Sunday, May 16, 2010

Interview with Editor of Deadman's Tome Horror Magazine

Jesse Dedman wears a lot of hats. Not only is he the editor of Deadman’s Tome, an online horror fiction magazine, but he’s also the editor of Iron Bound, a new online fantasy fiction magazine, and he’s the author of The Bleeder Collection, an anthology of five inter-connected horror short stories.

Recently editor Jesse Dedman agreed to an e-mail interview, so I posed him several questions. Below are the questions and his answers.

How did you come up with the idea to start online fiction magazine Deadman's Tome? What prompted you to become a fiction editor?

Originally, I started off as a writer that possessed more ego than talent. The idea of getting published teased me, almost mockingly, after a series of rejections that I couldn’t agree more with, but more ambiguous and possibly paranoia induced factors began to populate. Equipped with a combination of the latest Writer’s Digest (2008 at the time) and a staggering collection of databases that contained various online publishers, I found that more and more magazines appeared to be closing their doors. Combine that with a sort of twisted and yet realistic mindset towards the business of the world -- the idea that in many cases it is the familiarity with someone and not the actual work that acts as the deciding factor -- and you get the seedling to what made Deadman’s Tome possible (Demonic Tome at the time). I created the magazine so that other writers would have another, welcoming avenue for their work. I actually never liked the idea of putting my own material on it, and I never thought of myself as an editor. But that all changed. A little secret exposed, when I started DT I knew rejections were going to happen, but being a scorned writer myself, I felt the need to create a buffer between me and the contributors. That buffer was Oliver Kingwood, such an awfully fictitious name, but it worked for the time being. Nowadays I proudly accept and reject submissions with a personal letter, no form bull. I want to deliver a little bit of myself in the responses I give.

You've got a new online fantasy magazine, Iron Bound. Can you tell me a little about it? Why did you decide to publish another magazine?

Oh yes, Iron Bound. I’ve wanted to tap into fantasy for a good while, possibly a year after Deadman’s Tome launch, and the only reason why it took so long was for some compulsive desire to have DT stand on its own financially before any other endeavors are attempted. But the main issue with DT’s financial status has no real bearing on something like Iron Bound, and lately my time has surged into a surplus so now is the best time to do it. I absolutely love fantasy, perhaps not as much as horror, but I love every bit of it from the true and classic Celtic folklore and myths to the revisits to an Arthurian world. Blood smeared swords, battered shields, and the unstoppable, potent desire to challenge any and all willing combatants even if it meant death, draws on me.

What do you read? What kind of fiction do you like, and what fiction has inspired you?

Ironically, I don’t really have the list you might expect. I publish works of horror, and yet I don’t have a long list or even a short list of horror writers I frequently read. However, I have a list of certain works that are generally regarded as literary milestones to some degree, works that everyone ought to treat themselves to. Voltaire’s Candide, H.P. Lovecraft (all of his stuff), Franz Kafka’s The Stoker and the Metamorphosis, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Homer’s Odyssey, Iliad, and countless pages of Greek, Roman, and Celtic myths (I love that stuff). I could go on, but I’ll let it rest on that.

Out of that list, I would have to say that Voltaire’s outlook towards life inspired my later work, thus increasing my pull towards the bleak. Lovecraft inspired me to not be afraid of creating my own unique variations of current monsters, perhaps leave behind another set of mythos, whereas American Psycho was just a great read.

I’ve read some other authors that inspired me when I was little, but now stand as something I don’t want to do. Anne Rice, for example, appeared as a great model when younger, and nothing against her as she is a terrific writer, but I just hated her pages of descriptions. I remember in one book she spent like a paragraph describing one portion of Lestat’s coat. Not saying don’t do it for future contributors or anything, but it is something I just find tedious. Like in The Bleeder, for example, I described the Bleeder in snap shots knowing that I only needed to focus on his core attributes for anyone with a brainstem to get a mental image of him.

After reading The Bleeder Collection, your prose collection of five inter-connected horror tales, I noticed what seemed to be a strong graphic novel influence. Care to expound on that some? Where did you get the idea for The Bleeder character and his stories? Will The Bleeder return in future tales?

