In this podcast, Joe Sullivan talks about Cemetery Gates Media, publishing, and much more.
About Cemetery Gates Media
Cemetery Gates Media is a publisher of horror and supernatural fiction from Binghamton, New York, founded by longtime friends John Brhel and Joe Sullivan in the summer of 2015.
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- House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson
- Video version of the This Is Horror Podcast conversation with Joe Sullivan
- Watch video versions of This Is Horror Podcast conversations on YouTube
Everyone has a story about Posthaste Manor. None of them end well, but that doesn’t stop the hopeful from hoping and the desperate from trying. This Halloween, authors Jolie Toomajan and Carson Winter present POSTHASTE MANOR, the history and eulogy of one very haunted house, as recounted by the artists, poets, beloved family pets and mass murderers who have been touched by it. Raise a glass in celebration, just don’t linger for too long.
House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson
From the author of The Girl in the Video comes a darkly comic thriller with an edge-of-your-seat climax.
Denny just wants to be the world’s best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank. Then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half-sister who demands he uncovers the cause of her father’s death.
Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions?
House of Bad Memories is Funny Games meets This Is England with a Rosemary’s Baby under-taste.
Bob Pastorella (00:00:36): Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers, and creators. I'm Bob Pastorella and every episode alongside my cohost Michael David Wilson, I chat with the world's best writers about writing life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now I'm standing in from Michael David Wilson today for the intro and outro as Michael's voice has gone missing, but rest assured we're going to find his voice and for better or for worse, Michael will be back soon. Today we're chatting with Joe Sullivan. This was recorded as part of the Special House of Bad Memories. This is our podcast weekend to coincide with the release of Michael David Wilson's House of Bad Memories. This is a particularly special conversation with regards to the release of House of Bad Memories because Joe Sullivan is the publisher, editor and founder of Cemetery Gates Media, the publishers of House of Bad Memories. But before we get into the conversation, it's time for a quick advert break. Everyone has a story about post-haste manner, none of them in well, but that doesn't stop the hopeful from hoping and a desperate from trying. This Halloween authors, Jolie, tma, John and Carson Winter present post-haste manner, the history and eulogy of one very haunted house as recounted by the artist poets, beloved family, pets, and mass murderers who have been touched by it. Raise a glass in celebration. Just don't linger for too long. Post-haste Manner out October 18th from Tenus Press
(00:02:15): House, A Bad Memories, the debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery Gates Media. Denny just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank. Then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half sister who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death. Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions? Clay McLeod Chapman says, house of Bad memories hit so hard, you'll spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Pre-Order, house of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson and email@example.com or an ebook via Amazon. Okay, with that said, here it is. It is Joe Sullivan on. This is Horror.
Michael David Wilson (00:03:08): Joe, welcome to This Is Horror. This is the first in our Epic House of Bad Memories Weekend of shows, and it's so apropos to kick off with yourself, the publisher of Cemetery Gates Media, who of course have put out House of Bad Memories. How are you doing?
Joe Sullivan (00:03:30): Oh, I'm doing great. Happy to be here. Excited to finally get your book out.
Michael David Wilson (00:03:35): Yeah, yeah, me too. It's been a long time coming in many ways this journey for me, so I'm delighted to be here to be doing this, but I want to talk about you and I want to go all the way back to the beginning as I do with a lot of this as horror podcasts. I am wondering what were some early life lessons that you learned growing up, and they don't necessarily have to pertain to writing or publishing, but anything that you learned during those formative years?
Joe Sullivan (00:04:15): Formative years, formative years, just general. I played in a lot of sports teams growing up and just the general, do what's best for the team, do what's best for your family, just real basic values. I started to still try to live by those and try to teach my kids that.
Michael David Wilson (00:04:34): Yeah. Were there any particular moments where that kind of became obvious or I don't know, something happened on the sports field? I say the sports field as if it's every sport is the same field. What sports were you playing growing up?
Joe Sullivan (00:04:53): Baseball, basketball, soccer, a little football, pretty much anything that anyone would play. Balling. I liked the ball too when I was a kid. Yeah,
Michael David Wilson (00:05:04): Yeah. And what about in terms of, I mean the artistic side, were you reading from an early age too, or were you more a sports kid and then kind of gravitated towards the arts a little later?
Joe Sullivan (00:05:21): Oh yeah. I always enjoyed reading the goosebumps and scary stories of Tell in the dark, scary stories. My mother read Ed gra Poe to us when we were kids, and she realised pretty quick that me and my older sister, we enjoyed scary stories, so she'd read us a lot of scary stories growing up. So yeah, I continued to read that I elementary age and up into adulthood really just any type of spooky book I could find, I'd pick up.
Michael David Wilson (00:05:57): Yeah. How old were you when you were having poll read to you? That's quite the introduction.
Joe Sullivan (00:06:03): Yeah. Probably five, six years old, probably real early. Yeah, pitting the pendulum. It's one of my earliest memories of her reading a story. Yeah, Casca Monte that was in there, just the classics of Poe.
Michael David Wilson (00:06:26): Oh, that's good to hear then, because my daughter will be turning six next year, so I know then I can get her onto Pope pretty quickly. This is the age to be doing it.
Joe Sullivan (00:06:39): Yeah, one of my boys is really into horror and my youngest daughter, she seems like she might be into horror. She's starting out with the Scooby-Doo. She's only four, so maybe we'll move her onto Pope pretty quick or pretty soon.
Michael David Wilson (00:06:54): Yeah. Yeah. So are you living in quite a horror household at the moment? Is everyone into horror? Is your wife into horror too?
Joe Sullivan (00:07:03): My wife's not too into horror. She wrote a Halloween kids book, so I guess that's as far into horror she go. But yeah, we like Halloween here in our household. Scary going to the pumpkin farms and all that.
Michael David Wilson (00:07:20): Yeah, yeah. I mean, the fact that she wrote a Halloween book, yeah, that's a fair sign there. She's into horror on some level though. I mean that's quite the commitment.
Joe Sullivan (00:07:34): Yep. There's some, I mean, she likes to fall, so I think she just doesn't let me, I wants me to go off the deep end with Halloween, I guess because my favourite holiday, which horror people, that's kind of our favourite time of the year. You typically,
Michael David Wilson (00:07:54): Yeah. Yeah. If you were to go off on the deep end, what would that look like if she was like, you can do anything. What are we talking here?
Joe Sullivan (00:08:05): We'd have a haunted house and she had the kids come all the way through and the neighbourhood kids come all the way through. I'd turn the whole house into a haunted house. It'd be open. Yeah. I think that's what I'd do if she let me. I don't think she would though.
Michael David Wilson (00:08:19): Would you go as far as to turn it into some sort of McKay me manner? I
Joe Sullivan (00:08:25): Don't
Michael David Wilson (00:08:25): Think. Yeah, if you did that, it would arguably be the last H that you would ever do available. Now, by the way, by Max Booth, not based on McKamey Manor, just he's called Gus McKinley. Very different to Russ. Yes,
Joe Sullivan (00:08:44): It's not Ru. We've had a couple discussions about the possibility of him at least sending us a cease and deist letter, so a little bit nervous about that, but I think people really like that book. It comes out the October 24th.
Michael David Wilson (00:09:06): Yeah, yeah. Well, me and Max had a conversation about our releases that will be up imminently, so he clarified many times. It's just because this happens and that happened in a gamey manner. It's different story, different book.
Joe Sullivan (00:09:26): But yeah, totally different. I didn't put the disclaimers not based on any real life person or entity. A lot of people put that in their books, and that's probably something I should have put in his book. People have werewolf stories and they'll put something like that in there. Vampire stories.
Michael David Wilson (00:09:49): I mean, it just seems, with a lot of publishers, that's kind of just a template copy, so even if it's like this is some weird space opera, it's like, oh, not based on real events. It's like, well, glad you clarified that, but I guess it's a good way to legally cover you, which you haven't done for that particular book, but nevermind. You'll be okay. Let's not worry about it now.
Joe Sullivan (00:10:21): Yeah, I do have a shut out back, so I guess I could, if I really wanted to be extreme, I could turn my shed into a little mini McKinley manner
Michael David Wilson (00:10:35): And a McKinley rather than a McKinney manner. Just to clarify. Yeah,
Joe Sullivan (00:10:40): Not McKinney manner.
Bob Pastorella (00:10:42): Does everybody in the neighbourhood, did they all do around here? People tend to decorate a lot during this time of year. So do you have people across the street? Is there any type of competition, kind of like this means war from a tales of Halloween with the decorations and stuff like that?
