The Next Big Thing

My friends Richard Gavin and Ian Rogers both tagged me simultaneously as part of their Next Big Thing posts (which you can learn more about by following those links). The gist of the idea is that you answer ten standard questions about your next/newest book, and then tag five other authors who do the same a week later. Like both of them, I’ll be talking mostly about a book that just came out, rather than one that is on its way…

1. What is the working title of your next book?

My debut collection Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings was just released by Evileye Books. It’s a collection of ten of my supernatural stories, including my previously out-of-print novella The Mysterious Flame. The title comes from the shortest story I ever wrote, a 150-word flash piece that opens the collection that was done as an entry into a contest  that Jeff VanderMeer held as part of his work on the Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. (It didn’t win.)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Short story collections are my very favorite types of books, and short stories are pretty much all I write, so putting together my first collection has always been the plan. The ideas for the individual stories that make up Never Bet the Devil came from all over the place; old horror movies, comic books, other supernatural tales, etc. The specific influences of each story are discussed in the author’s notes that are included in the book, because I love that kind of stuff.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I always have a lot of trouble answering this question. In a bookstore, you’d find it on the “horror” shelf. “Supernatural horror” is what Richard Gavin said in his answer to this question, and I think that’s a true answer for mine as well. At other times I’ve used phrases like “weird fiction, “strange fiction,” and “dark fiction.” When people outside the field ask me what I write, I have taken to saying “ghost stories,” and while many of the stories I write don’t actually contain what are usually thought of as ghosts, it does seem to get the idea across pretty well.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I love movies, and I love fan-casting, but since this is a collection of different stories, all with different characters, it’s hard to answer this question. That said, I would try my mightiest to work Jeffrey Combs in there somehow.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I’m not good at this sort of thing, but here’s the (cheating!) two-sentence synopsis from the official ad sheet:

Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings is the first collection of supernatural tales from acclaimed author Orrin Grey. These ten stories haunted by ghosts, ghouls, and other anomalies are a unique tincture of the classic sensibilities of writers like M.R. James, Lovecraft, and Poe, mixed with contemporary comic book and cinematic influences to create an elixir that is equal parts wonder and unease.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Never Bet the Devil was published by Evileye Books.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The stories in Never Bet the Devil were written variously over the course of the last ten years or so, though most of them were written in the last three or four years. The first draft of The Mysterious Flame, the novella that makes up a little over a third of the book and is the longest single thing I’ve ever written, took me about six months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The comics of Mike Mignola, of course. (See the answer to question #9, below.) Lovecraft, Leiber, M.R. James, E.F. Benson, William Hope Hodgson, Jean Ray, etc. Comparing oneself to modern writers is always awkward, but since Ian Rogers and Richard Gavin both tagged me in this thing, I think it’s safe enough to say that I sometimes flatter myself that if you like their work, you might also like mine.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve got a lot of inspirations, and I tend to like to talk about all of them at great length. But the biggest one is Mike Mignola. This book is dedicated to him, and he’s the person who had the single biggest impact on my approach to supernatural storytelling. He tells a story in a lot of his interviews about how, when he read Dracula for the first time, he suddenly knew what he wanted to do with his life. I had a similar moment, but for me it wasn’t Dracula, but Mignola’s own work on Hellboy that provided that jolt.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

In addition to my stories and author’s notes and assorted rambling, the book is fully illustrated by the great Bernie Gonzalez, who also provided illustrations for the hardcover edition of Fungi, which I just co-edited with Silvia Moreno-Garcia for Innsmouth Free Press. (And which is presently available for pre-order for a couple more days!)

There you go. Sadly, I haven’t managed to tag five authors, since a couple of the people I tried to tag turned out to have already been gotten to by others first. So here’s a couple of authors, and my apologies for bodging: Molly Tanzer & John Hornor Jacobs.

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