Throughout Maberry’s career, he has won multiple Stoker Awards for his horror work. Last month, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers released the third installment of the Rot & Ruin series, Flesh & Bone.
He has written for Marvel Comics and published multiple novels for both adults and young-adults. As a nonfiction writer, Maberry has examined topics ranging from martial arts to zombie pop culture. Check out the highlights from our interview below…
A: My first book deal was actually for a textbook –JUDO AND YOU—that I wrote while teaching at Temple University. A scout for Kendall-Hunt came looking for someone to write the book and, even though it wasn’t a course I was teaching there, I agreed to write it. I wound up writing course books for several other instructors at Temple, and of course wrote the books for my own classes (Martial Arts History, Personal Defense for Women and Jujutsu). That was back in the early 1990s. Until then I’d been mostly writing magazine feature articles, greeting cards and plays.
However my career changed in 2005 when I decided to try fiction. I wrote a novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, and as soon as it was done and polished I began reaching out to agents. I ignored the frequent advice to ‘shoot low and try for a low-level agent because they’re the only ones that will take a flyer on a new author’. That sounded like bad advice to me. Instead I went hunting and landed a good one –Sara Crowe, who at the time was with Trident Media. Sara is young, very smart and very savvy about the business. Around the time we made that deal, she was headhunted by Harvey Klinger for his agency, and given the latitude to build her list to suit her vision. I went with her.
My novel was written as ‘horror’, but Sara advised me to call it ‘supernatural thriller’ because horror is not a marketable word in adult fiction. So, she shopped it her way and very quickly found a home at Pinnacle Books. Pinnacle bought the novel and its two sequels.
She moved me to St. Martin’s Griffin when I start writing the Joe Ledger thrillers; and when I got the urge to write Young Adult, she took me to Simon & Schuster. We talk a lot about the pitch process and about the right house. Because I tend to genre hop, we look for the right editor to suit the work.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring horror writers?
A: There are a few things I tell my writing students and those I meet at conferences and in library talks.
First, write every day. No exceptions. Even if it’s only half a page, write every single day. Once you start making excuses not to write, then you’re going to back-slide. But if you write every day, you get better every day.
Second, don’t focus too much on genre. Horror is a tricky genre because it unfairly earned a bad rap because of public perception that it was tied to things like slasher movies and torture porn. Horror is so much more than that, but public perception is hard to change. Fighting that perception isn’t a good example of picking the right fight. It’s better to write a superb novel and then allow it to be sold under the genre label that will get it into the hands of the largest number of readers.
To that end, it’s important to understand that writing is an art, but publishing is a business. Be an excellent craftsman (a never-ending process), but at the same time be smart about how the business works.
Full interview at Galley Cat.