TIH 551: Gwendolyn Kiste on the Wide Definition of Horror, From Indy to Traditional Publishers, and Writing Persistence

TIH 551 Gwendolyn Kiste on the Wide Definition of Horror, From Indy to Traditional Publishers, and Writing Persistence

In this podcast, Gwendolyn Kiste talks about the wide definition of horror, indy vs. traditional publishers, writing persistence, and much more.

About Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste is the three-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, Reluctant Immortals, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, Pretty Marys All in a Row, The Invention of Ghosts, and Boneset & Feathers. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in outlets including Lit Hub, Nightmare, Tor Nightfire, Titan Books, Vastarien, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, and The Dark among others. She’s a Lambda Literary Award winner, and her fiction has also received the This Is Horror award for Novel of the Year as well as nominations for the Premios Kelvin and Ignotus awards.

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[00:00:28] 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 about writing life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today on this is Horror podcast, we are talking to Gwendolyn Kiste, who will soon be releasing the Haunting of Elkwood.

[00:01:06] Now, before we get into today's conversation, let us have a quick advert break. Cosmovorous, the debut cosmic horror novel from RC Hausen. Alda has lived on the fringes of society for as long as she can remember until a Halloween night gone wrong, unlocks a cache of nightmarish memories, visions of a bizarre desert town, images of a mysterious woman, the pain of an ultimate betrayal in the shame of a bargain made in blood.

[00:01:34] Now she must travel back and learn the true nature of the ravenous cosmos. Cosmos available everywhere. Books are sold,

[00:01:45] Bob Pastorella: 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.

[00:02:08] Well, 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 paperback@cemeterygatesmedia.com or an ebook via Amazon

[00:02:33] Michael David Wilson: Gwendolyn, welcome to the show. How are

[00:02:35] Gwendolyn Kiste: you doing? Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here. I'm doing well. Doing well. Cold. It's cold where I'm at. I'm in Pennsylvania, so it's cold here, but yeah,

[00:02:47] Michael David Wilson: it's cold here in Japan, but I've got a little heater right by my legs, so it's making it a little bit warmer.

[00:02:57] Gwendolyn Kiste: Smart move.

[00:02:57] Michael David Wilson: Smart move. Yeah. But it's actually been a number of years since we last spoke to you. It's been longer than I thought it had been because I checked and the last time we spoke it was in June, 2021. Yes. For bone set and Feathers.

[00:03:16] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yes. Wow. Yeah. That was a long time ago. Yeah. Different world it felt like back then.

[00:03:22] Although, you know, I feel like we were all still in quarantine more than we are now,

[00:03:25] Michael David Wilson: so I dunno. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, on that note, I want to know what I've been. Some of the changes for you both personally and professionally in that time.

[00:03:38] Gwendolyn Kiste: Oh wow. What have been the changes? I mean, I feel like the world is constantly changing around us.

[00:03:44] You're kind of changing in response to all of that. But yeah, I mean, I, I released my novel follow up novel after Bone Set and Feathers, so that was reluctant Immortals and it, I was very happy with the reception that it got, it got a, uh, Lambda literary Award and also a Bram Stoker Award nomination and a Dragon Award nomination.

[00:04:05] So that was really exciting and yeah, released a lot of short fiction since then. I love short stories, so that's been really nice. And yeah, now onto my fourth novel. I can't believe by now I'm going to have four novels. That's wild to me. I don't know when the, where the time has gone.

[00:04:24] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, last time we spoke you had a kind of new routine in that both you and your husband were working from home.

[00:04:36] I think you were just adjusting to that at the time. So is that still the case? Have there been any changes or further adjustments that you had to make to kind of optimize that routine?

[00:04:51] Gwendolyn Kiste: You know, I feel like we really settled into it now. He is still working from home. He is actually working right now. He is working upstairs, so I'm downstairs and he's upstairs.

[00:04:59] We're both working on different floors. Uh, yeah, I mean, it's been good. Hopefully he'll get to continue working from home. I know a lot of people have started, like the offices have been calling everybody back, so we're hoping that, you know, hopefully you can keep working from home. We definitely did adjust fairly well to it, so we like it.

[00:05:16] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, I feel that. You know, everything that happened and continues to a certain extent to happen with Covid and the pandemic, it, it has changed the world in so many ways and perhaps none more so than in terms of the way in which people work. And I mean Mm-Hmm. Even in places like Japan, which, you know, the idea before of working from home was almost like a foreign concept.

[00:05:47] Literally a foreign concept. Yeah. But now there are more people working remotely here, there are people in the uk it seems to be the norm in fact, where instead of going into the office five days a week, you will go in maybe like any, anywhere between one and three days a week. It seems to be more normal to have that remote working pattern and.

[00:06:14] I think that is a change actually, for the better, because it always seemed to make sense anyway to me. I mean, so many jobs, you're doing it on a computer, so why are you spending that time and money commuting into the office?

[00:06:33] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah. Yeah, I would definitely agree. I feel like it's, I feel like people are happy or working from home, you know, it's a familiar environment, at least a lot of people.

[00:06:40] I'm sure there's a lot of people out there like, no, I hate it. I wanna go back into the office. I need to get away. I need to separate my home and work life. Which there probably is something to be said for that, but I definitely like it, especially this time of year when it's this cold and there's snow.

[00:06:54] It's like, I don't wanna go anywhere if I don't have to.

[00:06:57] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, you said that you had been writing a number of short stories as well, so I. I am wondering what does that look like in terms of balancing your longer fiction and short stories, and are you simultaneously working on both or do you have to be done with a longer project or in between drafts before you can write a short story?

[00:07:27] Gwendolyn Kiste: You know, I'm not really sure. That's a good question. It feels like, you know, after I finished, uh, haunting of VE Wood, like I have taken off, I took off about a year from novel writing and just wrote short fiction and then short nonfiction. 'cause like, I loved writing VE wood, but it was, it took a lot out of me emotionally.

[00:07:44] So I'm like, I need a break. I need, like, short fiction can be really fun to kind of go into a world and go back out again. And so, you know, I've spent a lot of time, you know, writing short stories for that reason. But most of the time I can be in the middle of a short story, you know, and working on a novel or a novella at the same time.

[00:08:01] Usually, you know, I still feel it's my fourth novel, but I still feel new in a lot of ways to novel writing. Whereas with short fiction, I've written like well over a hundred at this point. I feel like I understand it a little better. Novels are still a little mysterious to me. There's still like a, like, how do you, how do you get through it?

[00:08:19] How do you really do it? It's so big. It's such a larger project than short fiction.

[00:08:25] Michael David Wilson: Well then that begs the very direct and literal question. I mean, how do you do it and what does your planning or lack thereof process look like?

[00:08:39] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah. You know, what's also been strange to me is that for all four of my novels, I've kind of approached them all very differently.

[00:08:45] I remember with the Rust Maidens, I actually wrote this very long outline. It was a 17,000 word outline, I believe, and sent it over to my editor and, you know, made sure like, okay, like let's troubleshoot any problems right away. And then with bone set feathers, I didn't do a.

[00:09:16] Outline. And then with hunting vel, I kind of, again, did more of a shorter outline. So like a little bit more in depth than maybe bone set feathers, but not quite as much. So I feel like it's been all over the place. I, I feel like, like I said, I feel like I've more of a standardized kind of way of approaching short fiction with novels.

[00:09:35] I'm like, let's see where this goes. Sometimes or other times, like I'm like, I'm gonna know every single beat of this story before I write it. So

[00:09:43] Michael David Wilson: yeah, I find trying to get the optimal word count for my outline to be a constant battle, because if I plan it too much, then it almost takes the joy away from the actual writing of it.

