A Shared Bloodletting with Bailey Hunter
At the Donor Center today is the founder of Dark Recesses Press, Bailey Hunter. She has told us she would rather sit in the high back chair two of her minions have brought with them than lay on our nice, comfortable gurney. And we won’t argue this.
She might like the song ‘Whip It’ by Devo. She may like evil smirks that pull one side of her lips upward, raising her eyebrows in a manner that makes you wonder what she is really thinking. Then you ask yourself, do you want to know what she is thinking? You ponder, then you ask yourself another question: Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?
We swallow the lumps in our throat and take a look at the woman sitting across from us. She has a smile that her sons would defend and the dry wit that draws folks in. And she has a flogger…
AJ: So, who is Bailey Hunter?
BH: Who Is Bailey Hunter? Well now, trying to define that is a lot like trying to grip a handful of smoke.
Basic stats are a single mom of 3 now teen-aged minions, graphic grunt by day (though my official title is Creative Fulfillment Manager- sounds good doesn’t it?), writer though not at all prolific, poet, and lastly but hardly least, publisher of Dark Recesses Press (which I just recently resumed my place in). I was a founding member of +The Horror Library+ and still work with R.J. Cavender and Boyd Harris of Cutting Block Press.
By nature I am dark humored, Canadian, a deviant, a serious coffee addict and kinda fun to be around, or so I’ve been told. Oh, and I have a penchant for floggers.
I guess, that’s me in general terms. You want to know more, you’re going to have to ask something more specific. ~smiles~
AJ: A dark humored, flogging coffee addict? Now we’re cooking with grease… or at least coffee beans. Speaking of floggers, it’s a good thing your name’s not Molly.
Let’s go back a little in time here. You were a founding member of +The Horror Library+. For those who don’t know what +The Horror Library+ was/is, can you tell us a little about that?
BH: +The Horror Library+ was/is an amazing beast of a machine.
Actually when it started, it was just a virtual office at Zoetrope.com where people who wrote horror/dark fiction could congregate and workshop their manuscripts. Genre fiction has a hard time getting fair, insightful reviews and critiques in the open workshop area, and horror has an even harder time of it. R.J. Cavender created the office for folks like me to get honest feedback from people who ‘get it’.
In 2003, R.J. picked out 12 people that he had read in the office and liked what they did. He invited us to be part of an idea – an on-line monthly e-zine. At that time, e-zines weren’t everywhere like they are now. There were blogs, but nothing so complex as what we produced. The +Terrible Twelve+, as we were affectionately named, changed over time, but each month we offered a wide splattering of horror fiction. Eventually we opened it up to include samplings of Slushpile Survivors. A lot of folks who started at HL have gone on to do some pretty amazing things.
The e-zine has since faded only to be replaced by a regular anthology, which is now on Volume 4. I was lucky enough to be in Volume 1 (and no, it was not a given – R.J. doesn’t much give a shit about standing/status) and have worked on the subsequent volumes doing the cover lay-up and inset design.
I actually still have my invitation letter to be a part of +The Horror Library+ at its inception. That letter was really the beginning of everything I do now from writing to publishing. Even back then I knew it was a pinnacle moment. I just didn’t realize how much so.
AJ: A lot of times we don’t realize when those turning points in our lives are upon us. Speaking of pinnacles, Dark Recesses was a turning point for you as well. Tell me about Dark Recesses, its inception and development.
BH: The inception of Dark Recesses Press *cue heavy revelation music here*: Actually it was directly tied to +The Horror Library+. There was some rumblings about wanting to be able to turn the HL into a more of an open submission thing, but at the same time a lot of folks didn’t want to stop doing the monthly offerings either. I suggested we try an on-line PDF zine for outside subs. The idea didn’t go over too well with the group (there were over 12 of us – have you ever tried to get consensus on an idea with more than 3 people involved? Yeah. Not happening).
I, being a stubborn woman who tends to believe that there are no problems, only solutions, decided that it needed to be done, and I was more than happy to do it as it’s own separate business. Boyd Harris and CJ Hurtt – both long-time T12 members of the HL also believed in this venture and so they were my right and left arms. With their amazing dedication we went from an idea in early June to our first issue being released in October 2005.
My idea for Dark Recesses was to make the term ‘Literary Horror’ a realistic and accepted concept.
I’ll be honest, I wanted DR to be a place where writers like myself could actually find a home. I don’t know how many times I searched for the right fit for my work only to be denied. I wasn’t harsh enough for many of the horror markets at the time, and much too dark for many of the literary options. That shadow place between dark and light has a lot of room for great fiction, but not a lot of places to be appreciated.
The other key element I wanted was art. The sheer expanse of great macabre, dark and surreal art out there is astounding, and I believe that every story deserves to have a visual representation to make it that much more intense. Jason Beirens came on board as our art director at that time as well.
