I’m excited to have Janice Gable Bashman visiting today!
She is the author (with NEW YORK TIMES bestseller Jonathan Maberry) of WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (Citadel Press 2010), nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Her short fiction has been published in various anthologies, and she’s written for NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET, THE WRITER, WILD RIVER REVIEW, and many others.
Janice is also an active member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Managing Editor of the ITW’s newsletter and ezine THE BIG THRILL. She is an an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association and Mystery Writers of America. She is also a regular at the The Writer’s Coffeehouse offering great advice to all writer’s plus she’s super nice. Thanks for coming on Janice!
How did you become Managing Editor of THE BIG THRILL, monthly webzine of The International Thriller Writers (ITW), and what does that role involve?
I became involved with The Big Thrill several years ago as a contributing editor. I saw it as a great way to learn about new books in the thriller genre, discover authors’ writing processes, and give back to a community of generous authors who give so willingly of their time and guidance to others. Last spring, Karen Dionne, the managing editor at the time and now ITW vice president of technology, asked me if I was interested in taking over as managing editor, and I jumped at the opportunity.
The Big Thrill is a monthly webzine and newsletter created for thriller readers and fans. At present, the emailed Big Thrill newsletter has over 13,000 subscribers, and The Big Thrill website gets over half a million hits per month, so clearly, it fills a need.
My role as managing editor is to coordinate and oversee all aspects of The Big Thrill. I receive submissions for new book releases from authors and assign and edit between 30 to 50 feature articles per month to my staff, which consists of 70 contributing editors. I also compile short pieces to accompany the feature articles, such as information about Thrillerfest (the ITW’s conference each July for thriller writers and fans of the genre), Operation Thriller USO Tour, etc. The Big Thrill also has Between-The-Lines features (in-depth interviews with authors) and Special-to-The Big-Thrill features (articles not about authors and their new book releases but about subjects of importance to thriller fans). I help brainstorm ideas for these features and assign them out to my feature editors.
The Big Thrill also includes a monthly drawing for a box of signed first editions, weekly Thriller Roundtable discussions where thriller fans can talk about books with their favorite authors, and a “Neverending Book Giveaway,” where readers are encouraged to enter as many individual book drawings as they like. ITW members also post their book videos and book news to The Big Thrill website. So while the newsletter is mailed out monthly, on the website, there’s a constant flow of new content.
You co-authored WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: VAMPIRE HUNTERS AND OTHER KICK-ASS ENEMIES OF EVIL with NY TIMES bestselling author Jonathan Maberry. Congratulations on the book being nominated for a 2010 Bram Stoker Award. Tell us about it!
WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE deals with the struggle of good vs evil in film, comics, pop culture, world myth, literature, and the real world. Everything from vampire slayers to paranormal investigators to FBI serial-killer profilers. It includes interviews with folks like Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, Laurell K. Hamilton, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Jason Aaron, Fred Van Lente, Peter Straub, and many more.
My co-author, Jonathan Maberry, states, “Our book starts with good vs evil as a concept and then we chase it through philosophy, religion, politics, literature, art, film, comics, pop-culture and the real world. It’s such a complex topic, one that’s fundamental to all of our human experience, from evolution to the formation of tribes and society. We take a look at it historically, mythologically, in terms of storytelling from cave paintings to literature, we track it through pop culture and into our modern real world.”
The book has a real sense of humor, too. We have fun with the topic as well as bringing a lot of information to the reader. Plus the book is illustrated with forty black and white pieces and eight killer color plates. Artists like Chad Savage, Jacob Parmentier, Don Maitz, Francis Tsai, David Leri, Scott Grimando, Jason Beam, Alan F. Beck, Billy Tackett and more.
It must have been fun partnering with Jonathan on this. How did this guidebook come about and what was your process in writing it together?
This book is the fifth in a series that Jonathan was writing for Citadel Press. He co-wrote two of the previous books with Bram Stoker Award-winner David F. Kramer who was unavailable for this project. When Jonathan asked me to come on board, I jumped at the opportunity.