[00:10:01] Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. But if I don't plan it enough, then I'm wondering, well, where are we going? It is like just getting in the car, driving somewhere, but not knowing where you're actually meant to end up.

[00:10:14] Gwendolyn Kiste: I agree so much. I feel like with a short story, if I don't know where it's going, I'm not gonna get lost.

[00:10:18] Like, it's like, it's like driving across town as opposed to driving across country as if using, using, you know, the metaphor you were just saying. And so it's like a lot easier to not plan with short stories and you can kind of let that magic happen on the page. But I, I love the point that you made.

[00:10:34] 'cause I, I struggle with the same thing of like, when it's a longer work of like, you know, do I don't wanna plan everything. 'cause there is that magic. And that's something I love about short fiction of allowing it to happen on the page and being even a little surprised as an author of like, oh, this is where these characters are going.

[00:10:49] But then balancing that with, I don't wanna get lost halfway through.

[00:10:55] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. That's my problem with outlines is I tend to, I I probably do 'em too much. The last time that I did one, um, I didn't wanna write it anymore. I was like, I already wrote this, I don't wanna do it no more. And, and so I mean, when you say.

[00:11:14] That it, that it can cause a problem like that. Then, then what, what do you, how, how do you know how far to go? You know, it's like you got, you gotta leave yourself a little bit of mystery, but you don't want to have like these little three word bullet points and then he died. Uh, you know, and stuff like that.

[00:11:30] I mean, to me it's like I get lost in the details and so it's like, where, where, where is that cutting point that I'm not, that's like a rhetorical question. I guess. It's, it's gonna be different for everyone, you know? Yeah. But, uh, you gotta leave yourself a little room for play, you know? Uh, that's the way I see it, you know, just like, okay, I got a little room here.

[00:11:51] I can play around with this. But I'm, I'm kind of getting back into outlines. I'm kind of, I'm kind of getting back into it. I think my next project, I'm, I'm gonna have to do it so.

[00:12:00] Gwendolyn Kiste: I do like what you said though about how it feels like you've already written that story, because I've definitely had that experience as well, that you write an outline and you're like, oh, well I'm done now.

[00:12:08] Like I didn't get to do any of the fun stuff of like the cool like sentence work or like the character detail, but I feel like I know what this story is now, and so sometimes it can be, like, I always tell myself, no matter how much I have an outline, I always allow it to go in a different direction. If halfway through I realize, you know, okay, this is a better direction for it.

[00:12:28] So always trying to give myself that space to say, this is not like, I'm not set in stone with anything that I've, I've outlined and that that's helped me That way. It's like kind of like side eye, the outline. Like, okay, like you are there but I don't have to use you if.

[00:12:48] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, I have a similar approach and I think, you know, that the minimum that I will know going in is I'll know the beginning, I'll know the ending, and I'll have some vague notion of the middle. That is the absolute minimum that I need to get started. But I do do a similar thing to you in that there is always that leeway and that room to adjust if actually, you know, a character or an idea comes to me and it is like, no, we're gonna go on this little side quest.

[00:13:23] And it, it is helpful, but it is also sometimes so time consuming because it's like, no, now you've gone, you know, down into this town, you, you are off the map. Off the map, I've put the GPS on, it's not even working anymore. So then I have to get myself out of that situation. And, and at that point I might have gone so deep into the woods to continue to use terrible analogies that it's like the, the original plan that I had, it, it, it doesn't even sync up.

[00:14:02] So then, then, then there might be the possibility where I now have to replan the plan and then that becomes very time consuming and, and complicated. But I think, you know that the point that we have to remember is that the story is king. And so as long as this is making for a better story, then we should do whatever is necessary.

[00:14:26] And mm-hmm. You know, nothing in life was ever promised to you that it would be easy. And that is the same for novel writing.

[00:14:35] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yes. Uh, possibly doubly true for novel writing because I do think it's a vexing for writers. I, I'm sure there's someone out there that's like, novel writing's super easy, but I, I don't think most people feel that way.

[00:14:48] I feel like most authors definitely feel like it's, it's challenging. It's rewarding, of course, but very challenging. Yeah.

[00:14:58] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Well, talking about things that are challenging, I know that over the last few years a number of writers have had a tumultuous relationship with social media. It's been a very volatile place to be.

[00:15:17] It's been a kind of confusing place to be, but there's that dichotomy because, you know, in, in some, I. Aspects, you just want to be done with it altogether. In others, there's a potential benefit in terms of promoting your work. A, a benefit that some would argue is, is dwindling and becoming redundant, but I mean, you have scaled back your social media use so much.

[00:15:49] So I, I'd like to talk a little bit about that, about what you are doing in terms of social media and why you, you left certain platforms, why you scaled back. So let's go there.

[00:16:03] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah. Yeah. So I left Twitter at the end of 2022, so it's been over a year. And I actually just formally finally deleted it because I wanted to give myself that space to be like, am I gonna go back?

[00:16:17] But then somebody I knew got hacked who was actually even still using it. And at that point I'm like, okay, I haven't used it in over a year and I don't even wanna risk it. So it's gone now. My Twitter is completely gone at this point. And, and, you know, it just became such a, a toxic platform in a lot of ways.

[00:16:33] And, you know, I know some people have been able to figure out kind of that way through, that they don't feel that it's as toxic or, you know, they, they've been able to curate it. I tried doing that. It just never seemed to quite work for me. And after just everything with Elon Musk and just all of it, I was like, I.

[00:16:50] I'm walking away from this. I'm walking into the sunset with this, and so now I'm on Facebook and Instagram. So I was always on Facebook and I had an Instagram, but I never really used it until like 2022. And so that's really where I'm pretty active now. And I, I actually like Instagram. People seem to fight on it less and that's nice 'cause the fighting on social media is stressful.

[00:17:16] And so like, I like that Instagram doesn't really reward that just 'cause of the way the platform is. It's not like Twitter where you can have these long. Long threads of people fighting. So, you know, that that's been nice. And it's, and it's also given me more time for reflection, more time for writing, you know, and I'm still out there and I still have my blog and I actually just started an author newsletter.

[00:17:38] So like, that's, that's a new venture. It's funny, I see a lot of authors doing that now. It felt like everybody had an author newsletter that almost nobody did for a while. And now people are starting it again because social media's become so fragmented. And so that's been, that's been interesting. So like, I'm eager to see how people kind of use that and see how I can kind of hopefully like connect with people through there as just like another outlet, because it's nice to connect with people of course.

[00:18:05] I mean, it's nice to not feel like you're screaming into a void all the time, but at the same time, you know, there is that kind of self preservation because social media can be so negative

[00:18:15] Michael David Wilson: so often. Yeah. So I saw that you started. A newsletter basically at the end of last year. And as, as you mentioned, I mean, you've got the blog which has, has been continuous throughout all of this.

[00:18:31] I mean, particularly through putting out your submissions roundup, which everyone should check out. I mean, it's such a fantastically curated, uh, you know, article every month in terms of letting people know where they can submit their short stories. And then of course, you showcase. Offers kind of mini interviews and round tables.

[00:18:57] Yeah, so I mean, I think I've said it before, but it's been over two years. I can thank you once again for doing that. I think it is a fantastic asset to the community, but I, I'm wondering how the newsletter now fits in. Will you be duplicating some of the stuff that you're doing on the website? Is it all original content?

[00:19:22] How are you making that work for you?

[00:19:25] Gwendolyn Kiste: You know, I'm just starting it and when I say just starting it, I'm probably sending out my first one next week. So it's like, this is very, very new. I don't think I'll probably be one of those people that does a newsletter every month. Some people are really on top of it.

