Interview with Jill Girardi

The Horror Club talks to Jill Girardi, Editor-in-Chief of Kandisha Press, about the press itself, its titles, including the recently released volume 3 of its ‘Women of Horror’ series, her work and the horror community, among other things.

Hi Jill, thanks for having a chat! Can you tell me about Kandisha Press?

Hi! Kandisha Press is a women-owned independent publisher that focuses on promoting women authors. Having said that, we are a safe space for everyone regardless of gender, race, orientation, religion, disability, age, appearance, or any other such social construct. Everyone is welcome in our little community.

Where does the name come from?

In Moroccan folklore, Aisha Kandisha is a temptress who lures her victims out into the desert where she slowly drives them mad. She is a symbol of the prowess of women. What better name for a press that focuses on women?

This is the third volume in your ‘Women of Horror’ anthology series. Can you tell me about the first two?

The first two volumes are called Under Her Black Wings and Graveyard Smash. In the first book, the authors were challenged to create their own ‘woman monsters.’ In the second book, they were challenged to write their best graveyard stories. All the books in the series are named after or inspired by songs. Under Her Black Wings is inspired by a Danzig  song. Graveyard Smash is from the popular oldies song.

How did the series come about?

My good friend has a magazine called Evilspeak (which I now write for) and he was telling me all about how he published on Amazon KDP. At the same time, I joined an anthology as an author which was also published through KDP. It really got me excited to try my own self-published anthology. I had noticed that the majority of authors in anthologies I was in were men, so it seemed to me that I should do a book for women only. It started out just as a fun project. I never dreamed it would take off the way it has.

The third volume, The One That Got Away, releases today, February 1st. Can you tell me about that?

In this one, 30 women from around the world were asked to write about “The One That Got Away.” The interpretation of the theme was up to them. Some chose to write about love in all its various forms, while others chose to write about escaping a killer. And we have quite a few very unique interpretations of the theme which was a thrilling surprise for me.

How different is it to the other two? Did you take a different approach to it when crafting it? How did having two previous anthologies help you with this one?

This time around was a bit different because we got hundreds of submissions. I never expected that we would get so many. We only had limited slots, and it was really hard to have to reject some excellent stories simply due to a lack of space. We pushed the number of acceptances to the limit and even carried some over to the next few volumes. So this book ended up a lot thicker than we had originally planned. This book was much harder to put together than the first two, and there were a lot more issues. I think the more popular a series gets, the more stressful it is going to be. I hope I’m wrong! Haha!

You have a novel published. How different is it to working on an anthology? What are the challenges? Any difficulties?

Doing an anthology is mostly working on other people’s stories. It’s a lot different than putting your own writing down on a page and getting it out there for other people to read and critique. It is also easier when a group of people are collectively promoting a book rather than just you alone on Twitter hawking your wares.

Your novel is being adapted. Can you tell me about that?’

My novel Hantu Macabre was published in Malaysia (I used to live there) by Fixi Novo, which is an English language imprint of a major publisher called Buku Fixi. They have exceptional distribution, and the owners of the film company got hold of an anthology with a story of mine featuring characters from the novel. They got in touch with me and offered me a contract on the short story, and later the novel. The director is Aaron Cowan, who has worked on special effects on many Hollywood films such as Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars and others. And former Malaysian MMA fighter Ann Osman will star as the main character. I’m beyond excited for this project, to say the least! I never dreamed this would happen to me. I can’t wait to see what Aaron and his team do with my stories!

What do you think of the current state of the horror community/industry?

I’ve never met people who were more accepting, non-judgmental and helpful. It seems to be a community that welcomes everyone regardless of who they are. I’m constantly meeting new people, making new friends, and learning how to be a better writer and publisher. I’m a newcomer but everyone has been so kind to me. I’m very happy to be part of it, and I’d recommend it to everyone.

Is there room for new authors to breakthrough? Is there the fear of it being oversaturated?

This is something I’ve thought a lot about, because of the need to promote Kandisha, our books, and even my own writing. I’ve noticed on social media there are thousands upon thousands of authors, most of them with books or multiple books out, and all struggling to make a name for themselves. How do you make yourself stand out in an endless sea of names and book titles? It is tough. You can write the next great American novel and not sell a single copy simply because no one knows it exists. There is definitely room for new authors to break through—it’s something we’re all trying to figure out how to do!

What does the future hold for Kandisha Press? Is there anything in the pipeline?

We’ve got a few more anthologies planned for the next year or so, and we’re hoping by then we’ll be established enough to start looking at other publishing projects. We’re just taking it one step at a time and following our mission to promote women around the world.

2 thoughts on “Interview with Jill Girardi

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  1. What a great interview! I have reviewed both of Kandisha Press’ anthologies on my blog and they are sensational! Jill Girardi is an excellent editor and a fine person who is encouraging to all writers, regardless of gender. Supporting Women of Horror as well as Women In Horror Month is something I’ve always enjoyed! Women bring a lot of extra coolness to Horror writing that often result in deeper characters and unexpected settings. They’re also ferocious!


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