July 29, 2015

Horror is a Nurturing Mother: a guest post by Jason Sizemore, author of "For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher"

Born the son of an unemployed coal miner in a tiny Kentucky Appalachian villa named Big Creek (population 400), Jason Sizemore fought his way out of the hills to the big city of Lexington. He attended Transylvania University (a real school with its own vampire legend) and received a degree in computer science. Since 2005, he has owned and operated Apex Publications. He is the editor of five anthologies, author of Irredeemable, a three-time Hugo Award loser, an occasional writer, who can usually be found wandering the halls of hotel conventions

Horror is a Nurturing Mother
by Jason Sizemore

Horror has a complicated relationship with mothers. Everybody loves his/her momma, so turning a maternal relationship on its ear is a great method to introduce anxiety and fear. Examples abound. There’s Norman Bates and his mom in Psycho. Carrie receives no love from mother in Carrie. More recently, Amelia Vannick in The Babadook made us worry for the safety of her annoying son.

Horror films and books also function as maternal placeholders for many fans. It probably comes as no surprise, but I was an unusual kid growing up. I was toothpick skinny. Adorned on my head was a huge red afro (I looked like a mutated walking matchstick). I wore big, thick glasses. To compound my uncool nature, I had a speaking disorder until I was ten years old. While never excessively bullied, I always felt out of place. That’s where horror found a place in my life.

A good horror movie or book can be cathartic experience. I never rejoiced in the violence and terrible things I watched or read. Nor did I associate those experiences into real life activities. What did happen, and what I think happens to most fans, is that you are facing the reality that shitty and scary stuff happens in life. Uncool kids like me, the people on the fringe, we appreciate this view.

You often hear the unenlightened ask “Why do you like such things?” when they find out you’re a fan of horror. They not-so-silently judge you.

If I the person is someone who has admitted to liking a certain film before, I sometimes respond with a question such as “Why do you like The Avengers? Think of all the people that died during the big fight in the city?”

Typically, the response goes “Yeah, but the film doesn’t focus on the death and destruction—“

I’ll interrupt with “Because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

I’m not silly enough to equate the comic battles of the Avengers with the violence of Jason Vorhees. That would be to miss the point. Horror, via the cold, hard facts—that death is inevitable and danger lurks everywhere—takes us in its protective arms and makes us realize that despite the cold, hard facts we will be okay. There’s a reason the maxim “Face your fears” encourages you to face up to daunting or scary tasks.

In For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, I describe the relationship I had with my mom as a child. We had mother/son movie nights where we watched horror films of all degrees of quality and scariness. These movies made me mentally tough, and made me realize that there are things far worse than being an uncool, nerdy kid.

I’m still an uncool, nerdy kid, but that’s okay. My maternal upbringing prepared me for it.


For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher
by Jason Sizemore
Apex Publications
182 pages
ISBN: 9781937009304
Available at Apex Book Company and Amazon

What does it take to become a Hugo and Stoker Award-nominated editor and publisher? Follow Jason Sizemore’s unconventional professional path as it winds through a tiny, overheated Baptist church deep within the coal fields of Appalachia, Kentucky, past a busted printer and a self-serving boss that triggered an early mid-life crisis and the epiphany that he should open a magazine spreading the gospel of science fiction to the masses, all the way to WorldCon 2012 and his first Hugo Awards ceremony. 

In this collection of semi-true and sometimes humorous essays, Jason exposes the parties, people, and triumphs that shaped him into the Apex Overlord. He also lays bare the hardships and failures that have threatened to take it all away. Meet Thong Girl, heed the warning about the ham, receive rest stop bathroom wisdom, and visit an emergency room straight out of a horror movie in this extraordinary account of life as a publisher and editor. 

With rebuttal essays from Maurice Broaddus, Monica Valentinelli, Lesley Conner, and more, For Exposure tells Jason’s story with insight from key players along his road to success. It is a comprehensive and frank look at what Apex and the genre publishing business is about. Take a shot with the publisher, dance the night away, and become a legend. And do it all For Exposure. 

Includes first-person rebuttals by Geoffrey Girard, Maurice Broaddus, Janet Harriett, Monica Valentinelli, Sara M. Harvey, Justin Stewart, and Elaine Blose. 

Also features a look at Apex ten years in the future by Michael A. Burstein, Jaym Gates, Maggie Slater, and Jettie Necole. 

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, this makes me think I'm doing something right as a mother. If my kids turn out to be as weird and fab as Jason, then that's a win.