[00:19:39] Um, some of it'll be duplicated, so probably I'll probably include the submission roundup whenever I, whenever I do that, just to remind people that it's there any kind of news, you know, about releases or just kind of like another place to do that. I don't always do a new blog when I have a new short story, and it would be nice to have some way of maybe putting that out there other than just one post on social media and being done.

[00:20:01] 'cause sometimes it's nice to kind of get those short stories out there a little bit more. Yeah, I don't know. Like I'm, I'm eager to sign up for other people's newsletters and see maybe there'd be cross-promotion opportunities with other people in their newsletters. I don't know, like this is a whole new world for me.

[00:20:18] I'm trying to approach it with, yay, this is exciting. Rather than, oh no, this is something I don't really know that much about.

[00:20:26] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, we're talking about cross-promotion. I mean, I'd love to feature and reference your submissions Roundup in our own newsletter if that's something that you know you are okay with.

[00:20:39] I'm absolutely, I'm sure. I'm sure you would be like, you know, if, if you weren't and you'd have probably put the post on private, which, which would be really odd. I mean, it seems like a kind of Ebenezer scrooge thing, doesn't it? It's like, I'm gonna create this really useful thing and now I'm gonna make it private so no one can see it.

[00:21:03] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah. So absolutely. Feel free to share

[00:21:06] Michael David Wilson: it. Yeah.

[00:21:08] Bob Pastorella: That sounds like something Max Booth would do. Yeah. Tell everybody he's got newsletter set to private. Yeah. They tell him, they tell him your, your newsletter set to private. He'd be like, I know.

[00:21:23] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, something I've been doing particularly this, this year, is really thinking about what is important to me and to my time.

[00:21:39] Like, I mean, personally and professionally, but I'll talk more professionally now and I think we, we've social media. As we, we mentioned before, it's been confusing. And so a lot of last year I was experimenting with, with TikTok because that was really taking off, but it, it honestly, to do it right, it's very, very time consuming.

[00:22:06] Yeah. You know, it's gonna probably take, I don't know, o over an hour each day just to put out like a, a kind of less than five minute video because if you want it to do well then, I mean, first of all, you've got to decide what is the, so-called content. What is this video about? Even if I'm taking a clip from the podcast, well, I have to decide which five minutes of this two hour conversation is going out.

[00:22:37] Then for it to perform, you've got to use various hashtags. It's a good idea to put subtitles on and you know, like with a lot of things, you don't just want AI to be responsible for that, or your guest is going to be saying some very strange things when you look at the subtitles. That's true. So I, I, I kind of reevaluate it as a lot of us do going into the new year, and I know what, what is important to me, and obviously it's, it's my writing, it's the podcast and it's learning Japanese, and so I, I set out some goals and I, and some kind of minimum thresholds that I have to achieve.

[00:23:28] Every single day. Something to do with the writing, something to do with learning Japanese and something to do with podcasting. And once I have achieved all of those, I'm free to do whatever I like. And, uh, yeah, they, they're quite ambitious goals. So people may have noticed there has not been a single TikTok post this year because there hasn't been time.

[00:23:52] Yeah. But it is, it's like, you know, decide what you're going to do with your time or someone else will decide for you. So I'm being very focused. So I don't know if some people think my relative silence is like, oh, what's going on with Michael? It's like, no, it's the opposite. I'm being super disciplined right now and doing the important stuff.

[00:24:16] 'cause that's, it's what matters at the end of the day. Yeah.

[00:24:21] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah, I agree. I think social media can, you know, be such a, a place that can just a black hole for time really. It just sucks it away. And like you said, especially with creating content and it is creating content, all the posts are content. You do want 'em to look nice, you want it to, you know, you want it to get engagement, you want it to be reflective of you know who you are and if you wanna consider yourself a brand or if you don't consider yourself a brand, it's all gotta be reflective of that and it can just suck up so much time.

[00:24:50] That's, that's honestly why I haven't gotten on TikTok. I just felt like learning something like that and then I know it's gonna take up so much time and I'm like Instagram, that's just an image and occasionally video as opposed to all video all the time, which just seems like

[00:25:06] Michael David Wilson: a lot. Yeah. Yeah. I do think that video is becoming a more kind of predominant feature of social media.

[00:25:17] I think it will become. More and more important, and that, that's why I experimented with it a lot. I mean, I still will put out video clips kind of on TikTok and Instagram, but I, I can't do it at a pace in which like, TikTok would reward or would send you viral or would make it into something where it could be monetized.

[00:25:47] And to be honest, I, I did see the numbers going up and I saw the potential for me to monetize TikTok, so then I was getting addicted to it, putting more and more up. But I just thought at the end of the day, it is like, was your dream to make money via TikTok when you were young? No, it wasn't because I didn't have a power that told me one day there will be this social media platform called TikTok.

[00:26:18] There will be a lot of dancing women and weird content, but you, you'll give writing advice and you will become not rich, but yeah. And will make a very modest salary. So go forth and do that now. That wasn't my dream, so I stopped doing the TikTok. Yeah, yeah. And it, yeah, it is. It's too time consuming. And it is, yeah.

[00:26:50] It's just not, not rewarding. You know? Do, do I want at the end of my life, people to say that they enjoyed my book or do I want them to say, oh, I really like that weird video with a Shrek that you did. Maybe I want them to say both, but I'd prefer, I prefer it to be mostly, you know, centered around the fiction.

[00:27:16] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah. And that, that's such a good point. 'cause that's something I think about a lot is like, what is it I'm trying to do here? Like, what is it that I would want out of this? And so, yeah, like with social media, I'm like, I was never somebody that's like, oh, I can't wait to like, I don't know, get a whole bunch of attention for some, like you said, some weird video or something like, you know, I, that is something I, I do try to evaluate when looking at my time.

[00:27:40] I'm like, how much time do I wanna spend here? Is this getting me closer to goals that like, will make me happy? And trying to think about it in, in terms of that to some extent, because sometimes obviously with every job and with everything we do, there are parts maybe you don't like as much or that are time consuming, but are worth it.

[00:27:57] Trying to always balance that. Yeah.

[00:28:01] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, I'm talking about reevaluating as you know, we've just started a new year. Do you set New Year's goals? Do you reflect as you start the year? Is that something that you are into?

[00:28:18] Gwendolyn Kiste: I definitely reflect. I, I mean, I'm, I'm a very like, you know, introspective person. Like, I'm like one of those people that used to write in coffee shops and like stare out windows and I'm like, it's so pretentious.

[00:28:28] But it is totally something that, that I have done. And so I do like to reflect and maybe not have New Year's resolutions 'cause I feel like that just sets me up to fail. But I like the idea of being like, you know, what did I accomplish last year? What worked, what didn't work? You know, what directions do I wanna take this year?

[00:28:48] And so. Yeah. You know, and especially this year professionally with the new novel coming out, I feel like that that's a big centerpiece, right? Like last year was all short fiction and short nonfiction, so that was much more like, okay, this is gonna be spread throughout the year. It's not gonna be so focused on kind of one event, but then this year it's gonna be all right, it's gonna be focused on one event.

[00:29:08] It's even fairly early in the year in March. So it's like, okay, you know, and that kind of gives me some sense of like what the year will look like to at least some degree and trying to plan out, you know, positive things. You know, from the personal life perspective. I feel like my personal life can get gobbled up a lot by, by the professional stuff, but trying to make room for that.

[00:29:28] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Are there any things that you put in place to make sure that your personal life does exist to an extent? Or do you and your husband say, right, this is date night, or anything along those lines?

