Mario Acevedo is the author of the Felix Gomez series, five vampire novels, a graphic novel, some short fiction, and numerous ghostwritten books. He lives in Denver.
Joshua Viola is an author, artist, and former video game developer. In addition to creating a transmedia franchise around “The Bane of Yoto,” honored with more than a dozen awards, he is the author of “Blackstar,” a tie-in novel based on the discography of Celldweller. He lives in Denver, where he is chief editor and owner of Hex Publishers.
What inspired you to write this book?
Joshua Viola (the publisher and senior editor) and I enjoy horror and crime. We wanted an anthology of stories that makes already desperate characters even more desperate and brings into focus the delicate fabric of our society as it tears apart. We also wanted to showcase a mix of writers from different backgrounds that we thought deserved more attention and present an opportunity for those writers to try something new.
Who are your favorite authors and/or characters?
There are many great writers who have inspired us so it’s hard to pick one over another. If we must, let’s say in horror, we like Peter Straub: in mystery-crime, we like Robert Crais. However, if the question is about which authors and characters from “Blood Business” are our favorites, that’s tough to answer since we think all of the stories are quite good. Two stories that me made laugh because of their outright zaniness despite being about murder were an Officer And A Hitman by Gary Jonas and The Guessing Game by Sean Eads. Another cool story was It Doesn’t Mean Anything by Shannon Baker because of the way she crafted the intricate details of a sophisticated murderous trap. It was interesting to read a crime caper from a woman’s point of view.
Why did you choose this excerpt to feature in SunLit?
We wanted to share an example from the anthology that shows the type of off-kilter characters who are doomed for disaster. The writer team of Mark Stevens and Dean Wyant did an amazing job immersing us in their troubled world. We’re also interested in collaborations and how two different writers can mesh their imagination and craft to produce a compelling story. In the real world, Stevens and Wyant are both rather reserved and considerate and so it’s illuminating–and a bit disturbing–to see them write such a twisted story about destructive personalities. It helps to think like a serial killer. What I enjoy about reading crime stories is that they reveal how fragile our hold is on humanity and our sense of decency. People murder for the most banal of reasons.
What was the most fun or rewarding part of working on this book?
Working with a lot of great writers and seeing what kind of demented tales they came up with. We also enjoyed the editing process for two reasons. First, it required us to review the stories not simply as readers, but also with an eye as to how to improve each story. Second, as editors we have the challenge of helping the writer shape the story in a way that remains true to their original vision of the tale. In his heart, every editor imagines himself as another Maxwell Perkins (except for the part about lending money to struggling writers). After the anthology was published it was gratifying to read the positive reviews, and that’s always a validating experience.
What was the most difficult section to write in this book? Why?
Keeping track of the many details regarding editing, formatting, and the logistics of producing the book. We endeavored to publish a quality, professional book worthy of our contributors. As for the editing part of the project, that was something Viola and I were already keyed to. However, our experience as editors for other projects taught us that the housekeeping details are easy to lose track of and are what can sink an anthology. Something else that remains a significant challenge is the marketing aspect, i.e., making a profit so the anthology is more than a vanity project. That is a challenge in itself, and we if we had the answer on how to sell a gazillion books, we’d be rich by now. But in the meantime, we do what we can to connect with readers with what we are convinced is a great read.
What was one interesting fact you learned while researching this book?
Since the book is an anthology of other writers’ work, there wasn’t a lot of researching on our part as editors. One thing we learned is that the undercurrents of human depravity run deep and can be pretty entertaining. Another thing we learned, is that with the right nudge, meaning that because we as editors analyze the story from a new perspective, we can usually offer a piece of advice that allows the writer to go Aha! and make the necessary tweaks that turn the story from good to great.
What project are you working on next?
What’s front burner for Hex Publishers is the “Denver Moon”series of science-fiction noir by Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola. “Denver Moon, The Minds of Mars,” was selected by Kirkus Reviews as a Best Book for 2018 so we’re supremely excited and proud about that. Also, we continue to push the marketing for the anthologies, Mechanical Animals, “Tales at the Crux of Creatures and Tech,” edited by Jason Heller, and “Blood and Gasoline: High-Octane, High-Velocity Action,” edited by Mario Acevedo.
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