Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Our Purveyors of Mechanical Madness

Introducing our purveyors of technological terror and mechanical madness. This epic anthology will have you breaking out in a cold sweat whenever you go to press a button or flip a switch! "Murder and Machinery" is set to be 2021's finest mechanical mashup of horror and science fiction, with a soup├žon of suspense, ranging from dystopian nightmares and steampunk romps to suburban drama and government conspiracies!

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Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Small Press: The Ups and Downs

This year has been a tough one for small press, as it has been for most industries, and the sailing probably isn't going to get any smoother in the near future. A number of small presses have gone under and I thought I really ought to write a blog post outlining the strategy and aim in place here at Black Beacon Books. Like most small publishers nowadays, Black Beacon Books is a labour of love. It is not a full-time job, and no matter how much I wish it were, it almost certainly never will be. You have to chase your dreams, but you also have to keep your feet on the ground...not simple!

The strategy behind Black Beacon Books has been, and will continue to be, one of slow and measured growth. This is why we currently only release one title every year or two. When quality matters to you (and anyone who has read our books knows it does), the process of releasing a book takes time. But the biggest constraint is money. If we had more to invest (a lot more!), we'd be able to pay professional rates and fund broad-reaching marketing campaigns. In the meantime, we offer token rates and rely on word-of-mouth, social media, and reviews. We've also set up a Patreon page, which we use as a subscription service, not for crowdfunding (meaning the monthly fee covers the benefits provided). The disadvantage of this conservative approach is that we're not making a name for ourselves as quickly as many other small publishers who use personal savings to fund projects. This means lower sales due to lower exposure. The advantage is that there is almost no risk of being forced to shut down because debts can't be paid. And it's that stability, along with the artistic freedom it allows, that is probably our greatest strength. The frequency of publishing books can speed up or slow down as a result of fluctuating sales, but we can keep plugging along through the tougher times.

You may be asking why I'm writing this post. Well, I suppose it's to reassure you that Black Beacon Books plans on keeping at it, publishing quality mystery, suspense, and horror fiction that makes us proud, first and foremost, and that we're confident you'll enjoy, as a natural consequence. This adventure is, of course, a team effort. We need you to chip in. We need you to write amazing stories for us, to spread the word about us, but above all, way up there in the clouds, the absolute number one thing is to buy our books. Making sales is the only way for us to truly grow as a publisher. In a way, when you buy one of our books, you're not only getting your money's worth in reading entertainment from that title, but you're also investing in an even better book for a similar price next time. That is what it boils down to! That's the kind of "social contract" (for the philosophers out there) we want you to figuratively sign with us. 

So, there you go. I hope that reassures you. It certainly feels reassuring from this end to write this little post, and to put it out there as a clear statement. Black Beacon Books is here to stay! We have countless great stories to tell you, from yesterday, today, and more are coming tomorrow. Get reading!

Founding editor, Cameron Trost     

Saturday, 6 June 2020

An Interview with David Tallerman

To celebrate the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

First question, inevitable perhaps considering the pandemic...how are you coping?

Honestly, things could be worse. As a full-time writer with far too many projects on the boil, it's shocking how little about my daily routine has changed. If anything, it's made me appreciate that bit more how much worse my circumstances could be.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired you to write this mystery?

It's a long time since I wrote it, so my memory's fuzzy, but I recall that I was thinking about perfect crimes and how somebody might actually go about getting away with murder.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Probably not a literary pilgrimage as such, but I'm lucky enough to live in the same city and to be friends with one of my favourite authors, Adrian Tchaikovsky; does popping around to your mate's house to play board games count as pilgrimaging? If not, then I once went a bit farther out of my way to interview the marvellous Joanne Harris, which was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story?

For me, it's that balance of giving the reader enough information that they don't feel like the wool's being pulled over their eyes, while still obfuscating the twists and turns enough that they come as a satisfying surprise.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

I'm a big fan of Dashiell Hammett and Film Noir, so I'd have to go with Sam Spade. Admittedly he's probably not that much cop as a detective, but when you're played by Humphrey Bogart, you don't need to be.

Tell us about a real mystery you have solved or would like to?

