, God. That's that then But whereas now, I mean, I bought The Last of Us Part Two, whenever the hell that came out, and then maybe periodically every month or two or play about half an hour or an hour. And so it's like, wow, this is really good value. This is less than Yeah. I mean, admittedly, Resident Evil village came out, which then meant that the last of us to have to pause because any resident evil or Silent Hill, that's it, it becomes the priority. I just, I'm not sure what would I do if I was playing a Resident Evil and then a Silent Hill came out? That would be the quandary for me, but it hasn't happened yet. And yeah.
Wendy Wagner 29:07
Well, let me tell you brace yourself. The last. The last bit of The Last of Us two is pretty gripping stuff. Yeah, I would say it's one of the most emotionally devastating pieces of fiction I have ever engaged with. I mean, it's not quite a status of painted Bird by Ted Kaczynski. That's still not Ted Kaczynski Jersey because it's right up there.
Michael David Wilson 29:41
Votes for his when you said
Bob Pastorella 29:47
I get a lot of value out of games.
Michael David Wilson 29:50
Bob Pastorella 29:52
I was gonna say I get a lot of value out of games because I suck as a game player. Yeah, I mean, it's like I have in the game, it never fails. The game saves when I have no ammo and no and no health. So I come back, and it's a struggle just to stay alive. You know? Yes. And then it never, it never fails. That's, that's my intent. If it was any other way, I'd probably be disappointed. You know, because that's what makes it fun. It's like trying to figure out how to how to just survive. It's like, Man, if I get hit one time, I'm dead. I can't run here. It's just, uh, you know, you're just a madcap thing. And friends watch me play. They're like, going, Man, you are terrible. You are absolutely terrible. Like, but I love playing.
Wendy Wagner 30:43
As long as you love it, it doesn't matter if you're good, right? Yeah, exactly.
Michael David Wilson 30:47
Yes, it Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, you've achieved so much with night, man. In the past couple of years, what are your plans going forward? And what kind of things do you want to achieve? And to do to take it to the next level? Whatever. Amazing, or a level that might be that I can't even conceive of?
Wendy Wagner 31:12
Oh, gosh, that's a tough question. Right? Like, you always want to kind of one up yourself. But we have some fun surprises coming up this year, I think, you know, I've been sort of organizing our issues around themes. It didn't really mean to happen, but it just seemed like I'd look at like the stack of stories that I bought. And I was like, Oh, these all have something in common, let's just group them together. So we will have some themed issues. One in August this year, that might be linked to someone well known in our field, who has a birthday that month. And then we also on top of publishing. Horror at nightmare, we also published dark fantasy, and it's always exciting to try to figure out like, where the boundary is, and those worlds and, and how they crossover and things. So I think we'll be doing something in the fall that maybe really explores dark fantasy, a little bit more richly. And hopefully, that will be fun. So those are some fun things we have coming up this year.
Michael David Wilson 32:30
All right. Sounds fantastic. And, of course, a lot of people listening are also writers. So I would be remiss if I were not to ask, first of all, when submissions are open for nightmare magazine? And also, do you have any tips or words of advice for those looking to submit to nightmare magazine?
Wendy Wagner 32:59
Ah, well, I think I have been moving extremely slowly through submissions lately. In part, like, life has just been extra hectic and but also, you know, trying to make some decisions about making some fun stuff happened at the magazines. So I'm actually not going to open again, the submissions until fall, I think, like September will open again. And of course, you know, some of the things we've talked about in this podcast about exploring fun structures or writing that has really fun characters. To sort of like, weird, wild and unique flavored stuff is probably what we're usually looking for. So yeah, if you are a writer, and you're thinking about submitting when we reopened in the fall, think about that.
Michael David Wilson 34:09
All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us. And again, a huge congratulations on winning fiction magazine of the year.
Wendy Wagner 34:21
Thank you so much. So fun to come and talk to you and thanks for running these wonderful words that just you know, really help us I'll talk more about this terrific genre that we work in.