Joe Sullivan (00:11:08): No, unfortunately people do decorate, but it's not like it used to be. I actually lived next door to the house I grew up in, and when I was a kid there was Halloween. I think Halloween was celebrated more when I was a kid than it is now in the neighbourhood. Yeah,
Bob Pastorella (00:11:26): I think a lot of people, they kind of use it as an excuse to start decorating their house, getting it ready for Christmas, and so they go, oh, it's time. Let's do Halloween. And then they do a little bit for Thanksgiving, and then next thing you know, you can't even drive down the streets at night, like, God damn, the lights are so bright because it's Christmas time. But yeah, I put up my Halloween decorations first at the end of September, and no other neighbours had 'em out there. I live in an apartment complex and now there's like 10 apartments that happen, but nobody's got me beat so far. I'm waiting on somebody to put up a 12 foot tall skeleton or something like that, but I got some pretty cool shit. Yeah,
Joe Sullivan (00:12:12): Cool. Yeah, I always decorating the house for Halloween and the outside. It's nothing special, but it's just I try to add something new every year.
Michael David Wilson (00:12:21): What's the new edition this year?
Joe Sullivan (00:12:24): It was just another spider. We have a spider and a spiderweb, so I added another brown spider to partner with the black spider. It's pretty big. Flexible climbing over the front porch. Yep.
Michael David Wilson (00:12:39): Yeah, it's cool. Yeah, I hope there are some Halloween watches that notice every year. It's like, oh, there's the new detail. We got a new spider this time. Some good stuff right there. But I mean, from reading Goosebumps and Poe and all of that good stuff. When did you first decide you wanted to get into publishing, and were you writing before that? So I mean, I'm interested in not just the origin story of Cemetery Gates Media, but what you had been doing creatively in your life up and before that point.
Joe Sullivan (00:13:25): Yeah, I always was interested in trying to write a story since I was a little kid, trying to emulate R Stein, try to write in that style. My problem when I was a kid was just you didn't really understand how to fill a story. You don't really understand the parts of a story, how it would go together. It was just kind of a block of text, I guess. And then in high school, really, my teachers would say, you're a pretty good writer, you should work on it. But my grammar probably until I was in my mid to late twenties was terrible in terms of writing. And now my friend John Burrell, who I eventually became writing partners with, he was a copy editor and he went to journalism school and all that. So he really helped me out to, I guess, become a writer in full instead of just a dabbler, I guess.
Michael David Wilson (00:14:29): Yeah. So what does your writing look like now? Your writing routine or your focus on it? Because obviously with Cemetery Gates Media, you are putting out a decent amount of books, not just every year, but every month. So one imagines, and I can say from experience and publishing some books via this is horror that it might not leave that much time for your own writing.
Joe Sullivan (00:15:00): Yeah, I don't know how you could really publish. We publish about 15 to 18 books a year now, and I don't know how you'd be able to really write that much and edit and publish, get all these books out. Me and John kind of burnt out from writing in 2019, and that was kind of when, but late 2018, we started with the anthologies and started doing that. So I kind of transitioned from a writer to a publisher pretty quick, and it was kind of seamless, really. We wrote so much. I wrote so many stories in such a short amount of time. It was really three or four years, and then I was really genuinely burnt out from writing it. I felt like we had small goals publishing a few books of our own certain novella's, longer stories we wanted to get out, and we got 'em out, and we did our mean Scary Stories to Tell in our Dark Illustrated style book with Chad Warley. And so I kind of felt like I accomplished the things I wanted to, so I was happy to start publishing other people's stuff full time.
Michael David Wilson (00:16:22): And do you feel that that scratches the creative itch for want of a better word? Or do you feel now, I guess, what, five years on, is there part of you that wants to get back into the writer saddle or you have a writing junkie, you're getting those twitches, you want to start the pen moving?
Joe Sullivan (00:16:49): Definitely. There's story ideas I get every once in a while and I'll write 'em down, and sometimes I'll even go through the motion of a first draught and then it's, or if I see an idea from somebody who has an anthology call or something and I really like it, I'll go through the motions of writing it out. I usually won't go through further draughts or develop it though, because usually I'm off, oh, I got to edit a 90,000 page book right now, so I got to go off and do that. But I feel like at some point I will write more because the short story is my favourite form as a reader and as a writer. I mean, short stories aren't too time intensive really, once you get going.
Michael David Wilson (00:17:40): Yeah. And I mean, how did the conversation come about that you and John decided to form Cemetery Gates Media? And I mean, there's a lot of independent publishers that we see kind of come and go, but I feel that Cemetery Gates Media from the start has been a publisher that's showing like, look, we're doing this the right way. We're paying our right as fairly, we're putting out a quality product. So I imagine that there were kind of conversations beforehand as to what you would need to do if you were to do this properly. So maybe some dos and don'ts and some rules that you put in place, but I'm just interested as to how this all came about logistically.
Joe Sullivan (00:18:36): Well, when we started writing a book of stories together and we had the idea we were going to finish it, I mean, me and John have had different projects throughout our life that we worked on together. We were in bands together, wrote music together, and it never seemed like the things that we were doing ever really worked out in terms of having a finished product that you were proud of that you could show other people and possibly even sell to other people. So it kind of felt like that. We go through the motions and do it for fun, write together. We wrote together probably when we were in college, eight in college, have an idea to write a book, like a zombie book or something when zombies were super popular in the early two thousands. And we'd have an outline, we'd spend hours on it.
(00:19:31): We even start a rough draught just the very beginning. We get sick of it and move on to something else. It's like, oh, let's go write a couple Autumn, a Tum Americana type of songs or something, and it'd be a whole different project we'd move on to. So then we were writing the stories, and it was the summer of 2015, it just seemed like they worked out. He'd write a story and I'd go through it, and we kind of write hand and glove together. A lot of the stories every other, I'd be in his living room pacing around, we'd be talking about it and he'd be writing it down. We actually had a finished product. We were proud of our first couple books and took a couple years and we started to have success selling books. And then at a certain point we thought, well, we had a couple of different ideas for anthologies.
(00:20:30): So we reached out to some people he knew because he did interviews and columns for Cemetery Dance Magazine, and they said yes, and eventually that became the first anthology. And he got, so yeah, when he burned out, we were working on this anthology together. He moved on to do an art kind of spooky cartoon art. He's got a fairly popular Instagram following now for this art. He sells the stickers and stuff at sea, and I kind of just fell in love with the publishing aspect of it, I guess, and kind of been pushing that since about 20 18, 20 19.
Michael David Wilson (00:21:19): Yeah. And in terms of the Anth, I mean, these days you've branched much more into novels and novellas. A lot of publishers talk about how anthologies can be difficult to make that money back on. Is that your experience too? Do you think at this point of cemetery Gates media transitioned away from anthologies? Are we going to see them return? What do you think the future looks like in terms of the publishing output?
Joe Sullivan (00:21:58): When we first started into anthologies, I mean, I guess a lot of our books, it was me and him writing short stories, so I guess you could call it anthologies. And they did pretty well. So then around 2019 into 2020, the anthology market had kind in terms of horrid kind of just disappeared. So we were one of the few anthology people putting books out, and they did really well and they were successful. And then at some point, everyone kind of got back into it. I think it just cycles in horror because at one point Crystal Lake seemed like they were doing anthology every month, and then they stopped. It seemed like they totally stopped, and then everybody else wasn't really doing it, and we just kind of slid in there and put a few out, and they did well and they made their money back and all that. But more recently, in the last couple years, I'd say they market has just totally saturated with anthologies. If I wanted to put an anthology, I don't know if I'd make my money back. Even just doing a small 12 story anthology. There's a few different reasons I think for that, but it's like a long, boring conversation that would be a long boring conversation about why the anthology market is more or less dead.
Michael David Wilson (00:23:21): I mean, I'd be interested in some further insights if there are particular bits that you think are less boring, shall we say. I mean, as we've said before, the podcast is for people who are interested in the nuts and bolts of publishing and writing. So it might be boring if it put out as primetime tv, but for the particular audience, I'd be keen to hear some of your thoughts as to why you think the anthology is well, failing as maybe too strong, but not being as kind of successful or as financially viable as it once was.
Joe Sullivan (00:24:08): I'd love to do more anthologies. I have a couple that I had in the works and that I had to put off. I think I will do 'em eventually, even if they end up being a loss. But yeah, I want to be careful. I will get in trouble for some of my thoughts about why the anthology market, it's not a dead market in terms of interest. It's a dead market because there's no way to make money on it unless it's pre-funded by a crowdfunding. That's the only way you can make any money on it. Right now, people think that we're anti crowdfunding, which is crazy. I mean, that's how we made one of our most popular books was called Corpse, called New American Folklore, and that's how pretty much we funded the beginnings of publishing other people's work. We had extra money, so we started publishing other people's work in anthologies and then eventually, I dunno, novellas and novels.