It's not a mystery as such, since it's well known who the main perpetrators were, but a current project I'm working on and which hopefully will be announced quite soon is a fictitious account of a famous bank robbery from around a century ago. While I haven't been solving anything as such, it's been a heck of a challenge attempting to get into the heads of long-dead historical figures and to understand the whys and wherefores of what they did.

What are you writing now?

As I write this, I'm mostly wrapping up the fourth in my Black River Chronicles series of fantasy novels, Graduate or Die, as well as a science-fiction horror novella called Graveyard of Titans, both of which should be out around the time of this anthology.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

I'm on Twitter and Facebook, and my website, www.davidtallerman.co.uk, has tons of information about my various projects, as well as a link to my blog.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

An Interview with M. H. Norris

In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

First question, inevitable perhaps considering the pandemic...how are you coping?

Like anyone, I’ve had good days and I’ve had bad days. I’m actually still working so things haven’t changed a whole lot for me at this point.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired
you to write this mystery?

There are two things that man has always done: told stories and committed crimes. They will continue to do so. It’s not unreasonable to think that people combine the two. Back around 2014, I was approached with the idea of doing an anthology. But I needed a concept! I have a love of urban myths and legends but I was also at the beginning of my mystery writing career. I had the idea to combine the two. What if a forensic anthropologist was confronted with cases drawing from myth. After wandering CreepyPasta, I found the Midnight Game. As it’s internet fauxlore pretending to be a genuine Celtic myth, it looked perfect. “Midnight” was born. When a group of high schoolers are found murdered, Dr. Rosella Tassoni is called in when hints of a ritual are found at the crime scene. This sets Rosella off an adventure that will change her life forever. It is also the start of a new series featuring more stories where myth and murder meet.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

When I was writing my first book, I got to sit in on a police training course. It was interesting to learn what they learn. I did an article about it as part of my senior portfolio and things I learned that day still slide into how my characters act in certain situations. What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story? Compelling characters, first and foremost. People come to your story for the premise, but unless you have a good character they may not stay very long. Suspects. The goal of any writer is to have people guessing until the very end. How often do you hear someone complain about a mystery, because they saw right through it? Motive. Sometimes the why leads you to the who. Methodology: This can be fun to make up. Also, if you’re writing a serial killer, technically the details really matter. I read the study the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit did on serial crimes and it was a fascinating read. Lastly, lots of research. I’ve accumulated so much over the years, and you’ll often find me reading various books on related subjects (especially on forensics!) or reading articles.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

I’m giving two answers here.
1. The Vinyl Detective - the lead character of Andrew Cartmel’s “Vinyl Detective” series. He’s not the most traditional crime solver but Cartmel does such a good job at marrying his love of vinyl with intriguing music themed mysteries.
2. Shawn Spencer - while I write a lot darker than most anything Psych gave us, it has always had a huge influence on how I write mysteries.

Tell us about a real mystery you have solved or would like to?

Confession time, I’m a bit scatterbrained. Most often the real life mysteries I solve is where did I sit something that I had earlier in the day. Or, worst case scenario, where did I put that piece of paper with that vital clue?

What are you writing now?

I tend to have a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets at any given time. Right now, I’m working on my contribution to Altrix Book’s Chonosmith Chronicles. I’ll be writing a story set in the 1940s-1950s and it is unlike anything I’ve written before. I’m also working on the first full-length story featuring Dr. Rosella Tassoni. We’ll be heading down to New Orleans where Rosella has to face her own demons while stopping a killer who only lives in the shadows. I also have my weekly column over at 18thWall Productions' website where I talk about writing. You can find me there on Wednesdays. Once a month, I also write for the Stage 32 blog. If you haven’t joined Stage 32, I highly recommend it. It’s a great networking tool for creatives, especially in film. In the realm of not-writing, I’ve been working on helping to bring back my podcast, the Raconteur Roundtable. I’m really excited for this to come back and I’ve had fun returning to this project. I’m also working on a YouTube channel that I’m excited to launch soon.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

Facebook: facebook.com/mhnorris4
Twitter: @girlinpink44
mhnorris.com

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

An Interview with Robert Petyo

In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

First question, inevitable perhaps considering the pandemic...how are you coping?

