The “HWA Know a Nominee” interview

I was interviewed about my HWA nominated anthology The Doll Collection, but the interview was never posted, so here it is:

HWA Know a Nominee 2016
1. Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project? If nominated in multiple categories, please touch briefly on each.
ED: I’ve been collecting weird dolls and doll parts for several years now and eventually the idea almost naturally popped into my head to put together a doll horror anthology.
2. What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept(s) to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process?
ED: The most difficult part was coming up with the right title. A great title is often the key to actually attracting the interest of a publisher. I had the idea, and noodled around with a proposal for a couple of years, with no idea of what to call it. Finally, during lunch with my friend Veronica Schanoes (a writer and academic with whom I’m friends and who subequently wrote a story for the anthology) she came up with THE DOLL COLLECTION, which I knew was perfect.

For an original anthology, it’s always a challenge to wrangle the writers I’ve solicited into writing a variety of stories tied to one theme. As the stories come in, I need to weigh them against what I’ve already bought. On the other hand, it’s a joy to know that many of the stories that are in any given anthology would not exist if I’d not solicited them.

And of course, the finished book itself, with stories and interior photographs illustrating it, pleases me greatly.

3. What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated work fits into (or help give shape to) that ideal?
ED: As a reader, I want to experience a distinct feeling of unease, combined with being drawn into a situation by characters that I find interesting and believable. I want stories that work on more than one, superficial level. I want a story to be memorable. An anthology of course contains many stories. The Doll Collection has seventeen stories and I hope that it least a few stick in readers’ minds.
4. I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?
ED: By necessity, I must wait for solicited submissions to arrive. Those submissions usually come in a few months after I initially ask for stories. That’s the point I start reading and accepting stories. If I love a story but think it needs a lot of work, I’ll communicate with the author right away and although I may not at that point commit to buying the story–I’ll suggest we work on it until it’s in good enough shape to accept it. This might require several rewrites. There will be a final line edit by me a couple of months before I need to hand the full mss in to my publisher. The great thing about working on more than one project (different anthologies and at a time is that if I get restless or just can’t focus on one project, I can read for or edit one of the other projects on which I’m working.
I sometimes get stuck thinking up an idea for another anthology to pitch to my various publishers. I’m always burned out toward the end of writing up my summary of the year for the Best Horror of the Year series.
But I try to give my brain a break and always come up with something.

5. As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?
ED: As an editor, you must be able to reject stories, even by writers who are your friends. And always remember, it’s not your story it’s the writer’s. For a writer/editor this is especially important: don’t impose your writing style or voice on another writer’s work while editing them.
6. If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?
ED: Seeing and hanging out with writers, artists, editors, and agents, movie makers, and everyone else connected to the business. I just want to have fun.
7. What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to?
ED; In real life I’m scared by political extremism (within and outside the US) and a seemingly increasing intolerance of each other’s rights (in the US). This relates not at all to what I work on.
8. What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about?
ED: I don’t have time to read specifically for pleasure so I try to combine my reading for the Best Horror of the Year with novels I hope will dovetail with that reading. So I only read what’s being published in the year for which I’m reading (best horror). I recently finished Richard Kadrey’s new novel THE EVERYTHING BOX, a non-Sandman Slim novel (the new one in that series is coming soon). They’re very entertaining very dark fantasies with horrific elements. I read Elizabeth Hand’s new Cass Neary novel HARD LIGHT, which is a terrific dark thriller (with supernatural elements) about a great anti-hero- a fucked up photographer famous for her photos of the drug-infested east village of the punk era. Just out. And in the middle of Matt Ruff’s excellent take on Lovecraftian lore called LOVECRAFT COUNTRY.

Victor LaValle’s THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM, a novella (I edited it) is another fine take on Lovecraftian horror from the point of view of a young black man from Harlem in the 20s. LaValle is better known in mainstream than horror although his novels BIG MACHINE (winner of the Shirley Jackson Award) and THE DEVIL IN SILVER are both with the sf/f/h genre, particularly the second. He’s someone to watch.

Livia Llewellyn has a new collection out this year-her second-called FURNACE and it’s spectacular. Horrific, often sensual, and always disturbing-the perfect winning combination.


  1. Thanks for sending the transcript of your interesting interview.

    All best wishes


    (Richard Byrt)

  2. Ellen Datlow says:

    You’re welcome.

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