Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Mark Parker.
Parker is the Owner and Managing Editor of Scarlet Galleon Publications, LLC, and recently oversaw the company’s inaugural publication, Dead Harvest: A Collection of Dark Tales. A writer himself, Parker’s works of short fiction includes Banshee’s Cry, Way of the Witch, Biology of Blood, Lucky You, and Halloween Night; he also had a story featured in the Wrapped in Red anthology (out from Sekhmet Press, LLC). He makes his home in New England.
Dead Harvest was published earlier this month and is currently available in digital and print editions. The anthology features fifty short stories from an eclectic group of writers, ranging from genre luminaries to the next generation of up-and-comers. Reader Gregg Zimmerman praised, “Nothing prepared me for the uniform high quality of the stories … ‘Dead Harvest’ stands up to comparison with the best horror anthologies that have been released over the years … I predict that [it] is going to be a topic of conversation among horror aficionados for years to come.”
From the publisher:
Each year, as summer fades to memory, and the sky begins to grow dark, and the leaves change color and fall, the faint, fetid scent of death—of slowly rotting things—begins to drift in, hanging on the chill air like a ghostly pall, making us wonder what this year’s harvest will produce.
Well…the harvest is here. And it’s dead.
With these 50 dark tales (and nearly 700 pages of terror!) readers will experience fear, depravity, love, and loss. And a kind of chill that won’t soon leave your bones.
DEAD HARVEST is a crop like no other—and includes stories from: Richard Chizmar, Tim Lebbon, Jeff Strand, Ronald Malfi, Greg F. Gifune, James A. Moore, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Tim Waggoner, David Bernstein, Richard Thomas, Jon Michael Kelley, Brian Kirk, Chad P. Brown, Lori R. Lopez, Stuart Keane, Tim Jeffreys, Ahimsa Kerp, C.M. Saunders, Martin Reaves, M.L. Roos, Gregory L. Norris, Angeline Trevena, Jeremy Peterson, Christine Sutton, Gregor Cole, Lori Safranek, Jaime Johnesee, Bear Weiter, Kyle Yadlosky, Aaron Gudmunson, Sara Brooke, C.L. Hernandez, Patrick Lacey, John Grover, Todd Keisling, Jason Andrew, Dana Wright, Andrew Bell, E.G. Smith, Amy Grech, Mark Patrick Lynch, Wayland Smith, Jonathan Templar, Marie Robinson, Michael McGlade, Jordan Phelps, Nick Nafpliotis, Matthew Pedersen, Bryan Clark—and introducing Billy Chizmar.
Enter the harvest and get lost . . .
Now, Mark Parker takes readers inside the reaping …
1) What inspired the idea for DEAD HARVEST – and how has Scarlet Galleon Publications been used as a vehicle for this project?
The inspiration for DEAD HARVEST was really something of a happy accident. The book was originally going to be a collection of my own work, but when I considered founding Scarlet Galleon Publications, around the same time I thought about writing the collection, I decided that DEAD HARVEST would be the imprint’s inaugural publication, which I then opened for submissions. I have always loved autumn and thought it would be interesting to center an anthology set around that time of year. My original thought was that the book would be a “harvest” of stories, but naturally most of the contributors chose to work with a harvest theme, which played well for a pre-Thanksgiving release. As for the second part of your question, Scarlet Galleon Publications is a new publishing company bringing a fresh, new anthology to readers of dark fiction. For me as its founder, it is gratifying to see how both Galleon and DEAD HARVEST are being embraced by readers and industry leaders as well. It has certainly made all the hard work worthwhile. It’s interesting to see both come to life as they have.
2) How did you choose the stories that comprise this book – and what can you tell us about the range of talent included?
