Interview with Josh Strnad, editor of Silent Screams

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , on October 26, 2016 by SeanMDavis

I had some time to talk to Josh Strnad about his first anthology, Silent Screams, coming out from his new imprint, Serpent and Dove Speculative Fiction, the power that fiction can have, and work life balance. The anthology is set to come out sometime in the next week. I will update ordering info here as it becomes available.


Chimerical Dark: Hi Josh, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

Josh Strnad: The pleasure is all mine.

CD: This is your first foray into the publishing world. What made you want to take the plunge?

JS: I had been wanting to edit an anthology for quite a while, and when the time came to finally go for it I weighed the pros and cons between putting it out under my own label or taking it to a traditional publisher. In the end, doing it myself seemed like the best option.

To be honest, I’m self-aware enough to recognize what a small fish I am, even in the small pond of indie horror authors, and I didn’t expect many publishing houses to take any particular notice of me. If Silent Screams had been Neil Gaiman’s idea, I’m sure publishers would have perked up and paid attention, but Josh Strnad? “Who is this guy? Is his name even spelled correctly?”

Silent Screams is also kind of an anomaly among today’s horror anthologies, and it didn’t seem like the kind of thing most publishers were looking for. Although I obviously don’t think the idea of compassionate horror is an oxymoron, it generally isn’t the first place one’s mind leaps when thinking of genre fiction. I had a specific vision for the book, and I wanted to be sure I would have control to shape it as I saw fit.

CD: Speaking of your specific vision, tell me a little bit about how you came up with the concept for Silent Screams.

JS: Regardless of genre, the stories I like best are those that inspire me to be a more compassionate person, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and to see things from a fresh point of view. That’s the power of really great fiction—it draws us out of ourselves and re-frames the way we see the world. Fantastic fiction, in general, provides a nonthreatening way to discuss real-world concepts. Because the reader already suspends disbelief, it can help peel back layers of politics and prejudice to get to the hearts of people.

Horror is especially great at that. I like pulpy thrills as much as the next guy, and sometimes write things that are merely for entertainment, but sometimes the cruelty and horror of the real world beats anything we authors can come up with. I wanted a book that would act as a megaphone to shout on behalf of those who are often forgotten and who are denied the ability to speak for themselves. As a Christian, I believe people are important to God—poor people, abused people, addicted people, elderly people, handicapped people, black people, hungry people, gay people, exploited people, and even unborn people. Thus, they ought to be important to us, too. At the end of the day, I want my life and my writing to make the world a better place, and this book (or at least the Platonic ideal of it) is hopefully a small contribution to that end.

CD: Once you know the driving concept behind the anthology, it seems only logical that it be a charity anthology. How did you decide which charity you wanted to benefit?

JS: For my charity, I went with The Salvation Army. Besides providing disaster relief, they provide resources and aid to the homeless, the elderly, the imprisoned, and the hungry. They are also on the front lines in the war to put an end to human trafficking and sex slavery, one of the most blatant and horrifying examples of exploitation going on today. In short, they are a perfect fit with my vision for Silent Screams because they have a track record of helping exactly the kinds of voiceless and ignored subsections of society that the book focuses on.

CD: What does the future hold for Serpent & Dove Speculative Fiction?

JS: Next up is a rerelease of my fantasy novel, Pantheon, which combines elements of Greek Mythology with the American Wild West. It was published by a small press called Musa that unfortunately closed its doors, reverting all rights back to its authors. So I’m going to do a cover redesign and once again unleash it under my own label. After that, who knows? I’m not enough of an anarchist to say I’m through with traditional publishers altogether, but the dawn of CreateSpace and other such services have made publishing much easier than its ever been. It’s a fun time to be an author.

CD: Since I stalk you on Facebook, I know you’ve made a couple big changes to your life this past year that merit congratulations. Any tips for aspiring writers and publishers on how to balance your writing and life?

JS: Haha! You imply that I’ve managed to find some sort of balance. It is an illusion, I assure you.

This past year has been a good one, but a crazy one for me. Since embarking on this editing project I have moved to a new state (now living in South Florida) and a new job, met, fell in love with, and married my now-wife (a story in itself), and purchased my first home. Not one of these things was planned when I began working on Silent Screams, and none of them were convenient, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

In his wonderful book On Writing, Stephen King observes that “life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” Don’t forget that even though writing and editing are work, they should be enjoyable. Choose projects you are passionate about, and let that fire drive you to get them done. Life happens, and sometimes it gets in the way of your creative work. The key is to not let your creative work get too much in the way of life.

This sounds a little bit zen, perhaps because it is. In the nuts-and-bolts of fulfilling commitments and getting words onto paper, though, a lot of grit is necessary. If you say you’ll do something, do your best to get it done, and make it as good as possible. Communicate as much as possible with those you’re working with; if there are delays, explain them. And, when your back is against the wall or you are in over your head, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Seriously. Ask others for help. Surround yourself with talented people you trust. When it came to finally formatting Silent Screams, my wife took on a lot of the technical work herself. I tapped the talents of a friend of mine, Emory Watts, to do the gorgeous cover and interior artwork. I

asked my buddy Matthew, who is a serious font nerd, to help design the cover layout. Early in the project, I asked a couple of other authors and anthologists for advice, which I promptly ignored most of, to my own doom. The fact is that we’re all just muddling along the best we can through writing and life. Balance is something learned, sometimes the hard way. In short, work hard, be honest, do your best, and have fun. I think that about covers it.

CD: Thank you again for taking the time from what sounds like a full life to talk to us.

Silent Screams Coming Soon

Posted in News, Published with tags , , , , , on October 8, 2016 by SeanMDavis

silent-screams-coverSilent Screams is the first anthology published by Serpent & Dove Speculative Fiction, coming late October. The editor, Josh Strnad, intends the anthology to raise awareness for real-world victims and tragedies.

D. Morgan Ballmer—Float

Helen Cattan-Prugl—The Lady on the Billboard

Joseph Aitken—The Manitou in Me

Justin Hunter—Soul Returning

Steve DuBois—A Boy and a Soldier

Garth Upshaw—Franks

Janie Baran—Unsafe House

Sean M. Davis—Mrs. Leary’s Home for the Living Impaired

Aurora Torchia—Moretta

James Van Pelt—The Heated Door

Kevin Bannigan Jr.—Finding Ourselves

Stephen S. Power—A Presentation to the Imperial Society of Mancers

Rachel Olson—The Maiden with Clockwork Hands

Rebecca Birch—Her Secret Thorns

Erin Cairns—Mimic

Kristin Janz—Children of Cronus

Bob Macumber—The Sculptors

Igor Teper—The Untelepathic Man

Chantal Boudreau—Hand

Shane Simmons—Raw

Jeff B. Skinner—I Am Fading

Thomas Canfield—The Engines of War

Barry Rosenberg—Dr. Priority

Lisa Morton—Down But Not Out at the End of the World

Andrew M. Seddon—Tyrant’s Fall

Frederic Obermeyer—The Words That Bite

All stories are accompanied by original artwork by Emory Watts.


A Reasonable Price for Peace of Mind

Posted in Day in the Life with tags , , , , on September 25, 2016 by SeanMDavis

Imagine this:

You carry $500 dollars in cash on you, at all times. You can’t use this money to pay for dinner with your partner. You can’t use it if you’re short on bus fare. In fact, having this $500 in cash is only good for one thing.

You carry it just in case you get mugged.

That’s right. If you’re walking along some night and someone jumps out of the bushes in front of you, puts a gun to your head, and says, “Give me five hundred dollars right now, or you’re going to die,” you’d want to be able to do that. Of course, you do whatever you can to avoid being mugged but some things are inevitable. It’s got to happen to someone, after all, so you keep cash on you, not spending it on anything else, just in case.

Now let me add one more layer to this. The $500 you’re carrying has an expiration date. After a year, you need to throw away that McKinley and get a brand new one, hoping that you never need to actually use it.

Sounds kind of ridiculous.

You are absolutely right. It is quite ridiculous.

That’s how I feel carrying my EpiPen.

I am allergic to mollusks. I can’t eat octopus, clams, oysters, squid, or snails. That seems like it should be relatively easy to avoid, right? Not as easy as you might think. I avoid eating seafood at restaurants because clam juice is the base for a lot of sauces. Soups are a nightmare for me. My last reaction that required hospitalization came when I ate Italian Chicken Vegetable. Why? Cross-contamination from Clam Chowder. I get nervous even if it’s just at the table. I had a mild reaction when several of my friends ordered seafood paella and the smell was thick in the air surrounding the table.

I am a reasonably cautious adult. I scan the entire menu, looking for things I might be allergic to. I tell servers and ask about cross-contamination. After my last hospitalization which cost me thousands of dollars even with health insurance provided by my full-time employer, I decided I should also carry an EpiPen.

When I filled the prescription, I paid $500 out of pocket because I hadn’t met my deductible. I bought them this past summer and they will expire in April 2017. That’s less than a year.

Yes, it pissed me off, but I thought that was just the price of medication in the States. It sucks, but that’s just how it is.

Then, a couple months later, I learned that EpiPens used to be cheaper—not cheap, but certainly cheaper—and that the price hike coincided with Mylan paying out massive executive bonuses.

I feel like I’ve been mugged, so now I’m trying to Clark Kent it since I’m not Superman.


I recently found this website to help me write to my representatives in government. I am sending them a copy of this article.

Borderlands 6 available now in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle

Posted in Uncategorized on September 6, 2016 by SeanMDavis

Borderlands 6

My story, “In God’s Own Image,” appears in Borderlands 6, edited by Olivia F Monteleone and Thomas F Monteleone, published by Borderlands Press, and is available in a hardcover limited edition and paperback and Kindle version. God has remade the world in his image of faceless lack of identity. But there are those who remember what it is was like before the Re-Forming and they desperately fight against those who hate them for trying to hold onto their humanity. Josh Black reviewed the anthology for Cemetery Dance online, calling the story one of the anthology’s highlights. For the full review, go here.

