Interview By Renata Pavrey
Halloween might have ended, but it’s a year-long spook fest for horror fans. We just can’t get enough of sinister stories and terrifying tales. Writer, editor, and publisher, RJ Roles talks to us about his newest book, Season of the Witch, and why there’s no specific season to enjoy horror books.
Renata: Hi RJ, Congratulations on the release of Season of the Witch. Could you tell us what inspired this collection centered around witches and autumn?
RJ: The theme of witches holds a very special place within mine and Jason Myers’ hearts. Crimson Pinnacle Press was started by us one day chatting about co-writing a book together, and that book became Payable on Death – a story about a group of girls in school that find out they share an interest in the craft. As for autumn, what better season is there?! Spooky vibes, crisp air, and the dwindling sunlight hours… It’s a mood-setter.
Renata: The anthology’s theme is highly specific, and various writers bring us their interpretations. How easy or difficult was it to edit such a collection? What kind of stories were you seeking, and what was the response from the horror writing community?
RJ: I’ll start with the response we had, which was quite overwhelming actually. I believe there were well over 60 submissions to read through. The stories we seek for any of the anthologies we put out should be the same as the themes for the books themselves: unique, attention-grabbing, gut-punching, and all-around satisfying. This isn’t my first rodeo at this point in time, so editing comes almost second nature, but with the number of submissions we received, I reached out to fellow author, Mike Ennenbach, and asked if he could help go through them with me. He absolutely came through for us and his help was truly appreciated.
Renata: What are your favorite Halloween stories? Any books or authors you would recommend for the season?
RJ: Surprisingly, the one I would point people to, I didn’t read until I was an adult, and that’s The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. It is essential reading for this time of year, and Bradbury is King in the land of autumn.
Renata: As a publisher at Crimson Pinnacle Press, what sort of books do you strive to bring out for horror readers? Any publications from your stable you would want readers to check out?
RJ: As I mentioned before, we at CPP really just wanted to do fun, unique themes with our anthologies. We always try to come up with ideas that no one else is really doing at the moment and go from there. The second part of your question is like trying to pick a favorite child. I always ask readers what’s their ‘flavor of horror?’ and go from there. We have fairy tales, urban legends, devils-demons-and Hell, end of summer horror, and now witches set in autumn. Plans for upcoming books will be very exciting, so keep an eye out on our Facebook group.
Renata: Writer, editor, publisher – You don many hats in the literary sphere. Which is your favorite role, and why?
RJ: In this order (least to most). Editing is fine and I genuinely love it, but it’s not the same as writing. Publishing has been an absolute joy for me being able to get the work of authors into the hands of readers – especially when I can encourage someone who has never submitted before and open up ways from that person to finally take the leap that holds others back out of fear of the unknown, but it isn’t writing. Writing is writing and that’s what writers crave to do. I love to start on a new story and see where it takes me. There’s nothing better than creating something from your own imagination.
Thank you so much, Renata, for having me.