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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of Horror: Day 30-- JournalStone Part 4

This is part 4 of 4.

I am letting the managing editor, Norman Rubenstein have the final word for the day.

After graduating from Northwestern University with a dual B.A. degree in Philosophy & Political Science and then from Loyola University of Chicago School Of Law with a J.D. degree, Norm spent over twenty years as a litigation attorney, then was appointed as an Administrative Law Judge for the city of Chicago, where he presided in thousands of trials and hearings.
Norm also organized and presented a number of rather large science fiction conventions in conjunction with the BBC for their Doctor Who television series and was featured on a nationally televised segment of the Entertainment Tonight TV show back in the 1980's. He went on to co-produce ten stage plays including one, Murder By Misadventure, that ran upon London's famed West End for six months, and a world premiere of an A. R. Gurney play, The Fourth Wall, starring George Segal and Betty Buckley in Chicago.
Norm is an Active Member of both the Horror Writer's Association (HWA), and of the International Thriller Writer's, Inc (ITW). Norm has been a member of and then served two years as Chair of the HWA’s Stoker Additions Jury, completed a stint as the Chair of the 2011 HWA’s Stoker Anthology Jury, and is currently in his second year as Co-Chair of the HWA’s Bram Stoker Awards® Committee.

Norm has seen well over one hundred of his Horror & Thriller Genre book and film reviews purchased and published over the past seven years. Norm has written a regular column for Fear Zone "Macabre Musings," is and/or has been a regular reviewer for Horror World, a regular columnist for Shroud Magazine, and also, is a reviewer for Cemetery Dance Magazine, Dark Scribe Magazine, Hellnotes, and Dark Discoveries Magazine, as well as serving a stint as the Reviewer for the Pod Of Horror podcast hosted by author and professional radio host, Mark Justice, and is a frequent convention speaker, panelist, and moderator. He is currently the Reviews Editor for both Hellnotes and Dark Discoveries Magazine.

Norm has had extensive experience working freelance as an Editor for a number of Specialty Presses, including Bloodletting Press, Cargo Cult Press, Centipede Press, Dark Regions Press, Thunderstorm Books, Genius Publishing, and is currently the Senior Managing Editor at JournalStone Publishing ( Norm’s personal website is

As an author, Norm is proud to be a contributor to the recently released and multi-award nominated, David Morrell and Hank Wagner edited hardcover Anthology, Thrillers: 100 Must Reads from Oceanview Publishing. Norm’s very first fiction short story -- “The Closet” -- co-authored with noted Canadian author Carol Weekes, appears in the recently released anthology Fear Of The Dark, by Horror Bound Magazine Publications. Norm’s second short story, “The Widows Laveau,” co-written with author and publisher, Steven Booth, appeared in the recently released, prestigious charity Anthology, Horror for Good


Why I/We Love To Publish Dark Fiction

Norman L. Rubenstein

I’ve been asked to try and describe, from a publisher’s point of view, what makes us love to publish dark fiction. In a direct sense that is easy. Having worked for a number of relatively small, independent presses—all publishing in the horror and dark fiction genres—the short answer is: because we all love the genre. It is a universal trait keenly felt by every publisher I’ve ever worked for and with. To dig any deeper, not being a psychic, I can and shall only expound upon my own, individual experiences and motivations.

As the eldest of three children, I was raised in a household that strongly encouraged reading. We were read to virtually every afternoon and most evenings before we were old enough to read on our own and the “magic” seemingly contained in the shapes and squiggles contained in those books was a secret I was determined to uncover, with, again, the assistance and support of both my parents. I thus mastered the basics and was reading at age 4 and my parents also took us to the local library every other week so we could stock up on books. The library was where I discovered Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov, and, from there, the many other authors that lead from them. While my parents made certain that I was exposed to a wide range of literature, I soon realized that I found the vistas and imagination of science fiction and fantasy as especially entertaining, second only to the thrill I felt in reading horror fiction.

Though my parents strongly encouraged us to read, they never prohibited us from watching television or going to the movies. As a youngster I can remember being extremely influenced by and an avid watcher of three shows that were presented on Chicago TV at the time, Science Fiction Theater, Boris Karoff’s Thriller, and The Twilight Zone. All three were anthology series where many of the same authors I was reading wrote (for the most part) very entertaining and frightening original stories and adaptations of their short fiction to the delight of an entire generation of avid viewers, myself certainly included.

I never outgrew that initial fascination with the unknown and the terrifying and have always retained the same wonderful frisson of fright, of delicious chills, that such fiction uniquely provides. I do not consider this fascination with dark fiction to be an addiction, in that an addiction is normally deemed detrimental, it can be fought—it can be cured. Yet my, and others, fascination with horror fiction isn’t detrimental (at least assuming the person isn’t insane and not a sociopath) nor would any of us wish to wane our exposure to such material.

As I’m sure many other have and will point out, horror is deemed the basis of one of mankind’s earliest stories—the tales of the unknown, inexplicable monsters waiting to devour those who dare step away from the protective light of the fires or lurking in the night just outside the communal cave or huts. Some would say, with some justification, that horror—that fear of the unknown or of monsters, whether real or imagined—is hardwired into the human consciousness and is a means for self-preservation. Whether or not this is true, it is unmistakable that horror evokes one of our most basic and strongest set of emotions and is a very powerful influence. What may have caused us to experience such emotions may have evolved as we have in certain respects, and what may have originally been required as a serious warning now may be employed primarily for mundane purposes of entertainment, but the experiences remain desirous for a great many of us.

That being the case, there is a large, ready and anticipatory audience always hungry for new, quality fiction that will provide them with all the rush of emotions and endorphins that a good scare initiates, while granting just the right amount of willing suspension of disbelief so that they can be sufficiently affected by the fright/terror inducing story they are reading, while at the same time they remain comfy and safe in their homes, secure at some basic level that the bogeyman cannot really get them.

It is for these people, which specifically includes those of us who work at/for a dark fiction/horror publisher, that we strive to publish. In common with virtually all publishers, we try and publish works that we believe will appeal to the audience(s) we are striving to connect with. We, again, as with most publishers, rely upon members of our staff along with the president of our company, to sift through many submissions to find the works that we believe are among the best and will provide the most entertaining experience in concert with the previously mentioned raison d’ĂȘtre of horror literature: to cause feelings of fright/terror/unease/horror in the reader. It isn’t an easy thing to do well and effectively, and all kudos and thanks to those authors who show skill and flair in doing so.

As a short postscript: In light of the passing of a unique and masterful talent of multiple genres, but one deservedly best known for his dark fiction, I suggest that you all join me in selecting a favorite book or story of the late Ray Bradbury and reading it this Halloween. There are certainly a surfeit of titles from which to choose from the prolific and brilliant author. Perhaps due to the proximity of the holiday and/or for those of you with children, you might wish to read/share The Halloween Tree or perhaps From The Dust Returned, or The Homecoming. It just now seems fitting to, at least unofficially, make the late Mr. Bradbury’s self-proclaimed favorite holiday, Halloween, the date upon which to remember and do homage to his genius.

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