Binge Watching, My New Reading

Posted in Day in the Life with tags , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2016 by SeanMDavis

About a year ago, a sneaking suspicion crept up on me. I wasn’t reading as much as I used to.

At first, I put it off to my busier schedule. I was made full time at work. I was living with my partner, Kate. I was a captain for my neighborhood soccer team. And various other hobbies. As many possible explanations existed, still none of them felt like THE reason and I struggled to figure out why I wasn’t reading as much.

Don’t get me wrong. I was still reading and when I found a book I got into deeply, I tore through it like my life depended on how much I read each day. Otherwise, I’d read a chapter or story or two before bed every night.

When I moved back home in my early twenties, my mom had cable. The problem with cable is that there’s always something on. Always. It didn’t matter if I’d seen the movie a dozen times, I hadn’t watched it in years. Or my favorite TV show, played in four hour blocks. It became a huge life suck. I finally got a handle on it but it took much more effort than it should have.
x files
When my partner and I moved in together, we decided not to get cable. But I still wasn’t reading as much I had or thought I should be.

Finally, it dawned on me.
We hadn’t gotten cable, but we decided to try out a then-new service, Hulu+. The experiment didn’t last long because they didn’t have the specific show we’d heard about and were hoping to watch. But soon after, we got Amazon Prime. Then, a friend of ours added us to his Netflix account. Another friend shared his Hulu+ information with us. That’s basically to say, if it’s On Demand, we got it.
There have been days that I’ve gotten out of bed, ready to show my To Do List who’s boss, but then decided I’d watch an episode of something while eating breakfast.
Four hours later, “It’s time for lunch. I’ll just watch one more episode.”
Five hours later…
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with watching shows or movies. I love and appreciate Malcolm Reynolds in the same way that I love and appreciate Roland Deschain. But reading engages more and different regions of your brain. That’s what I miss.

So I think I’m going to go read a book now.
reading under a tree

Borderlands 6

Posted in Fiction, News, Published, Writing with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2016 by SeanMDavis

B6 coverI am proud to announce that my story, “In God’s Image,” is in Borderlands 6, available for pre-order now from Borderlands Press as a signed limited edition. The full Table of Contents is as follows.

“Anton” – Michael Louis Dixon
“Eye of the Beholder” – John M. McIlveen
“Those Rockports Won’t Get You to Heaven” – Jack Ketchum
“The Last Plague Doctor” – Rebecca J. Allred
“Stinkers” Dan Waters
“Time is a Face on the Water” – Michael Bailey
“Summer Gullet” – John Boden
“Dead Letter Office” – Trent Zelazny & Brian Knight
“Cocoa” – Bob Pastorella
“The Dress” – Peter Salomon
“The Dishes are Done” – Carol Pierson Holding
“Red Rabbit” – Steve Rasnic Tem
“Miracle Meadows” – Darren O. Godfrey
“Lockjaw” – David Annadale
“Window” – Anya Martin
“Shattered” – G. Daniel Gunn & Paul Tremblay
“Mise en Abyme” – Gordon White
“In God’s Image” – Sean M Davis
“Special Delivery” – Tim Waggoner
“The Palace Garbage Man” – Bradley Michael Zerbe
“Consumers” – Gary A. Braunbeck
“The Architecture of Snow” – David Morrell

I am humbled to be a part of this Table of Contents. Thank you, Tom!

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Interview, JD Horn

Posted in Interview with tags , , , on May 7, 2016 by SeanMDavis

JD Horn
Chimerical Dark: Hello, and welcome to The Chimerical Dark.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.

JD Horn: I’ve been writing for over 20 years, but my first published book didn’t come out until 2014. I was an official nominee in the category of best debut author in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. I only came in 16th place, but that still isn’t too shabby. My books have now been/are being translated into eight languages (Russian, Polish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian). I’m a member of the International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. You can find out far more than you care to know about me at
CD: What’s your newest project?

JDH: My new release, Jilo, came out on April 26th. Jilo, the prequel to my Witching Savannah Series (The Line, The Source, The Void), is set between 1932 and 1960, and focuses on the early life of the series’ breakout character, Jilo Wills. While Jilo is technically the fourth book in the series, a reader can, without too many spoilers, begin the series with this book.

CD: What are you working on next?

JDH: I’ve got a few different ideas I’m floating, some paranormal series and a straightforward mystery series as well.
CD: What’s your favorite thing you’ve written, and how can we read it?

JDH: Honestly, Jilo was the hardest book to write, and maybe for that reason, it stands as my favorite. I’ve also got a short story (“Pitch”) I’m fond of. You can find “Pitch” as part of the Phantasma anthology and as a standalone short out on Amazon.

CD: What lurks in the dark that scares you?

JDH: You know, what lurks in the dark doesn’t scare me. I can handle the boogeymen. On the other hand, bigotry terrifies me.

CD: How does that influence your stories?

JDH: The monsters—at least the human ones—in my books are all motivated by the belief that something about themselves—their race, their class, the privilege into which they were born— entitles them to disregard the essential humanity and equality of those not like them. My heroes strive to nurture others; my villains to control.

CD: Thank you for taking the time to swing by The Chimerical Dark.