Much to my surprise, I received nearly 200 submissions when the submissions call went out for DEAD HARVEST last August. Seeing I’m the primary staff member of SGP, it took me quite a while to read through all the submissions. It was both exhilarating and challenging, to say the least. When I got to the end of the review process, I had difficulty letting go of some of the really good stories just because most anthologies are 15-25 stories in length. What resulted was me picking just under a third of the stories that I really enjoyed and thought would appeal to a broad reader base, and I think we achieved that. Regarding the range of talent included in the anthology, the stories are written by both veteran and new, up-and-coming writers, which I think makes for a really nice cross-section of literary voices. In the book’s nearly 700 pages, there is truly something for everyone. The anthology includes stories from industry leaders such as Richard Chizmar, Tim Lebbon, Ronald Malfi, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Greg F. Gifune, Tim Waggoner, James A. Moore, and David Bernstein—and many other stories from wonderful new authors, including our youngest, first-time published author, Billy Chizmar, with his story, “THE END”. We made a bit of history with two generations of Chizmar men represented in DEAD HARVEST. They are both signing editions of the book purchased through the Cemetery Dance website at: www.cemeterydance.com
3) The underlying theme to this collection is the fall harvest. What does this term mean to you – and how do the anthology’s contributions represent variations on this concept?
When I decided upon the title, all sorts of images began to come flooding into my mind. One example is the farming term “the back forty,” which refers to an undeveloped parcel of land running alongside a cultivated one, such as a farm or cornfield. The thought of what might be found growing in such an untended patch of land, amid the brambles and unturned soil, really got me thinking how “dead” a harvest such a forgotten place might produce—what kind of unthinkable things might spring up if the brambles were cut away and the soil was disrupted. When folks read DEAD HARVEST, they will quickly see that many contributors chose to work with a harvest theme, while others wrote less “themed” stories, but still ones that were “dark.” Then some chose a rural “setting” as their stories’ backdrop. And others focused more on particular “aspects” of the harvest season, such as the terrifying and claustrophobic rows of corn in an endless field, or the creepy, black-eyed scarecrows like the one that graces our cover. Barns. Grain silos. Hollowed out trees. A harvest that’s dead has them all!
4) What is the role of the editor in a project such as this – and how do you balance satisfying the authors while maintaining the integrity of the overall piece?
Interesting question! Early on I felt I knew the answer to what an editor does, or what their “role” is, but once I dove into the actual process of editing, I received some unexpected feedback from a few contributors (and even a bit of resistance in some cases) around what was expected of me as an editor, and especially, a first-time, untried editor. It took me a while to find my footing and settle into what I knew I had to do—and be—as the guy at the helm (pardon the pun!). At one point, I actually looked the term up in the dictionary, just to make sure I had things right. One listing said that an editor was someone who “makes something wholly presentable,” which I thought sounded pretty good, and true. That being said, it came as a surprise to me that many writers expect an editor to only proofread their stories and correct minor issues that might’ve been missed prior to submission. It was eye-opening to learn this. I think it will greatly help me the next time I open a call for submissions and take on the role of editor again. As a first-time editor I naturally felt some apprehension taking on so many stories by so many talented, seasoned writers, but once I knew what I had really signed on for, I fell into a comfortable rhythm with it all, but it was a definitely a matter of learning to trust myself with the stories I’d chosen. I remember thinking, the cover’s gorgeous, but what if folks don’t like the stories I selected. I just had to let that go and move on. I think the result was worth the learning curve. Folks seem to really be enjoying the collection.
5) Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?
As anyone who knows me will attest, when I dream, I dream BIG! My head is already filled with ideas and concepts of publications I would like to see Galleon produce. I’m beginning to think next up will be a summer 2015 anthology of sea-inspired tales of terror, either set in or around the ocean, exploring its fearful depths. Having grown up near Cape Cod, I have always been fascinated—and terrified—by the sea, which is really crazy seeing I am a Navy veteran (…don’t ask me how that happened!) But I do think “water” is something that frightens many people. JAWS was my favorite movie when I was a kid—I had to have seen that damned thing fifty times if I saw it once. I definitely think this would be a rich theme to go with, so I think we definitely will. Then, we may do a second DEAD HARVEST collection. We’ll have to wait and see. We also hope to publish single author novellas and novels in the genres of horror, mystery, and suspense. Stay tuned!
With thanks to Mark Parker for his generosity of time and thought.