Michael David Wilson 34:32
Well, what a pleasure it wants to speak with Wendy Wagner of nightmare magazine. Nightmare have done it two years in a row with the magazine of the year. And Wendy is always full of so much positive energy and I can't wait to get to her again. So a rich congratulations to Wendy until all at nightmare magazine. Well, moving on, it is now time to find out who the winner of publisher of the year is an almost impossible category given this golden age of horror fiction we're living in. But we nailed it down to five of the best. So without further ado, here are the nominees clash books, grim scribe, press, me cat press, Titan books, and tall Nightfire. And now it is time to talk to the winner of the publisher of the year. And the publisher of the year in the This Is Horror awards, is grim scribe press. And I have Jon Padgett with me, Jon, congratulations.
Jon Padgett 36:01
Thank you. Thank you so much. This is a wonderful honor. Thanks to you, and Bob, and all of the This Is Horror staff and and all of your listeners and all to all the nominees, which as usual are phenomenal. Thank you.
Michael David Wilson 36:26
Oh, I don't to begin with why don't we go all the way back to the grim scribe press origin story. So how did things get started?
Jon Padgett 36:38
That is, that's a really good question. The, the genesis of it, I mean, it really goes back to really goes back to the late 90s. When, when I was I first got Thomas legati, online, up as as the website and then befriended Thomas legati, and started talking to him via email and over the phone and, and letters. And I remember at the time talking to Tom about what it would take to publish another omnibus of, of his work sort of like the nightmare factory, which, you know, includes multiple collections. And we talked about it Simon, and, you know, I was in my late 20s, at the time, and he said, Well, something like that, even a limited run would probably cost at least $10,000. And, you know, that that blew my mind. But, but it kind of planted the seed of, you know, I would love to, I would love to create a small publishing house, sort of like the, you know, legendary Arkham house that August Derleth and Andre put together so many decades ago, and, and, you know, I decided that if, if, if I did put together a publishing house like this, that it would be kind of devoted to not only look at his work, but but other authors that were either influenced by legati or one of legato these influences or happened to be writing about the same kind of themes. So, you know, that the idea of it was that long ago and it wasn't until 2015, actually, on the website, Thomas legati, online, that one of the one of the members mentioned, you know, it would be great to have a magazine that had you not only you know, like guardian or legati to adjacent fiction, but also nonfiction, articles, artwork, poetry, hybrid pieces, etc, etc. So that's where the first idea of vast area came from. And, and from there, you know, we started talking about it the handful of members, including the the phenomenal, writer, Matt Cardin, that you know, who was interested in helping to put this together. And I was and and about four other individuals, including Matt were, and we very deliberately talked about mission statement and a list of influences exactly what we would want it to look like. The name obviously, we had to come up with and we had a number of names to begin with. And finally, bylaws, you know, we, we really, it was a deliberate and and very thorough process. And we didn't actually open to submissions until I think 20, the summer of 2017. And at the time, we could only afford to pay a cent, a word. And then we had a fundraiser at the beginning of 2018 through Kickstarter, and that was successful. We got, I think, triple what we needed for that first year to kick us off. So we bumped everything up to professional rates. And, and then we had the first issue come out of three issues in 2018. And, and from there, I think we started publishing other work early in. Late in 2019. We, with Nicole Cushing's, the half freaks, and then early in 2020, with Christopher slat, skis, the immeasurable corpse of nature, which was a collection and, and from there, things just kind of developed, and our big year so far, really has been 2021 the, yeah, that that year, we we were lucky enough to publish a huge collection of of stories from Gemma files in that endlessness, our end, which won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Collection for 2021. And then anti societies by the great Michaels Cisco, which kind of ran under the the radar that year, but which is just phenomenal. And all original 10 original works. And after after that, our our final collection of the year was Kurt farmers collection, which was also of phenomenal one, we are happy we are doomed. And so yeah, and and on top of that to double issues of vast area. And so it was it was quite a year for us that, that that's not that big of a year for for a lot of presses, even small presses. But for for us it was it was a lot because, you know, that year, I was the I was kind of the one person running the show at grim scribe. So it was it was a lot of work. But it was it was a real it was real labor of love. It was absolutely fantastic getting getting that kind of work out there.
