Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Interview: Ted E. Grau - New Managing Editor of Science Fiction Horror for Dark Regions Press

Dark Regions Press is one of the prime publishers of horror fiction today. They have been in business since 1985, and over the years have published fiction from many fine authors. Recently the people in charge noticed something: there's not nearly enough good science fiction horror out in the field. Sure, there is some, if you look for it. There's certainly no lack of quality sci-fi terror in cinema, and the video game market has a growing stable of titles that fit the bill perfectly. But as for books and stories? A few come to mind, but not nearly enough. Thankfully, the fine folks in charge at Dark Regions Press have decided to change that. And as great as that news is, the news of who they picked as managing editor makes it all the more exciting.

Ted E. Grau is many things. An author of dark fiction, an essayist, a blogger, a friend and a weird fiction/horror connoisseur. As he now adds editor onto his resume, I could think of no one more well-suited to this position. Mr. Grau was kind enough to consent to an interview, to give readers an idea of what's in store.

AD: Dark Regions Press is one of the most successful small press publishers, putting out quality work for over two decades. What are you bringing to the team?

TEG:  I hope that I’m bringing a keen eye for quality writing, first and foremost.  I approach my position as not only an editor, but also as a writer of genre fiction, and a huge fan, as well.  I will seek out authors and help develop projects that I view as the best available from the ever-expanding pool of talent working in speculative fiction, both new and established. 

I want to discover and secure the best in contemporary Science Fiction Horror Fiction, and cover art, adding to an already proud roster of DRP authors and impressive catalog of books.

AD: What kind of science fiction horror works for you? What are some examples of novels/short story collections and authors that hit what you feel to be the mark when it comes to the science fiction horror genre?

TEG:  Something imaginative and bold, and not derivative at its core.  I’m not a big fan of bandwagon horror, where every new story sounds like the last, to take advantage of some marketing flashpoint or cultural trend.  I’m not looking for sparkling vampire stories or florid romance between supernatural creatures… in space.  I want something ORIGINAL and compelling.  I want something terrifying, and profoundly unsettling.  I want a great story, constructed of great prose, be it baroque or Spartan.  I’m a style hound, but those styles can vary, as long as the story is interesting, and appeals to our readership.

As for what authors of Science Fiction Horror might fit my ideal, my answer will be a bit hazy, as Dark Regions is one of the few - and possibly only - publishers that now has a stand-alone, dedicated department devoted solely to Science Fiction Horror, and only Science Fiction Horror.  Chris Morey wants to break new ground in this area, and I want to help him do just that, building the brand and helping add additional accolades to a strong, fair-dealing publisher devoted to bringing the best of speculative fiction to readers and the wider Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction marketplace.

So, back to the question:  I don’t want to name any particular authors, collections, or novels as my favorites, as I’m bound to leave someone out of my specific praise, so I’ll wuss out and default to the sorts of Science Fiction Horror films and television series that appeal to me, starting with John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is my favorite horror film of all time.  Other examples of great - or at the very least, interesting – Science Fiction Horror on the big and small screen include Alien, Frankenstein, The Mist, Planet of the Apes, Blade Runner, The Fly, War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien Nation, The Terminator, The Blob, old Japanese monster movies, 1950’s and 60’s American science fiction creature films, Dr. Who, Lost in Space, the original Land of the Lost and original V, The X-Files, and more recently, Cloverfield and Prometheus, although I had issues with both.  Zombie and post-apocalyptic films count, as well, as long as they have a definite futuristic/science fiction backbone.  Stories that echo some of these themes are all fair game, and will have my immediately interest.

And, as a proud reader, writer, and supporter of Lovecraftian fiction, I’m a sucker for Cosmic Horror, as long as its not Mythos-heavy pastiche.

AD: So as the managing editor of science fiction horror, what kind of work are you looking for?

TEG:  I’m looking for anything that pushes the boundaries and has a unique voice.  Familiar tropes are okay, as it becomes increasingly difficult to create something 100% original as more and more stories are penned each day, but if the setting is prosaic, make what happens and by whom original and unique in some way.

It can be epic and galactic, or it can be small and intimate.  It can experimental, it can be slipstream, it can even be conventional, as far as setting and other tertiary elements.  It just has to sing.  Overall, I’m tough, but not a snob.  I enjoy a good breezy read as much as a deep, thought provoking piece, as long as it’s well written.  Now, describing what good fiction looks, sounds, and tastes like compared to bad is nearly impossible, but you certainly know both the former and the latter when you come across it.  I want to read – and DRP wants to publish - the good stuff, and won’t settle for anything less. 

So, if you have a novel or novella that you think fits the bill, have someone put a bird in my ear.  We aren’t accepting general submissions, and will be operating by invite and referral only, so if I don’t know about an amazing work of Science Fiction Horror that needs to see the light of a dying sun, find a way to bring it to my attention, and I’ll take it from there.

AD: Do you have a "manifesto" or any goals that you've formulated going into this new position?

TEG:  My main goal is to continue the tradition of excellence and success that Dark Regions Press has established and maintained for just shy of three decades.  That’s incredibly impressive.  As other indie presses have risen and fallen (sometimes in quite surprising and/or painful fashion), DRP has remained, and I take that decorated longevity very seriously in my mission to keep the brand vibrant and strong. 

Following that, the ambitious editor in me would like to elevate – if possible – the quality of book that DRP puts out, from the inside out.  Even the best can always improve, and I think with the recent staff additions to the company (including R.J. Cavender of Cutting Block Press fame joining as Managing Editor of Horror), Dark Regions is looking to grow and advance, becoming a bedrock for the very best in Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction – and all the delicious amalgamations of the same – in the field today.  My manifesto is to make that happen, and I’ll be dogged in this pursuit.

AD: Thanks again for doing the interview, I really look forward to seeing what you do with Dark Regions Press!

TEG:  Thank you, Justin, for the great questions and the interest in Dark Regions Press, and my new position in the company.  Excellent review and news sites devoted to speculative fiction like Arkham Digest are essential to helping spread the good, dark word about our authors and projects, and I hope some of our books make their way into the Digest in the coming days.  New vistas beckon, and we’ve got so much to show you…

Ted E. Grau has a blog, The Cosmicomicon, in which he writes essays and book reviews. His essay work can also be found on The Teeming Brain as well as The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog. His fiction has appeared in numerous places, such as the Lovecraftian anthologies Dead But Dreaming 2, Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities, and The Aklonomicon as well as the always amazing (and free to read) Lovecraft eZine.