Michael David Wilson (00:25:10): Yeah, no, crowdfunding can be a tricky one, but as the nature of this particular weekend of podcasting is that we have limited editorial capacity, we can move it along to another topic, and we don't want to accidentally, we are like, oh, well, we launched the book, and how of bad memories was doing well until I fucking got Joe cancelled. So we'll move towards something else. But I mean, speaking of moving on, what goals or aspirations for the future of both your own writing and creative trajectory, but also for Cemetery Gates media, do you have
Joe Sullivan (00:26:05): Well, in publishing other people's work, I feel like it's part of a creative act. I have an idea of where I want the publishing to go, what kind of stories I'd like to see come out, ghost stories, haunted houses. I don't really get sick of those, but when people come to our website and they just look at our covers and they start checking out our books to feel like, oh, there's a through line here. And it started out as me and John, and now it's my idea of what a cemetery Gates book would be. I feel like that's partly a creative act, and I find joy in that.
Michael David Wilson (00:26:46): Yeah. If somebody asks you to distil the cemetery Gates Media aesthetic, or if they asked, what kind of stories are you looking for? Is that something you could easily answer? Because I mean, for me, there really is a wide range of stories that you put out.
Joe Sullivan (00:27:11): Yes. It's the thing I'd always say, oh, supernatural horror is the core, but then I'd happy to stretch out what it means to have a cemetery Gates book come out. Like Ross Jeffrey's books. He's not really into supernatural stuff, and he's more of a literary type writer, and Gemma Moore is kind of, she loves the supernatural, and so it's, I always say the same thing. I'm looking for supernatural horror, but then I'm always willing to stretch that out. Having Chad Lutz's collection. And he's completely anti supernatural horror really. Although he has one of my favourite stories that was in, I think it was Midnight in the Pentagram or Midnight in the Graveyard, and that's definitely a supernatural story. I don't know if I'm supposed to mention those books anymore though.
Michael David Wilson (00:28:10): Well, being mentioned, what you're going to do, I mean, in terms of your own preference, if you're not reading a book for publishing and you're purely doing it for pleasure, is it more supernatural that you gravitate towards? And is that the same with movies as well?
Joe Sullivan (00:28:38): Yeah, I guess I'm pretty one path in my interests, but I don't know. Yeah, the Supernatural Slasher, the Haunted House, the Ghost, the movies like sinister or just along the, I'm pretty basic in terms of my interests. I just love Ghost, ghost stories, haunted Houses.
Michael David Wilson (00:29:06): Yeah, it turned up on my social media that it's already been 11 years since Sinister was released. I remember watching that at the UK premiere at Fright Fest when I actually used to live in the UK rather than spending all my time in Japan now. But it's a really good movie, and that was the first in a good while at the time that I felt really affected me. So that is, if people want an 11 year old movie recommendation, you got to check out sinister.
Bob Pastorella (00:29:53): It came out at the same time they had Insidious or around that same time in the Conjuring when those movies started coming out. And the first time I watched it, I didn't watch it at a theatre. I'm not a theatre person, so too many kids and sticky floors and all that. I'm just out, so I have a home theatre. So a friend of mine had got it on, so I said, okay, we'll watch it. And I figured it was going to be like the other movies. That movie fucking rocked my world. I had no idea of what I was getting into. And there's lingering imagery from that that has infected my own work, and it's just very, very powerful for pretty much a commercial film. The first film was quite successful in its job, and it had a wide release. It gave me a lot of hope at the time for horror. I was like, okay, this is cutting edge shit right here, because there's a ghost story, there's a supernatural slasher, there's all of this sense of evil, and it gave me a lot of hope. And of course, I think that kind of really kind herald the beginning of our trajectory of what we have in a new horror renaissance and all that. I don't know if you feel the same way, but that's how I feel.
Joe Sullivan (00:31:26): Yeah, I do feel like movies like The Baba Duke and it follows and sinister. There was kind of a chasm, I guess in the late two thousands. There wasn't too much much to speak of. It was like the Ring came out. And then between that and then sinister and those movies there, guess there was a dearth of horror that was interesting to me during that period. Yeah, I think that has to do with, there really seems to be a wave of interest in horror in the last five, 10 years. I'm sure the movies have something to do with And The Witch, yeah, the movie The Witch, gosh, that's probably when they come out 20 16, 20 17. It's been a while for that one too.
Michael David Wilson (00:32:19): Yeah, there are certain waves of horror, and I do think, as Bob often says, we are living in a golden age right now. And I mean, I think with the likes of Ari Asta and Jordan Peele, and then obviously as you mentioned, the witch, Robert Edgars, is that right? Am I getting his name right? Those three, it's like, this is the kind of unholy trinity of directors and whatever they put out, I'm going to watch their films. And then of course, we've got Mike Flanagan producing some of the best work of his career. We mentioned sinister, so the things that C Robert Cargill is doing, and in collaboration with Joe Hill, putting the black phone out. So we're getting some just really interesting things at the moment. And Benson and Moorehead, I'm going to keep thinking of people that are contributing, but I mean, we're only talking about the horror movie LANs at the moment, but I feel too that we are getting, goodness.
(00:33:42): There's no way to really put this without sounding a little bit snobby, but we are getting kind of a thinking man's horror. We're getting things that are more than just like a surface level. There's existential things, there's philosophy. We've certainly moved in a direction where each film is very, very layered. And that's not to say that obviously things like slashes can't be layered. I mean, there certainly are other layers, but it just seems to have taken it up to a whole other level. I don't know if you both agree with that. I saw on Bob's face maybe some disagreement. I'm used to that by now. But yeah, you can weigh in with your thoughts.
Joe Sullivan (00:34:36): Oh, yeah, I think horror has definitely changed, I guess since we were younger. There's definitely more room for, I guess, the literary, and I think it's sneaks into mainstream books and independent books, and people don't shy away from it anymore. I'm just thinking about different authors that are like Gwendolyn Es and JW McCarthy. They kind of walk the line between the literary and what we used to consider the mainstream horror.
Michael David Wilson (00:35:13): Yeah. Yeah. I saw from Bob's face that he had something to say. He had strong opinions. So go on then. Vol, what have you got?
Bob Pastorella (00:35:22): Well, I thought for a secondary, you were going to say elevated Michael, and that's why I was cringing. I was just waiting on you to say it, but it does seem, without using that word, that horror has somewhat become more intelligent. And I like that it's allowing writers and creators to get weird and without having to worry about getting weird. I think that there was kind of like the stigma a long time ago that if you got too weird with the story, then you were going to turn people off. I mean, some of my early experiences with very, very strange fiction came from the Della Bis line, and one book in particular I'm thinking of is Michael, Michael McDowell's book Toplin, which is fucked up. I mean, it's about as weird as you can possibly get. The only publisher who would ever touch something like that at the time would be Abyss.
(00:36:26): They were the cutting edge. They were basically big money, but very, very small-minded, not in a bad way, but in a good way of this kind of indie horror. And they really kind of just nailed it. And unfortunately, they happened right at the end of a horror boom and things happen, but we're seeing more intelligent horror now. I think that horror has always kind of been intelligent, and it's definitely layered, but we're seeing more writers being very creative with how they're putting these stories together. And I think it's a sign of the time. So we have people gotten smarter. No, but they're writing smarter, they're writing more intelligent, and they're putting a lot of feeling and emotion and a lot of personality into their works. And I'm sure you're seeing that you probably get your fair share of submissions, and probably I would have to bet that throughout the years that the quality has probably gotten better rather than worse.
Joe Sullivan (00:37:38): Yeah, I'd say so. I'd say so. It does seem like it used to be you receive on an open call, you'd get stories that, I mean at face value, just the mechanics weren't very interesting. And then you'd start to get where most submissions people could tell a story, but maybe it was, the story itself wasn't very interesting. It didn't really go one in the last few years. It's just like, I mean, any manuscript I could pick up was just, it's like, I could make this work. This is good. This is a good story. And you get just so many of those and tough saying no to everybody for just most everybody. Yeah, there's definitely more skilled writers in whore now than I think any point before in terms of skilled storytellers.
Michael David Wilson (00:38:37): And when you are reading those submissions, I mean both for anthologies and for standalone books, I mean, how much are you reading until you kind of feel like, okay, this isn't working. I'm going to have to abandon this one. It is a rejection. And then how much do you typically read when you feel like, okay, I got a good feeling. This could be an acceptance. And I mean, obviously you, you're going to see how it concludes because a story can succeed or fail on that ending sometimes. But I'm wondering what your reading time looks like and when you feel like you've got a kind of cemetery Gates media appropriate title.