Michael David Wilson 43:48
Yeah, we're Nast will have already been announced at the point that this segment goes live. Gamma is actually one the short story collection in the This Is Horror was two. So we had a recognizing that.
Jon Padgett 44:05
Yeah, it's it's been it's been a real it's been a real treat to work with her and, and her next. short story collection is coming out from us as well. It's called blood from the air. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It's, it's, it's really, I mean, everything that Gemma writes is is amazing. I mean, yeah, she's absolutely one of the best writers out there. I mean, we're just over the moon to be able to publish your work.
Michael David Wilson 44:46
Yeah. And talking about the work that you publish. I'm wondering what the kind of grim scribe press. E fasten aesthetic is and how If at all that might differ slightly from vegetarian.
Jon Padgett 45:05
Yeah, that's, that's actually that's actually a great question. Although there's there's just so much there's so much overlap. For instance, if you know and in thinking about what we want from creative and nonfiction work, Gemma files Michael Cisco, Kurt Faber instantly comes to mind. You know, we, we ended up naming the Journal of vegetarian after the, the forbidden book from the, the titular legati story. And we there, there was a quote that we that that really spoke to all of us, when the protagonist first becomes first sort of, is consumed by the world of this book, because it's really, it's not just a book, it's a it's a real place. And it's the part of the quote goes rampid oddities seemed to be the rule of the realm. Imperfection became the source of the miraculous wonders of deformity and marvels of Miss creation. There was horror, undoubtedly, but it was a horror, uncompromised by any feeling of lost joy or thwarted redemption. Rather, it was a deliverance by damnation. And if best Aryan was a nightmare, it was a nightmare transformed in spirit by the utter absence of refuge nightmare made normal so nightmare made normal kind of became our our little jingle and so when when we're looking for work for not only bass Darien, but also grim scribe, obviously we're looking for for very weird fiction, nonfiction, art, Excel, etc. A lot of it could be said to be informed by philosophical pessimism, Gnosticism, Buddhism, surrealism, that the decadent movement pessimistic and morbid poetry and all that comes with that? aberrant psychology you know, talk about that corporate horror is, is is actually a big Touchstone as well. And we're very interested in in crossovers, hybrid work, a combination, or in definable work. That's not quite nonfiction, not quite fiction. blendings of art and poetry. You know, we're, we're, we're looking for really uncanny work, or work that that inspires in the readers or viewers that that feeling of kind of living in a haunted world.
Michael David Wilson 48:50
Actually, when you think about trying to capture that feeling, do you remember the first time you got that from fiction, and I'm wondering, was that Ligety? Or was that something that actually predates your reading of legati?
Jon Padgett 49:07
Yeah, my my answer is, there is probably pretty typical. The work of Edgar Allan Poe, tales of mystery in the imagination, I mean, I there was a copy of it. My parents house and I read it when I was eight years old, and in that really, that really did the trick. I was already my my first real encounter with that world, though, I have to say came from the television anthology show. The Night Gallery with Rod Serling the doll the Algernon Blackwood adaptation and I was only four years old when I saw it. And, you know, my mom and dad had a running argument about whether I should pay watching the show or not because it was it was all horror related. And my dad thought it was fine. And, and the killer doll in the in that in that episode really haunted me. And I had recurring nightmares about it for five years, nearly every night. So it really, really deeply affected me and, and that might be why. Also partially why like God, He spoke to me as a reader so much later on. So a combination of that, and an older brother who, who tried to scare me almost every night by making up horror stories that were supposedly true every night. So by the time I got to Edgar Allan Poe, it was the first time that that's something I read gave me that feeling of, of unreality and a nightmare world living adjacent to ours. But it wasn't the first time I had felt that by a longshot.
Michael David Wilson 51:29
Yeah, and I had many recurring nightmares growing up as well as I think a lot of us, you know, did but I wonder, has the dough nightmare ever came back in your adulthood? And is there a part of you that wonders if it will?