[00:29:46] Gwendolyn Kiste: You know, it's actually funny right now. Like I, I always have my laptop for like video calls set up on a certain table and like right now it's on top of a puzzle we're doing and I love it.

[00:29:56] 'cause like, there's always this like, shorthand of puzzles with, with couples or like old couples and I'm like, that's fine, I don't care after the pandemic. Like, that's great. It's like fun and easy. We'll sometimes listen to podcasts while we're doing the puzzle, so that's definitely a thing we like to set aside the time for.

[00:30:12] So like literally my, my work is on top of the puzzle right now and probably tonight we'll take the laptop off and we'll do some more puzzle. So

[00:30:21] Michael David Wilson: yeah. What kind of podcasts do you listen to? You know,

[00:30:25] Gwendolyn Kiste: some, um, the one we're listening to right now is, you must remember this, it's like a film podcast. And so we're listening to the erotic eighties and erotic nineties, like thrillers, uh, podcast.

[00:30:37] They have like a couple seasons of that. So it's like fatal attraction and, uh, basic instinct and stuff like that. I love those movies. I always say I love like fleay thrillers so much. I think they're so close to horror in a lot of ways. Yeah, I consider Baal attraction horror. It's not supernatural, but it's, yeah, it's got, you know, horrible things happening, like murders and everything.

[00:30:56] So yeah, it's, it's, um, it's, it's fun. It's fun listening to kind of the background on some of the movies. I, I, I'm a big film fan and so I know a lot of like, film history, but like, it's been fun. Some of the things, she goes really deep into the history of a lot of movies, so it's, it's fun to hear

[00:31:13] Michael David Wilson: that. Yeah, I gotta check that out.

[00:31:15] It basically sounds like the kind of Adrian Lin era of filmmaking, so Yeah, and it, it is there like is there a kind of season to the podcast? So like right now it's the erotic eighties and nineties, but then there's different sub genres. Yes.

[00:31:35] Gwendolyn Kiste: So like I first heard about it, she did one on Charles Manson's Hollywood, so like the Hollywood in the late sixties.

[00:31:41] I'm also a big Sharon Tate fan, and so that was how I first heard about it. This was a number of years ago. She's done other ones since then. And then she did the erotic eighties and then I think she just finished up the erotic nineties season. So yeah, each season it can be very different than the last.

[00:31:55] No,

[00:31:56] Michael David Wilson: this sounds really good. Mm-Hmm. Might, might have to buy a puzzle and create the ling date night experience. Yes. Get that copyrighted.

[00:32:11] Bob Pastorella: That's, yeah, I'm definitely gonna check that out. It sounds like they're kind of hitting on, uh, what I call basically like American gilo, so, you know. Mm, yeah. Uh, a lot of that more kinda leaning into the erotic instead of the, uh, esoteric, but yeah.

[00:32:29] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah, yeah. I could see that very much. I like that. Yeah.

[00:32:33] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. That genre is right up, both mine and Bob's Street. We Yeah. O often give, uh, each other recommendations in that category as well. It is just so good. And like you say, it's so close to horror. I mean, I cast a really wide definition. Of horror. They're just like, kind of dark, creepy, Mm-Hmm. Voyeuristic stuff happening.

[00:33:00] It's like, come on. That, that is horror. Mm-Hmm.

[00:33:03] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yes. I, I agree. I know some people have very narrow definitions. It's like, horror can only be this, but I'm always like, bring everything, because I feel like it's such a maligned genre so often, so I'm like, let's bring more in because the more we have, and it's like, this is a very wide, wide net of, of ideas and feelings.

[00:33:20] Like you said, it could be a feeling, it could be a theme, it could be, you know, it could be people getting slashed up. I mean, there's so many different ways you can define horror, and so I'm always like, bring it all, bring it all. Remember once I heard somebody say, I probably actually said this on the show before, because I'm always stunned at this.

[00:33:38] Somebody once called like The Exorcist a drama because it was nominated for Oscar, so they wanted to be like, it's a drama. This is just like some discourse on like some random blog. I don't even know where, but I like still remember this because I'm like, the Exorcist is so obviously horror, like there's nothing else.

[00:33:54] I mean, if you wanna say it's horror and drama, if you wanna add an extra genre, that's fine. But I was like, I feel like as soon as something becomes respectable, they try to take it away from the horror genre. It can't possibly be horror. It got Oscar nominations. It's like, hmm, no, it doesn't work like that.

[00:34:12] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. I mean we, we've definitely said this before, but there are some people who they, they've decided that their default position is that they don't like horror. So then if they like a horror movie, I. Or a horror book, rather than saying, okay, this is the exception, they then play a linguistic game to Mm-Hmm.

[00:34:33] Redefine it and to absolutely justify why this can't be horror. Yes. Mm-Hmm. So then they're just using the word horror as a stand for stuff I don't like, which is weird. It like, that's not what horror means. Yeah.

[00:34:49] Gwendolyn Kiste: Mm-Hmm. Yeah, because sometimes I'll meet somebody, and this hasn't happened in years because after the pandemic, I don't have to randomly meet people as much anymore.

[00:34:56] But like back when I had to randomly meet people more, I'd be like, oh, I don't like that slasher stuff. And I'm like, that's fine. That doesn't mean you don't like horror. I like slasher films, but like, if you don't, you can still like horror, you might still like something like the Haunting of Hillhouse, whether the book or the TV series or one of the movies.

[00:35:13] Like, there's so many different forms of, of horror. And so it's like, yeah, I think some people are like, I don't like that one kind of horror and therefore I like no horror and. It's not true. It's not true. You might like something else. Mm-Hmm. And we don't have to, you know, we're preaching to the choir here.

[00:35:29] Right. I don't feel like anyone listening to this show is gonna be like, I hate horror.

[00:35:33] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. I mean, it would be a very strangely titled podcast to tune into. But I mean, one of the reasons that I think, uh, this is horror has been around for so long and that we always enjoy doing this and we feel that it is always fresh is because we have such a wide definition of horror.

[00:35:56] I mean, if we would just like know it, it is slashes all monsters and, and that's it, then we wouldn't be able to talk to many people and be like, sorry, your book isn't horror. It's like, it's there on the bookshelf under horror. It's like, no. Fake news. I think that was Photoshopped. So,

[00:36:19] Gwendolyn Kiste: yeah. And I, I think that's really true.

[00:36:23] I've always noticed that over the years with, with the show and with the website, you guys are, are always promoting so many different horror authors and so many different types of horrors. I've always appreciated that.

[00:36:34] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Well I'm

[00:36:35] Bob Pastorella: gonna Thank you. Rebranded this as slasher. This is slasher.

[00:36:43] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. If we do that, then Steve and Graham Jones will try and buy out this as slasher.

[00:36:51] I, I'm taking control of the ship.

[00:36:55] Gwendolyn Kiste: I do feel like he's so synonymous with that now. Like he is like the slasher king. Like there is no one, no one that does slasher horror. Like Steven.

[00:37:03] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It, it's true. I mean, he is so known for slasher, but at the same time, if you look at his repertoire, if you even look from book to book, they're so different.

[00:37:16] They're such arranged ass, such a, a versatility. So he, he is the slasher king, but he's also just the, the horror. God calling him a king and a God. He is gonna really have an inflated ego. But I, I mean, I think that there's probably no, no subject that he couldn't write about. I mean, he wrote an entire book called Zombie Bakeoff.

[00:37:44] Case that I

[00:37:46] Gwendolyn Kiste: haven't read that one. I know he did that great werewolf book mongrels. That was, yeah. 10 years ago now. I can't believe how long ago that probably was now. But yeah. So it's like he does have such range. He does have such range.

