Author/editor Brian M. Sammons is one of the busiest gentlemen in the business, with dozens of anthologies he has edited/co-edited, short fiction aplenty, and a possible movie deal in the works. He may be best known for his work in the world of Lovecrafian/weird fiction, and he frequently collaborates with author/editor Glynn Owen Barrass (whose Graveside Chat interview may be found here). Brian took a little time out to participate in this edition of A Graveside Chat.
GC: You are very active in the writing and editing business — particularly in the world of Lovecraftian horror. What draws you to this particular sub-genre, if we should call it that? Do you tend to write tales that fit into specific Lovecraftian lore — i.e., the myriad conventions of the Cthulhu Mythos — or are you more inclined to draw on the concepts that inspired those conventions and veer off into your own territory? Or some of both, perhaps?
BMS: I guess a bit of both. I am not above rooting around in the big sandbox left to us by H.P. Lovecraft or even playing with some of his well-used toys. But then I am also keen on doing my own thing within the broader sub-genre of Cosmic Horror. I am a fan of many different types of horror, from classic ghostly tales to splattery stories of psychos, but whatever the flavor, I love the unexplainable and the inescapable, and Lovecraft’s brand of horror does that far better than most. I think that is why when I first read him at a tender age I instantly fell in love with his weird world.
GC: Who are your favorite contemporary authors? Do you find that they inspire and/or influence your writing (or editing)? Are there any particular authors you haven’t yet published that you would like to?
BMS: By contemporary, I guess you mean living, so that's how I’ll take it. Of course, there’s both Stephen King and Clive Barker. Ramsey Campbell is in my opinion the best living author of Cthulhu Mythos stories, not to mention his own brand of terror. There’s also the wonderful Joe Lansdale. All of them (along with long-gone greats like Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, and Richard Matheson) have had a huge influence on my own writing. I have had some dealing with Campbell and Lansdale and both were a joy to work with and would love to do so again. As for some newer names, I am a huge fan of Adam Nevill and would love to do something with him, and Paul Tremblay, whom I’ve worked with just a little and would love to do so again. As for others, well if you check out my anthologies you will see a few names that appear again and again. That’s because I love their stories and they are absolutely a joy to work with. There are far too many to name them all, but some highlights would include Jeffrey Thomas, William Meikle, Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Pete Rawlik, Christine Morgan, Tim Waggoner, John Langan, Lois Gresh, and man, there really are too many to mention.
GC: You’ve collaborated on numerous projects, perhaps most notably with author/editor Glynn Owen Barrass. Do you prefer collaborating with others, as opposed to working solo, particularly on editing projects? Does collaborating pose any unique creative challenges — or specific benefits? Is there anyone you’d particularly care to collaborate with that you haven’t already?
BMS: Yeah, I adore Glynn and we have done a bunch of books and stories together. I've also done a bit with David Conyers, as well as one-offs with a handful of others. I love collaborating in both writing and editing, as it’s fun to bounce ideas back and forth with someone and, like they say, many hands make for light work. But I’ve also done many things on my own, so I guess I’m easy and just go with the flow when the opportunity presents itself. As for any challenges, well I’ve got to have a good relationship with whomever I collaborate with, and we soon discover a shorthand between us to make things easier. I mean, Glynn and I have been doing this for so long that each of us can just focus on our own part of things and trust completely that the other guy will hold up his end. It sometimes feels like that twin ability to finish each other’s sentences.
GC: Can you talk about any upcoming publications — either that you’ve edited or written? How about any special projects you’d like to set in motion in the future?
BMS: As far as upcoming projects, Glynn and I just finished up an anthology for PS Publishing called Mystery, Murder, Madness, Mythos. It’s a collection of detective/mystery fiction of all stripes that meets the horror of the Cthulhu Mythos. From Dark Regions Press there is Tales From Arkham Sanitarium that I did by myself. That one focuses on how madness and insanity are integral parts of Cosmic Horror. And no, I don't just mean that the protagonist goes cuckoo at the end and writes a rambling note before offing themselves. Lastly, there is a HUGE project that David Conyers and I are working the logistics out now. I can't say more than that right now, only that it will be awesome if we do it right. Other than that, I’ve always got other titles in the works, and taking up space in my head until I can get them out. As for special projects that I’d like to see set in motion, there is a film production company that optioned the rights to my story, “One Way Conversation” about eight years ago. They keep renewing the option and saying that they want to do it, I just really wish they would get it done already.
GC: Thank you, Brian, and best wishes on all your upcoming projects.
BMS: Thank you so much for having me here.
Coming Soon: Graveside Chats with Maurice Broaddus and many more!