Jon Padgett 51:48
Well, you know, it's funny, because when I was about nine years old, I, I be, I was having the last time I had a true nightmare about her. I was nine years old, and I realized that I was dreaming I started lucid dreaming. And, and, and the doll was chasing me and i i literally turned around. And you know, this, this, this doll. Viewers are can look this up. She was she had this hideous grin, you know, like, like, just this this marvelous and horrible. Grand. So, you know, as, as the little thing was, you know, gliding towards me, I turned around, and the ground kind of just started fading on the doll's face. And I could feel my own face, turning into a replica of the dolls. And I grabbed her and tore her limb from limb and woke up laughing. And it was it was the last time I had a nightmare about her. I have had dreams that have had her in them. But I can't say that they were nightmares. She no longer terrified me. So yeah, and after after that I got I got scared of ventriloquist dummies. Yeah. Which is why I became a ventriloquist.
Michael David Wilson 53:30
Yeah, and if anyone wants to know about that, there were extensive conversations in the This Is Horror Podcast archives, where we got deep into, you know, all of that business. I love that we've done nightmare. I mean, it has such a narrative arc. In fact, that's the perfect ending. And yeah, I mean, you confronted the monster you didn't just confront the monster, you decimated her into pieces?
Jon Padgett 54:02
Yeah, I did. Although although it at the at the time and looking back, it's a little disturbing to that I kind of became her. Yeah. To defeat her. I became her witch, you know, and of course, she was me all along, you know, I mean, from a psychological perspective. That's, I always had, you know, I always had a tendency to want to look, when I would look in the mirror even as a child I would I would grin at myself, you know, and try to scare myself. So yeah, I've I've always been kind of creepy.
Michael David Wilson 54:45
Well, I'm wondering, we've grim scribe, who is the current team behind grim scribe, because obviously, you've mentioned working with Matt Cardin. I believe you've also worked with Paul Well a rash and Daniel Brown, but I'm not sure who is the kind of current lineup and what is each person doing.
Jon Padgett 55:07
So I'm the editor in chief of grim scribe, Paula D. Ash is an associate editor, as is Daniel Brom and Alex Jennings. They, they've been fantastic. And it's wonderful. Having helped, again, putting these these issues together, specifically, as far as the press is concerned. Otherwise, you know, I intentionally, I intentionally decided that I, that I was going to publish fewer books, but have more with more care put into them. Because, you know, as, as I'm sure you're aware of, and many of your viewers are also aware of, there are many small presses that that bite off more than they can chew, and, and end up in kind of a bad situation when they over promise. And under deliver, I would like to under promise and over deliver. Yeah. And, and, and it's just aside from vast areas where I am getting this wonderful help, it's just me. So, you know, I, I have big plans for the press in the future. But I'm being very deliberate about the process towards that. I guess this whole conversation started with, with legati. And, and I should say that I'm the literary executor of legato he's literary estate. So if I outlive him, it is up to me to make sure that his work is read as widely as possible, and that it is protected. So that's, that's one of the kind of possible future responsibilities that grim scribe press is going to help. Help with. And I'm, I'm very, I take, I take that responsibility very seriously. And, and really, you know, spreading legati is work to as large an audience as possible, has been one of the primary goals of my adult life. And also one that I've taken very seriously. And and I think I'm, I think that crimps, crud, and vast area and particularly, has really helped to do that.
Michael David Wilson 58:25
Yeah. And you said to me, all fan that, of course, this year marks 25 years of Thomas legati. Online. So I mean, is there any,
Jon Padgett 58:39
we're actually older, we're older than Google. Google, we predate them by several months. So it's kind of a neat factoid. Yeah. What were you going to ask? I'm sorry.
Michael David Wilson 58:54
Well, well, what will you be doing to mark these 25 years?