[00:37:58] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. Well, zombie bakeoff, it was a bit before gros. This was Okay.

[00:38:05] In 2012. And the, the, the, the short pitch is essentially Bakeoff meets the WE so basically pro wrestling and bake off. So, Mm-Hmm. You know, for, for the fans of his kind of more literary horror, such as Mon Gros and Undercurrent Indian Lake Trilogy, it's different. It's different, but you know, if you want to see the range, then pick up a copy of Zombie Bakeoff.

[00:38:43] I can't believe that. 12 years later. Surprise. I'm promoting it on this. Haven't referenced it for over a decade.

[00:38:52] Gwendolyn Kiste: That's amazing. I love that.

[00:38:56] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. He, he, he taps into so many areas, like the least of my scars. It came from Del Rio. I mean, I, I'm, I, I'm everyone who listens, knows, I'm not like the biggest fan of Slashers.

[00:39:08] I love what he's doing with Slashers. Um, I, and I, I love the books. Um, but you know. I, I came into his work before he even, he was just writing like, basically what we would call dark fiction. It was, it was horror, but it was like, you know Mm-Hmm. It was more, uh, of a, of a, of a, of a darker nature. Yeah. And just to see him progress.

[00:39:34] Mm-Hmm. You know, if, if 15 years ago if you said, Hey, Stephen Graham Jones gonna be the slasher king, I'd been like, I don't know about all that, but he's got some horror in him. And now it's like, oh, he's the slasher king.

[00:39:45] Gwendolyn Kiste: The horror guy. Yeah. His career has been so wonderful to watch. 'cause I've, I've been in this industry for almost 10 years now, and it's like, he was, he was big when I came in, but he is so much bigger now.

[00:39:54] And it's just been exciting to watch that and to watch that progression. And that's sort of like, I feel like that's what so many authors are like hoping for, right. That like, you can have that career that's doing well, but then really, really, you know, takes it to the next level.

[00:40:10] Bob Pastorella: Every once in a while you, you come across somebody, like at a bookstore.

[00:40:12] It's like, have you heard this guy, this new guy, this Steven Graham Jones? I'm like, no. He, yes, I have, he's not new. Let's, let's go to, let's go to the section over here and let's take a look at all the books.

[00:40:25] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, that was a period of about a decade ago now, where he was writing like three or four books a year.

[00:40:34] I mean, his agent actually had to slow him down. It's like, you can't publish that amount of books in a year. But yeah, I mean, I don't know. He might still be writing at that rate. He's just not putting them out. You know, he could, uh, take, take, take a break and then they could release 50 books and then he'll come back and he is like, right.

[00:40:58] Well.

[00:41:02] But I mean talking about like breakthroughs or leveling up for want of better phrasing. So I mean, in the time since you were last on the show, as you, you mentioned you released Reluctant Immortals. Am I right in thinking, was that the first book with Simon and Schuster? Yes.

[00:41:28] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yes. And then, uh, Belwood is the second one.

[00:41:30] Yes, correct. Yep. Yeah,

[00:41:32] Michael David Wilson: so obviously that is quite significant. So how did you come to be working with Simon and Schuster?

[00:41:43] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah, so I'm working with Saga Press and yeah, just, uh, my editor Joe Monty, reached out to me right at the beginning of the pandemic and he was a fan of my first book, the Rust Maidens.

[00:41:54] And we just talked and yeah, and ended up with, with the two books. Yeah. So. Very exciting. Very, it, you know, it's interesting because like, it's different, but it, there's a lot of similarities. I mean, I feel like, you know, publishing is publishing, so there's a lot of similarities, you know, uh, from going from kind of indie small presses to a bigger publisher.

[00:42:17] So it's not as different as maybe, like, I didn't know what to expect of how much of a difference there would be, but, you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of crossover, there's a lot of similarities, but it's, it's very exciting. Z Press has put out a lot of, a lot of great books, including a lot, all of Steven Graham Jones's recent books, so it, it's exciting to be part of that, that group of authors.

[00:42:38] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. And for people listening who were hoping they could glean a tip, it's like, no, essentially what you do is you write a good book and then the editor reads it and he contacts you. I mean, like, it in, in a way, it, it seems like, you know. A, a joke or that we're, we're, we're, we're messing with people. But actually in many ways, it's kind of how it goes.

[00:43:05] It's like, just keep writing, keep writing the best work that you can, and then, you know, eventually like word of mouth and things, it's going to pick up and then someone will contact you. Yeah. That is so often how these opportunities come about. Yeah.

[00:43:24] Gwendolyn Kiste: You know, that's one of the things that I feel is probably the most surprising.

[00:43:27] Like I said, I've been doing this for about 10 years now, and I mean writing for a lot longer, but doing it on a kind of professional, trying to get published sort of way for 10 years, a lot of things are random. I really thought that it would be more like, okay, you take step one and then step two and then step three, and there would be a clearer trajectory, but there's really not.

[00:43:45] It really is. There's a lot of random, you know, run-ins with people or meeting people or being in the right place at the right time. But like you said, I think the core of everything is just keep working. Just keep writing the best work that you can at whatever level you're at. You know, self-publishing, small press, it's all good.

[00:44:03] You know, as long as you're putting out, you know, the best work that you can and, and things will happen. Things will happen. No rhyme or reason or when they're going to happen, but things just keep moving. 'cause I always say to my husband, there'll be like a lull and I won't know what's coming next. And it's always just like, there's this thing, I, I was, grew up, I was a really big fan of The Beatles.

[00:44:23] I'm still a fan of The Beatles, but Paul McCartney shared this story and he shared it several times about how like the Beatles like crashed on the side of like this snowy road on the way to a concert or something. And like, they were like down in embankment. It was really harrowing. It's like a horror story, right?

[00:44:38] And they're, they like, get out and like nobody can see them from like where they crashed and never, nobody's hurt, but they're like, oh my gosh. It's like this snowy moment and like, how are we going to get out of this? And one of them just said. Something will happen. And something did happen. Somebody happened to see them, came down, gave them a ride to where they needed to go, and everything was fine.

[00:44:57] And you know, this was at the start of their career. So clearly they became the Beatles after that. Right. But I love the core of that story of something will happen, something will happen. I mean, you can't always rely completely on that. But I do use that when I'm like, what's gonna happen next? I don't know.

[00:45:12] Something will happen. Just keep working. Just keep trying, just keep putting yourself out there. Something will happen.

[00:45:18] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I feel too, and I mean this applies very heavily to the Beatles because they were amongst some of the kind of hardest workers in terms of like the hours that they were putting in the constant gigging, the songs that they were writing.

[00:45:38] And I feel the more that you just kind of go at it and you put work out there and you write, there's never a guarantee of success. But the more you do the it, it's like you're buying a ticket to the success lottery and the more tickets you've got, the more chance of something happening. So you might as well keep going.

[00:46:02] And I mean, at, at the moment, I, I've only got three books out there. I got a number of short stories as well, but I mean, I. I would say that the first one, the girl in the video that really tapped into something and took off, but, but the other two, they haven't quite took off in that way. I mean, they've certainly got good reviews, they've got interest, but there was something that the girl in the video hit on.

[00:46:34] And so, you know, it, it, it very much depends on how you are built, but I could see somebody thinking like, you know, I had it and now it's gone and, and feeling very dispirited, but I mean. I don't feel like that at all because I mean, first of all, I think that I'm always improving as a writer and I, I don't know if I should say this, but then, because I'm always improving, I would say that from a technical point of view, that the other two books are better written than the girl in the video.