Joe Sullivan (00:39:31): Sometimes when I give an acceptance, I'd tell an author, oh, this is exactly a cemetery type of story when we accept them. But you could tell sometimes on the first page, but I want the author to be able to tell me in the first page or two, give me the gist of what's going to happen in the story. The beginning determines the end. It's kind of like a criticism, like a western story, but I prefer having some sort of information that makes me want to keep going to the end. And some books are, I'm sorry, some stories will be kind of not super interesting in the beginning, but you just keep reading because you get an idea of where it might go, and then the ending might be fantastic. And then it's sort of a judgement of whether is a reader, just any reader going to be able to get to that point, get to the fantastic ending, or you just going to stop at the beginning of the story. So I typically give a few chances in a story as long as it's not. I mean, a lot of times at face value, you can see this isn't written at a professional level, but most stories I give them, it's different with the longer stories, a manuscript for a novella or novel too that usually want them to tell you what's going to happen in the story. So then you could decide then it's a decision of whether they're, they're storytelling voice is interesting when you read those, the longer manuscripts.
Michael David Wilson (00:41:08): Yeah, quite a few people have said they didn't predict where, how some bad memories was going to go. And I mean, hell from the opener with the father, Denny and his daughter May looking up at the popcorn ceiling, could have anticipated chapter 22. Then you got some nossa style ability, if you're not sure which chapter, chapter 22. Yeah, the one that a lot of people are having strong reactions to, let's put it like that. I only know that it is 22 because so many people have told me, they're like, oh, man, when I got to chapter 22, so I had a look. And it's like, yeah, yeah. Okay.
Joe Sullivan (00:42:04): Yeah. The first time I read that, I definitely had to pause a few times. I'm like, I wonder if he's going to go further than he's already gone. And in terms of my taste, it was fine. I appreciated the gore and the gruesomeness and that you didn't actually go, there was a few places you could have went a little farther that I think might've turned me off, but I think it's palatable for the average horror reader really
Michael David Wilson (00:42:34): In terms
Joe Sullivan (00:42:36): Terms of it's not going to turn. You get to that point, you're probably not going to just do not finish. You're going to keep going.
Michael David Wilson (00:42:45): Yeah, no, I'm sure that that will probably turn up in the live event that we're recording in a few hours, so I'll save some of my commentary for that one. But it is just exciting seeing different people's reactions. And I did think that that chapter could be for a number of people, a do not finish, and they put the book down. But when I was talking to the people on Dead Headspace, and I mentioned that to Candace Nola, she said, well, at that point, you're so invested that even if you have to take a breather, it's like, well, okay, let's see what happens next, because where the hell do you go from there anyway?
Joe Sullivan (00:43:41): Yeah, definitely. You're pretty invested by that point in terms of what's going to happen with Denny and Yeah, it's pretty deep in the book.
Michael David Wilson (00:43:53): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we're literally over halfway through at that point, so it's like surprise. Got you. With some extreme horror that you weren't anticipating. But I mean, going back to you mentioned in your interest in the Supernatural, I want to know what beliefs do you have? What personal beliefs in terms of the supernatural or lack thereof?
Joe Sullivan (00:44:22): Oh, yeah. I've totally invested in there being haunted houses and ghosts and all that. My whole life I've kind of sought that out and dark places, cemeteries, all that stuff. But watch all the programmes with the ghost hunters on tv, and it's kind of like the aliens too, the same sort of hope, I guess. It's more of a hope that the weird and bizarre and the supernatural exists, whether or not, whether or not it actually does exist. It's kind of fun. I guess it's more fun than a really deep personal belief that the supernatural exists.
Michael David Wilson (00:45:03): Have you had any experiences that could be construed as supernatural?
Joe Sullivan (00:45:10): Yeah, there's a few times where I was genuinely probably the most scared I've ever been in my life, just being home alone or out at night. And it just really does feel like there's something there that's not just a raccoon behind a dumpster or something. There's generally some sort of spiritual entity, whether it's good or bad. I can't say, I'm not going to come out and say, oh, yeah, I don't believe in ghosts or aliens, but I'm not exactly totally convinced that stuff exists either. The same thing. I'm a fence sitter in a lot of ways, I guess.
Michael David Wilson (00:45:55): Yeah. Does this fence sitting for one of a better terminology, does this also apply to your kind of belief in terms of God and the afterlife? Is it kind of similar in terms of how did we get here? What happened? Is there a God? Is there a creator? Are you also straddling that fence as if some sort of fast buckaroo, like it's too early here, the metaphors are better in the book?
Joe Sullivan (00:46:31): Well, I was raised Roman Catholic, so that's kind of ingrained in me whether or not I've gone to church in 20 some years or whatever. So it's, that's something you can't really ever totally cleanse yourself of, I guess. I'm not sure how to describe that. But yeah, I definitely would call myself an agnostic. I would never say I was an atheist.
Michael David Wilson (00:46:55): So when did you switch from identifying as Roman Catholic to agnostic?
Joe Sullivan (00:47:06): Probably after my confirmation. I'd probably say at that point I was a believer. And then not too long after that, I would say, yeah, I'm not really into a Roman Catholic church anymore. But yeah, I don't know ever since I was a kid. You're curious about, well, your parents say some things, your parents said some things were true, but then they admit that, oh, yeah, those weren't true. We were just saying that it's just such a basic thing as a kid to just kind of question whether just everything really. That's how I was.
Michael David Wilson (00:47:43): Yeah. Yeah. Well, going back to, I mean, horror and to Cemetery Gates Media, what can you tell us about future commissioned books? What have you got coming out?
Joe Sullivan (00:48:04): Yeah, we mentioned Max's book, the Last Haunt that comes out on the 24th of this month. And then after that, two books, two Novellas, Ellie say's, got a book called The Death Doula. It's another haunted house possession type story. And then later in the month, there's a book called Saw Tooth, a Monster in the Woods type of hiking horror book, which I'm really from Steph Nelson. I'm really excited about that. And then usually December, we don't publish any books because it's kind of crowded month already. And then next year we already got quite a few novels and Novella is ready to come out and a couple collections too. So we haven't really got given up on the collections in short stories. We've published one from Ken Kane. We published one of his collections this year, and I think I have three schedule. We supposed Laura Keating, we're supposed to put her collection out this year, but got delayed. So Sonora Taylor's collection, Gemma Moore's collection next year, and Laura Keating. So we're still doing the short stories, just not quite the pace we were before.
Michael David Wilson (00:49:16): Yeah, I feel that short story collect collections perhaps an easier sell than anthologies, and particularly just the logistics as a publisher that you've only got one author that you're dealing with, so there are less moving parts. And yeah, I mean, I think a lot of us within horror we're huge fans of the Short Story, such a great vehicle to tell a horror story. So I'm excited that, yeah, I'm glad that you are still pushing collections. Yeah, I want to see more of them. And collections have been amongst some of the best fiction that I've read this year. I mean, we mentioned Max Booth, he put out Abnormal Statistics via Apocalypse Party press. We've seen Eric La Rocker's collection, Josh Mallon's collection. I'm pretty sure that Paul Tremblay has put out a collection this year. I haven't read it yet, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It does exist. It's out there. I need to read. So yeah, I'm glad that you're championing that.
Joe Sullivan (00:50:31): Yeah, I don't think I'd be publishing books if there wasn't a collection or some short stories in there. I mean, it's still my favourite thing to read. I do back the Kickstarters for the anthologies that come out and I read through them.
Michael David Wilson (00:50:50): No, there you go. It's not anti Kickstarter,
Joe Sullivan (00:50:55): Regardless of its effect on the overall market.
Michael David Wilson (00:51:02): You're just flirting with cancellation. It's like, oh, I backed them. Oh yeah, we won't cancel him. But there is an effect on the market fucking now
Joe Sullivan (00:51:14): There's cycles. We'll come back eventually.
Michael David Wilson (00:51:19): Yeah. Yeah. Will you be open for submission soon? Are you open for submissions at the moment? And what kind of thing? I know that there's a number of writers who would be keen to be published by Cemetery Gates Media, so I'd be remiss to not ask what you're looking for. I mean, we have touched on that to a point, perhaps also what you are not looking for. It says it is good to know what isn't going to be a good fit.
