Tell me a bit about yourselves. How did Black Mirror Press come into being?
Scott: First, thank you so much, Cynthia, for this opportunity. In terms of background, both Clint and I spent a great deal of our careers in the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). Currently, I’m a consultant and Clint is currently a background check consultant for the State of Indiana, Department of Child Services.
In terms of BMP’s origins, a few years ago, Clint and I found ourselves working in the same IC office and discovered that we were both writers and both very interested in horror, thrillers, fantasy…basically dark fiction. As an interesting aside, one of Clint’s stories—which I actually read while I was in grad school—was published in the very first Horror Writers Association anthology, Under the Fang, so it’s been a privilege to work with and learn from Clint.
So after working together for a while, we decided we should form a small press as we had a number of ideas for anthologies and other products and established the Company in early 2015. We greatly benefited from the help and experience of members of various writing groups within the IC, especially the LEA, which produced its anthology, Bill of Frights, in 2014 or so and Clint and I were both a part of that process.
Clint: Thanks, Cynthia. I have to give Scott full credit for coming up with the idea of forming a small press and even with the name of the press, which I thought fit perfectly for what we wanted to do. We both liked the idea of doing anthologies for themes we saw no one was doing. We saw there was an opportunity to do something fun and creative and give readers something completely different. We also knew there were other voices out there wanting to be heard, and that to me is the joy of an anthology, introducing new and up-and-coming writers to the world. I have been thrilled and pleased to see how writers responded to our first effort, Snowpocalypse.
Your new anthology, Snowpocalypse: Tales of the End of the World, sounds intriguing. What was the inspiration for the anthology’s topic?
Scott: Much as I would like to take credit for this inspired choice, this was Clint’s baby.
Clint: I have to say it would still just be an intriguing idea if Scott had not initiated the effort to create Black Mirror Press, so he was the great north wind that pushed the storm along. Scott and I both recall the big winter storms that hit Virginia a few years ago, when we had something like over three feet of snow that closed schools and the government. I remember walking along empty roads gleaming with ice to the grocery store. It was then people started using the terms “snowpocalypse,” “snowmageddon,” and the like. Trudging back over snowdrifts, the wind chill nipping at me, I wondered “What if it stays like this? What if spring never comes?
Are you planning your next anthology project?
Scott: We have several in mind, including: a Poe-themed anthology and one based loosely on that classic comic book, Weird War. However, next up will be an espionage-themed anthology and what we think will set this apart is that it will include stories written by current and former members of the IC…as long as they go through the appropriate pre-publication approval process, of course.
Clint: I think our niche is doing anthologies that are always a little different and not the same stuff you can find anywhere. We want to offer readers collections they will find nowhere else. The espionage anthology will be like that, and will be worth the time it will take to put it all together, for you won’t be able to find anything else like it.
What advice would you give to authors submitting short stories for your consideration?
Scott: First I would say, definitely submit, don’t ever let the fear that your story is not good enough hold you back and we love hearing from authors. When I think about the Snowpocalypse submissions we ultimately rejected—and let me say that as authors ourselves, we know how disappointing this can be—there were several commonalities in many cases: the stories did not address the theme of the anthology (suggesting they had one on hand and were resubmitting rather than creating for our anthology), they had far too much narrative exposition, the ending was inadequate and/or they were fraught with craft errors (e.g., jarring POV shifts), there was nothing all that original, and/or in some cases it was good but either just didn’t fit. So, in terms of advice, aside from avoiding the preceding, I would suggest asking a trusted reader (someone objective) to review, taking a hard look again at the anthology requirements, and giving it a thorough edit. Also, in terms of craft, one of the best books I’ve found is The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing by Alice LaPlante and would highly recommend that.
Clint: Scott is absolutely right in saying some stories sent to us didn’t address the requested theme. We got one story in which there wasn’t even any snow! So, yes, please read the submission call carefully and look at what they want you to send in. I would even say ask the anthologists what is it you want but don’t have if you are having trouble coming up with an idea. I know we will gladly tell you. I got a story into an anthology one time because the editor said I would really like a story about this particular aspect, and so I came up with one responsive to what she wanted. Editors will give you clues. I was hoping to get a good Yeti story, but never got one. ; )
Also be supportive of any suggested editing or tweaking, as the editors want you to succeed. We had to suggest a few things so stories fit our theme a little better, and I think everyone was really pleased how it worked out. We have a collection of stories unique as snowflakes, with a myriad of perspectives of what it means to be caught in a snowpocalypse.
Is there anything else you’d like to share? Tips? Advice? Thoughts about the Horror genre?
Clint: Keep writing as you have a unique voice. No one else has the ideas you have, so send them out there. Not all will fly, but some will make it into the night sky. Horror is a great big carnival tent and you’re invited. Just bring something new and different as your ticket in.
Scott: I definitely agree with Clint on both the importance of continuing to write and the inclusiveness of horror. I’ve also been struck by the increasing popularity of horror across mediums (movies, TV, etc.) which I think (hope) bodes well for the genre.