Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Horror Frivolities Day 21: Among the Stacks with Marc Ciccarone


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Marc.  Welcome to The Gal.  I've been super excited about this interview since we discussed it, so let's get started with an "easy" question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Marc Ciccarone:
Hello, Blue-masked Gal! Thanks for reaching out.
            I wear a mask too, but mine is usually black and fitted with chains and straps. I fancy myself a go-giver instead of a go-getter, and my various masks allow me the ability to help as many people as possible. The image of a special education teacher tends to clash with that of a horror publisher. And as the driving force behind one of the most brutal, independent presses today, I tend to stay behind the scenes and cloak my alter egos in pen names. 
            Besides teaching and publishing, my passions are attending concerts, international travel, and studying the connections between science, philosophy, and religious texts. After saying goodbye to Long Island, New York, I relocated to the blistering heat of Arizona in the 90s and still reside there. While the state has its fair share of problems, it’s grown on me and I don’t foresee leaving anytime soon.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things people don't know about you?

Marc Ciccarone:
  • I've been kidnapped.
  • Had my spleen removed, among other organs...
  • I started my teaching career in elementary P.E.  Once leaving traditional public schools, I focused my efforts on students with emotional disturbances (ED), and now I'm at a non-traditional high school (which means "At Risk"... or whatever other PC labels people like to use) with certifications in Biology, English, Health, and Physical Education.
  • When someone asks me to recommend an amazing book, nine out of ten times, I'll say Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill.
  • In 2005, after suffering through one garbage movie after another, I swore off going to theatres.  I will lift the self-imposed ban for special occasions.  However, in the last twelve years, I've probably only seen about twenty movies in the theatre; most of them were free tickets given to me by connections in the horror industry.  I do not believe my boycott will change anything, I just refuse to support endeavors I don't believe in and over the years, I've realized I have no desire to be simply "entertained" by movies featuring attractive casts and explosions.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Marc Ciccarone:
Probably Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik and the Mr. Men series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?


Marc Ciccarone:
This school year, I’m reading Lord of the Flies to my English class. When I’m not doing that, I’m usually editing/reading submissions for Blood Bound Books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked.

Marc Ciccarone:
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Marc Ciccarone:
The desire grew from my mom reading to me as a child. The books she chose were magical and I was so excited every time she introduced me to another character or fantastical world. I wanted to bring that joy to other people and as soon as I could string misspelled words together, about seven-years-old, I started creating stories. Of course, they were total rip-offs of what I saw on our bookshelves and watched on TV, but imitation is what kids do. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Marc Ciccarone:
Nothing special. I just needed to be relaxed. Sometimes I take a bubble bath - don’t hate - and bring a notepad with me. I’ve also have a lot of success when I’m up north in the fresh, cool mountain air.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Marc Ciccarone:
Not really. I assume it’s safe to say that everyone dresses candles in blood and sigils, asking the universe to use me as a channel to create a fantastic work of fiction.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about wiring you find most challenging?

Marc Ciccarone:
Finding the time. Everything else for me is easy - well, I mean I have the same struggles as other writers and editors, of course. But if I’m relaxed and make the time, it’s not challenging. It’s fun!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
So... you're the guy behind Blood Bound Books.  Tell us a little something about your publishing company and how BBB began.

Marc Ciccarone:
I’m that guy, though, most people wouldn’t know it because I rarely shout about it on social media. In 2009, I hadn’t found a lot of horror companies or books that were putting out the kind of horror material that interested me - granted, I wasn’t amazing at searching the internet back then - and if there were all these small presses putting out what I didn’t care for, I figured I could start my own and release the type of stories I did want to read. That year I had relocated in December and was unable to secure a teaching position mid school year. With the free time, I created the company that I wanted: Blood Bound Books.
            I enlisted the help of my friends Theresa Dillon and Joe Spagnola. And over the years, others have come and gone, helping with acquisition and editing services, reading and submission selections, and advice, turning BBB into the company it is today. Just this year, I published a brand-new story from Lloyd Kaufman. Basically, a dream come true since Joe and I use to spend most of our free time watching Troma classics as teens. This Thanksgiving weekend marks our eighth year in business.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Every time I speak to you, you have another anthology that you're in the middle of putting together.  That sounds like lots of work.  What all does that entail?