Joe Sullivan (00:52:01): Well, we've been open for debut novels, geez, since Stephanie parents novel. The Bres came out. So the goal was to publish at least one debut novel every year. So that's been open, and I've been receiving manuscripts, and I thought I had one, but the author chose another publishing house, but it was a really great book. So we're open for debut novels right now. And yeah, it's on cemetery gates.com and our submissions page. And there's a couples small prerequisites, I guess to submit for that. Just you have to have two paid publications and just there's some general guidelines for what we're looking for. And we're not looking for, usually we're not looking for something that would fit well in dark fantasy or science fiction. But I mean something, the range of 60 to 90,000 words, and I was hoping to open up for manuscripts, novellas, and novels and short story collections for, I wanted to do a fully digital imprint. It was called the Cemetery Green, the Cemetery Green Meteor. But there's some background issues that right at the moment, but hopefully we can open up for just general submissions for ecological Eco who, ecologically minded fiction, and we'll have guidelines for that hopefully sooner rather than later.
Michael David Wilson (00:53:42): And just to clarify, when you talk about ecologically minded horror, are you talking literally thematically eco horror, or are we talking about green in the sense that it's good for the planet and because you were talking about the eBooks, the digital only lineup, so no paper, but now you're talking about eco horror, so I'm just, are these related or are these now two separate topics?
Joe Sullivan (00:54:15): No, it's related. Yeah. Idea would be to put out, start putting out books that are fully digital, and we would hope to go into the audio for the same books. And that's a whole other market I'm trying to learn right now, the audio market. But yeah, it could be just a monster stories with a message apocalyptic, stories with, it doesn't have to be political, it's just don't have a message in there that's talking about the ecological situations of the world, I guess.
Michael David Wilson (00:54:57): Yeah. Oh yeah. There's a lot to talk about right now. Yeah, my goodness. I'm talking purely about the ecological situation. I mean, there's a lot to talk about generally, but just with the climate and things, and I mean, the first time I was living in Japan was, I mean, it was only 2014, so nine years ago. But even in those nine years, the seasons now are less distinct because of what's going on ecologically. I mean, so clearly it was like, right, this is spring, summer, autumn, and winter, and now it's kind of like, right, this is the hot period. Then we have about a week, and that's autumn or full for you Americans. And then we've got the cold period, and then we've got about a week that's spring and we're back to hot again. Not really a question. It's actually that it fucking hell went on some sort of climate and weather update.
Bob Pastorella (00:56:11): Yeah, but you're right. I mean, it's being in Texas, this is the hottest Texas, the hottest summer that we've had in decades, and I have to remind people, they're like, well, it was hot last year and hop the year before that. I'm like, when I was a kid, we used to be able to go outside and play during the day during the summer. You could not do that this year unless you needed to bring water with you. We used to go and ride our bikes and play ball and get into all kinds of trouble. When I was a kid during the summertime, you couldn't be in the house. It was like you had to get out. It was mandated. Your dad would kick you out, literally go play with your friends. You want to play, go play. And we did that. And so now you can't do that. Our season is the same thing. So being in Southeast Texas, I mean, we get a week of winter, it's usually pretty bad. It freezes pipes break and all that kind of shit. And then next thing you know, it's like, fucking, you're wearing shorts again. Here you go. So yeah, weird shit. But the climate is changing. It's ecological to me. I find that especially the apathy of it, probably the most horrifying thing.
Michael David Wilson (00:57:36): Well, I was going to say, not just apathy, but some flat out denial as well.
Joe Sullivan (00:57:42): Yeah. Just this summer, my kids' sports, a couple of their games were cancelled because of the wildfires coming from Canada and creates such a haze, and you couldn't go outside. You just hard to breathe. I live out here in New York, upstate New York my whole life, and never had anything like that occur before.
Michael David Wilson (00:58:04): Yeah, I'm liking the fact that you're taking us on an adventure now. You're walking somewhere, feels like a found footage portion of the interview. It's like, what the hell is going to happen?
Bob Pastorella (00:58:18): If a ghost pops out, man, I'm fucking out of here. Yeah. Whoa. Something moved. Oh, there,
Joe Sullivan (00:58:25): It's
Bob Pastorella (00:58:31): Little ghosties.
Joe Sullivan (00:58:33): Yeah, I'm in my youngest daughter's room.
Michael David Wilson (00:58:39): Yeah. Does that mean we'll have a kind of rogue electronic toy turn on as per a lot of horror films or the music box starts playing, you check the batteries, there are no batteries.
Joe Sullivan (00:58:56): I think we're good for a little bit.
Michael David Wilson (00:58:58): Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, what frightens you? And we're not just talking about movies and books now we are talking about in general, what is it that frightens you?
Joe Sullivan (00:59:14): Yeah, just the 40 year old man with four kids type of worries. What's going to happen when my kids aren't within my site? I guess that's probably my main worry.
Michael David Wilson (00:59:28): Well, I was going to say, it's a good worry to have. It's not a good worry, but it's a totally normal worry to have. You mentioned being a 40 year old man. Do you think much about the passage of time and I think about it a lot and it's like, shit. It seemed like I was at university the other day, but actually we're now talking decades ago. Or I start doing calculations and realising the age of people starting university now and then being like, shit, if I take that away from my age now, I'm still fucking older than them. It's like, what's happening?
Joe Sullivan (01:00:24): Certainly you get more interested in history, more interested in outer space science subjects that kind of describe the universe itself and where we're headed as a species and where we've been. I never would've thought that I'd be watching World War II documentaries. He used to laugh at my dad for watching him when I was a kid, and that's one of my favourite pastimes now is World War II documentaries.
Michael David Wilson (01:00:58): Yeah, it's kind of like the older we live, the more we have the potential to basically just become our parents. And I touch on that in House of Bad Memories to bring it back to the book that I have to remind people is out for all of this weekend, buy it now has some bad memories by Michael David Wilson. That's me. Of course, we've got the protagonist. Looking at his reflection in the mirror is not all cliche. That is maybe a cliche thing, just realising how much he's resembling his stepfather, even though not biologically related, a clue is in step,
Joe Sullivan (01:01:49): But I think you sort of hit real well on what it means to, I guess, think you're a grownup and then you go return home and you're not really as grown up as you think. I think that's kind of like one of those universal things you figure out when you get into your start having kids and get into your thirties and forties.
Michael David Wilson (01:02:23): Yeah. Well, I know that I've said this previously, but I mean when I was a kid, I kind of felt like adults and children are very distinct, almost to a point where there are different species, and then it's only as you get older and it's like, wait, I still have the same brain and almost the same kind of essence. I'm still in some ways the kid that I once was, but as adults, it's like we are just making it up, particularly becoming a parent as well. It's like you're putting on your adult costume, but you're still the same person. It's just now people treat you differently and you can't get a free pass with so many things because you are an adult. But I've still got many of the same thoughts, the same dumbass humour as well, I guess as well. For me, with my dad being quite a serious person, I almost felt like, oh, does the humour, does that just disappear?
(01:03:37): Is it like, no more jokes, you're an adult now. Nothing is funny, but it's like, oh, no. They're also adults that have a sense of humour, of which I like to think that I'm one of them. And people who have read my fiction will be like, well, it is a sense of humour. I dunno if they'll endorse it. But I thought that a House of Bad Memories was one of the funniest books that I've not read, that I've read. I Arrogant. Yeah, my own book. It was the funniest book I've read that I've written. And then Kev Harrison was like, this was one of your most dramatic reads. And it's like, well, I mean, it can be both can be both humorous and dramatic.
Joe Sullivan (01:04:27): Yeah, I think there is multiple aspects in there. What I really enjoy when I'm reading a book in fiction is I feel like the authors, they're putting themselves quite a bit of themselves into the story and kind of admitting to some of their triumphs and regrets and using fiction, and I thought that you did that really well, especially in the first half before it turns into the thriller, the thriller, and the other aspects of this story. So yeah, I really enjoyed that.
Michael David Wilson (01:05:10): Yeah. What were you thinking as the publisher when you got to that second half? I didn't warn you, I didn't give you any information about the book. It was like, here's the book, see if you like it and want to publish it.
Joe Sullivan (01:05:27): Yeah. It's kind of like a clinical look, I guess. Not whether it's something like that. I am thinking how many readers are going to be able to get through this? How many readers are just going to say no? And how many readers are going to be like, yeah, this is great. I love that because Ross Jeffrey, only the stains remain. It's a difficult book to get through for some different reasons, and I think as a publisher you kind of have to look at it. It's not so much what other people are going to think, it's just what's a general reader? Are they going to be able to get something out of this scene and are they going to be able to keep going and enjoy the book? Whether we have all different ways of ways we enjoy the book, but I'm a clinician, a publisher, and a clinician, I guess.