[00:47:09] And really like getting better is, is what matters. But then at the same time, I know that there are little things going on in the background that are going to happen in the future that I can't quite talk about, but I'm very, very excited about them. And then, you know, if something big happens, then that can bring attention to the rest of your work.

[00:47:38] So it is like this journey, it has barely even, I. Began. If, if we want to take the driving metaphor, which is apparently the route that I want to take today, then it's like I, I'm, I'm just going down my road. So we, we are nowhere near where we're going. So too many people, and we spoke about this with Eric Larocca, they will deem something to have been a flop or, or a failure or it didn't live up to what they wanted it to be.

[00:48:11] And it's like, we haven't even started. Yeah, it's like the, you, you can't judge, you know, you success before you, you've got to the end and Mm-Hmm. I mean, so many times like it, like, I like to use the example of Josh Mailman's Bird Box and when it was picked up for Netflix, I mean, Josh was doing pretty well before.

[00:48:37] But as soon as that came out on Netflix, the sales and the recognition of his books, they just absolutely rocketed. Mm-Hmm. So, mm-Hmm. And that happened, you know, a number of years after the book had came out. So it's just disingenuous and being too hard on yourself to, to label something, you know, a failure or to be disappointed when, when the journey hasn't begun.

[00:49:08] This is very much a long game that we're playing here.

[00:49:12] Gwendolyn Kiste: It is. And I think of that a, I think about that a lot. And I even think of it like that in, in my head of like, this is a long game. You gotta play a long game. You know, this isn't something that you're gonna, I think sometimes people like see somebody who had like one hit book, like the Harper Lee with To, to Kill a Mockingbird.

[00:49:29] Like, oh, I'm gonna live off the royalties of one book. It's like, that's even in her time, that was like unheard of. Nobody did that but her. Right? So it's like. You know, that's it. It's more about building a career than maybe just having, you know, one or two big books. It, it is about that kind of, it's about the community building.

[00:49:48] It's about getting to know people. It's about being kind of part of the genre, which I think is fun because most of us love the genre, right? So getting to meet other people in the genre and getting to collaborate on different, on different things, being on panels, going to things like, it's, it's fun doing things like this, being on awesome podcasts.

[00:50:05] This is wonderful. Like, it's a, it's a great way of really being part of the community and, and being part of this longer journey. Like you said, we're just getting started. Wherever you're at, you're probably just getting started.

[00:50:17] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. I've been, I've been doing this stuff since the late eighties, so let you know how old I am.

[00:50:24] Uh, I've gotten so many rejections, uh, yeah. Used to have rejections in, in a little shoebox that, that I, I lost. Um, but I had, I had stacks of them and I hated to even look at 'em because some of 'em were, were harsh. Uh, Michael May remember a, a magazine called New Blood that, uh, that came out and I got probably one of the harshest short story rejections in my life.

[00:50:50] And, you know, and so here I am now, I'm gonna be 57 this year. And the way that I feel about it is all that longevity. I, I've got, you know, I've got, you know, a mojo rising out. I got, they're watching with Michael. Uh, I have other projects in there. And the way I feel about it, even though I've been doing this, I'm just getting warmed up.

[00:51:11] Yeah. I am just getting started. And if you have that kind of attitude, then, then the man, the, the, the road will take you wherever you want to go. You just, you just have to put into work, you know? And so that's, that's just how I feel about it. I think that's a great mantra to have. You know, it's, I'm just getting, you know, I'm just getting warmed up.

[00:51:33] I remember, uh, Doug Murano last year on social media was talking about, well, you know, we're, I wanna see the, the older people, the, the 60 and 70-year-old people who are just starting something that is gonna change, you know, their lives for, you know, for the better. Yeah. And you know, that, that, that, that post went viral, but it, it hit me.

[00:51:56] I was like, man, dude, that's, that's me. That's me right there. You know? Yeah. Um, I'm just don't, I don't see no, no way that I can give this up. It's, it's, it's too much of a passion.

[00:52:07] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah. Yeah, I think I remember seeing that post too. And I, I did, I love the idea of it so much. 'cause it is too much of a focus on just being young and there's nothing wrong with that focus too.

[00:52:18] I don't wanna be like, oh, if you're young and just getting started, you don't deserve any attention. It's not that. But I do think there's this disproportionate attention paid to people at like earlier stages. And it's like some people for a lot of different reasons can't get started until they're older.

[00:52:33] They need to, you know, get to a place where they have maybe more stability or you know, have that time to do it. And so I think it's important to kind of keep that open. Plus the older you get, I think the more life experience hopefully you get and hopefully the more perspective you have on things. And I think that it can be very interesting, this not Dispar people, obviously they have, you know, when we're all young, we have a unique perspective then too.

[00:52:58] But through Lifecycle you're going to have different. Different takes on even the same subject because even just in the 10 years I've been doing this, I feel like I can go back to some of my earlier themes and kind of write a short story that's almost a in conversation with something I wrote previously from a different perspective now that I'm older, now that I have kind of this different outlook on things.

[00:53:20] So it's almost like my work is in conversation with itself because I've changed over the course of 10 years. Mm-Hmm. And so I feel like that's really important to be able to have those stories from people throughout their, throughout their life and why it's, why it's just so meaningful to literature in general.

[00:53:38] Bob Pastorella: I think it's important to know too, that if people try to write with within their age, they, they, they try to write characters within their age and stuff like that. And most of my stories I, if I had to age my characters with the exception of a, of a handful, most of my characters are, are probably in their, you know, mid to late twenties to early thirties.

[00:53:59] And I think it's because I work with the public and that's probably the, the biggest demographic of people I come in touch, in contact with. And so I, I know those people. And plus I used to be that old, uh, even though it was, you know, 30 years ago, you know, but I used to be that old, uh, things hadn't really changed that much.

[00:54:19] Uh, and, and it, but at the same time changed. Things have changed a lot. Mm-Hmm. So it's like, you don't, you don't necessarily just 'cause you're older doesn't have to write, you know, about old oldy old folks, you know? Uh, but something, there's something about, you know, the possibility of writing something like in a senior citizen.

[00:54:40] Uh, with senior citizens characters that you don't see in horror. I've got, I've got something I've been working on with that and it's just, you know, just to have older, older characters, um, which I'm having to kind of do, do some research on because I feel like I'm so young at heart, so I don't, I don't know how old people are.

[00:54:58] I dunno. I don't know. Really? Don't I love

[00:55:01] Gwendolyn Kiste: that. I love that. I agree though. And like something that I'm realizing as I'm getting older. I'm in my late thirties now and, you know, I wanna see more stories, you know, told about women in their thirties and forties and fifties because a lot of women, there are a lot of female characters in horror, but they're mostly teenagers and in their twenties now, most of the male, something's like, oh, tons of male characters.

[00:55:24] Most characters. The characters in horror are younger, but it's something I'm kind of challenging myself to because when I first started it was like, okay, I'm kind of always writing people in their teens and their twenties and that kind of coming of age because I think that that, that's a place where we really like to write as authors because it is a time of change and you wanna have change in your story.

[00:55:45] So there's a natural kind of moment there. But then the older I get, the more, I think we kind of have more than one coming of age anyways. As we get older, we go through these periods where it's like we change again and it's like, whoa, I feel really different now. We always wanna say it's like a midlife crisis, but what if it's just a second coming of age?

[00:56:01] Wouldn't it wouldn't coming of age when you're a teenager? Wouldn't adolescent just be a teenage crisis? Right? Like I feel like we go through these kind of inflection points as human beings, and that is something I'm thinking about a lot more in my writing. And that was something with, with lc Wood, I, they're like 40.

