Please welcome Brian Kirk to The Qwillery. Will Haunt You is published on March 14th by Flame Tree Press.
And please join The Qwillery in wishing Brian a Happy Publication Day!
The Long and Winding Road Between Books
by Brian Kirk
My debut novel, We Are Monsters, sold fast, and I’ll admit that experience warped my expectations. I pitched the book to my editor of choice, submitted the manuscript upon request, and received an offer about three weeks later. This publishing business is a breeze!
Ha. Haha. AHAAHHAHA (Chokes to death on hubris, gets resuscitated) ha.
Not so much.
I finished the manuscript for my second novel before We Are Monsters was released. This was back in July of 2015. My plan was to query agents and take a run at the Big Five publishing houses. And that’s exactly what I did. Signed with an agent in November of that year, and started putting together a submission plan for a novel titled The Sun Is a Tangerine.
But then something happened that I didn’t expect. My idea for that novel morphed and expanded into something bigger and more complex. Not just in content, but format as well. It became more of a multi-media experience incorporating virtual reality technology than a traditional book, and my agent wasn’t sure how to sell it. So I decided to pull the project, and part ways with my agent, until I could figure out what to do with it. That process took about a year, and brought me no closer to a second publishing contract.
During that time, I was contacted by an acquisitions editor for an emerging horror publisher known more for its films than fiction, asking if I had any manuscripts to submit. The Sun Is A Tangerine wasn’t right for them—it’s more sci-fi than horror—so I offered to pitch new ideas. I pitched several ideas, and wrote a 50-page sample for my favorite one, which is what would become Will Haunt You. They loved the pitch (woo-hoo!), and gave me notes on the manuscript they wanted me to write, requesting a first look when it was done. Yes, back in the fast lane! (Or so I thought).
Will Haunt You took me about eight months to write, edit, have beta-read, reworked, etc. But I finished and was eager to submit the final manuscript. Unfortunately, the email address I had on file no longer worked, and I soon learned that the principle involved in the project had moved on to another place, and that this place wasn’t the right market for my new book. That potential deal was dead in the water.
But the editor had been so enthusiastic about the book, this should be a slam dunk, right? Wrong. While the book was intriguing enough to land me several phone calls with new prospective literary agents, they were all interested in my next book, deeming this one “too unconventional” for their traditional publishing contacts. (Note: anyone who has read Will Haunt You will emphatically agree.)
At this point we’re nearing two years after the release of my debut novel and I’m not any closer to getting a second book sold. But, looking back, those two years might be the most valuable of my early career, because they helped me clarify my goals as a writer, and provide clear direction for how I want to move forward.
Our society defines success in financial terms. That’s hard conditioning to break. And it was this misguided desire to maximize my financial return that drove me to pursue the Big Five publishing houses in the first place. But the Big Five publishers, by and large, aren’t interested in the fringe, unconventional, horror-trippy-weird-shit that I feel compelled to write. They mostly want something that looks familiar—and has a proven track record—whereas I strive to write stuff that feels new, and hasn’t been tried before. Taking those risks might excite me creatively, but they tend to frighten executives responsible for the financial security of a company.
And that’s okay. Because, fortunately, there are editors out there who are willing to take on fringe, unconventional, horror-trippy-weird-shit. Know where you’ll find them? Working for indie publishers like the one I recently signed with, Flame Tree Press.
Nearly four years have passed since the release of my first book, and I’m cool with that, because that time helped me to better understand who I am. A fiercely independent author who will write whatever my strange heart desires whether I get paid for it or not.
If you’re a fan of unconventional fiction, I encourage you to seek out indie publishers. That’s where you’ll find some of the most inventive material between produced today. And it’s the square pegs like me (hopefully like you) that help keep them alive.
My second novel is titled Will Haunt You, and it’s a book created by a mysterious figure who preys upon the people who read it. I published its prequel as a creepypasta-style story that was serialized online. None of this would be possible without indie publishing, and for that I am sincerely grateful.
Will Haunt You
Flame Tree Press, March 14, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages
You don’t read the book. It reads you.
Rumors of a deadly book have been floating around the dark corners of the deep web. A disturbing tale about a mysterious figure who preys on those who read the book and subjects them to a world of personalized terror. Jesse Wheeler—former guitarist of the heavy metal group The Rising Dead—was quick to discount the ominous folklore associated with the book. It takes more than some urban legend to frighten him. Hell, reality is scary enough. Seven years ago his greatest responsibility was the nightly guitar solo. Then one night when Jesse was blackout drunk, he accidentally injured his son, leaving him permanently disabled. Dreams of being a rock star died when he destroyed his son's future. Now he cuts radio jingles and fights to stay clean. But Jesse is wrong.
The legend is real—and tonight he will become the protagonist in an elaborate scheme specifically tailored to prey on his fears and resurrect the ghosts from his past. Jesse is not the only one in danger, however.
By reading the book, you have volunteered to participate in the author’s deadly game, with every page drawing you closer to your own personalized nightmare.
The real horror doesn’t begin until you reach the end. That’s when the evil comes for you.
Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.
His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors, and received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year compilation.
During the day, Brian works as a freelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him a strong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging media trends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.
While he's worked to make this bio sound as impressive as possible, he's actually a rather humble guy who believes in hard work and big dreams. Feel free to connect with him through one of the following channels. Don't worry, he only kills his characters.