Michael David Wilson (01:06:25): Yeah. And when you are making a decision whether or not to publish something, how much are you thinking about commercial concerns and look, how much am I going to make on this, and how much is it just, did I enjoy this story? Is this the kind of thing that I want to see out in the world? Interesting to talk to different people and understand what is the balance between, I guess, commercial concerns and just creative enjoyment. I mean, typically with traditional publishers, because they are owned by huge conglomerates, it's more like about the bottom dollar. Obviously there is a lot of good, fantastic in fact fiction that's coming out, but they do have to think about the money. Whereas with Indies, obviously you want to make money back on it, but you can be thinking less about is this going to be the next mega star of an offer? So what's the balance for you? Bob's looking at me, mega You tried it that word out. It's not even 8:00 AM in Japan. We just jumped a megastar.
Joe Sullivan (01:07:54): Yeah, it's definitely, whether or not I enjoy the book is probably that's the main reason why I'm going to publish it. And then I do think, I do consider whether I think it'll have who it's going to appeal to, whether what we typically offer for advance and royalty share, because I do try to break even, at least put something out. There has been books that I thought might sell, but the topic was probably either too extreme or just didn't interest me at all from authors with, I don't want to get too books that I felt like, oh, this probably would sell, but I didn't feel like it was a cemetery Gates book, whatever that meant at the time.
Michael David Wilson (01:08:55): Yeah, I guess you have to be true to your vision and you don't want to put this one book out that's going to make you a decent amount of money, but then it just completely changes the dynamic of the press into something that you didn't really want it to be. So yeah, that's a concern too.
Joe Sullivan (01:09:20): Yeah, I do think if each book changes, the character of the press adds a little bit to it gives it a different little bit of character. So it's like I was happy to put out, we'd never really done dark comedy, like a dark comedy, which I feel like House of Bad Memories, it's like at its heart, the most basic, you say it's just a dark comedy, British dark comedy, and we'd never done really anything like that. So I thought that it would add a nice flavour to what it meant to have a cemetery Gates book out or what it meant to be Cemetery gates.
Michael David Wilson (01:10:03): Yeah. Yeah. I've taken a dark comedy after House of Bad Memories. I've been working on a book called Daddy's Boy, and I've taken the dark comedy to another level. Bob has read an early draught of that, so I'm going to be interested in seeing how people react to that one as well. It is got a lot of the things I think that appealed to people about House of Bad Memories, but then it's taken the comedic part even further. So it'll be interesting to see how that is received. And I do think that selling comedy or doing good humorous pieces within the horror genre, it can be a tricky thing. I mean, there's different ways to go about it. And I mean, the way that I guess I do, and Max Booth in his comedic pieces is you play it straight. So there's humour within the dialogue, and there can be humour within the situation, but in terms of the way that it's told, it's not kind of slapstick.
(01:11:27): It's like this is poker face, but then you've got what, I guess I term as more like Carnival or cartoonish horror, where it's like this is now a horror comedy. This is more kind of evil dead too. And I think that's the kind of thing that Jeff Strand does, I would say is a good example of that. I mean, he has books called Things like Dead Clown Barbecue. The Clue is in the Name for goodness Sake. Yeah, I'm kind of always looking for, I guess, dark comedies that do it in a more subtle way. But the problem is that those books typically, they're not marketed as humorous. We are not Marketing House of Bad Memories as like a humorous book. So then you almost just have to stumble upon them and find them organically.
Joe Sullivan (01:12:32): Yeah, like you said, it'd be very difficult. I mean, slapstick type humour in a horror book, which I think was a fault, that's kind of like the fault of movies from the eighties. It went a little too far into the slapstick within the horror movies that's what I think about when I think about people trying to add comedy to horror where it doesn't quite, it doesn't quite interest me.
Michael David Wilson (01:13:03): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it is a difficult kind of one to walk because if you tip the comedy too much, then you lose all the horror. But equally, if I'm writing a comedy and then I make it too dark, it's like I'm not laughing anymore. I'm traumatised. I'm crying. Yeah. But I've just found the nature of my personality is that I find it very difficult to write again, for want of better terminology, a straight horror. So with no humour. And equally, the times where I've tried to write just a lighter comedic piece, it ends up getting really dark. And so I've just had to accept that It's like, look, my personality and the way that I am is I like to make jokes and I also like things to get a little bit fucked up and dark. And so that's going to happen in anything I write, and it makes it enjoyable for me. And I think as writers, as publishers, as editors, we need to remember why did we do this in the first place? And it was for the enjoyment, it was for the pleasure of storytelling.
Joe Sullivan (01:14:25): Yep. I'd say that years in Max's new book, or it's like first time I could remember where I laughed multiple times during while reading actually laughed out loud and my wife looked at me, what are you laughing at your computer right now? It's like I'm reading some manuscript.
Michael David Wilson (01:14:45): Yeah. Yeah. It'll be interesting. We said that each release, it can change the dynamic of the press. So I'm wondering, because you literally had within two weeks of each other, less than that. In fact, you put out my book, you put out Max's book, are we going to now see more people submit horror stories with humour? Are you going to write to me and Max and be like, what the fuck have you done? Keep getting dead clown barbecue. And that's not why intended.
Joe Sullivan (01:15:25): Yeah. Some of the dialogue in his book is really, really funny. And it's got the heavy Texas accent and yours. It's got the heavy British, British slang that I had to look up. I had to look up a lot of that stuff to figure out what was going on. And it was really interesting how different, but how similar, what I found humorous in each book was.
Michael David Wilson (01:15:57): Yeah. Yeah. There's some humour in Max's that certainly it rattles a line between offending people or making them laugh. And when that's the case, I always laugh, basically that says quite a lot about me, but Jesus Christ, a safe word in the McKinley manner for one is the thing that's spring into mind. I saw that extract before it was even sent off to you. He's like, can we do this? Don't ask me. Never ask me if we can do something. I am not the person who has that. It's like, yeah, there are a few things that I probably will say we can't do. It's like, yeah, go for that. But yeah, you said about there being British terminology, you had to look up, is there anything you want to declare on air? Tell people, yeah, I am interested. Which bits, people they didn't know and they had to look that up. I may have increased people's vocabulary, but not necessarily in a good way. It probably didn't enhance their life.
Joe Sullivan (01:17:25): Yeah, it probably should have wrote 'em down because some of 'em were really funny when I figured out what you were saying, there was definitely a couple times where I thought, oh, maybe there might be an error here, a grammar error or something. And I looked it up and it's like, Nope, that's just a British word that I never heard before.
Michael David Wilson (01:17:46): Yeah. I try to get creative with my insults as well. So sometimes a character will be insulting someone and it's just kind of like an amalgamation of two separate insults though. There could even be things that you looked up and it's like, well, no, that's just MDW language. Shakespeare added some things to the English language. I'll see if I can give it a go-to, but it's normally an insult that pairs dick with something else. It's probably not going to have the Shakespearean impact unfortunately. No comment to that.
Bob Pastorella (01:18:37): Well, I was going to say that reading has dark memories.
Michael David Wilson (01:18:42): How's the Dark memories
Bob Pastorella (01:18:43): House of bad memories? We're talking about dark humour as the story progresses. To me, it's like the dark humour actually sets you up for what happens later. And so if you're not in the dark humour, then what happens in the second half of the book is probably going to be shocking to you. I don't think anybody would probably put it down, but if you're into dark humour and you got dark humour and horror, they ride that line. There are two sides of one coin, the same things that make you laugh and dark humour are the same things that are going to make you cringe in horror. They're just dialled a little differently. So to me, it's like the dark humour as we get into it, especially with the conversations later on with Jade, how you start to laugh and the next thing you know you're in the crazy.
(01:19:51): I don't think, to me, it's not like a from dust till dawn moment, everything dust still, Dawn rides that line between being logical, predictable, or logical and unpredictable. Everything makes sense only in that story. And so to me, I mean, you really want to be logical. You want everything to flow. You want it to make sense, and you also want to be unpredictable. You can't figure out what's going to happen next. And Michael's book does that, and I think the bridge to that extremism is that dark humour. It gets you there, it helps you get there. And to me, he's just basically cranking up the volume. It is just like, Hey, I'm going to go up to two, I'm going to go up to three, I'm going to go up to four. And so he's pretty mid book. He's hitting right around seven or eight, and he's like, no, fuck it. We're going to 11 because you're already at seven. You're already there. Seven 11. There you go. See,
Joe Sullivan (01:20:58): Yeah, I don't think there's, there's no black and white tonal shift in the story. It definitely, I do agree. It leads nicely into, because there's still humorous aspects, I guess, into the torturous aspects of that particular scene.
Michael David Wilson (01:21:17): Well, we've got a question from our Patreon, and this is from Brandon Simmons and he says, for people who are unfamiliar with Cemetery Gates Media, what would you recommend reading first among your short story collections?