[00:56:18] All the characters in in, in the present day and the story are like 40 years old. And I'm like, this is good because it like. You know, I'm always leaning on this idea. When I wrote Rust Maidens, there was the, uh, modern part of it, and she was in her forties, but the bulk of that book was, you know, when they were teenagers.

[00:56:33] And it's like, I always kind of leaned on that. Now as I'm getting older, I'm like, okay, I need, there need to be more stories with older characters in horror. So it's like, this is a place, I'm like, okay, I'm gonna challenge myself to do this. And it isn't my comfort zone, but I think it's horror is a place to get outside your comfort zone anyway.

[00:56:49] So I feel like it's a natural, it's a natural fit.

[00:56:52] Michael David Wilson: Mm-Hmm. Well, I mean, talking of changes, you were saying before that when you move to saga press, that in many ways there weren't so many changes from being an indie author to being with one of the big publishers, but. I mean, I'm, I'm wondering of the changes that there were, what they were.

[00:57:17] 'cause I imagine there could have been some differences in terms of the back and forth with the editor. Perhaps there are changes in the way in which you even initially pitch an idea. And then I'm particularly interested in the promotional and the marketing side of things. Particularly with you now not being on social media so much.

[00:57:44] Gwendolyn Kiste: I'm still on Instagram a lot. I am still there a lot and I'm actually still on Facebook a decent, but Facebook's so fragmented, so it's kind of hard to get out to people over on a very narrow market, you know, with editorial stuff. You know, I work, worked directly with my editor and so there was, you know, back and forth.

[00:58:02] There was like a round of developmental edits on each book and then, you know, copy edits, a couple round of copy edits. One of the biggest differences, and this would be, you know, through that process of copy editing, although I had this at other presses as well, but you know, you have several more people, there's a lot more people kind of involved at, at, you know, the big four, big five level.

[00:58:23] You have, you know, maybe a couple more copy editors or, you know, you obviously have a publicist and a marketer and you know, when you're doing the cover design, you have several people, you know, that you're, you're not gonna really probably work with beyond that moment. And so it's like, at a small press, you might know everybody, but maybe at a larger press you're only talking to somebody a few times and, and, you know, and that, and that's, that's about it.

[00:58:47] 'cause that's, that's what they do. And so, yeah, I mean, I, I think that that's, that's the biggest difference is just that there's a lot more people involved in every single book, uh, as opposed to the small press. And a lot of times it's two or three people and they're doing everything. I'm trying to think of like what else I would really say.

[00:59:06] I, I feel like those are the, the biggest differences about it. You know, there, there can be a bigger budget in terms of being able to promote it, that that can certainly, you know, be the case. But I, I actually, like I said, I do think that there's, you know, a lot of, a lot of crossover with it. It's publishing is publishing all over, which is interesting to me.

[00:59:26] It wasn't necessarily, like I said, what I was expecting, but it has been at least my experience so

[00:59:31] Michael David Wilson: far. And in terms of when you're setting out to write a new novel, do you consult a lot with your agent or your editor before you put pen to paper? Or is it a case of you decide what you want to write and then you tell them?

[00:59:52] Gwendolyn Kiste: So I've never had an agent. That's still a thing for me. I've never had a literary Ah, okay. So I definitely don't talk to an agent.

[01:00:03] You know, with the second book, so the, the, um, saga Pres deal was a two book deal. You know, I don't, I don't know how other people do it, but with this, I was just like, I'm gonna have a book over to you at, you know, at this point. And then I sent the book over to my editor. There was no, I don't think I sent a description of it.

[01:00:23] I literally just sent it. And so there was like no knock, I don't, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe there could have been more conversation. Um, I'm not sure. But that was how I did it. Sometimes I feel like I'm a little too wild west with the way I approach my career. 'cause it's kind like, Hey, how am I feeling today?

[01:00:40] I think I'm gonna go in this direction. So that probably isn't how other people do it, but it's at least how I've done it so far with reluctant Immortals. Um, I did pitch that, so for the, for the two book deal that was pitched, there was a, a long outline that was a lot more involved. But for the second book I was, it was.

[01:00:59] It was interesting that that one took a little bit longer to kind of come together. Reluctant. Immortals came together a lot quicker, but Hing navel wood was a little bit more difficult. It's a lot more emotional, it's a lot more, you know, dark and traumatic than maybe reluctant immortals, which I always said reluctant.

[01:01:14] Immortals felt more to me. Like I was writing a Hammer movie and I love hammer films and they're light and they're fun and there's like an adventure. And so that was, that was fun and easy to write. It was in the 1960s. It was even kind of that era of hammer films. So like that was kind of going back to all, almost those like comfort food when it came to horror for me.

[01:01:32] Whereas be wood's much darker, it's, you know, there's a lot of trauma, there's a lot of secrets and, and you know, this haunted neighborhood that's like, you know, got like holding all these ghosts and it was darker and it was harder to write. So I think that that one just took a little bit longer to kind of come together.

[01:01:49] And maybe that was why I didn't pitch it ahead of time. I'm like, here, just have this thing. Here is this thing. I have finally finished. Please take it away from me.

[01:01:58] Michael David Wilson: So you'd never mentioned having an agent, which makes sense given that you don't, but I, I guess because you were now with Simon and Schuster, I had the misconception because like E even with Gemara Moore, when she got the deal with Angry Robot, she didn't have an agent, but then she got one kind of, as part of negotiating that deal.

[01:02:23] But I can see too, you know, as a businessman, how it's like, well if I've got this deal, why would I then want to introduce a third party who's going to take a cut? I got the bloody deal. If you got the deal then it's a bit different. But I'm not gonna just get you so that you can take this cut. And I, I did almost have a similar.

[01:02:49] Situation like that. In fact, I was talking to an agent and then they wanted to kind of come in at the contract negotiation stage and it's like, no, no, no, no. You, you find me a deal for, for my next book. I found this bloody deal. Anyway, it didn't work out. I rejected that agent and mm-hmm. You know, feel good about that.

[01:03:13] But I, I, I feel, yeah, I, I'd, I'd like you to, to talk in, in, in a way on like the dichotomy as to whether to or not to get an agent and I mean, are there any factors or situations that would. Seek out an agent.

[01:03:34] Gwendolyn Kiste: Yeah, I mean, I'm, I'm open to it. It's kind of like what you said. I felt like the deal came to me. I talked it out.

[01:03:42] You know, there's benefits to it, you know, obviously with all the legalese that's in contracts, there's definitely a benefit and, and that, you know, and. Yeah, so I do have a film agent that I work with for film options, and so it's very different from, from literary. Um, but yeah, so I mean that's that, especially because like, I, I feel like in a lot of ways the contracts for novels are just blown up, bigger versions of short story contracts.

[01:04:11] So yes, there's a lot more there. And yes, there, I definitely feel like a literary agent could have helped me with navigating some of those specifics. But film options, that's a whole nother ballgame. I worked as an independent filmmaker, but like, that's very different than a film option contract. So like that was some place that I'm like, yes, I'm happy to have somebody else take care of this kind of stuff for me because like, oh boy, like that, that's a lot of stuff that I didn't even necessarily understand some of the language in the, this, the, uh.

[01:04:40] Contract for Vel wood and reluctant immortals. I at least understood all the language. I understood all the, you know, the clauses and everything as opposed to I don't understand everything with Hollywood at all, so that that's different. And so I can very much see, you know, being able to navigate that and I'm open to it in the future.

[01:04:57] It's more like what you said, I don't really wanna run all my ideas by somebody else. Like, I think that's a lot of it. I don't want it to be like some, I don't wanna come up with an idea and I'm really excited about it. I'm ready to start. And I happen to mention it to an agent like, that's not selling right now.