When co-writing a book, it’s important that the material sounds like one writer wrote it, and finding that all-important voice is the key to success. It takes a bit of trial and error (and writing and rewriting) to get there, but the end result is, if you do your job right, a voice from two writers that sounds like it’s from one. Of course, it’s also important that you implicitly trust your writing partner to write the best material possible and complete it on time.
Jonathan and I each wrote individual chapters and reviewed and edited each others’ work. Other chapters were a collaborative effort. And, for any collaboration, it’s important that both partners are equally invested in the end result. I can honestly say that I didn’t find any aspect of writing the book with Jonathan difficult. When both partners have the same goal in mind and both share an excitement for the subject matter, it makes it pretty easy to co-author a book.
What is your favorite genre to write in and why?
I enjoy writing mostly anything—fiction or non-fiction, which is why my publishing credentials are so varied. I have published articles, interviews, short stories, book reviews, and a book. These days I write full-time and I love it.
Many of your articles published are non-fiction. What inspired you to cross over into fiction?
I enjoy creating—turning a gem of an idea into a plot, creating characters, and watching them act and react to the situations I put them in. It’s a lot of fun to write without constraint and to go where you story and characters take you. I continue to write non-fiction because there are stories to tell there too—they are just told in a different format.
How does your writing process differ from fiction to non-fiction?
For fiction, I focus on story and character and use facts to help make the scene/character/plot more realistic and based in the world I’ve created. For non-fiction, I focus on facts and use people and situations to tell the story behind those facts.
Can you share any current or upcoming projects you are working on?
I am working on a young adult paranormal thriller that draws on some of the concepts in WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE and gives them a modern spin. Once that’s finished, I have ideas for a graphic novel and a middle grade horror novel that I intend to write. I have several short stories coming out in anthologies in 2012. Recently, I wrote three interviews for the 2012 NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET (Lisa Gardner, Kevin J. Anderson, Michael Swanwick), which hit the shelves in September, and a lead cover story interview with Carla Neggers in the September issue of THE WRITER on crafting a strong sense of place.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
How do you balance promotion of your work with actual writing?
I make it a priority to write and then set aside specific times to promote my work, which isn’t often direct promotion but involves presenting at conferences, responding to interviews or interacting with others through social media. I check Facebook and Twitter several times a day and comment on what others have to say, or post items I think will be interesting to others.
I also run my website, where each week a different author guest blogs about some aspect of the writing process or the writing life. I’ve been fortunate that so many great authors have jumped on board to participate, including F. Paul Wilson, Joseph Finder, Brad Meltzer, Christopher Golden, Gregg Hurwitz, James Scott Bell, Michael Palmer, Allison Brennan, Lisa See, Wendy Corsi Staub, and JT Ellison. Again, I have a set time at the beginning of each week where I work on my blog. It’s very easy to allow promotion to interfere with writing. By having specific times to work on promotion, I ensure that my writing time does not suffer. Of course, we all know that things don’t always go as planned, so I just adjust my schedule when that happens.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It’s important not to rely on clichés, so I find it challenging to discover unique ways to look at a situation and describe it in a way that makes my writing meaningful and powerful. I also have a list of words and phrases that I have to search and destroy when I edit, ones that I tend to overuse when writing my first drafts.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I always write first drafts of fiction on my laptop in an easy chair with my feet up on an ottoman in what I refer to as my library room (It’s really a small room with a chair, wall-length bookcase, and a window seat). Editing drafts are completed on a desktop computer in my office. Final drafts are edited on paper, usually at my desk. For non-fiction, it’s completely different. I write and edit non-fiction on my desktop computer, probably because I need space next to the computer to lay out pages of research for reference. The final draft, like my fiction, is completed on paper. I don’t like writing to music and prefer silence when I write, if possible.
What marketing tips would you share with new authors to get their careers off to a good start?
Interact with potential readers on social media, offer to guest blog or be interviewed on blogs whose readers might be interested in your book, and submit short fiction to anthologies for additional exposure. Interact with readers in Yahoo groups and other message boards, and on Goodreads and LibraryThing. Speak at conferences if you can. Join organizations appropriate to your genre, i.e. International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and network with other authors in your genre.
Most importantly—write. Write. And write.
Where can we find you?