An Interview with Richard Chizmar:
Looking Forward to A Long December
Richard Chizmar is perhaps best known as the founder of Cemetery Dance magazine and Cemetery Dance Publications. He is also an accomplished writer, with fiction appearing in dozens of publications, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. HIs fiction has netted him several prestigious awards, including two World Fantasy Awards, four International Horror Guild Awards, and the Horror Writers Association’s Board of Trustees Award.
Recently, Chizmar announced that Subterranean Press will be publishing A Long December, a massive collection of thirty-five stories spanning his career. The book comes twenty years after Chizmar’s first collection, Midnight Promises, itself a finalist for a World Fantasy Award. Advance buzz on A Long December has been strong, with novelist Scott Smith (The Ruins, A Simple Plan) saying, “…Chizmar does a tremendous job of peeling back his world’s shiny layers, revealing the rot that lies underneath. His stories feel like so many teeth: short and sharp and ready to draw blood.”
Read on for insight from the author about this upcoming collection, including what was behind his decision to publish it through a press other than his own.
CEMETERY DANCE ONLINE: What can you tell us about A Long December?
RICHARD CHIZMAR: Big, fat short story collection. My first in almost two decades. Thirty-five stories from every stage of my career. Clocks in at just over 150,000 words of fiction and 8,000 words of Story Notes. All topped off by a gorgeous cover from Edward Miller. It’s a dream project for me and a long time coming.
How did you decide on the thirty-five stories that made it into the book?
I included the best stories from my first two collections, Midnight Promises and Monsters and Other Stories, as well as about a dozen uncollected older stories that I really like. The last 18 months have been a very productive time for me, and I’ve probably written and sold an additional ten or eleven stories to numerous anthologies. All those stories are also included. Finally, I sat down and wrote a brand new, 23,000 word novella “A Long December” expressly for the collection. Subterranean Press called it “an extremely dark tumble down the serial killer rabbit hole” — and I think that’s a terrific description.
Why did you decide to publish A Long December with Subterranean Press instead of Cemetery Dance?
A couple of reasons. First and foremost, Subterranean Press is an incredible publisher. They’ve been around for a long time and have published pretty much all of the authors I love to read. They produce beautiful books, and I was excited and flattered to work with them.
The second reason I didn’t publish my own collection is the limited number of publication slots CD has open each year. I simply didn’t want to take up one of those slots with my own writing. I’ve never really done that before and didn’t want to start now, plus we have so many quality submissions coming in that it didn’t seem fair to me. Anthologies are a different bird altogether since I’m compiling the work of other writers.
You’ve spent most of the past couple decades working on the publishing side of Cemetery Dance and writing and producing movies. How does it feel to be focused on your own fiction again?
It feels wonderful. It feels right. In fact, I just posted this on my Facebook page as my way of expressing the excitement and appreciation I feel:
“The little boy who used to dream about being a writer — the one who used to lock himself in his bedroom and sit at his little desk by the window and scribble monster and war stories in his notebooks; the one who used to watch The Waltons on television because John Boy (whose real name was Richard Thomas, just like the little boy!) was a writer; the one who used to climb trees and look out over the world and make up stories in his head — that little boy all grown up is grateful and amazed that his dream came true and he actually grew up to be a writer — and he’s especially grateful for everyone who helped him along the way and every single person who ever spent their hard-earned money to read his stories.”