[01:05:11] Don't write that. Like, that's kind of like a, a fear I have. I think a good agent wouldn't do that, but I've heard a lot of horror stories over the years or agents that won't let somebody have their work in translation because they're not getting enough money for it. And just things that, like, I feel like I've seen people, they get literary agents and the literary agent really starts taking a lot of control.

[01:05:33] And again, like I said, I kind of have a little bit of a wild west approach about things and just kind of like freewheeling, like whatever. And I like that because I feel like this is a creative industry and I like to have that freedom. And so that's always my concern. And that's a thing of like, okay, I need to know that this isn't gonna be, I'm not gonna be micromanaged, you know, I.

[01:05:52] If I could, if I'm gonna be micromanaged, I'm just gonna go get a nine to five job that I can leave at the end of the day. I don't have to have social media for, I don't have to do all of this other stuff for, I, I wanna feel like, you know, this gets to be creative and gets to be fun. So that's one of the things for me, and again, I think, you know, your mileage may vary.

[01:06:09] I know there are people that have agents that are great and that work with them and are very much, you know, the cheerleaders, the people who are, you know, rooting them on and everything. And then there's definitely agents that have not treated people like that. So I think it is a ma a matter of finding the right one.

[01:06:26] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, it seems like we're in quite a similar situation in terms of agents. 'cause I do have a film agent as well, and in, in many senses. I think that's why I haven't got a literary agent at the moment because I've almost got the best of both worlds because the way that it works Mm-Hmm. With him is. I, I send him every book I write anyway, so I get feedback on that.

[01:06:53] I get thoughts on that. I get ideas as to how that might work better, both in terms of improvements to the book and how it might translate if we are to try and sell it for the screen. Mm-Hmm. And then also, as part of having the film agent, I've now got an entertainment lawyer who looks at contracts. So even, yeah, like I, I don't know necessarily what, what the rules are here, but if I get a book contract that I'm not so sure about, I send it to him and ask him what he thinks.

[01:07:26] And yeah. So, yeah. You know, there, there's, there's limited need at the moment for where I am in my career to have a literary agent. It is like, I'm, I'm open. I'm open to the idea. Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. Someone listening has an offer that they think I can't refuse. We'll give it me and we'll see if I do or don't refuse it.

[01:07:49] But yeah, like, and I think as well, if we're, if we're happy with where we are and the path that we're on, then mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. It, it's always a bit of a gamble to, to introduce a new element or, or a wild

[01:08:05] Gwendolyn Kiste: card. Yeah, exactly. And that, that for me is just like, I'm, I'm good right now. Like it, you know, next book.

[01:08:13] I don't know, like I'm very open to, like I said, but it's just I'm not, I've seen people that all they're worried about is getting that literary agent, and it's like, I'm much more worried about getting my work out there. That, that to me is much more important than a literary agent. I feel like that can be a step along the way.

[01:08:29] That can absolutely be part of it, but I, I feel like, you know, again. Just getting my work out there is much more of, of what I wanna do and I feel like so far so good anyways.

[01:08:40] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. And one kind of note, particularly for people who are chasing, getting a literary agent almost at a point of absurdity, is that every literary agent is not created equally.

[01:08:56] Yes. There are some very, very good literary agents who Mm-Hmm. Will champion you and your work and will get you amazing deals. There are also other literary agents who are frankly doing more harm than good. Yes. And there, there isn't necessarily a. Unified qualification or a process for becoming a literary agent.

[01:09:23] So some people are literary agents because they decided they were going to say that they were a literary agent. Yes. So, mm-Hmm. You know, do your research. Mm-Hmm. If there's an agent that peaks your curiosity, absolutely. Talk to current or former clients. Get a sense as to what they can and what they can't do for you.

[01:09:46] Yeah. But also even before that, think about why you want to literary agent and what it is you want them to do for you. If you can do that without a literary agent, then maybe this isn't right for you. But as soon as you focus on your specific need, then you can see if that agent is a good fit. So for me, I don't need them to do anything with film because I've already got that agent.

[01:10:18] I'm very, very happy with that relationship. But. Something that I would be interested in is getting my work into foreign markets, into like translated version. So if there was an agent that particularly specializes in that Mm-hmm, then that would be like a kind of huge plus for me. I mean, I would even consider if such a, a thing exists, somebody who they, they specifically do that, that is their, their function and then I'd be happy for them to take a cut because, you know, I'm, I'm not really doing that much at all at the moment.

[01:10:59] So that's something that they could bring that I'm currently not doing. I

[01:11:05] Gwendolyn Kiste: think that's such a good point of knowing what it's you want and being able to identify those, those areas. And that's something that I actually am glad that I have more of an understanding as to what I want now than I did when I first started.

[01:11:18] And I did have a book like a long time ago that I tried to, but it was terrible. So I guess I've doing this technically longer than 10 years, I guess I always say 10 years because that was when my first short story was published, which is funny like, and it was great practice and I did the whole agent thing and everything.

[01:11:32] But yeah, like, and I had no idea what I wanted at that point. I didn't even fully understand what a literary agent did or what you could do on your own or what the differences between, you know, big four, big five publishing indie press or small press versus self-publishing and.

[01:11:55] It to like nobody wants to the time, but in the long run. So I've heard people say you learn so much more from than you ever from success. You tend to learn from failures. That tends to be the place where you start understanding things better. So

[01:12:15] Michael David Wilson: thank you so much for listening to this as horror podcast. If you want to get each and every episode ahead of the crowd and support the podcast, please head over to www.patreon.com/this is Horror and consider becoming our Paton. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you get to submit questions to the world's best writers.

[01:12:45] You can also listen to exclusive Patreon only podcasts, including Story Unboxed, the horror podcast on a crafter writing in which we unbox and dissect short stories and movies. The patrons only q and a sessions with myself and Bob Castella, where we answer all of your questions, writing related and otherwise.

[01:13:10] And a video cast on camera, off record. And if that is not enough, you can also become a member of the Writer's Forum over on Discord. So head over to patreon.com/this is horror. Have a little look at what it is that we offer. Listen to the testimonials from others who are patrons, and if it looks like a good fit for you, then I'd love to see you there.

[01:13:41] Now, another way that you can support the podcast, absolutely free of charge is to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts to rate us on Spotify or to follow us on social media. We are this as horror on X, formerly known as Twitter, and we are this as horror podcast on TikTok for video clips and little bites of motivational goodness and a splash of humor.

[01:14:11] You can also sign up for our newsletter@thisashorror.co uk. And if you would like to read my fiction, you can check out books, including the Girl in the Video and House of Bad Memories. And if you want to read Bob Pastor Re's Fiction, do consider picking up a copy of Mojo Rising. You can also check out a collaborative novel they're watching Well.

[01:14:39] Okay, with that said, it is now time for a quick advert break. Cosmos, the debuted cosmic horror novel from RC Haus as Alda has lived on the fringes of society for as long as she can remember until a Halloween night gone wrong, unlocks a cache of nightmarish memories, visions of a bizarre desert town, images of a mysterious woman, the pain of an ultimate betrayal, and the shame of a bargain made in blood.

[01:15:06] Now she must travel back and learn the true nature of the ravenous cosmos. Cosmos available everywhere. Books are

[01:15:12] Bob Pastorella: sold.

[01:15:16] 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.

[01:15:40] 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 paperback at cemeterygatesmedia.com or an ebook via Amazon.

[01:16:00] Michael David Wilson: Well, that about does it for another episode of This is Horror Podcast. I'll see you in the next one, but until then, take care of yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day.

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