Jon Padgett 58:59
You know, there's so much going on. And in just, I mean, by the time this comes out, I'll already be out but this book here from Penguin Classics, songs, a bidet dreamer and grim Scribe is coming out in audio format, in just two days, February 21. And thanks in large measure to the the grim scribe press audience. I'm one of the narrators, one of the two narrators. For the book I was lucky enough to read all of the stories except for one. Alice's last adventure which the phenomenal voiceover artist of Linda Jones reads and this is a I mean, that really, that really was a dream come true. I mean, a long time dream. I've been recording legalities work, you know, to begin with for my, my own entertainment since the early 90s. And so this is this is a huge fruition. Aside from that there are a number of publications that are coming up. So there's, there's a new legati book called pictures of apocalypse, which is a long poetry cycle, but it's it's very narrative. I mean, there's some lyric stuff in there as well, but it's very narrative, as well as phenomenal stuff. And that that's coming out in March. Later in the year. Crampton legato, he's a script that he co wrote with Brandon trends is is being re released. And And finally, this as well not actuary and the spectral link, which have been long out of print, and and I'm lucky enough to with pictures of Apocalypse I, I did the typesetting and the and a lot of editorial work. And I'm doing the same with not not wearing the spectral link. And I wrote the foreword to Crampton. So a lot is going on in the legati world. So it seems like none of this was particularly planned for 25 years of Donald's legati online, but it still feels like it because it's all happening this year. And, and and before I forget, one of the one of the big things that is coming up in June is the night lands Festival. It's it's a brand new festival that Cadabra records has put together. So it's it's two days, first weekend of June of June. And it's bringing together just a ton of of people who've worked on these, these Cadabra records in the past. And some real legendary names. Andrew layman is coming to read the Dunwich Horror and lurking fear myself Lawrence R. Harvey, from the centipede to Yeah, the to movie and Robert Lloyd Perry is going to be reading eltron and Blackwoods the the willows which and Mr. James count Magnus. I'm reading a couple of legati stories. And and Harvey is reading rom pose, the human chair and the caterpillar which is phenomenal. And we actually are are the musicians and especially Chris zone are going to be providing live scores that go along with all of these stories. And they're going in the stories are going to be introduced by luminaries like Michael Cisco and S T Joshi ton of the artists are going to be there. This is all going on. And it's in Hammond to New Jersey and a former Catholic church called the cathedral with a que. And the day before that, the day before the festival that kind of pre festival is the the launch of pictures of Apocalypse by Thomas legati. And that both the book and the record release which has the full book on it, in which I will read with Chris BISM and Matthew and Bartlett will also be there reading that night and that one is June 1. Haddonfield, New Jersey at the book restoration binary. So this feels it to me, it feels like the closest thing that we've had yet to kind of legati con, which is another thing that members of Thomas legati online have talked about for years so 25 years, you know, it's it's coming together.
Michael David Wilson 1:04:59
Goodness I asked you what you had planned. I should have asked you what don't you have planned this the festival? Those sorts of books. Wow, what? I know that I was just gonna say I know that if Bob wish he would have been saying multiple times that he has his credit card ready, because so much. There's so much there. Now I want to get a hold off. And like what when you started talking about the audio book, so I didn't even know this was coming out in two days, I felt my kind of heart racing just didn't that way that when it's something you're so excited about? So I mean, I want to know, where can I get this from? It's just gonna be on Audible and on Google Play and all that kind of?
