It seems like only yesterday horror fiction fans got news that former editor of the Liesure horror line, Don D’Auria, was moving over to Samhain Publishing. Hell, has it been a year yet? In that short amount of time, the Samhain / D’Auria match-up has proven to be the dream team macabre maniacs were hoping for with veteran fan favorites as well as fresh blood. Today, we have a member of the latter group, one of the latest editions to the Samhain family, Kristopher Rufty, to share his enthusiasm for the publisher from both a fan and author perspective.
It was a year ago in March when I got the email from Don D’Auria that changed my life.
I have finished reading Angel Board and enjoyed it so much that I would like to acquire it for our new horror line at Samhain…
After nearly four years of submitting that novel to other houses, someone finally wanted to buy it. And that someone was Don D’Auria! My eight year old son was sitting beside me when I read the email. He saw the beaming grin on my face and asked why I was so happy. I hugged him and told him the news. Then he asked why I was crying if it was good news.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was twelve. But with such a passion for horror movies, I devoted most of my time to writing screenplays. Between every third screenplay I would write a short story, nothing longer than eight pages. My early influences ranged from Stephen King to Bentley Little, plus every horror movie from the eighties. I was also a dedicated fan of Troma movies. I had attempted to write a novel a few times before and failed, but it wasn’t until Psycho Holocaust star Vanelle encouraged me that I seriously gave it a go. She’d explained that my screenplays read like novels anyway and I agreed. A standard screenplay is around 120 pages, but mine tended to run closer to 200 because of the inner-monologues and descriptions. I wrote them just as if they were books, but in a script format. Vanelle declared going from screenplays to novels should be an easy transition.
But with a lot of help from some other authors, I was able to eventually get a book that someone wanted to pick up. Rejection letters hurt, it doesn’t matter how detailed or how vague they are, they hurt the author. They can cause self-doubt. At least they did in me. It didn’t stop me from writing, but it put this cloud over me that made it hard to focus. Eventually, the cloud lifted and I would submit something else, only to be rejected again, and the cloud would return. Since I began working with Don D’Auria that cloud has not returned. Whenever I feel the slightest off about my writing or storytelling, I recall what Don has told me and all the positive energy he’s put into me and the cloud is vanquished before getting the opportunity to manifest.
I’m often asked how I came to be a member of the Samhain family. It started way back when I was I hosting Diabolical Radio. The authors I’d invited on the show were authors I
enjoyed to read. It was a great way to pick their brains, to discuss writing with people you respect, and it helped me greatly. To my surprise a few close friendships came from those interviews. Three authors from the show that have helped me a great deal in my “career” are Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, and Heather Graham. Edward Lee was also always standing by with much advice and a shoulder to vent on. I can’t say enough kind things about them. Once we all got Angel Board to a point where everyone felt confident it could be submitted to Don, we sent it over with fingers crossed and saying prayers. A few weeks later, I got that email referenced above.
I was a member of the Leisure Book Club for five years. Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Wrath James White, Ray Garton, Jeff Strand, Ronald Malfi, Bryan Smith, and Al Sarrantonio are a handful of my favorite authors, and I was introduced to them through the book club. Knowing that the man who edited their books is now editing mine is powerful. I can honestly say that even if I wasn’t being published, but still had Don editing my stories, I’d be a happy camper. His input and encouragement goes a long way and I am extremely grateful to be working with him and Samhain.
As I raise my beer, I offer a toast. Here’s to several more great years with Samhain and Don D’Auria.