Welcome back to our final Women in Horror spotlight of 2016! My, how February went too fast!
Today, I am super excited to present editor and writer Sarah E. Glenn. With her wife, Gwen Mayo, Sarah is the purveyor of Mystery and Horror LLC, a fantastic small press that recently received two nominations for the Agatha Award! In addition to her editing, Sarah is also an accomplished author in her own right with stories in State of Horror: Louisiana and Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology.
Sarah and I recently discussed the genesis of Mystery and Horror, LLC as well as the trajectory of Sarah’s fantastic fiction writing career.
A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was still in elementary school. I loved to read, and couldn’t imagine anything nobler than creating stories like the ones I enjoyed. Now that I’m older, I have a greater appreciation for the other people who helped bring those wonderful books into being.
Favorite authors: I know this sounds corny, but I enjoy Stephen King. I started with Carrie when I was eleven. Anne Perry and Louise Penny are also favorites due to the depth of their characters and plots. I loved the Chris Claremont era of the X-Men, and, later, the Neil Gaiman Sandman tales; as a teen, I had a burning desire to work for Marvel Comics.
Then, there’s Robin Cook. His best books explore current issues in medicine, like the impact of genetic research on who may and may not be able to buy health insurance. Lately, he’s taken on nanomedicine. Very technical stuff, but he presents it so it makes sense.
What inspired you and Gwen Mayo to start your own small press? What’s been the most surprising part so far about running Mystery and Horror, LLC?
I’ll take ‘Indie Press Folds’ for $300, Alex. Our first novels were published by Pill Hill Press, a great small press that frequently published stories that were nontraditional even by speculative fiction standards. The owners’ family expanded, and they decided to close the press for the time being. I hope Pill Hill resurfaces – they had a good crew of authors on their forums and took suggestions for anthologies.
Gwen and I were sorry to see it go, and we decided to open our own press. We could have taken the self-publishing route, I suppose, but we really wanted to work with other writers, too. Some of the Pill Hill authors came over and submitted stories to us; Monstermatt Patterson, who had published Monstermatt’s Bad Monster Jokes with Pill Hill, has done two collections with us.
What surprises me the most is how genuinely nice most writers are. There’s a stereotype of the author who takes herself too seriously, and some of those do exist, but most of the people I’ve encountered are friendly, generous, and funny. I think I’ve found my people at last.
When you’re reading through submissions, is there something specific you’re looking for in a story? Also, do you have a preference for character-driven stories or plot-driven stories?
A good idea is what snags my interest. The idea can simply be an interesting situation (a toothless vampire, e.g.), but I also love a whodunit where the reader gets a chance to identify the killer. If you want me to follow a series, though, you need to have good characters.
How do you balance your work as an editor with your work as a writer? Is it ever difficult to make time for both?
I work full time, plus I have a long commute. Yes, it is difficult to make time. I come home during the week and just want to crash. Some people stand on their feet all day; I stand on my brain. I try to be constructive, though, and right now, editing is winning.
Out of your published fiction as a writer, do you have a personal favorite work?
I’d have to say I’m especially pleased with the short story “Caldera of Trouble”. I’ve been to the island of Santorini, and I worked hard to capture its beauty and eeriness in words. I also drew my information on the vrykolakas from scholarly works, rather than pop culture. It was a pleasure to write. It’s still available on Amazon under my name.
Where would you like to see your writing and editing career in five years?
Gwen and I have been working on a novel featuring two retired nurses from World War I. It’s called Murder on the Mullet Express, and it should come out later this year. I hope, in five years, that we’ll have a sequel published or in the works. I plan to reissue my first novel, All This and Family, Too, with revisions. I also have a separate novel I’d like to finish and publish, one that is darker than my usual material, but I’ve already entered Fantasyland in this paragraph.
As an editor: I want to publish more anthologies with interesting themes, including a Best of Strangely Funny book. I’m dealing with the fourth collection now; I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Gwen and I want to grow the press and publish more award-winning books; we’ve been fortunate with the authors we’ve chosen so far.
Big thanks to Sarah E. Glenn for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find out more about Mystery and Horror, LLC on its official site, and pick up a copy of Sarah’s story, Caldera of Trouble, on Amazon.