The Bleeder CollectionWhen I wrote The Bleeder, I tried as hard as I could to capture the images envisioned in my head, which appeared to me like that of a Frank Miller graphic novel. Thoughts of a horrific, unfathomable experiment on a willing or unwilling human specimen burned in my mind. Images of blood gushing in streams from grated fingertips wouldn’t leave me until I figured out a way to make it possible. The Bleeder, a terrible monster struggling with morality while protecting the only person he felt a connection with, was born. I initially created the first one with no intent on creating others, but after it became published in I began to question if I could expand on it. After all, the first one leaves you assuming that Abigail is watched by the Bleeder for the rest of their lives, and the simplicity of that left a bad taste in my mouth, so I extended it with four additional tales, which, by intent, left behind a lot of questions that need to be answered.

The only reason it ended the way it did was because I really liked the idea of the Bleeder returning to his “place of birth” to fight to his bitter end. Of course, he isn’t dead. In the rushed ending, I made it clear that another incident emerged later on, but how could that be?

What lies in the future for you as an editor? What hopes do you have for your magazines and your writing?

I would like to run an online magazine that actually brings in some money so that I could actually pay contributors. I tried that with DT, but that didn’t go too well, it was too soon, and besides the sponsors will improve with the magazine being free.

Iron Bound is the first of other online magazines I wish to run. The next one would be a bit more mainstream and could possibly act as the bread and butter of everything else. It would be an online magazine for everything fiction but without the extremes of DT and IB. Something that, in a central hub, would provide a taste of current and developing talents in everything poetry, short story, flash fiction, and in genres ranging from literary narrative to not so extreme fantasy and horror. The problem with this idea would be the blending boundaries between the three magazines.

I would like to see DT grow, and I mean really grow. I would love to see its name reach the four corners of the world, and live the moment to where I observe people at the gym reading it off their E-reader.

As far as my writing goes, I wish to expand and do more than just horror. I’m currently working on a book right now that isn’t in any real category, 7 attempts at 1 death. It’s about a pseudo-evangelist-motivational speaker who is constantly overwhelmed by depression to the point to where suicide feels like the only way out. As you could possibly assume, he tries seven times. I got that idea when listening to my mom rant and rave about Joel Osteen, and I couldn’t help but know with strong inclination that those types of people are no way spared by the very thing that makes us so human, the little indecisions, the little moments of doubt, and all that jazz. From that, I went on a leap and designed a character that is all of extremes and nothing in between. One moment inspiring those of weary hearts, and playing Russian roulette under the influences of Ayahuasca in the next.

Other than that, I really don’t like placing my own material in the magazine. I used to feel sort of sleazy doing it, I’m not sure why, but now I do it simply because there are pieces that I’ve slaved over trying to get just right.

As an editor, what kind of stories are you looking to publish? What should a writer be sending you if they hope to be published in one of your magazines?

I’m a sucker for stories set in a post-apocalyptic environments that aren’t afraid to plaster a dark gloomy coat over a solid, fear-induced plot. Stories of the working man, perhaps labeled as deranged by some, breaks from the fold of the shackles of society and aims to take what is rightfully his. Tales of other-world deities coming into our realm to wreck havoc upon humanity and, of course, extreme brutality exercised by insane serial killers.

I’m also open for new styles, attempts, and willing to test ideas that many publishers probably wouldn’t. “When the Bough Breaks,” for example, is in the May 2010 release of Deadman’s Tome and is a story written in second person. The idea of reading something that protrudes into your imagination by informing you of what you are doing, trying to place you into the actions of the character, meets resistance. As people we don’t want to be told what to feel, how to feel, and what to do, unless we are spending another dreaded day at the old grinding mill. However, despite that, I wanted to see how DT readers would regard it and it’s too early to say anymore on it at the moment.

Related links

10 Web Sites for Horror Writers

The Book Spot, a book review blog for writers and readers


Jesse Dedman said...

Allow me to leave a comment on my own interview. I would like to say that Deadman's Tome surprised me. It really did. It taught me a lot and being very much a perfectionist, I hate those tiny mistakes that I for some reason seem to be the only person to see, but setting that aside, the online magazine is cool.

Anonymous said...

Really you aren't the only one to notice the tiny mistakes like that. I do it to, and it really bothers me to be reading a good book and to see these little things.