Joe Sullivan (01:21:44): Burn the Plans by Tyler Jones would be a great book to pick up. It's got a nice variety. It's more in line with, it's kind of a little bit of our old way of telling stories and new way of telling stories and JW McCarthy sometimes were cruel. A short story collection. It was nominated for a Shirley Jackson award, and I think people really liked that book. And I try not to go too far back into the stuff me and John put out because I feel like that's a different cemetery gates than what we've been doing for the last five or so years. But yeah, Tyler Jones has burned the plans is great. Ross Jeffries, beautiful atrocities and Mark Allen Gunnels. We put out a book, Twilight At the Gates, Twilight Zone inspired really short stories. I think that all those books would give you a good picture of what we're about and a lot of great short stories in those books.
Michael David Wilson (01:22:55): Yeah, T Tyler Jones is so underrated. He's such a good writer. Intimidatingly good. When I read people like Haruki Murakami, sometimes I feel like, why am I even doing this when people as talented as Murakami exists? But I get the same feeling sometimes reading Tyler Jones. It's like every sentence, every device. It's so systematic and deliberate and so well done. But it is the kind of reading that almost feels effortless to a point where that so much effort has gone into it to make it feel this way. So I mean, everyone should be reading more Tyler Jones. And in a way, I'm surprised that he hasn't been picked up by a huge publisher. But as we've said before, sometimes unfortunately, talent and commercial success, they don't always go together. I mean, Nathan Balling Rud is another person who I think is underrated. He's obviously with bigger publishers now, but I get everyone should be reading both Balling Grant and Tyler Jones.
Joe Sullivan (01:24:28): Yeah, I think Tyler's is making his way up there though. I think it'll just be a little bit more time. I think talent and Time usually seems to work out in publishing
Michael David Wilson (01:24:40): Sometimes.
Joe Sullivan (01:24:41): Sometimes it does take a lot of time though, because I've had some really talented writers come through and put some stuff out and then it career doesn't seem to be accelerating as fast as they'd like, and they more or less give up. And it's just so, I guess disheartening. Like you have the talent, you just have to keep going. I think you would've got there. It's not for everybody. I guess the stress of doing something that you're good at, you're putting out good material and it's just not really, I dunno, landing as well as you thought it would.
Michael David Wilson (01:25:27): Oh yeah. I mean find, if you keep doing the work, if you keep putting things out there in the world, then even though you can't guarantee success, you're helping your chances more. So I'd say keep going to anyone having those doubts, which is honestly, most people, because we do as writers have doubts, but you look at Josh Malam and he had written, I believe it was 20 books before he even got one published. This is a long game. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So yeah, you got to keep going. I mean, another person who you've published his short story collection who I think is supremely talented, is Paul Michael Anderson. There's another guy who, he really has the spirit of Jack Kechi in a number of his stories, who a lot of people know is amongst, if not my favourite writer of all time. So I hope that Paul keeps going as well.
Joe Sullivan (01:26:42): Yeah, Paul's been right and serious, I mean published since I think remember reading him back in the early 2010s and he's been plugging along doing putting in the work. So hopefully we were going to put out another one of his books. And I've had some issues behind the scenes with some artists that just I've never had before and the eight years now that we've been doing this, and it's kind of pushed a lot of our books around that we're supposed to be released at certain times. So we're trying to get that worked out right now.
Michael David Wilson (01:27:28): By artists, do you mean literal artists or are you using that in a broad sense to Oh,
Joe Sullivan (01:27:35): Sorry. Yeah, I mean we always have delays and there's no problem with that. Some problem with cover artists, like ones we've worked with before, ones we've never worked with before, and it's really this year it's just been kind of been a reason for a lot of our delays and moving things around, moving around. It's really strange. I dunno how to describe it.
Michael David Wilson (01:28:02): Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean hopefully those get ironed out. And I mean the good thing is that there are so many artists within the horror scene that if you have to sever a relationship with one or several, there are many others who would be up for working with you. One assumes so yeah, certainly amazing experience with Hasa Bad Memories. And Vinny Young, that was the first time that I'd worked with him on a cover. I'd had interactions with him before and done a few things with this as horror. But yeah, that was the first cover that he'd done for me in any capacity. And he absolutely knocked it out of the park. I'm so happy with the House of Bad Memories cover and I liked working with you as well, and I asked you, can I effectively choose the cover artist or contact the cover artist?
(01:29:13): And you were very receptive to that, whereas some publishers, it'd be like, no, this is the cover artist, or even this is the cover, this is what you're getting. But yeah, I found mean in general, everything with you has been so collaborative and you've been so receptive. And I know I can be a perfectionist, I'm sure for some people not always the easiest to work with. And even the audio book narrator, he knows that as well. Can you just change the way that you pronounce this word? It's like, I'll be talking to him tomorrow anyway, so we'll see what he has to say. But yeah, I guess maybe there was a, oh yeah, we were talking about artists. I was like, where is this going? But yeah, working with Vinnie Young was great, and I would certainly hope to be working with him again.
Joe Sullivan (01:30:22): He was really easy to work with on my end and did what he said he was when he said very good communication. That's really the thing. If there's going to be delays, you hope an artist or an author who's going to communicate that to you. And that's kind of the issues I had for a lot, a lot this year. But yeah, you were great to work with. I'm happy when an author wants to be very involved in the nuts and bolts of putting their book out and the marketing and promotion and all that. Yeah, I'm happy when an author, yeah, you can never pretty much ask me too many questions or have too much input I guess on your book if you're an author. It just keeps me on track too.
Michael David Wilson (01:31:10): Well, if we do another book together, that sounds like a challenge that you can never ask too many, but can't you Next podcast is like, right, we found the limit. This is the number of questions that would be considered too many. Please fucking stop emailing me, Michael.
Joe Sullivan (01:31:32): See, I think I get up for work about the time you get up and you're ready to go. So I'm getting ready for work and I get emails from you, so I'd be able to answer usually right away. And I always thought that was pretty neat that it was a little bit synchronous on that level. I get up for my job about 1:32 AM my time.
Michael David Wilson (01:31:59): Yeah, because I thought you were based in New York, but then there was a moment where it's like, where the fuck does he actually live sending these emails to you at two or 3:00 AM and you are replying, but you're also replying at more regular times in America, and it's like, do you live somewhere else? Do you just not sleep? Maybe you don't sleep a lot, maybe that is part of it.
Joe Sullivan (01:32:34): Yeah, I live in New York, but I get up real early and my job, I'm usually done with my job by early in the morning, about 9:00 AM my time, 10:00 AM and I'm back home. So then I do my book stuff from that. But I have plenty of time real early in the morning to answer people's emails and that's usually when I'm thinking and clearest I think. So I like to answer people's questions and return emails at that time.
Michael David Wilson (01:33:01): But yeah,
Joe Sullivan (01:33:02): I'd kind of wake up, I'd be starting to get ready, then I'd get an email from you. And it was kind of typically about the same time, right around 2:00 AM or so, 1:30 AM my time.
Michael David Wilson (01:33:14): Yeah. So I joked about don't you sleep, but in all seriousness, when do you sleep getting up at 2:00 AM What time are you going to bed?
Joe Sullivan (01:33:33): I go to bed pretty early, sometimes 7 30, 8, I'll be in bed ready to go to sleep.
Michael David Wilson (01:33:42): Yeah, you're still kind of probably building up like sleep deprivation every year, maybe going slightly fucking crazy. Yeah, I'm
Joe Sullivan (01:33:56): Not exactly sleeping eight or nine hours pretty much ever. But I don't think I need that much time.
Michael David Wilson (01:34:04): I certainly hope not. Time will tell. But I mean, you mentioned earlier that you were looking at branching in to the audio market and I mean, audio is something that I'm very interested in. I, so I make a point of if the publisher isn't taking the audio rights that I will put the audio book out. I think it's a growing market. It's also just something that's a personal interest to me. I mean, I listen to a hell of a lot of audio books. It certainly helps in terms of the amount of people that we talk to on this as horror as well. So I'm wondering what's going on with branching into audio? Where are you at and when can see some cemetery Gates, media, audio books?
Joe Sullivan (01:35:01): Audio has been kind of a blind spot for me, especially since I'm so gung-ho, I guess on electronic selling the electronic books. And they got the Kindle Unlimited programme, which is huge for us. And I think we sell more eBooks than we do paperbacks at this point. And it's been like that for a couple years. So yeah, audio was always kind of, at some point it was always like, we got to get an audio. I mean, that's part of, I guess the digital revolution in publishing. And people along the way kept encouraging me. You got to get your books in the audio, and I guess it's kind of easier at this point. But yeah, I still, it's every step along the way. I have to learn what are best practises, and that's kind of how we've been since we started. We knew nothing about publishing or at all when we started, and it just learn what other publishers are doing, what are the best practises, and develop ourselves along the way. Yeah. So I'd hope by the end of next year we'd have our first audio book out.