Jon Padgett 1:05:52
Yeah, it's it's a bit it's available in preorder now. Just look up. Dreamer, Darren Mackay. Well, I think I think the only other Yeah, yeah. And it's, I say this in all humility. It's the best audio, this the best voiceover work I've ever done. And a large part of that is because, well, I love I love the stories so much. And have for so many years, and I've read them so many times out loud, either recorded for myself or, or for friends. Initially, and, and also working with Penguin, penguin, Random House audio. They they had a director that was live with me via zoom. Who would stop me anytime I garbled a word or or mispronounced something? Or? Or if if it just didn't sound right to him? Or if he had, you know, a suggestion. And this guy his name, who the directors name appropriately enough was Joseph grim. And the Yeah, I mean, who here but he did a phenomenal job. And, you know, the whole team there really, really was kind and, and helpful every step of the way. So I really feel like this this book is does justice to legato, these masterpieces. And, and it's a different experience, you know, hearing, hearing the work as it is so, so strange, because, you know, there's some, there's some people who are kind of put off by legati. And, you know, they just can't get into the work. Those people I would, I would ask to give the audio book a shot. Because there there's something about legato is work being spoken aloud. That that really gives it a different dimension. I'm not saying at all superior dimension, but it's a different dimension. And it's, it's more accessible in my opinion, to be heard, rather than to be read on the page. It's it's not for its legati so it's not for everyone but but you know, they're they're just there's some work that he's written especially that is just made to be read aloud. So many of these, these pieces are in my opinion, and I'm eager to see what people think.
Michael David Wilson 1:09:06
Yeah, no, I I cannot wait and I'm not gonna have to wait very long, good. Oh, two days, maybe even one day because, you know, being basically timezone tomorrow. Tomorrow is
Jon Padgett 1:09:22
right. Yeah, it's not gonna be much more than 24 hours over here. So
Michael David Wilson 1:09:28
yeah. Well, I mean, we're coming up to the time that we have together but I'm wondering, what are your goals for 2023 and beyond for both grim scribe and vegetarian?
Jon Padgett 1:09:44
So that Starion kind of Bessarion is a it's such a strange project because it always feels it you know, we Do the work on it, but it if feels like it, it's sort of putting itself together. It always has the it always has that feeling, you know, we choose the work and then once the work is ready to be put in an issue, it just kind of works, I'm not sure how it just comes together. And I'm, I'm really eager to see the work that Paula and Dan and Alex have have chosen out, works in and is put together that will be coming together really soon. There is there is a, like I said, the gem of files book that is coming soon. And at this point, I'm thinking that's going to be probably coming out in the fall. But there is also there's also work that I'm that I'm very that I'm very eager to share with everyone you know, back from the very first from the very first issue of vegetarian, we received a this this brilliant essay by a licensed clinical psychologist who uses the work of, of Thomas legati both his fiction and nonfiction in his work with troubled children. And, and he he goes by a pseudonym. But he wrote a series of essays about this, it really scholarly essays and it's called trauma and discovery, rebellion against the conspiracy against the human race. And it's, it's quite something it's it's unlike anything that we've, we've published again, you know, it's it's nonfiction, but it's also it's also something else. But it is absolutely you know, it's it, it's absolutely it's absolutely mind blowing the work itself and the author talks about his own experiences as a child who went through really really traumatic childhood and whose life was saved by reading Thomas legati his work so that that is coming as well. And that's what we're focusing on in and as far as the future is concerned. I think your the books that you're going to see from grim scribe in the future will probably include more names that that most readers are not familiar with. There are a couple that I can think of that that I can't talk about yet but that that should be seeing debut collections and they are authors that have appeared in vast area so I'm very excited about that. And and I think that you're going to continue to see a lot a lot more of marginalized voices as well. You know, when we started vest area and we you may remember we got like some some pushback on that first issue because most of of the TOC were white males. Now that is definitely not the case and it hasn't been the case since then we really we caught we we course corrected I mean we were we were trying to seek for diversity to begin with, but we weren't trying hard enough and and it's opened up a whole new world which is fantastic. We We publish so many great you know, one of the one of the groups that that really see our contributor groups that really seems drawn to that stereotype is our, our non binary and gender fluid folks. It's just phenomenal, some phenomenal work that I'm just very excited about. And, and this makes sense to me. I mean, we're all any anybody who is drawn to the god he's worked work in any way or work like that. So many of us feel like outsiders, and have lived lives in which we struggled with depression, anxiety, worse mental disorders. And and so, you know, it's, that's been my number one favorite thing about VAs Darien, the effect that that had is I really feel like it has opened up the audience to just a larger universe. And in the end, it's it's all about community. Just like Thomas legati online.
