Sunday, July 4, 2010
The Black Glove Interviews: A.P. Fuchs
Nickolas Cook: I want to thank your for taking some time from what is obviously a hectic publishing and writing schedule. Speaking of which, how is business for Coscom Entertainment these days? Any exciting news you can share with us at this time?
A.P. Fuchs: Coscom Entertainment is doing just fine, especially given the crazy economic climate right now. I’m really proud of that because we’ve lost a lot of small presses in the horror genre due to the economy already.
In terms of exciting news, just recently we signed a two-book deal with Simon and Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint to publish The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies by H.G. Wells and Eric S. Brown, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim by Mark Twain and W. Bill Czolgosz.
We’re super excited about those, with The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies due out December 14 2010 and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim on April 12, 2011.
We also signed another mass market deal for another mash up, but I’m sworn to silence for now. Been sitting on this news for a while, but I have to wait till the other party gives the go-ahead before I can say anything.
NC: You're known primarily as a publisher, but you're also a respected author of several superhero novels. What started your love for the superhero genre? Who are some of your favorite artists/writers? Why?
APF: I’ve been a superhero fan ever since I first knew what one was. Even starting at 3 years old I watched the Christopher Reeve Superman movies religiously. I remember my folks taking me to the theatre when Superman IV: The Quest for Peace came out. The classic Spider-Man series, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Flash, Lois and Clark, Smallville—if it was superhero and on TV, I watched it.
My superhero novel series, The Axiom-man Saga, is the fruition of a lifelong story I’ve had in my head since I was around 12 or so. One of my all-time favourite past jobs I’ve had was being a paperboy. It was also my first job when I was very young. I’ve always joked that if I was able to deliver the paper fulltime, I’d be all over it. Seriously. The money’s good if you broke it down to an hourly basis. I loved it. The early mornings . . . not so much, but once I was out of bed and out the door it wasn’t bad and I woke up rather quickly. But during those mornings alone going house-to-house while everyone else in the world was sleeping, I had this superhero saga playing in my head, one story arc to the next. Most of the time I didn’t realize I was delivering the paper the story was so vivid in my mind’s eye. Quite often I’d have to go back and verify I did indeed deliver to the houses I was supposed to because I’d end my route and go, “What a sec . . . I’m done?” Check the watch. Enough time had passed, but I didn’t remember delivering to the actual houses. Did I just walk around the neighbourhood daydreaming? No. Turns out I didn’t and, sure enough, I delivered those newspapers, but it was there the main storyline for Axiom-man was born.
It’s a very real story for me, one very much rooted in the real world, something both people have loved and others not so much. I’ve always believed that if a superhero showed up tomorrow, he’d be stopping the simple crimes at first: purse snatchers, guys holding up a gas station—basic stuff. And, if a supervillain came along after, why would they immediately go gunning for the hero? Seriously. There has to be a sincere motive in that and not just “Oh, I’m the bad guy so I need to take out the good guy” kind of thing. If anything, the two would operate separately for who knows how long before their paths crossed and the fight was on. And even then, would they constantly keep battling over and over? Or would it be fight—do other stuff—fight—do other stuff?
NC: What's been the toughest part of keeping all of your ducks in a row? The publishing? The editing? Or the writing?
APF: For me it’s finding that balance between focusing on the jobs I personally need to do whether that’s my own writing or publishing, or working on someone else’s book, and keeping the authors I publish in my mind as well. Meaning, sometimes I focus too much on my authors’ works that mine gets completely neglected and, like most writers, I do need to take the time to write or I’m a real mess and not a great person to hang around. That’s being brutally honest, but that’s the biggest challenge for me. It’s the whole thing of being a one-man-band and balancing time for every task without getting swamped either within my own personal circle or in my circle of writers. It’s also being able to partition my brain so I can just focus on one sliver of the pie at a time without being overwhelmed.
NC: Who are some of your favorite writers these days and why?
APF: You know, sadly, due to writing and publishing fulltime, my leisure reading time is next to nil. I read graphic novels more for pleasure than book-books at this point. The book-books I read are mostly the ones Coscom puts out. Out of those, I really enjoy Lorne Dixon’s work (Snarl, The Lifeless. Hound: The Curse of the Baskervilles), Keith Gouveia’s (Animal Behavior), Eric S. Brown (World War of the Dead, Bigfoot War), and anything W. Bill Czolgosz (Anna Karnivora, Zombifrieze) touches is pure brilliance.
Aside from my guys, my favorite writers are Terry Goodkind. His Sword of Truth series changed my life. Stephen King (duh) and John Grisham’s earlier stuff.
For comics, Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison are the top dogs for me. Likewise Jeph Loeb.
NC: What's a typical day of writing for you?
APF: Lately I’ve been writing in the evenings and ever since I got a laptop, the freedom to write anywhere has encouraged a surge in output. I remember so many times sitting on my couch, feet up, feeling the writer’s vibe but being too lazy to go all the way upstairs, turn the computer on, wait for it to load up, pull up MSWord—by then the impulse was gone. Having the laptop helps me just write on a whim, which I enjoy.
I don’t really measure a writing session in terms of time, but rather by word count. I try for 1500-2000 words per sitting when working on a project. If I go over, that’s great, but 1500-2000 words is my minimum. Usually that takes me about 45 minutes. Sometimes 30. I’m a ridiculously fast typist freestyle (78 words-per-min), but after that three quarters of an hour, I need a major break as it all just gushes out in one big wave of creative energy.
NC: You got into doing classic mashups a while back. What drove you to enter the foray that has become mashup horror?
APF: I wanted to do an Axiom-man/Dracula mashup for years, but was so busy I couldn’t do it, and this was well before the mashup craze began. Earlier last year I figured it was a kind of now-or-never thing so I dove right in, first publishing The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies in April 2009, then Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie. After that came The Undead World of Oz by L. Frank Baum and Ryan C. Thomas; Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carroll and Nickolas Cook; Emma and the Werewolves by Jane Austen and Adam Rann; Hound: The Curse of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lorne Dixon. I have my own Dracula vs Zombula forthcoming (me and Bram Stoker), as well as I’m talking to an author about another one. Also planning to be released this year is The Black Cat and the Ghoul by Edgar Allan Poe and Keith Gouveia.
These things are fun books and are meant to take these classic tales in a new direction. The idea with them—as it is with all Coscom Entertainment’s books—is to entertain, have fun and play with monsters.
NC: Other than comics, what books do you feel influenced you the most in your writing?
APF: As mentioned, Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth was a big one for me. I receive many compliments about how I craft my characters and I think Sword of Truth was a big factor in shaping that. Stephen King, like nearly every other horror author out there, got me into horror. But also the reason for me choosing horror was some of the dark stuff I was personally dealing with at the time I started writing seriously. Horror seemed like a good avenue for me to explore those feelings and ideas. Since then, it just kind of stuck.
At the same time, it was a natural avenue for me to take because, thanks to my lifetime superhero fandom, the battle between Good and Evil has always captured me and horror, aside from the superhero genre, really encapsulates that age-old struggle in the most obvious manner compared to other genres. More in-your-face.
NC: I always wonder what horror authors watch when it comes to TV and films. What's some of your favorites and why?
APF: You know what—and this probably goes against the horror authors code—but horror isn’t a huge piece of my movie life. I mean, sure, I watch horror flicks and check them out when I can, but I don’t sit there night after night watching them. Part of it, I’m sure, is I have kids and I’m married and my wife, though she is a fan as well, doesn’t want to watch horror all the time.
Lately, my main TV consumption has been 24, Smallville, lots of Food Network and superhero cartoons.
NC: What's been the hardest lesson you've had to learn as a publisher, editor and writer?
APF: That publishing and writing is an unfair business. I remember starting out and looking at the biz through rose-colored glasses, thinking I’d be the next Stephen King and all that. My motivation has always been to have a day job I love, and to write for a living—and write in style—was something to aspire to, but as the years went by and the publishing industry has changed so drastically compared to the old way of doing things; between dealing with other writers outside the Coscom sphere, other editors, publishers, agents, etc.; between hearing the horror stories of writers and hearing the successes; between reading average earning reports and reading about books that made it—I’ve learned two major lessons and these were the hardest I learned, ones that I just didn’t learn overnight but over many years: publishing is just one giant crapshoot. It really is. Stuff succeeds and sometimes we know why, other times not. Same with the failures. I’ve learned good books don’t get you contracts and sometimes bad books do. I’ve learned that—and such is why I have such pride in the small press and being a self-publisher—corporate publishing is driven by dollar signs and not by books. Sure, that’s business, but for me, I always held out hope there was more to publishing than money. Guess not.
I’ve seen the dark side of writers publicly dissing other writers; I’ve seen professionalism trampled; I’ve seen cliques and back-scratching and all kinds of stuff I was naïve enough to believe was meant to be left in high school.
I learned there’s a price to pay—a steep, steep price—if you want to succeed in this business. Really succeed.
Guess the movies had it wrong, huh?
At least I can say I’ve made writing and publishing my job now and the aforementioned lessons learned will help me stay here, doing what I love, day after day.
NC: What's coming down the line from Coscom Entertainment? From A.P. Fuchs, the writer?
APF: We got lots going on behind the scenes here at Coscom Entertainment. Upcoming soon is Praise the Dead by Gina Ranalli, The Weaponer by Eric S. Brown, The Black Cat and the Ghoul by Edgar Allan Poe and Keith Gouveia, and more.
From me personally, in July there’s Magic Man Plus 15 Tales of Terror, which is my first horror short story collection. I’m real excited about this one. No later than mid-October I want to put out Possession of the Dead, which is the sequel to my shoot ’em up zombie novel, Blood of the Dead, and, if I have time, I have another idea for a book that might be out before year’s end. This year already saw the release of Zombie Fight Night: Battles of the Dead from me. If I accomplish my writing goals, it’ll be a four-book year, which isn’t bad at all.
(Author Bio: A.P. Fuchs is the author of many novels and short stories, most of which have been published. He is also known for his superhero series, The Axiom-man Saga, and is the author of Blood of the Dead, the first novel in the shoot ’em up zombie trilogy, Undead World, and Zombie Fight Night: Battles of the Dead. He also edited the zombie anthologies Dead Science and Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes: Zany Zombie Poetry for the Undead Head.)
When he’s not writing, he heads up Coscom Entertainment, a publishing firm specializing in superhero and monster fiction.
Visit his corner of the Web at www.canisterx.com
Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ap_fuchs
Check out the Undead World Trilogy at www.undeadworldtrilogy.com
Check out Coscom Entertainment at www.coscomentertainment.com
(The Black Glove wishes to thank A.P. for his time and efforts)