What Screams May Come: No One Is Safe from Philip Fracassi

banner What Screams May Come by Rick Hipson

No One Is Safe! by Philip Fracassi
Lethe Press (April 2024)

cover of No One Is Safe!The Synopsis

No One is Safe! presents fourteen stories of macabre, pulpy terror — a book filled with futuristic noir mysteries, science fiction thrillers, alien invasions, and old-school horror tales that will keep you up late into the night. Inside these covers, you’ll discover haunted dream journals and evil houses, birthday wishes gone wrong, a neighborhood cat that cures any disease, a flesh-eating beach, and mysterious skeletons on a hidden moon base. You’ll meet wise-cracking detectives, suburban vampires, murdered movie stars, and monsters of the deep. Don’t get too attached to the characters you’ll meet on these pages because anything can happen, and no one is safe.

(Interview conducted by Rick Hipson)

CEMETERY DANCE: Philip, I am totally going to judge this book by the cover because, well, what a cover! It has a real fun throwback to the pulp fiction of years gone by. How did you come about a cover so unlike your previous ones, and how might the packaging be linked to what’s inside?

PHILIP FRACASSI: Thanks for saying so. The cover artwork is an original painting by Jim and Ruth Keegan that I commissioned for the book. They also did a painting for the back cover, and the interior covers have early sketches Jim and Ruth did while coming up with ideas for the painting. All in all, a beautiful book, I think.

The stories in the book are all pretty wild, and many of them cross genres, unlike most of my previous story collections which are more straight horror. In No One Is Safe!, there’s a little horror, a little sci-fi, some old-school detective noir, and a few fun monster stories, as well. I like to think many of the stories have a pulpy flair, which is why I wanted a cover that would reflect that. I think Jim and Ruth knocked it out of the park.

As fun as the cover appears, how dark can we expect it to get once we venture inside?

Oh, boy. I’d say very, very dark. While the stories can be fun, even campy to some degree, there are some brutal stories in here as well that I think will give readers something to think about when they turn out the lights. One or two stories, in particular, are some of the darkest things I’ve written. At least in my opinion.

It’s been a minute, as the kids like to say, since you last published a short story collection. Did you write these specifically as a collection, or did these get housed elsewhere in the wilds first?

Almost all these stories have been published before, with the sole exception being an original novella I wrote just for this book.

I tend to put out a story collection every three to four years, I guess. Behold the Void came out in 2017, then Beneath a Pale Sky in 2021, and now No One Is Safe!, so pretty consistent. That said, I have been more focused on novels the past few years, so I’ve definitely slowed down on my story production. I probably only write six to seven short stories a year now, whereas five or six years ago I was probably doing twice that number. But like I said, more novels. I’ve written six novels since 2018, so you can see how that takes up much of my time! My hunch is this will be my last story collection for a while. I can’t foresee another one for five years, give or take.

The synopsis boasts a pretty ambitious variety of spooky tropes from bizarre alien stuff to old school horror to monsters and detectives and science fiction and damn near everything in between. What do you think readers will learn about you from such a wide scope of your work?

Well, I hope, more than anything else, they are entertained and enjoy the writing. As a writer, you always want someone to read your work and enjoy it enough that they go looking for more. If they learn anything about me from this collection, I’d like to think that you never know what to expect from me, and that I’m always bringing something new and fresh and fun and scary to the table. I like the idea of creating things that are unexpected, but in a real, plot-driven way, so readers can enjoy them.

On the flip side of that last question, was there anything you learned from diving into such an array of styles and getting them ready for this collection?

Yeah, for sure. I loved experimenting with different genres. For the most part, I always approach each story differently. I use a slightly different voice depending on what I think the story needs most. Sometimes that means denser prose, or surrealistic imagery, and sometimes it means the prose is clean and fast and full of action. I think writing the noir piece “Murder by Proxy” that mashes together near-future sci-fi with a ’50s-style gumshoe detective sensibility taught me that crossing genres can be a lot of fun, and also an effective way to tell a story. I hope to explore work like that moving forward.

Did the stories go together in any specific order for what you felt would garner the best reader experience?

Absolutely. I spent a lot of time creating a playlist, if you will, so that the experience going from the front of the book to the back of the book is a journey that doesn’t get too bogged down, or too heavy, or too light. I wanted to keep readers off-balance but constantly intrigued by what might come next. I wasn’t happy with my story order for the last collection, and if I could go back I’d do it differently, but the lessons I learned there helped make this one better, I think.

When you sit down to write a short story, do you first consider the style and sub-genre you want to write in, or is it a matter of fitting whatever story idea is in your head to whichever style and sub-genre fits it best?

Definitely the latter. First comes the idea, then I flesh out the idea into a story. I don’t worry too much about genres or sub-genres while I’m writing, it’s something I only think about when the story is finished, and even then just so I know where to sell it, meaning a horror outlet versus sci-fi, etc.

Were there any stories that surprised even you for how well it turned out given the style and sub-genre you sought to tackle?

Like I mentioned earlier, I was happy with how “Murder by Proxy” turned out because that was really more of an experiment. But it’s a lot of fun, and it was a blast to write. At some point I’ll follow up with a sequel or, hell, maybe a novel. The original novella was tough to tackle because I was combining two horror subgenres, the slasher and the creature feature, so that was a delicate balance but I think it came out pretty good.

With so much variety packed into this new collection, is there any common ground you could put your finger on that all readers can expect by way of overall experience and impact?

If I had to pick one word to describe a common theme in all these stories, I think I’d use dread. All of these pieces, I think, have a sense of inevitable darkness, and the fun is finding out which door that darkness is going to come through. 

By the way, congratulations again on the recent news you shared about your book-to-film adaptations taking a few giant steps to fruition. What can you share with us about this, and what does it mean for the future of your writing?

Haha, thank you. I can’t share a damn thing, unfortunately. It’s incredibly frustrating for a writer not to be able to shout movie news from the rooftops, because it would be great for awareness and potentially a boost for sales, but these studio deals are big, serious contracts with a lot of money and buckets of legalese, so we’re not allowed to say anything about anything until the studio or production company gives the go-ahead, which usually only happens when a movie or tv show is far along in casting or is officially greenlit.

That said, the industry folks know what’s going on, and anytime you have success selling work for adaptation word gets around. I’ve been able to sign with some major agencies this year because of all the stuff going on behind the curtain, which will hopefully lead to more opportunities down the road. 

Is there a story of yours you hope or are planning to adapt to film first?

Being annoyingly vague, I can tell you that there are two stories of mine that are incredibly close to going into production as feature films. I’m really hoping in the next few weeks, or by summer at the latest, both projects will be announced. So, those stories are likely up next.

If I were to pick one of my stories that isn’t tied to anything, I’d say “Mandala,” which is the last story in Behold the Void. I’d love to see that story get adapted, I think it’d be killer.

As busy as you were in 2023 with various publications, your globe-spanning Boys In The Valley book tour and kicking off your Patreon account, I have a feeling 2024 is going to prove to be even more pivotal for you. Other than working your ass off and never straying from the path, is there any other elements at play that, if forced to consider, has contributed to your momentous success at this writing thing? Maybe there’s a few pearls of wisdom you’ve gathered that the rest of us could benefit from.

photo of author Philip Fracassi
Philip Fracassi

First of all, thanks for the kind words, but I certainly don’t consider myself having momentous success. I’d say I’m treading water, haha, and hope to keep it up for as long as I can. But yeah, the book tour was a massive undertaking and insanely expensive, but my wife and I managed to pull it all off on our own and I think, ultimately, it helped the book quite a bit.

This year in many ways is a “down” year for me. I have two books coming out, but I won’t be touring much for either (the second, after the release of No One Is Safe!, is a limited edition novel coming from Earthling Publications called Sarafina). The Patreon is keeping me super busy, and I’m also writing a new novel due in June, so there’s lots to do.

But in 2025 I have a huge trade release called The Third Rule of Time Travel, my first sci-fi novel, that’s coming out in March from Orbit US / UK. For that book I’ll definitely be doing some sort of tour schedule, though nothing as monstrous as what I did for Boys. So, in a way, I’m taking this year off from the tour grind in order to save up my energy for next spring.

I feel like I would be remis to not have mentioned your Patreon space without asking you to share some of the exciting and rewarding perks you’ve got cooking for those who choose to sign up. What can folks expect?

Hey, thank you. Yeah, the Patreon has been doing really well (and there are spots left!). In addition to creating ten “first-look” stories for Patrons, I’m also offering two exclusive chapbooks with original novelettes, both of which are beautifully produced and published under my Altar Books imprint. I’m also doing an exclusive year-end story collection that only Patrons will be able to get, which will include all the stories I write over the year, plus a few others. There’s of course a ton of behind-the-scenes updates, and exclusively printed bookmarks and bookplates. I try to really bring the value to my Patrons. This may or may not be the only year I do it, we’ll see what happens in 2025.

With all the fires you’ve got burning, what can you tell us about what you’ve got releasing over the next year or so that we can look forward to enjoying?

[Takes a deep breath] Outside of the Patreon stuff I just talked about, I have the story collection, which just came out on April 5. In August, my horror novel Sarafina will be coming out from Earthling Publications as a limited edition. I’ll also be releasing a deluxe edition of the story collection closer to the end of the year.

In 2025, I’m releasing The Third Rule of Time Travel in March, and if all goes to plan, I’ll be releasing my second Tor Nightfire novel in the fall. That’s the one I’m writing right now, and it’s tentatively called The Autumn Springs Retirement Home Massacre. Oh, and Phantasia Press will be putting out a deluxe edition of Third Rule, as well. Likely right around the same time as the trade release. I’ve also sold a novella that will be announced soon, and there’s another novella I’m going to write this summer that’s already been sold.

In 2026, I’m hoping we’re able to sell a trade edition of Sarafina, and another novel of mine called The Blue Butterfly. But that’s all TBD until we find publishers willing to take them on. I also just sold my first anthology as an editor, which will likely come out in fall/winter, which is pretty cool.

Of course, I’ll have stories in anthologies and magazines here and there. As of now, I think I’ve sold five to six stories that will appear over the next year or so. There’s a couple deluxe editions in there, as well, that haven’t been announced. So… lots coming!

As always, Phillip, thanks so much for all your time and updating us on the world of Fracassi. What’s the best way to keep in touch with what you’re up to so we can be sure to support you throughout the journey?

The best way is to join my newsletter, which can be found on the Contact page of my website . You can also join the amazing Facebook fan group, Fracassi Freaks, which is run by some awesome dudes and where I spend a lot of time (currently 650 people strong!). And, of course, my Patreon (Philip_Fracassi). I’m also on Twitter/X, Facebook, Instagram, and Threads. I’m everywhere! BWAHAHAHA. 

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