Interview with Red Cape Publishing’s Peter and Leanne Blakey-Novis

Ahead of the release and online book launch of their new anthology, B is for Beasts, The Horror Club speaks to Peter and Leanne Blakey-Novis, publishers of Red Cape Publishing, about the book, its launch, horror in general, among other things. Have a read below:

Tell me about your A-Z of Horror series? Why did you decide to do it? Were there any difficulties?

Peter: At the end of 2019 we launched a four-part series of anthologies (The Elements of Horror) which were really well received. We were coming up with various ideas for a small series to release in 2020 but we wanted to cover so many sub-genres that the entire alphabet seemed to fit better!

Leanne: It was quite difficult to come up with categories for each letter. For some letters we couldn’t decide between options, such as Vampires, Viruses, Voodoo, and for some letters it was hard to think of anything. We have a full list now, but some of the later letters may change.

How do you pick the theme of the anthologies?

Peter: We tried to stay away from some of the obvious choices (at the moment we have V is for Voodoo, rather than Vampires, we have G is for Genies, rather than Ghosts), while still trying to cover popular sub-genres of horror. There will be ghosts, but in P is for Poltergeist.

From an editors point, how hard is it to reject a good story for any given reason, eg: good story but just doesn’t fit the theme.

Peter: We have been inundated with submissions for the first five books in the series and have had to reject a lot of really great stories. We have limited the number of stories in each book to thirteen (we had 52 subs for Demons) so a lot won’t make it. If the submission is too far off the word count, or doesn’t fit the theme then it’ll be rejected. Any stories which are really good then go through to ‘second round’. I can usually get it down to about twenty particularly good ones, and then they get passed to Leanne to pick her favourites. Sending out the rejection emails is the worst part of the job as I know, from a writer’s perspective, how disappointing it can be.

You’re launching B is for Beasts via a live event, tell me about that?

Leanne: This evening, Wedneday may 13th,  at 9.30pm (UK time) we are hosting an online launch for Beasts. It runs for an hour and involves fun, giveaways, competitions, and general book talk.

With COVID19 affecting all of us, how has it affect ye as a publisher?

Leanne: We were already working from home so there was no immediate change, until the schools closed. Now we are trying to work around home schooling so our ‘work’ time has crept into the evenings. We also co-run a physical book fair twice a year in Brighton, but this was cancelled in April. Hopefully our November event will still go ahead.

Is there anything else you’re working on outside of the anthologies?

Peter: I’ve got a few half-written books of my own to complete (a sequel to my novella Four, the last part in The Broken Doll trilogy, as well as my fifth collection of short stories). We are also working through stories from four other authors with a view to publishing those.

What do you think of the horror community as a whole? 

Peter: The horror community, particularly the indie scene, has been really supportive. There are a lot of great writers and small presses who are happy to help one another, whether that be in sharing posts, reading and reviewing books, or offering advice. We’ve done our best from the outset to offer as much support as we can and I strongly feel that writers and publishers working together, rather than competing, is the best way to succeed.

Why do you think it is such a popular genre?

Leanne: The great thing about horror is that it is such a varied genre. You can have stories which are subtle to those packed with full-on gore. Horror stories also offer the chance to involve anything that the writer can think of – realism can be suspended and the monsters can be set loose.

What drives a good horror story? 

Leanne: For me, it’s a sense of dread. I like stories which are unsettling and mysterious, but I do also enjoy plenty of blood and guts.

Peter: I think that, for me, the most important part is believable characters. Whether they be human or otherwise, they still need to have a personality and motives which can be understood. I also enjoy a good twist at the end.

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