Staying at home as much as possible, and reminding myself that there are many other people—infected people, front line workers, unemployed people, nursing home residents—who have it a lot tougher than I do.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired you to write this mystery?

When I was in Junior High School, I wrote a series of stories, inspired by Marvel Comics and the TV show “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, called “The Men From ACEL” about a detective/spy agency. The characters in the series were all named after fellow students. The psychology behind this, I don’t know. Was I a shy nerd looking for attention? Did I think the character names earned me a built-in audience? As I became more serious about my writing, I’ve only attempted the “detective agency” a few times. “The Morrison File” is one of those times. (Some of the characters in the story have names similar to those characters in The Men From ACEL.)

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Not recently, but I used to attend a yearly writer’s conference sponsored by Pennwriters, a statewide writer’s organization. Very helpful and very inspiring. I also used to attend Mystery conferences in Philadelphia.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

Sherlock Holmes is the reason I write mysteries.

What are you writing now?

I work on several projects at once, which probably isn’t a good thing, but sometimes when having problems with one project, I find moving on to another project helpful.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

petyo@ptd.net and Facebook or Twitter @robertpetyo

Friday, 22 May 2020

An Interview with Josh Pachter

In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired you to write this mystery? 

My first published story, "E.Q. Griffen Earns His Name," appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1968. I was sixteen years old when I wrote it, and my protagonist was a sixteen-year-old boy named Ellery Queen Griffen. I wrote a second story about E.Q. two years later, and one about his younger brother, Nero Wolfe Griffen, a year after that, but then I moved on to creating my own characters, rather than copying those of other authors. A few years ago, I realized that the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of my first story was approaching, and I decided it would be fun to bring its main character back, fifty years older, to celebrate the occasion. Where would E.Q. be, half a century on? Well, where was I? Writing has over the decades been a paying hobby for me. My job is in education — I teach communication studies and film appreciation at a two-year college in Virginia. So why not make the adult E.Q. Griffen a college instructor? I wrote "50" and submitted it to EQMM — and editor Janet Hutchings not only bought it, she agreed to publish it in the magazine's November/December 2018 issue, exactly fifty years to the month after my December 1968 debut. The next year, I was delighted to see "50" place second in the balloting for EQMM's annual Readers Choice Award.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

In 1972, I backpacked across Western Europe and visited the Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen, Switzerland. A beautiful spot — and, unlike the fictional "221B Baker Street," a real place!

What are you writing now?

A year ago, I was asked to write a story for a collection titled The Eyes of Texas, edited by the prolific Michael Bracken. I created a Texas private investigator named Helmut Erhard, whose grandfather was a German Army officer who spent the last two years of WWII in a POW camp in central Texas and stayed on in the US after the war to raise a family. I had so much fun with the character and the small-town Texas setting that I've now written four more Erhard stories and am working on number six.

Where can we follow or contact you online?  

I don't often tweet, but I'm a pretty regular presence on the Book of Faces, and I have a website at www.joshpachter.com

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

An Interview with John M. Floyd

In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

First question, inevitable perhaps considering the pandemic...how are you coping?

Like everyone else, I’ve been stuck here at home every day, so I’ve treated that as a chance to do a lot of writing. And reading. 

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired you to write this mystery?

I wrote it because it’s a locked-room mystery, and I’ve always enjoyed reading that kind of story.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Almost every trip I’ve ever taken has resulted in at least one story, so I guess I’ve been on a lot of literary pilgrimages. Most of them lately have been to Bouchercons.

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story?

Suspense and deception. And of course a crime, at its center. I also like plot twists, not only at the end but during the story itself.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

I have two of them: Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko and Nelson DeMille’s John Corey.

Tell us about a real mystery you have solved or would like to?

How does a guy who graduated in Electrical Engineering wind up writing fiction for magazines? I think I’ve solved that one.

What are you writing now?

A western about a bounty hunter on the trail of the stagecoach bandit who stole his girlfriend.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

Via my website (www.johnmfloyd.com) or my publisher’s site (dogwoodpress.com/john-floyd/).