For more than two decades, the author Brian King Provide fans with stories full of zombies (to rise chain), massive man-eating earthworms ( Earthworm Goddess series), mystery detective (Levi Stotzfus series), bona fide serial killer (“I Am An Exit”, the complex and more) and many more tales of horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction.
Keene, a World Horror Grandmaster and two-time Bram Stoker winner, has authored comic books (including DC and Marvel works), served on the board of the Scares That Care charity, and served as reviewer for audio series. Silverwood: The doorAnd hosted the popular podcast Horror Show with Brian Keane.
Now, Keene is embarking on the biggest step of his career – launching his own publishing imprint, Manhattan Press on Mars. To discuss this new and important development for the writer, Mr. Keene was kind enough to answer a few questions from Bloody Disgusting to fill in fans and readers about what’s coming next.
Disgusting: You said this was one of the biggest moves (if not the biggest) of your career so far. Can you tell readers a little bit about what’s happening to Brian Keane these days?
Brian Keane: I started publishing in 1997. All of these early efforts were in independent and smaller press publications. But by 2001, I was splitting my business between regular publishing and petty journalism, and that’s pretty much how I’ve kept things for the past 20 years. I’ve been releasing stuff through the Big Five (or the Big Three, depending on how New York publishers are doing or not devouring each other more by the time this interview comes out), and I’ll also release stuff through the small press and the indie press. I kept one foot firmly in both camps. Now, I slowly remove my feet from both and stand on my own.
BD: What made you first think about launching an imprint?
BK: Gonzalez and I have talked a lot about doing this, but we were from a generation where that kind of transition was seen as crazy talk. So we never did that. But even after his death, the idea was in the back of my mind, nibbling and nibbling. And I began to see authors younger than me, and I admire them, and the success they had in bringing about this meltdown. Two of them are thriller writer Robert Swartwood and horror/sci-fi writer Stephen Kosiewski. They are the ones who finally convinced me to make this move. Rob made me see that with the size of my audience and fan base, it was ridiculous not to.
Throughout my career, other companies – large and small – have owned partial ownership of my rights and intellectual property. And these days intellectual property is king. These companies don’t pay for books, movies, comics, or video games. They pay for the IP. I want to fully own my IP again. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about properties I’ve worked on for others – things like Aliens, Doctor Who, X-files And all Marvel and DC Comics items. This is someone else’s IP and you paid me to play with it. But I have more than fifty books and more than three hundred short stories of my own. Why should someone else have a share of these profits and a share of the ownership when the technology and infrastructure is there for me to produce it myself and get it into stores and into the hands of my readers?
And, I must stress, I have a great relationship with most of the current publishers. But when I reached out to each of them individually and told them this was the direction I wanted to go, they all understood. they understand. This is the best for my sons and for my remaining years.
And that’s what it’s really about. my sons. I turn fifty-five this week, and while I’m in relatively good health (despite the misfortunes of my first fifty years), I can also hear the death clock ticking. I’m not planning on leaving yet, but most of us don’t have a say in it, you know? Surprises happen. When I’m gone, I don’t want my literary real estate outlet to have to chase title checks from twenty different sources, nor do I want my children to have to share my intellectual property with a bunch of other people. By bringing everything home, they will have complete control over it all.
BD: Will there be physical editions and an e-book of publisher titles? Will it be available in bookstores?
BK: Yes, hardcover, paperback, and e-books. The only thing I wouldn’t do is sign limited edition print covers and audiobooks. Both require completely different infrastructure and I’m happy to let the others continue to produce them. But everything else will be published – in due course – by Manhattan On Mars. It will be available in bookstores and online. There is a multi-stage plan. The first stage, which will take several years, is to slowly return all rights to me, and then get everything out through the imprint. This has already started, but I can’t stress enough – I’m doing it slowly. I understand and sympathize with how this affects publishers financially, booksellers too, and the last thing I want to do is break the system. So it is a very slow systematic process.
During that time, everything will be done through KDP and Ingram. But once all rights are home and under the Manhattan On Mars imprint, I will move on to offset printing, with my own repository and distribution. This way I can offer bookstore returns, and negotiate prices and discounts with them directly, not through an intermediary. This will be the second stage. But again, this is a year long process. We’re talking seven to ten years between then and now.
BD: Can you discuss the name of the imprint and what it means to you?
Bruno: Manhattan on Mars is a twofold thing. Traditional publishing is headquartered in Manhattan. But the flip side is a feel from one of my favorite sitcoms – guards. You know when Dr. Manhattan gets tired of all the bullshit and headaches and drama and he’s like, “Why am I still here? I have to go to Mars and do something myself.” And then he does.
It is incredibly empowering and liberating to know that you can do just that. You can do this very thing. I’ve often wondered if Alan Moore felt the same way when he wrote this scene. Given that he walked away from mainstream comedy after a few years, I’d like to think he might be. (Laugh)
BD: You said the imprint would include all of your back catalog, as well as your new business. When can we expect the first title from your imprint – and will it be new or reprinted?
Bruno: The first one was released last week. It’s a reprint dance A book that has not been printed since 2012 and was previously only published as a signed limited edition. Next will be the opening for the paperback and digital edition of Submerged: The Labyrinth Book 2as well as an all-new short story collection and a reprint version Banned leader. These are the four on board before the end of the year. Next year, I’m going to start ramping things up even more.
BD: Is your imprint going to be devoted solely to your own works, or will it include titles from other authors? New or reprinted, if so?
BK: Just my stuff. I do not want to be liable for anyone else’s money or intellectual property rights. And I must point out that there is no interoperability between – things like mares Books with JF Gonzalez or miscreants Series with Stephen L. Shrewsbury or Cursed Highway With Nick Mamatas – you will fall under the umbrella of Manhattan on Mars. I don’t want to be responsible for half their revenue, nor do I want a situation, thirty years down the road, I’m dead and Nick’s dead, our sons debating who got paid. I started Basma because it is the best for me and my loved ones. But the best for my friends, collaborators and loved ones is that these books continue to stay with publishers who can split everything fairly.
BD: What’s behind your mark – what’s next for Brian Keane? What do you want your readers to know?
Bruno: my novel the cage It was just selected for a feature film, but I’m not allowed to talk any more about that. I really admire the team and everyone who was involved in it, and I have high hopes for it. There’s a lot of other stuff in the movies in the works too, but really, I’ve learned not to talk about any of it until production actually begins. The only thing Hollywood loves more than jumping on trends is picking things up and then never doing anything with them. (Laugh)
Other than that, just write every day. I can’t complain. I grew up a fan of the horror genre. And now I’m lucky enough to earn a living giving back to this genre and helping to guide and shape it. It’s a great honor, and a great job. But from now on, I will do it from Mars. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There is an inherent risk that you will be too close or too involved with something you love. Think of someone who loves bacon and sausage. Then they get a job at a slaughterhouse and over time, they can’t stomach bacon and sausages anymore. Sometimes, a little distance keeps love blossoming.