Monday, October 28, 2013

Publisher Spotlight - Chris Morey of Dark Regions Press

Posted by Randi on Monday, October 28, 2013

Chris Morey has edited the works of Joe R. Lansdale, Tom Piccirilli, Jeff Strand, Weston Ochse and Gord Rollo. Formerly the webmaster and internet marketer for Dark Regions Press, he is now the owner and publisher of the press. He is the creator and editor of the Black Labyrinth imprint illustrated by Santiago Caruso.

Morey’s short stories and poems have appeared in Ghostlight Magazine, DemonMinds Halloween, Aoife's Kiss Magazine and other online publications.

DM: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Chris!

My pleasure, Randi! Happy to have the opportunity.

DM: You were originally the webmaster and internet marketer for Dark Regions and are now the owner and publisher. How did this come about?

My father, Joe Morey, is the founder of Dark Regions Press. He started it in 1985, and invited me to design the website in 2004. After designing the website, I started marketing for the company. Eventually I became the internet guy for DRP, handling all website matters, internet marketing, advertisement design, community management etc.

But I've always been creative, and always yearned to get more involved with the projects. My dad was feeling ready for retirement, and (long-story short) recognizing my desire to get involved more creatively, he passed the company onto me. I've been running it since September 2012, and it has been a challenging but exciting year.

DM: What is your vision for Dark Regions Press?

To be a purveyor of original, high quality creative projects. We will always do some reprints, but I'm excited about the three new open-to-submission lines we are launching in 2014. The only fiction accepted will be 100% original fiction, meaning it wasn't published anywhere else; self-publishing, websites, blogs, other publishers or anywhere else.

I think DRP can be a vehicle for many kinds of creative projects in the future.

DM: Could you tell us about your Black Labyrinth Imprint? I see you plan to have ten books in the collection?

It's an imprint of original novels and novellas all belonging to the genre of psychological horror. Each book is illustrated by an amazing surrealist artist from Argentina by the name of Santiago Caruso and every book will be written by the authors that critics and readers alike praise as some of the masters of horror and dark fiction.

Authors Tom Piccirilli and Joe Lansdale have started off the imprint. The Walls of the Castle by Tom Piccirilli (Black Labyrinth Book I) is a brutal and vivid psychological story by Tom, author of The Last Kind Words and Every Shallow Cut. The readers and critics loved the novella and celebrated the artwork by Santiago Caruso as well. We’re excited to bring another book from one of our literary inspirations: Joe R. Lansdale!

Another key feature of the imprint is the signed limited edition hardcovers. They are hand-bound in materials like leatherette and real cowhide and are signed by the creative contributors, printed on an offset press and have Smyth sewn pages. Some pretty amazing books.

DM: You currently have a Kickstarter campaign running for Black Labyrinth II. What are you hoping to accomplish with your Kickstarter?

The Walls of the Castle was an amazing project, but we underestimated the costs on it and ended up losing money on the project. The small press is difficult like that. You think you have a good estimate of the costs, but once you’re done shipping everything from place to place and to hundreds of customers all over the world, done with paying all of the creative contributors, designers, marketing… it adds up quickly.

So we decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign that would be set at a goal that would encompass the primary costs of the project: materials, printing and binding, author and artist payment, shipping the books, design, marketing and distribution. We also set our price points for each pledge level at their planned retail price with free domestic shipping included to make it like a preorder but a better deal.

This Kickstarter project will make the book possible. I know that Joe, Santiago and myself are all extremely excited to get started on this and will give it our best creative efforts. I won’t settle until this book is the best possible creative production that we can offer.

DM: You are also a published writer. How do you manage your time with the roles of writer, editor, and publisher?

Sadly, since I took over the press in September of 2012 I haven’t been writing much. Running a small press demands long hours, and by the time I get home and kick off my shoes, most of my energy is depleted (man it sounds depressing just writing it out).

I started a new story recently, but haven’t been able to work on it daily. That’s the thing about writing: I need to either write every day or not at all. Like muscle memory, my writing ability needs to be routinely trained. After a few months of writing every day I’ll be creating some good stuff, but it’s just unrealistic these days with everything that’s going on with DRP.

But god, I miss it..

DM: Dark Regions Press has been in business since 1985. What have you learned about publishing since you've taken over the helm?

Man… I have learned an amazing amount over the past year, and made plenty of mistakes along the way. The extra gray hairs prove it. It has been challenging, and the press has had some ground to make up, but I’m feeling pretty good about where we’re at and where we’re going. 2014 is going to be a particularly exciting year. Either we’re going to change the game or be a giant flop. Here’s hoping for the former.

DM: Any advice for writers just starting out?

Prepare for rejection slips, but don’t let them discourage you. When you’re starting out, you might get frustrated that your actual writing craft doesn’t do justice to your great ideas, but that’s why you save your gem ideas. I have long had what I consider a really good idea for a science fiction novel, and my friends are eager for me to write it, but I am waiting until I have time to mature as a writer. It’s just not something I feel that I could handle properly without a few published novels under my belt already, and I want to do the idea justice.

Treat writing like a sport; train every day. Stay properly hydrated. Listen to good music.

But most importantly: write for yourself, not others. The truest and best fiction comes from our own experience. Be genuine, and try to make at least one character in your story at least somewhat close to a human with a three-dimensional personality (unless no humans are involved).

Your first draft is never as brilliant as you think it is. Let it cool off for a few months and work on other projects before revisiting it. You’ll be able to identify the problem areas a lot more easily.

DM: Dark Regions submission policy has previously been "invitation only". You recently made an announcement that you will be open to submissions in 2014. Do you have any tips for writers wanting to be published by Dark Regions Press? What will you be looking for?

We plan to launch three new open-to-submission lines in 2014 belonging to horror, fantasy and science fiction. These lines will publish exclusively original fiction, meaning never published anywhere else, including self-publishing, websites, blogs or other publishers.

I’ve wanted DRP to open to submission for a while, so I couldn’t be more excited! Check the Submit page regularly on DarkRegions.com for updates, but submissions should be open sometime in Q1 of 2014.

Thank you to DarkMarkets and Randi for the great interview, and we hope to receive the fiction from some of your readers in the near-future. Also, if any of them happen to be interested in our Kickstarter campaign for Joe Lansdale’s Black Labyrinth Book II, here’s the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismorey/black-labyrinth-book-ii-joe-r-lansdale

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