Michael David Wilson 1:16:24
Yeah, yeah. And I love the grim scribe, as always, you know, just being about the aesthetic, and being about the values and the authenticity of the, you know, the publisher, it's never been about, like, let's get these big name offers. It's always the story first. And so that's Yes, exactly what we're getting, you know, go going forward. And of course, there will be people like, gamma and and now Kurt, but almost largely because of grim scribe, who people are familiar with, but I'm excited to to find out, you know, who, who are these debut collections buy into discover these new voices? And I mean, that's one of the most exciting things about being a reader and being a fan of literature, discovering new voices.
Jon Padgett 1:17:23
Absolutely, absolutely. And there's so many voices out there that are that that are unheard. And, and I like to think that that one of the, one of the important things that vegetarian does is that it accepts work that a lot of, of other magazines, and journals might kind of turn away from for one reason or another. Maybe even because they're just too weird, or, you know, oblique or, or they don't exactly fit, you know, the vision of of other other journals, you know, I'm always surprised by the, the high quality of, of the submissions that we get, and if you look on paper, are the percentages that we, that we accept are, are higher than a lot of other other publications, and yet, the work is just so fantastic to me. It, it makes me it makes me happy. Doing this work really has, you know, especially after the you know, it came out a couple of years after my own collection came out, and it was just so, it was such a relief to kind of leave the self promotion behind. And which is, which is work that all, you know, authors have to do, but it was just it just had become so such a burden and and doing a project like pescetarian and grim scribe press, it just felt very cleansing. That's all I can say it was just, it's, it's a wonderful thing.
Michael David Wilson 1:19:32
Yeah. And I don't think you should be surprised that the high quality of submissions, it just goes to show you know, the seriousness that people kind of hold the sterian kind of in and I think you know, if you're gonna submit to history, and you better bring your A game and so a lot of that is down to, you know, yours and the team's hard work. So yeah, congrats. collations to yourselves.
Jon Padgett 1:20:02
Thank you. Thank you.
Michael David Wilson 1:20:04
Congratulations again on winning publisher of the year.
Jon Padgett 1:20:10
Thank you so much. I'm shocked and honored. And I, you know, I think it's, it's such a it's such a group effort. I mean, when I think about, you know, all of the, the vegetarian contributors, and
that that year, we had a couple of really remarkable covers the cover art by Anna Truman and Daniel hark. And, and, of course, you know, Gemma, Mike, Kurt forever. You know, it just, it was a year that that things just really, really came together was a very difficult year, as it was for almost all of us. So it's it's very gratifying, seeing that, that work that was that was published that year resonated with the readers, and I'm most grateful to them.
Michael David Wilson 1:21:27
Congratulations again to John Padgett and all the good people at grim scribe press on winning publisher of the year. Well, that almost does it for another episode of This Is Horror. But before I wrap up, it is time for a quick advert break. It was
RJ Bayley 1:21:47
as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.
Bob Pastorella 1:21:55
From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly rousing video, his life descends into paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know. But who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and every one he loves. The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction for iPhone generation. Available now in paperback ebook and audio or carts Carson winter presents soft targets and develop new word horror out March 22. From tenebrous press a pair of Office drugs to discover a loophole in time that makes some days less real than others, allowing them to act on their darkest impulses without fear of reprisal. Their morals become more slippery in their fantasies more violent. And soon they will have to decide what line they won't cross soft targets in timely reality bending novella about the easy surrender to violence in the addictive appeal of tragedy is entertainment. More information at tenebrous press.com.
Michael David Wilson 1:22:55
As always, I would like to end with a quote. And this is from Ryan Holiday and his fantastic book, The Daily stoic and it is something that I have been pondering recently is something that I am conscious of, you know, throughout my life, this is something that I returned to numerous times each year in fact, so here we go. The more you say no to things that don't matter, the more you can say yes to the things that do. I'll see you in the next episode for our conversation with Max spoof the third in which we go deeper into his short story collection, abnormal statistics, but until then, take care yourselves, be good to one another, or read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai