Interview with Crystal Lake CEO, Joe Mynhardt, publisher of such titles as Where Nightmares Come From, the Tales from the Lake series, Pretty Little Dead Girls, Cracked Sky, and so many more, all of which I would recommend. If you are looking for a new publisher of some of today’s best horror, look no further.
MYNHARDT: Thanks for the kind words, Draven. I try to use a new editor every year, using the Crystal Lake staff and authors to nominate possible editors for upcoming volumes. And, just as I keep an eye on authors and who’d be a great fit for Crystal Lake, I also keep an eye on editors (even artists). I sometimes feel like a literary talent scout, and I’ve been pretty successful so far at spotting rising talent.
With Ben it was a very easy choice, since I’ve been working with him a lot lately through our mentoring program and some editing gigs. His taste in short stories is quite similar to mine, and he’s a great editor and author. He is also very involved in the future outlook of Crystal Lake Publishing, and always does and advises what’s best for the company’s future, and thus the future of the Tales from The Lake series. It was a very easy choice.
AMES: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what make their voice or style unique, compared to others? What authors would you recommend writers read as they try to grow as an author? Who should they study?
MYNHARDT: I’m a sucker for a good story. I don’t care if it’s in the format of a novel, short story, movie, or comic book. My favourite era of stories is definitely the late 1800s and early 1900s. Especially ghost stories. Stephen King was definitely a huge influence on me, since he was the first author I really knew about as a young boy. Until then I only concentrated on the book’s cover and title, not who wrote it. Lately, I enjoy Neil Gaiman’s imagination and child-like wonder. Other than that, most of my reading is related to upcoming or possible Crystal Lake projects.
For authors, I’d recommend reading the best authors in whichever genre (and especially sub-genre) you write in—those who have come and gone, those who are currently the best in the field, and those who are making waves. Then, you’ve heard this before, authors need to read wide into other genres. Non-fiction, as well. Read things that motivate you. Read books that’ll teach you the finer points of romance, comedy, suspense and so on, since you’ll use them all eventually. Enrich your mind so you can enrich your characters.
AMES: How does a writer build suspense in a story? You have heard the analogy about the bomb under a table, but what other examples from current writing could you point to as an example of how to build suspense correctly?MYNHARDT: I love that bomb under the table analogy, which basically comes down to letting the reader know something the character doesn’t. Suspense is what turns a book into a page-turner. No matter how late it is and how tired they might be, readers keep reading because they want to know if someone will survive or escape etc. It’s about finding that right balance between what the reader knows, the characters know, and stretching out the drama without overdoing it. Make the reader wait, but don’t irritate them. Knowing when to show and when to tell. When to speed through a scene and when to slow it down. Choosing the best words, point of view and descriptions to draw the reader in. Making them care about the characters. That perfect balance comes from lots of reading and experience. And even more rewriting.
AMES:: Where Nightmares Come From: The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre was a great collection of essays, interviews, and roundtable discussions. How did this come about? Tell us a little about the next volume.
MYNHARDT: I’ve been involved in so many great projects (still am) that I sometimes forget exactly how they got started. I believe Eugene pitched this idea to me, and since I’m always looking for ways to help authors and give back to the community and genre, I quickly said yes. When we looked at everything we wanted to cover in this book, it became obvious quite soon that one book wouldn’t be enough. I’ve been in the habit of releasing at least one non-fiction book a year, so it looks like this project will cover at least three years.
The 2nd volume will go more in-depth into writing techniques. Almost like a cheat sheet full of tips and tricks. Volume three will look at turning your craft into a business and earning a living. Building a career of the foundation laid in the first two books.
AMES: Thanks again for this short interview. I hope it helps some authors and readers see behind the curtain a bit.
MYNHARDT: Thanks for having me.
Joe Mynhardt is a two-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated South African publisher, non-fiction and short story editor, and online-business mentor.
Joe is the owner and CEO of Crystal Lake Publishing, which he founded in August, 2012. Since then he’s published and edited short stories, novellas, interviews and essays by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Charlaine Harris, Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Jonathan Maberry, Graham Masterton, Damien Angelica Walters, Adam Nevill, Lisa Morton, Elizabeth Massie, Joe McKinney, Joe R. Lansdale, Edward Lee, Paul Tremblay, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Mick Garris, and hundreds more.
Just like Crystal Lake Publishing, which strives to be a platform for launching author careers, Joe believes in reaching out to all authors, new and experienced, and being a beacon of friendship and guidance in the Dark Fiction field. He recently started a coalition of small press publishers to support both each other and their authors.
Joe’s influences stretch from Poe, Doyle, and Lovecraft to King, Connolly, and Gaiman (and so many more).
You can read more about Joe and Crystal Lake Publishing at www.crystallakepub.com or find him on Facebook.