Ross E. Lockhart made quite a name for himself as an editor for a small press before breaking off and starting his own small press, Word Horde. Tales of the Jack The Ripper is the first anthology Ross has published with his press, and it's been garnering several positive reviews, my own included. Ross stops by The Arkham Digest to chat about the Ripper anthology and what can be expected from his new press.
First things first, I'd like to thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Thanks for having me, Justin.
How did Word Horde come to be, and how did you settle on such a catchy name for your press?
I'm so glad you like the name. The name Word Horde was the result of my daydreaming while listening to a recording of Beowulf. There's this great line in which Beowulf unlocks his "word-hoard"--the treasure-chest of his vocabulary and storytelling skill--to impress a group of warriors. Somehow, that kenning got twisted around in my head and I found myself contending with a gang of words. That metaphor--words as warriors--really resonated with me, so I tucked it away in my own word-hoard waiting for the right opportunity to use it.
Earlier this year, I started Word Horde out of necessity. As you know, until December of last year I worked as managing editor for--what did the New York Times call them?--a "tiny specialty press" out of San Francisco. Without going into too much detail, that was a company with a lot of problems, and while I was able to fix a great many problems while there, there were fundamental problems that were, frankly, unsolvable. Once we parted ways, I knew I wanted to start my own publishing company so that I could continue doing the work I love, editing great novels and stories and anthologies, but I also realized that I wanted to structure my company in a way that treated authors, editors, artists, and designers fairly and with respect. I wanted the creatives I worked with to feel like they were part of something bigger. Part of the Word Horde.
Why did you choose Tales of Jack The Ripper to be your first project? What do you find alluring about the Ripper and his murders?
As boogymen go, Jack is a rock star. Everybody knows about Jack, but nobody knows who he really was. Everybody has a mental image of this heinous killer--mine includes a touch of Lon Chaney in London after Midnight--and yet, a century and a quarter after five women were brutally murdered, the case remains unsolved. Moreover, Jack has inspired so many authors to expand upon the mystery that the lines between fact and fiction aren't just blurry, they're practically invisible. John Francis Brewer's The Curse Upon Mitre Square may have been the first bit of fiction to explore and exploit the murders, but it definitely wasn't the last. Authors from Marie Belloc Lowndes to Robert Bloch to Harlan Ellison to Maureen Johnson to Alan Moore have taken their own stabs at this subject. With Tales of Jack the Ripper, I wanted to give some of my favorite storytellers a chance to peel back the layers of this mystery and expand on Jack's literary legacy.
Is Word Horde going to focus mostly on short fiction, or do you plan to include novels in your lineup as well?
I'm concentrating on anthologies and short works in the short term, but I would like to include novels--the right novels--in the Word Horde lineup some day. Fiction works best for me in bite-sized pieces. I feel that Poe, in "The Philosophy of Composition," nailed it: "If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression -- for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and every thing like totality is at once destroyed."
Are you open to any sorts of submissions or pitches at this time? If so, what kind of work would you like to see?
Absolutely. I am doing prep work and beginning to send out invitations for a third Cthulhu Mythos volume, though I'd like to partner with a larger publisher for that project. Word Horde projects I am now reading for include a Giallo anthology (stories inspired by the Italian crime genre and the films of directors like Argento, Bava, and Fulci), and I have plans for anthologies paying tribute to some of my favorite filmic and literary genres (weird war stories, swashbucklers, etc.). I prefer to work with authors on an invitation basis, rather than issuing an open call, but I'm always interested in hearing pitches from authors interested in wrangling an invitation to the party. The more the merrier!
What can readers expect from Word Horde in the future? Are there any projects you can talk about at this time?
Readers should expect great things from Word Horde. I'm not quite ready to reveal all our cards, but I would encourage readers to bookmark http://www.wordhorde.com or sign up for our mailing list or like us on Facebook. That way, you'll not just find out about new books and projects as they happen, you'll also get plenty of behind-the-scenes information.
Once again, I thank you for your time!
Thank you! I had a great time.