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Interview with Lee
Masterson, Co-Founder of Horror Factor
Written by Mayra Calvani
Published October 17, 2008
Horror Factor is an online source for horror
authors who want to hone their craft. The site offers not
only monthly tips, a writer's forum, and articles on the
horror writing craft, but also on publishing, promotion
and marketing horror fiction. Here to talk about the site
is co-founder Lee Masterson. Read on to find out all the
goodies this site offers and how to subscribe to their
monthly, highly informative newsletter.
for this interview, Lee. Tell us a bit about Horror
Factor. When and how did it get started?
Horror Factor (http://horror.fictionfactor.com) was created in
2002 - about 3 years after we first launched the original
Fiction Factor (http://www.fictionfactor.com). The original
site contains hundreds of articles on general fiction
writing advice. It occurred to us that the information a
horror writer might need would be more specific that just
learning grammar or sentence structure or finding a
publisher. Horror writing tips are also going to be
vastly different to writing tips for a children's writer
or a fantasy writer. So we sat down and had a huge
brainstorming session and came up with the various
sub-sites that are aimed specifically at writers in each
of the individual genres we chose.
As I'm a huge horror fan, I decided to build Horror
Factor before the other sub-sites. It's remained my
favorite to this day!
does your site offer authors?
The websites as a whole were specifically created to help
all writers to improve, hone and strengthen writing
skills. There are entire sections in the Fiction Factor
article archives on getting published, finding editors or
agents, submitting or formatting work and much more.
Horror Factor specifically caters to horror or dark
fiction writers. We try hard to find quality
horror-specific tips and advice that could potentially
help a writer to improve his or her craft or to find
publication. It's surprisingly difficult to find enough
quality work in this genre designed to assist newer
writers to hone their craft. We're always on the look out
for more ways we can help out horror writers.
about promotional opportunities?
We would sincerely love to promote all authors on our
site somewhere - but our web host wouldn't be happy! We
already blow out their hosting and bandwidth capacities
quite often with the heavy traffic such an enormous site
What we can offer is a bit of promotion in the
"Writer Announcements" section in the
newsletter. If any writer at all has some writing news
they'd like to shout out or perhaps get some free
promotion for a book/story publication, then feel free to
hop onto our forum. Post your 'woo hoo' into the
Announcements section. Remember to leave a link where
everyone can find you. I'll get that announcement into
the email newsletter and we'll let the world know about
it for you!
may authors interested in a review by Horror Factor
submit their books?
We receive hundreds of submissions for reviews and even
more queries every year. We're currently so overstocked
with reviews that we won't be opening for further
submissions until mid-2009. We do post an announcement in
the newsletter when we do open for submissions, but we've
learned that we only need to open for one week a year to
create a backlog that keeps us busy all year round.
you consider freelance articles and reviews? What about
Yes absolutely! We're always happy to receive freelance
non-fiction articles that might help writers in some way.
If you'd like to submit any writing-related article at
all to Fiction Factor, Horror Factor or any of our other
genre sites simply visit http://www.fictionfactor.com/guidelines.html . Don't let the
scary warning that says "we're closed to
submissions" deter you - I'll always happily
read a well-written query from any writer willing to
We do prefer that articles are written and formatted in a
similar style to the existing articles on the site. Feel
free to take a look around some of our article archives
to get a feel for what kind of things we like! If you see
a gap in the information there, chances are we'd love to
see an article covering that topic.
We don't accept fiction short stories but we do have
plenty of short story market listings available. If
you're looking for a published home for your short horror
fiction, check out our market listings here:
http://horror.fictionfactor.com/fiction.html You're sure
to find a publication suitable for your work.
us about your newsletter, Fiction Factor, and how we can
subscribe to it.
Fiction Factor was created in 1999 to cater for a
complete lack of information for fiction writers (at that
time). Our Managing Editor, Tina Morgan, and I noticed a
growing need for information directed at helping writers
to establish successful writing careers so we created the
site. The first email newsletter was released in January
2000 and has just grown enormously to become the
award-winning site we have now in the years since.
You can subscribe to our newsletter by visiting our group
on Yahoo http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/fictionfactor or you can send a
blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our newsletter is free and each month we try to include
at least three great articles pertinent to writers or
writing. We also include market listings and occasionally
book reviews and author interviews. All our content is
dictated by what our subscribers want to read about or
learn more about so we take particular notice of any
email queries we receive and then take steps to source
articles that cover this information.
Tina and I are both also very active on the forum (which
has a dedicated Horror Writing section, by the way). Any
questions that seem very popular or anything we feel
could be great information for other writers immediately
goes into the newsletter from here as well. You can find
the forum here: http://fictionfactor.1.forumer.com
you think the horror fiction market has declined, reached
a plateau, or is still climbing?
I think the horror market has gone a little stale in
recent times but it doesn't seem to be declining in
popularity. There seems to be an abundance of
regurgitated vampire tales around right now, along with a
gore-fest of slasher type stories.
It's a shame the supernatural thriller style of horror
seems to be on the decline though. You know - the ones
that make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand
up and make you check whether you locked the doors at
night. These are my personal favorites.
Having said all that, it is heartening to see so many
diverse short horror markets still running strongly and
actively seeking submissions. This would indicate that
the genre as a whole is still very strong with a lot of
readers out there.
the horror genre there are several subgenres. Which one
do you think is more popular at the moment? What about in
the past? What are your predictions for the future?
Horror seems to run in cycles. No matter what's popular
now or what was popular yesterday, the themes will
eventually make a resurgence somewhere in the future
cycles. They might be updated, modernized or given a
fresh face but they're still similar underlying themes.
We seem to be in a part of the cycle where there's a glut
of slasher/gore-fest and vampire horror around right now.
When there's a glut, readers tend to wander off in search
of something different. Sales slump and publishers start
sniffing around for something else to sell. This makes
the market appear flat or stale.
Sooner or later a fresh new style or something completely
different to the usual stuff we see will appear and spark
reader's interests again. Sales will spike and publishers
will rush to grab hold of any copycat styles they can
find, which then causes a glut and the market goes stale
again until another new writer emerges with something
fresh and original to begin it all again.
The great thing about cycles is that you can often sense
when the wheel has turned full circle and it's about to
launch into a new phase. I think this is what's about to
happen to the genre in the near future.
you look at the history of horror fiction, which type of
supernatural "creatures" have had the most
success and notoriety under the public eye - witches,
ghosts, zombies, monsters, or vampires?
Unfortunately I think vampires have received the most
success and notoriety lately. Vampires have been
romanticized in recent times almost to the point of being
nauseating. That's a shame because there's massive scope
within these supernatural beings to create really cool,
scary scenarios. Let's hope someone creates some really
scary vampires soon and bring them back to their former
is the scariest book you've ever read?
The books that get the little hairs on the back of my
neck tingling most are the ones that affect me in ways I
least expect. A good example of what I mean is Stephen
King's "Pet Sematary". It's not really a scary
book, but my black cat, Scruffy had me creeped out for a
few days after reading it (actually, he still creeps me
out when he stalks my hair in the middle of the night).
Another one that unexpectedly affected me was Richard
Laymon's "All Hallow's Eve". Again, it wasn't a
scary book, per se, but when the creepy guy dressed in
his last victim's clothes turned up on the old lady's
doorstep to make her his next victim.... Let's just say
I'd recently divorced from my husband when I read that
book and was living alone at the time in a little cottage
on a secluded road. I slept with the lights on that night
(and a German Shepherd beside the bed for reassurance!)
Oh - and anything with spiders. I have a bit of a
phobia-thing about spiders ;)
authors, in your opinion, will be remembered as the best
horror writers of the 20th Century?
There are so many good horror writers around right now -
Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Robert
McCammon, Richard Laymon - like I said, there's so many.
I should add such favorites as Dean Koontz, John Saul,
Peter Straub and Graham Masterton as well.
Being an Aussie, I also make an effort to follow some of
our great Australian Horror Writers. I think some of
these will make a huge splash in the international horror
arena in the not-too-distant future. If you get a chance,
I can recommend you look up Stephen Dedman and Jack
Davis. Stephanie Gunn's short fiction is worth watching
again for this interview!
It was my pleasure Mayra. Thanks once again for inviting
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