In this latest feature I travelled to the southern U.S., Austin, Texas, to be exact. This is where I sought out the guys at Sinister Grin Press. Sinister Grin Press is a publishing house formed inside the dark minds of co- founders Travis Tarpley and Shane McKenzie. The press is partnered with Matt Worthington and Tristan
Thorne. I am a huge fan of these guys. They have released some truly memorable limited edition hardbacks by Adam Cesare, Charlee Jacob, Lee Thomas, Kristopher Rufty and Wrath James White. But, that’s not all! They have released a number of EBooks and paperbacks from the above mentioned and others including the brilliant ‘Jackpot’ – a novel about a serial killer who strikes it big by winning the lottery! This particular book brought together Adam Cesare, Kristopher Rufty, David Bernstein and Shane McKenzie in a tale filled with gruesome acts of depravity and coated in dark humour. It was heaps of fun to read and grossed me out on several occasions too.
What follows is a series of questions I put to the guys about their publishing adventures and some insight into their forthcoming projects. Enjoy!
GNoH: First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. To start with - some folks out there might not be familiar with the press. Can you tell us a little bit more about it? What are some of the titles that are currently available and what is/are your most recent release/s?
Thanks for letting us talk to you.
Sinister Grin Press was started in 2011 by Shane McKenzie and Travis Tarpley, as a place to create excellent horror in a writer friendly environment. Shane had to step down in 2013 as his own writing career was taking off so Tristan Thorne came aboard. Then in 2014 Matt Worthington joined the crew. It is still a “small” press and the three of us do it all. We do have the pleasure of working with some great contract artists, editors, formatters and now a publicist. Through it all we have tried to maintain a philosophy and understanding that writer and publisher are symbiotic, helping each other to create success.
In the past six months we have released Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz, The Black Goat Motorcycle Club by Jason Murphy, Fort and Companions in Ruin by Mark Allan Gunnells, A Mixed Bag of Blood by David Bernstein and Gardens of Babylon by Sara Brooke. The most recent releases will be The Zyne Project by Sara Brooke, Red Sky by Nate Southard and Seven Feet Under by Matthew Weber.
GNoH: Why did you decide to become involved in publishing?
Well we all have different reasons but I think it boils down to wanting to create. The desire to search out that newest story no one knows and bring it out into the light, make it public, nurture it and watch it grow.
GNoH: What have been the highlights of your publishing career thus far?
The horror community as a whole. Watching the way, a group of people come together for something, anything…. when the only thing in common is the love of fear. It doesn’t matter if it is a simple marketing promotion, a kickstarter, a forum discussion or a fund raiser; horror fans come together like no other group. That is amazing!
GNoH: What goals do you have with each of your releases? How do you measure whether or not the book has been a success?
Quality product that carves a smile on your face. Honestly, as long as we didn’t lose our shirts and more than four people liked it……that’s a success.
GNoH: Is this a full-time job? If not-how many hours per week do you spend working on the press?
No, all of us still have regular jobs as well. Actually let me correct that, this is a full time job for all of us on top of our regular jobs. Each of us spends anywhere from 20 to 40 hours per week on the press. The amount of time is dictated by the projects we have.
GNoH: Horror and dark fiction is still frowned upon by many. From a fiction perspective; what do you think of its current state?
Well I’m not sure why anyone would frown on horror. A good story is just a good story. If it happens to invoke fear or disgust, then it did its job and got you emotionally involved. The genres have always been blurred and there are horror elements in some of the most read non-horror books. As far as the current state? If book sales and publishing can weather the current climate of independent digital release, I think there is a fantastic group of writers coming up the ranks and they may well usher in a new golden age of horror. The talent of some of these men and women is extraordinary but the market place is so noisy that it is hard to be heard.
GNoH: I have to say that the production on the limited hardbacks you produce is absolute top draw! What titles are in the pipeline for the rest of 2016 and beyond?
Well in the very near future we have Blister by Jeff Strand and Savages by Greg F. Gifune and The Family Tree by John Everson. Beyond those we have Limited Edition Hard Covers planned with Shane McKenzie, David Bernstein, J.F. Gonzalez and more we can’t talk about yet.
GNoH: ‘Jackpot’ has been a favourite of mine for some time. The whole concept of a serial killer winning the lottery is just brilliant! Who had the idea to get Adam, Shane, David and Kristopher together for this twisted tale and will we be seeing more from Booker in the future?
Shane had the idea when he was still with the press as a co-owner. He chose the other three to write with. It was originally going to be a chapbook as part of a giveaway, but it grew into something else. As for more Booker? Yes. The second book is being written by the guys right now and should be out later this year. A third book is contracted for late 2017. Both will be available in Limited Edition Hard Cover as well as paperback and eBook.
GNoH: You guys have published some great, great Horror authors. Is there anybody out there that you haven’t managed to snag yet, but whom you would really like to work with?
Of course. The list is so long it would take up the rest of this interview. And I would still forget someone. Let’s just say we have a list and we are working our way through it.
GNoH: Audiobooks seem to be getting more popular by the year. Are any Sinister Grin titles available as Audiobooks, and if not, do you guys have any future plans with the format?
A few of the writers have plans for their books to come out in audio. We have kicked it around and talked about it but currently are still in the “not right now” phase. I think at some point we will either produce our own or partner with someone and bring audio to the marketplace.
GNoH: Thanks, guys. One thing I am sure writers who visit the site would like to know. Are the Sinister Grin Press open to submissions? If not, when will you open and what is it you look for in a manuscript?
Well we were lucky enough to start small and network our way into some fantastic manuscripts. Our first open call submission was last October, Halloween and all. Surprisingly enough we ended up with close to 150 submissions in 30 days. We are still going through all of them. I suspect we will have open calls for short stories yearly as we continue the Fresh Meat volumes to discover new writers. As for long fiction…..not sure. Let us get through what we have and see what happens.
The life of a publisher is a busy one and I’m incredibly grateful for you answering these questions. We wish you all the best for 2016 and beyond…
Thank you for having us.
You can find out more at SinisterGrinPress.com or find them on Facebook and Twitter.