This is the conclusion of a five part interview. Read part one by clicking: Thomas F. Monteleone.
Michael Aloisi: You have won Bram Stoker Award—the highest honor given to works of horror—four times. Do you feel winning such awards gives a writer the recognition and motivation they need to write, or do you feel it adds pressure to have to live up to that title?
Thomas F. Monteleone: Back when I was writing science fiction, I was a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America. They had an award called the Nebula, and back when I was starting; I thought my life would be complete if I won a Nebula. I never did. I was nominated four or five times, but never won. Awards like that are nice because it’s not from the fans, it’s from your peers. Awards given by other writers mean more because they are given to you by people who know what you have been through. They can stand back and look at what you have done and be like, wow, I wish I had done that. In that sense, the awards are a nice affirmation.
I was really shocked when I won the Stoker for Blood of the Lamb, which really isn’t that much of a horror novel. It’s more of a global suspense novel. I had no idea I was going to win, it shocked me. And when I won for best short story collection I thought there was no way I would win, but I did. The one I got for my for the Borderlands collection was really gratifying because the book was a lot of work, it was a real labor of love. Looking for Mr. Flip was a novella that was nominated, it lost to Stephen King…and he never let me forget it!
I like awards, but do you need them or do they help your career?— probably not.
MA: Your novel, The Blood of the Lamb . . . What do think it was about this novel that made it stand out and receive such an honor?
TFM: It was a real high concept novel. It was one of those novels that hinged on a great idea, one of those ideas that each writer probably only gets once in his career. It just had that chemistry. It got a rave review in the New York Times, sold out in hardcover in three weeks, got movie offers, it was just one of those things.
I don’t want to ruin the book, but lets say it was way ahead of the curve with the whole religious thriller thing. It makes the DaVinci Code read like Little Bo Peep. That is all I can say about it, without ruining anything.
MA: You do a lot with Borderlands Press which specializes in signed, numbered and limited edition books, they have published several of your books and you have edited numerous anthologies for them. How did the company come about?
TFM: I was one of the founders of the press in the early nineties. I came out with an anthology called Borderlands and a friend of mine wanted to put it out in a limited edition and I thought, wow, that is really cool. Collecting limited editions was just becoming popular, and I wanted to give it a shot. My wife said I wasn’t a businessman so she told me to be the pretty face that goes out and gets the writers and she’d be the person to run the business side. We started it up and did some really cool things with people like Lansdale, Bradbury, and a lot of others.
Running a small press is really tough; it’s a huge undertaking, and you don’t end up making a lot of money. But you do make a lot of friends along with making a lot of readers happy. Elizabeth is real good with business and I’m not, so she runs the company now.
The small presses are great for a lot of the mid-list writers who aren’t getting published as much as they use to be. If it weren’t for the small guys, they wouldn’t be getting published at all. There is a lot of good stuff coming out of them.
MA: Borderlands Press holds an annual Writers Boot Camp that you are involved in. Tell us about the boot camp and what attendees can expect from it.
TFM: That is something that sprang out of an odd idea. We were reading for the Borderlands anthology and we kept seeing so many of the same things wrong in the submissions, no sense of dialog, bad characters, plot problems, we’d see it over and over. Elizabeth got the idea of getting together a lot of editors and writers and having a sort of boot camp for writers. We signed up some great writers like Paul Wilson and David Morrell. Each one of us took a different discipline and taught it. It was a grueling weekend of non-stop instruction, pretty much from eight a.m. until two in the morning! It turned out to be a really eye-opening, successful weekend. The “grunts” loved it; we have been doing it every year since.
Writers have to submit a story to be accepted to the camp, we only accept a certain number, but we have had people come in from all over the world. If people are interested they should go to Borderlands Press.com and click on the Boot camp button.
MA: When you are editing an anthology, what are you looking for in the submissions?
TFM: What we tried to do from the beginning, especially with Borderlands, was to find stories I haven’t read before. I didn’t want to read the eighty-fifth version of the vampire or serial killer or some clanking g whost. We try to look in different areas to find a variety of fiction. We really tried to get writers to go to places they haven’t been before and it worked pretty well. The Borderlands series ended up having a lot of great stories that you would have never read in other places.
MA: What would be your advice to a writer starting out?
TFM: Having a sense of discipline. You have to write a little bit of something every day. And you have to want it more than anything in your life. If you don’t have discipline and the desire, your just not going to make it, I’m not going to lie. If you can achieve that sort of awareness and acceptance, everything else you can make happen. All of you guys out there pay attention, this is more important than anything else I could say!
There are a lot of people who have tons of talent, but they have very little amount of discipline…and they just don’t make it. There are tons of people who are way more accomplished than I ever will be, but they don’t have the means to harness it, so they p*ss away their talent. If you have the discipline and desire, you can make it.
MA: What are you currently working on and what can your fans expect to see next from you?
TFM: I turned in a new thriller called The Lower Deep, and I’m working on a YA series with my pal, Paul Wilson, as well as a very high-concept comic. Every once in a while, I try another screenplay, but the odds of scoring with one continue to be low.
To learn more about Mr. Monteleone’s books, visit: TFM’s Amazon Page
To learn more about Borderlands Press and it’s bootcamp, visit: Borderlands Press
Be sure to check out my Creative Writing and Book Publishing pages for great articles on the craft and the industry. And don’t forget to check out my Interviews with Author’s to get a first hand experience of the craft and industry.
To learn about who I am, visit: AuthorMike.com and while you are there make sure to check out AuthorMike Ink Publishing.