We’ve reached the end of Week 2 of the Backlist Bash, and today’s guest is SEBASTIAN ST. ANDERS, here to promote his self-published horror title Black Angels.
SHR: What makes this particular book your favorite?
SSA: I’ve always been attracted to the Hardboiled school, the language and the grittiness of Hammett and Chandler, but after living in a city like Oakland, the idea of murder as entertainment feels ludicrous. So for me, writing a straight up mystery just doesn’t cut it. But other aspects of the pre-war period mirror our current day—the sudden, huge influx of scientific discovery, the flood of new technology, and all in the face of a failing economy—this spoke to me. While Sam Spade and the Continental Op worked San Francisco, and Philip Marlowe worked Los Angeles, the fundamental turning point in law enforcement was going on in Cleveland. First, the department reorganized under Elliot Ness to cut out the corruption; second, the Cleveland PD utilized the up-and-coming technology to fight crime; and third, and most important, the earliest (and one of the most brutal) American serial killer surfaced there in 1935. In a way, the modern world of law enforcement begins in Depression Era Cleveland. The urge to mix the crime genre with the push of scientific frontiers proved irresistible. And I love the results.
SHR: Tell us a little about what you went through to get it published.
SSA: My publisher, who had the right to first refusal, went under. And, while I love the book, marketing people at publishing companies couldn’t put the book in a box, so my agent couldn’t sell it. The genres are too mixed, too blended. It isn’t a police procedural, or a horror novel, or science fiction, or a historic novel, or a straight thriller, and yet it’s all of those things. Ironically, had this been a juvenile novel, the genre mix would’ve been far less of a problem. Despite the interesting things coming out in the juvenile market, I haven’t seen a lot of decapitation murders as the subject. Frankly, I’ve found electronic publishing to be liberating. I’m not writing to make a publisher or an agent happy, I’m writing to make readers happy. And I’ll be pretty tough to deal with for publishers should any of these e-reader projects pan out.
SHR: On writing in general: What’s the hardest part for you? Why?
SSA: I used to think the hardest part was finding time, between working, eating and sleeping, to sit down and do it. Turns out, that’s the fun part. The truth is, the hard part is marketing. Embracing the electronic and social media goes against the grain for me. Regardless, it’s a necessity. The last book tour I did (under a different name) involved a preceding wave of social networking, trying to interest people in big cities in California, or small towns in Ohio, or wherever, before arriving to sign books. For every hour I sat in a bookstore, my wife and I did five or ten hours of social media and worked on various attempts at mass networking. And sometimes, I’d sit next to my pile of books while people avoided eye contact and wonder if it was worth it. And sometimes, I’d get an actual turnout that made a store manager happy. But, man, even online, I feel like a five-year-old showoff, jumping up and down, yelling “look at my book!” Again, goes against the grain, but it’s a necessity.
SHR: Unrelated: What’s your favorite color?
SSA: That color that looks black, until you see it under direct sunlight, and it turns out to be blue. Hey, that’s almost a haiku.
ABOUT BLACK ANGELS:
Horror / Thriller
Cleveland, 1936: Hardboiled cop Victor Sigorski follows a trail of headless bodies from the hobo jungles to the highest echelon of Depression-era Cleveland society. Pitted against the likes of Eliot Ness and the federal government, will Sigorski uncover the bizarre secret of the decapitation murders, or end up on the stack of unidentified corpses littering Kingsbury Run?
WHERE TO GET IT:
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