Michael David Wilson (01:36:25): Yeah. And have you got any particular narrators in mind? Have you had conversations about that or, because I don't know how early you are into this process.
Joe Sullivan (01:36:39): Oh yeah. There's a few narrators that are, they'd be familiar author narrators that we've had long conversations about doing future projects together with their stuff and with other people's stuff. So I think the first ones we do, we'll be with familiar names, the author narrator types that we've come to know over the years.
Michael David Wilson (01:37:08): There's a few that kind of immediately I think of if we talk about narrating in horror. So I'll have to write them down on my Bingo card and see how many come up when it is duly announced. But I mean, yeah, we don't see that many independent presses jumping into audio. And I mean, it's difficult because to me, I see it as a future investment. I see it as a growing and emerging market. I don't think it's reached its full potential yet. And so I mean, you put an audio book out, particularly if you are going with a kind of finished hour rate rather than a royalty share, and it could take years to make your money back on it. So if you're like a publisher putting out 15 books per year, that's probably financially not viable. But then if you go for the royalty share, I guess it's kind of harder too, because if that particular narrator is getting offers of finished hour, well are they going to really take a chance on a royalty share?
(01:38:31): And it is like taking a chance until you put it out. You don't know how many units it's going to sell. But I mean, I do think it's a good investment and it only takes one book by an offer for their profile to absolutely explode, and then the sales of everything else will go up. I mean, like I mentioned him before, but with Josh Malman, when Bud Box got the deal and it was on Netflix, like the sales of a house at the bottom of a lake, which at the time was via this as horror, they just absolutely exploded too. So my hope is that one day, hopefully one of my books will go viral. Maybe it'll be House of Bad Memories of Chapter 22. It's like then everyone buys.
(01:39:34): Yeah, I'm not sure there's really a question attached to that, but rather a commentary on the state of audio right now. And I'll say too, with the House of Bad Memories, bad one up until this point, I've just gone exclusive with order. And if you do that via ACX, they also package in, I believe Apple Books and possibly Google Books as well. So you're on the free big ones, but for House of Bad Memories, I've gone wide, so it's going to be available on 50 or so audio book distributors, so hopefully sales will reflect accordingly, but it's always an experiment.
Joe Sullivan (01:40:25): Do you have a release date set for that or approximate?
Michael David Wilson (01:40:30): Approximately? It will be out at the start of November. So yeah, I will let people know as soon as it's, it's out. But probably very early November on nearly every platform, and then about mid-November for Audible because they just have a longer approval time. That's just the way that it goes, unfortunately. But the audio book story, that has been a battle because I had offers from numerous publishers and then when we got to the contract stage, I showed it to my lawyer and he is like, this isn't good enough. This needs to be changed. And we had a back and forth, and unfortunately we couldn't reach a conclusion. And then in the end I thought, I'm just going to put this out myself. So there was a kind of delay because of that, but I'm putting it out myself. I've got a guy called Aubrey Parsons who's also narrated a lot of books for David Moody. He has done such a fantastic job with it, and I mean, he has really nailed the accents. It is so authentic, but it's so authentic that I do Wonder Day because the place that it's set, it's near Birmingham. It's some kind of Peaky blinders territory. So are some people going to the American audience be like, wow, this is so good. It's almost harder to pick up on some of the things. I hope not, but I'll find out in due course. We'll see how people react to it. I'm looking forward to the response anyway.
Joe Sullivan (01:42:31): Yeah, you mentioned back catalogue. I think that's one of a useful strategy authors can use. It's not necessarily what's having have your heart set on. This is going to be the biggest book of my career. Each time you put a book out, but have enough books that ready to go that if you have a moderate success thing, it's going to feed into your back catalogue as long as your back catalogue is in print.
Michael David Wilson (01:42:58): Yeah. Yeah. I've said before as well, there seems to be a bizarre misconception or just a way of doing things that people only seem to promote their book in this really finite window when it's just came out. But it's like a book is worth reading or worth talking about pretty much any time. There is no sell by date, there is no shelf life. So I mean, that's why with this as horror as well, we'll be talking to people about a book that maybe they put out a few years ago because it doesn't become irrelevant because it hasn't just been released. I mean, case in point, we'll be talking to Ra Busby about Corporate Body next month. I've wanted to talk to her for a long time, but just podcasting, writing my personal life, it's chaotic, but I wasn't like, oh, forget it. It came out months ago. It's over. The book is unreadable. The words disappear after a certain amount of time because of the cheaper paper that you decided to print it on. That's not true. The quality of your paper is very good. Yeah, there is no shelf life.
Joe Sullivan (01:44:25): Yeah. Ari Busby's one of our authors for next year too. We have a novella coming out from her.
Michael David Wilson (01:44:31): Nice.
Joe Sullivan (01:44:31): Yeah, so maybe she'll mention that book in the interview.
Michael David Wilson (01:44:36): Yeah, yeah. Well, if not, you mentioned it now. So you heard it here first, unless you're like know, we announced that several months ago, but even if you did, maybe people didn't read it so they heard it here first. New Ra Busby book coming out next year. Well, we are coming up to the time that we have together, but not you and me, Bob. We've got many more hours of this for my entire day. But I'm wondering, I mean, where can our listeners connect with you or find out more about Cemetery Gates Media?
Joe Sullivan (01:45:22): Yeah, Twitter is a cemetery, gates m and our website, cemetery gates media.com, and we're on Instagram. I think that's also Cemetery Gates usually. If you want to just ask me a question usually about DMM e on a Twitter or one of these other sites that we have accounts on, email me subject gate media com. If you have a question or anything, I'm usually pretty good about getting back to you quick.
Michael David Wilson (01:45:52): Alright, well, did you have any final thoughts or anything you wanted to leave Alice with?
Joe Sullivan (01:46:02): Oh yeah, I don't think we didn't show the book. Michael's book available now. If you don't want to shop on Amazon, you could get firstname.lastname@example.org on our store section. It's free shipping in the us, UK and Canada, a few other places. You save a little bit of money buying it there too. But yeah, just buy Michael's book and check out our books. I guess
Michael David Wilson (01:46:32): That's the bad memories out now. Buy it today. If you've bought it already, buy another copy for a friend. They'll love it. Alright, thank you so much for joining us. This has been a lot of fun and we thank you for your time.
Joe Sullivan (01:46:53): Thanks for having me. I enjoyed talking to you guys. Happy Friday the 13th.
Bob Pastorella (01:47:02): Thank you for listening to This is our podcast with Joe Sullivan. Join us again next time when we'll be chatting with Alan Baxter as part of The House of Bad Memories. This is Horror podcast weekend. If you want that and every other episode ahead of the crowd, become our patron at patreon.com/this is horror. You can also submit questions to each and every guest coming up soon. We're going to be chatting with Chuck Nik and Matthew Holness, also known as Garth Meringue. Okay, before I wrap up time for another quick advert break, house of Bad Memories. The debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery Gates media. Denny just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank, then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie Half sister who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death.
(01:48:01): Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions? Clay McLeod Chapman says, house of bad memories hit so hard, you'll spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Pre-Order, house of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson and email@example.com or in ebook via Amazon. Everyone has a story about post-haste manner, none of them in well, but that doesn't stop The hopeful from hoping and a desperate from trying. This Halloween authors, Jolie, tma, John and Carson Winter present post-haste manner, the history and eulogy of one very haunted house as recounted by the artist poets, beloved family, pets, and mass murderers who have been touched by it. Raise a glass in celebration. Just don't linger for too long. Post-haste Manner out October 18th from Tenus Press, me and Mike are going to be talking about House of Bad Memories for Good while yet as part of its launch, and it's exciting to announce that now the audiobook is also available.
(01:49:04): And that book was narrated by Aubrey Parsons. Another exciting thing as that, you can request House of Bad Memories from your library in paperback ebook or audiobook format. We have already seen library editions in both paperback and audiobooks show up. So do request House of Bad Memories to get it in your local library. You can also request other books you want to see in your library. If you want a little bit old Bob Pastor in your library, you can request Mojo Rising and they're watching, which of course was Co-authored by Michael David Wilson. Another two books I highly recommend are Fever House by Keith Rosson and Mother Hal by Craig Clevinger. Well, that's it for another episode. So until next time, take care of yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day.