Marc Ciccarone:
Long hours, an uncompromising vision, and the willingness to sacrifice. But that’s how you achieve anything in life ;)
            In 2012, I was hanging out with Shane McKenzie in New Orleans and he informed me that Blood Bound Books is known for their anthologies. Looking back now, he’s correct. We’ve put out amazing novels over the years, but they never seem to garner as much attention as our anthologies. It was a long journey to reach the stage where I got the privilege of publishing new fiction from Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, and other horror legends, but it was totally worth it. Along the way, I made lot of mistakes, but I learned from them and each release has been an improvement. The best part of the process is reading all the submissions. The good, the bad, the ugly, doesn’t matter. We’ll hold reading sessions every weekend for three months if need be and sit for hours just pouring over stories, laughing, cringing, and exchanging knowing glances with each other when we’ve hit a story that is going to make the cut. The worst part is sending out rejections. I use to personalize them as much as possible, but I stopped that after the first few years. I learned that people do not want feedback unless they ask for it. And even then, most don’t really want the critique they asked for. If I do send out a personalized response, it’s because I either know the author somewhat or they were so close to being accepted that I wanted to explain and keep in touch for future opportunities. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Marc Ciccarone:
Almost every short story by Richard Matheson. He was my introduction to horror and will always hold a special place in my heart. I think his style of short fiction is what inspired me to focus on anthologies.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Marc Ciccarone:
A combination of originality and talent. Is that vague enough for you? Haha. Having read submission after submission for eight years, I’ve seen some trends. Often, I’ll receive several overused fiction tropes, but they’ll be from great writers and they’ll make it enjoyable. Despite the excellent writing, those shorts/novels are hard to sell because everyone is pitching similar books. I also receive a lot of awesome plot ideas from newbies who just don’t have the writing chops to pull off the story they’ve envisioned. It’s sad when this happens because their ideas are so original and fresh that the story needs to be told… but until they put in the work to hone their craft, it’s unpublishable. When I find writers with the creativity to push boundaries and the talent to pull it off, we’re in business.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Marc Ciccarone:
I am totally turned off by a bad cover. Haha. I try not to be, but I will admit that I am a cover snob. I’ve released a few iffy book covers myself, but overall, I’m pretty proud of every Blood Bound Books’ cover. Like I said, kind of a snob, so I’m usually the one who decides what the image will entail. However, I haven’t got much artistic talent, just a gruesome vision for how I want the final product to look. I’ve been fortunate though to find some great artists who can take my description and create the vision that I see in my head. Andrje Bartulovic - also know online as MaggotMeister has created some of our most iconic covers.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Marc Ciccarone:
Blood, guts, and story. That’s what sets Blood Bound Books apart from the mass of extreme horror books. Sure, we have our shock stories, but for the most part I do not accept stories that are plain torture porn without a deeper message. Anyone can write graphic smut, but if you can make me cringe at the same time and as think, then you’re a true splatterpunk author.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future? 

Marc Ciccarone:
A Best Of anthology compiling ten years of Blood Bound Books. It will highlight some of our classic tales and feature beautiful illustrations. It will be a hardcover edition and also feature previously unpublished stories, so there will still be something new for our long-time fans.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

Marc Ciccarone:
We're also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you're new to Blood Bound Books, please check out Night Terrors III and DOA III.  Those two anthologies will showcase what we do best.  From there you'll discover great new authors to follow.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Marc Ciccarone:
Thank you for eight years of support! Each release gets better and better and I can’t tell you how amazing it feels when someone tells me how much they enjoyed our publications. If you’ve been impressed by one of our novels or anthologies, please leave a review. It really does mean the world to us when we receive feedback. Obviously, I don’t do this expecting large sums of money, I do it to change the world of horror fiction. Thank you again!


About the anthologies:
WARNING: This anthology contains 28 stories of violence, sexual depravity, self-degradation, and other dark subjects taken to an extreme you've never read before.  If consumed, please consult a mortician.

"Make sure your health insurance covers psychiatric counseling before reading this book because you're gonna need it.  The experience of this collection may be likened to getting run over by a 666-car locomotive engineered by Lucifer.  This is the cream of grotesquerie's crop, a Whitman's Sampler of the heinous, and an absolutely gut-wrenching celebration of the furthest extremities of the scatological, the taboo, the unconscionable, and the blasphemous." ~Edward Lee, author of The Haunter of the Threshold and The Dunwich Romance

If you thought Volume One was intense, you ain't seen nothing yet!  Twenty-eight masters of the extreme contribute their most hardcore tales to the anthology that only Blood Bound Books could publish: D.O.A. II.
            Pull back the coroner's sheet, hold your breath, and enjoy the ride.
            THIS IS NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH.

After six years and more than fifty authors, the Unholy Trinity is complete.  The third installment in the DOA series offers thirty stories from the originators of splatterpunk as well as the newest voices in extreme horror.
            You'll laugh... you'll cry... you'll vomit.  Don't say we didn't warn you.

31 tales of terror.

"Creepy, macabre subject matter fills the pages of Blood Bound Books first anthology.  Night Terrors 31 tales of horror, ranging from stories of serial killers, to monsters, to evil itself.  There are stories here to satisfy anyone's palate and quench anyone's thirst for blood and gore."

Just when you thought it was safe to crawl back into bed... we've got a new set of terrors!  If Night Terrors made you pray for dawn, Volume II will send you into total madness.  Step inside the secret chambers of the Vatican and experience the dark side of the papal elections.  Meet people only a mother could love; listen to the dead speak, and even more disturbing, hear them cry.  Discover the darkness that lives inside the hearts of man, and hide from other worldly tormentors... and, if you manage to wake up after these night terrors... you'll wake up dead!

Lose yourself in twenty-two remarkable stories of earthly horror and cosmic menace.  A wave of sinkholes appears on the anniversary of a rural tragedy, and local residents begin to hear the voices of the dead.  A woman encounters a predator from her youth - and a chance to turn the tables.  A child's inner beast takes on a sinister life of its own.  An undetectable serial killer raises tensions on a college campus.  Experimental physics reveals another world, and it might be the end of yours.  Shrouded in darkness, lurking in the shadows, NIGHT TERRORS III awaits you.

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