Archive for November 23, 2021

Frank Oreto Author Interview

Frank Oreto is a writer and editor of weird fiction living in the wilds of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I mostly write short stories and my work has appeared or is upcoming at The Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Pseudopod, The Corpus Press anthology series In Darkness Delight, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

How did you get started writing speculative fiction (spec fic)?

 I was always a storyteller. But didn’t start writing things down and trying to sell them until around 12 years ago.  When my friend and fellow writer Douglas Gwilym said, “Hey man. You should write.”

What was your “hook book,” the book that first drew you to spec fic?

 I remember a series of yellow cloth books. Each a collection of myths and folk tales. The Russian volume had Baba Yaga and her chicken legged house.  The United States volume, had tales of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. After that mundane stories had little appeal. 

What specific genres and sub-genres do you enjoy writing and why?

 I like things on the dark side, even when I’m being funny.  Usually, my tales lean toward the supernatural and cosmic rather than the psychological. But in the end the stories tell me what to do.  Sometimes babies get eaten, sometimes dentists take over the world. The mind is a weird instrument.

What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Creating something new in the world with just a keyboard and my weird imagination and then sharing it with people.

What is the hardest part about being a writer?

Sitting down consistently and putting the words on the paper whether you’re inspired or not. Something I’m still not great at.

What stories or authors influence your writing?

I’m a huge fan of Charles Beaumont whose fiction ran from horrific to zany but always strange.

Talk about your current spec fic novel or story and how you came up with the concept.

 I try to write a Halloween themed story each year. (Not just a creepy tale but something that has an aspect of Halloween as a central theme) Right now I’m in the midst of a story where all the children disappeared after trick or treating.  They come back each year on Halloween going door to door asking for treats only to disappear again when they’re through. How does the world deal with this? How does a parent? 

What are tired tropes you wish you would read or write less?

I don’t believe any tropes are tired you can always breathe something new into them.  I think they can limit things a bit. But working within limits can produce amazing things.

What tense and POV do you enjoy writing in?

I tend to go third person past tense. But some stories wont put up with that and I find myself in present tense.

What is your favorite internet resource for writing?

I constantly use The Submission Grinder. My all time most useful tool for organizing my submissions and finding places to send stories to.

Recommend a great spec fic book or movie that may have flown under the radar.

The Cook by Harry Kressing is a short creepy novel of food and Obsession I recommend to as many people as possible.

What’s the best way to find you online?

I can be found on Twitter @FrankOreto

World Fantasy Convention 2021 Report

Last weekend, I finally returned to the con circuit, in the most sensational way. I mean, when you haven’t been to a con in almost two years, and Covid is still rampaging through the world, why not go to Canada? Well, I packed my car, picked up a few friends along the way, and trekked north to Montréal for World Fantasy Con 2021. Having worried incessantly about crossing the border and the length of the trip, I found all my worries unwarranted and discovered I had made the right choice.

The trip wasn’t bad on the way in. I met a friend after work and drove to Syracuse, where we stayed in (what looked like) a roach motel for one night only. Good news: There were no bed bugs, and it had a nice slip-free tub for my first shower standing up since February. In the morning another friend drove in, parked at a garage, and piled into the minivan, the best vehicle ever! From there it was about 4 hours to our destination. All of our meticulous planning with Covid tests, ArriveCan, and assiduous checking to ensure we had our documentation in order, paid off; we weren’t hassled either direction at the border, although my friend is now a bagel smuggler haha. On the way home, sure, driving 9+ hours sucked, but we broke it up well and dealt with the exhaustion with a combination of caffeine and great conversation, the latter of which fueled a LOT of the fun over the long weekend.

Cons are amazing places to meet wonderful people, including fans, readers, industry professionals, and other writers. World Fantasy Con is my favorite in this aspect. Granted that this year’s WFC was much smaller than in years past, due to Covid and being north of the border, the con vibe remained intact and strong as ever. I mean, I haven’t been to so many readings before, and the reason I attended so many this time around is because so many of us were supporting each other. What a freaking fantastic way to spend a con, right?

Then there’s re-connecting with friends I mostly only see during a convention, friends I haven’t seen in a long time because of Covid. There are too many to mention (though I’m looking at YOU, Mr. Abercrombie). The absolute best part of the connections at cons, though, are those friends you are attending WITH. My roomies were a guy I’ve roomed with before, and with whom I get goofy and go crazy, and a guy I’ve known and been friends with for a while, but haven’t been to a con with previously. Well, our time together gave us all a happy buzz. The fact that I’m dropping hints in this blog to the references we made constantly with each other will inspire a few extra laughs.

I had a blast reading the first story in my collection of Roman/Gallic war supernatural squad short stories, Legio Damnati. Many props to my writer friends, new and old, for their aid in attracting a sizeable audience for said reading, considering these types of events usually only garner a few folks. I think the reading was the impetus for my robust sales. Not that I sold a ton of books, but I calculate that roughly 1 in 42 attendees (and I LOVE that number!) bought one from me, which is not at all bad.

Maybe the panels lagged from a lower number of total panelists–a side effect of a smaller con and Covid driving it to be a hybrid con–but the quality and number of topics more than made up for any shortcomings in this area. There were also some hiccups with the hybrid side of things, such as being unable to ask questions when attending an online only event, but overall, this didn’t lower the quality of the con whatsoever. Plus, an added bonus was that I was invited onto an extra panel. I shared space with incredible panelists, and had the opportunity to speak on so many interesting topics.

Overall, I have to rate this con a smashing success. Obviously, I can’t say enough about the people. The Hotel Bonaventure Montréal couldn’t have been more accommodating or beautiful. The city itself, though due to my current physical limitations I couldn’t explore much, was a stunning venue. And I finally got to experience a Timmy Hos, as I’m told the locals call it. The long weekend was a fun-filled success all around.

So, merci beaucoup to all my readers, to everyone that bought my book, and to the friends who teamed up to make World Fantasy Con 2021 so special and amazing for me. You’re all such beautiful people.

Brandon Ketchum is a speculative fiction writer from Pittsburgh, PA who enjoys putting a weird spin or strange vibe into every story, dark or light. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, his work has won Writers of the Future Contest honorable mentions, he leads the Pittsburgh Writers Meetup Group, and coordinated the 2019 PARSEC Short Story Contest.

Find his alternative history horror fantasy short story collection, Legio Damnati, about Julius Caesar’s supernatural squad battling sorcery in the Gallic wars, here: Legio Damnati