August 31, 2012

Slush Piles and Other Crises of Faith: an interview with Maurice Broaddus (and a giveaway)

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Buried In Books are co-hosting a giveaway blog hop this week, and I'm taking part. But before we get to the giveaway, here is a great interview with of the men responsible for the book that's up for grabs in this giveaway!

Earlier this summer, I read and reviewed Dark Faith, an Apex Books anthology edited by MauriceBroaddus and Jerry Gordon. With the follow-up anthology nearly ready to hit shelves, I figured I should track down Maurice and ask him a few questions about the Dark Faith series and editing anthologies. Enjoy.

Gef: With Dark Faith exploring darker elements of faith and family, how much of a misconception did you find from prospective readers that the book was "Christian" horror?

Maurice: That was probably the biggest hurdle we had. When people see the word “faith” in a title, their mind tends to drift toward a Christian project (and Lord help you if you have any sort of religious iconography on your cover). It’s one of the reasons we put Jennifer Pelland’s story, “Ghosts of New York”, up first. Besides being a great story, the concept is easily pitched and people immediately realize that whatever they were thinking when it came to an anthology that turned on the idea of faith, they could go ahead and shatter that preconception.

Gef: How did you and Jerry Gordon come up with the concept for Dark Faith, or was this something presented to you?

Maurice: I host an annual convention called Mo*Con (we just celebrated our seventh year). Each year I invite a few horror, science fiction, and fantasy writers in, we hold the convention in a church, and we discuss topics related to genre and faith. You tell people you’re having a convention in a church, all they hear is “church” and, again, there are preconceptions to what goes on there. With the great line up of writers that we have regularly attending Mo*Con, we talked with Jason Sizemore, of Apex Books, about doing a Mo*Con anthology. That project evolved into Dark Faith.

Gef: Dark Faith: Invocations is on the horizon. Is the book designed as a continuation on the original theme, or are you looking to tackle the subject matter from a different angle this time around?

Maurice: We’re back in the saddle, continuing the same theme. The tone of Dark Faith: Invocations is a little different though. I don’t want to say the stories aren’t as dark, but the quirky factor is a lot higher. Our lead story is “Subletting God’s Head” by Tom Piccirilli.

Gef: Catherynne Valente's "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" had to be my favorite story from the anthology, and from 2010 for that matter, and was kind of like a hit single of an album. When you put together an anthology, do you have ideas on which stories might have a broader appeal than most, or is that not even a concern?

Maurice: After the success of Dark Faith, I gave up on the idea of guessing what stories might resonate with readers. I could not have predicted Cat’s story taking off like it did. We were pretty much giddy at the prospect of her writing a zombie tale. The only limits we put on the stories were that they couldn’t insult a religion (critique is one thing, offend quite another) nor could they be proselytizing (yes, I play for “Team Jesus”, but I didn’t want stories that were little more than Jesus fanfic).

Gef: Are there any adverse effects to wading through a slush pile when editing an anthology? Do you find most authors follow the guidelines to a reasonable degree, or is there a glut of astonishing ill-suited and ill-written stories that darken your own faith in humanity?

Maurice: Sigh.

Sigh.

Sigh.

The guidelines are right there. Black and white. Pretty simple. Yet we got everything from full novels to things that couldn’t be classified as stories. But we expected a fair number of “the title says 'Faith' and I’ve been sitting on this story with nowhere else to send it, so what’ll it hurt to send it” type stories. The thing is, for all the complaint about seeing such ill-suited and ill-written stories, they were easy to reject within a few lines. Which is good when you have a huge slush pile.

But every writer should have a go at a slush pile. Not only to see what sort of stories editors see ALL THE TIME (that alone was eye opening) but to see what sort of mistakes writers make when telling their stories. That critical eye you develop when looking at other people’s stories you then turn to your own and go “time to cross out those pages and start over.”

Gef: How much a gearshift is there between writing your stories and editing someone else's?

Maurice: The big danger is sliding into “well, here’s how I would have written that” territory. Other than that, the shift wasn’t bad at all. I usually like to juggle a few projects at a time that way when my brain has shut down on one I can leap to another. And editing uses a different part of the brain, so it made for a good break from some of the stories I was working on.

A big thanks to Maurice for the interview, and I encourage everyone to check out his site/blog at http://mauricebroaddus.com/. And you'll want to thank Maurice as well, because he was generous enough to offer four lucky winners (living in the U.S.) a trade paperback copy Dark Faith: Invocations. So, if you'd like to get your hands on this anthology, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. At the end of the contest, I'll draw four names. Good luck everyone! And if you aren't one of the lucky four to wind up with a free copy of the anthology, you can always find it available for purchase at Apex Books, as well as anywhere books are sold.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
 

2 comments:

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    Martin

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