That first issue was insane! We worked around the clock, between the reading and artwork searching, getting the news out on the boards and behind the scenes setting up a website, registering the business, getting ISSN numbers and figuring out the best way to handle the delivery of the product.
Each issue was a little better though, as we found our rhythm and grew to have a better idea of what defined Dark Recesses.
We must have done some things right, because in 2008 we won the Black Quill Award.
There have been many steps both forward and back the last 5 years. Thanks to Boyd and Michael Louis Dixon, who has been helping DR continue and grow this last year, we are now moving on to Issue #13 which I hope to have out in October, so obviously Dark Recesses is tenacious about her place in the Horror world. She’s my beautiful monster.
AJ: What’s the future look like for Dark Recesses?
BH: *pulls out my tarot, cartouche, russian gypsy cards and the runes*
By all accounts the future looks bright! Patience will win the day.
Okay, so what does the future of Dark Recesses look like?
It looks like more. I like more. More is good. Under Michael Louis Dixon’s hand we’ve managed to garner nearly 10,000 visits to the website every month with a strong average of over 30,000 page views. That’s pretty damned good, and it continues to grow. The PDF is averaging around 2000 downloads per issue, so we are reaching people and they think we’re worth coming back to again and again – Obviously, they like more too. ~grin~
Right now we’re cleaning house and getting ready to re-open our doors. I’ve chosen quite a large group of slush slashers in order to help save on the burn-out factor that can happen very easily when pounding through so many submissions. They have been amazing and DR will be reopened to submissions no later than September this year, perhaps even sooner.
Our selection team is a core group, most of which have been with DR for some time, and really know what we are and what looks good on us. All in all we have a perfect team from beginning to end, which is vital to our future.
I am making some changes to how we’ll be publishing, and will be offering a print version of our PDF for purchase (still working out the particulars on this one but it will be a reality) so that if folks want to, they can have an oh-so-sexy hard copy to flip through.
We will continue to have regularly updated copy on the site, and the more staggered PDF installment. I’m deciding right now if that will be a quarterly or tri-annual publication. It will depend largely upon how smoothly things run. I’d like to get it back to a quarterly release, but I also know that moving too fast with too many ideas usually ends up in chaos. While this can be highly entertaining to watch, it is not very productive.
I also foresee the reinstatement of the DeJavu Horror Contest once things are rolling along. This was a very popular little thing we did, and I’d love to see it back.
This is just the next three to six months though. To see beyond that is more dreams and expectations *ahem* world domination *ahem*
I see another 13 issues and another 13 after that. I don’t see an end to Dark Recesses. We’ve already proved that we are here for the long haul, and we will not go away.
AJ: ahem, you said the word ‘domination.’
The DejaVu Horror Contest. I remember that fun little bit of cliche. Can you tell the fine folks out there more about this?
BH: ~grins~ I did, didn’t I? *affectionately pets the steel handled red leather flogger*
So, right, the DejaVu Horror Contest. Well, after reading our eyes bloody and our brains to grated mush with story after story about serial killers tying their victims to chairs using dental tools to exact their torture, ghosts in typical haunted houses, brain eating zombies, sexy, gothic, nihilistic vampires and the like it was decided ‘Hey, if we have to read this anyway, lets see if we can make it GOOD!’
The idea is that yes, we know that an original idea is about as rare as a unicorn that wasn’t scientifically bred, but that doesn’t have to mean that an old, classic idea has to be bad. So we set up themes based on those clichéd classics and challenged writers to prove that quality story telling can make any subject, no matter how well worn, a pleasure worth succumbing to.
Let the bad horror fly we said. Finding a gem in those is so much simpler when you know what you’re getting.
We covered ghosts, werewolves, zombies and I think maybe vampires (I’d have to go back and check). Even our editors enjoyed it – crazy happens after so much slush and coffee fueled all-nighters.
We liked it so much, it will be back. And it will be loud when it comes. ~grin~
AJ: Maybe we’ll see the revisitation of the Frankenstein monster or Jaws in the near future… oh or maybe a serial killing Frankenshark monster… okay, now I’m just being stupid…
Before I let you leave the Donor Center (by the way, Herbie’s waiting outside with leather on… I’m not sure what that’s all about, but he perked up when he saw the whip…) tell us a little about what type of stories you’re looking for as far as Dark Recesses is concerned.
BH: One cliché at a time, dear boy. One cliché at a time. This isn’t SCARY MOVIE after all.
As for Herbie, unless he can make coffee and do it really well, he will just have to wait his turn. Which of course will be when I DECIDE.
Powerful. I want stories that make you think, make you feel, that crawl up your spine leaving an indefinable shiver you can’t shake. Literary Horror.
We don’t shy away from themes really. I don’t care if it’s a western or surreal, a period piece, foreign soil, future based – none of this matters. Where you set your scene is up to you, just make us feel it. If the end product is seamless then the color of the garment really doesn’t matter. All manner of dark is welcome.
It’s much easier to define what we don’t want.
First and foremost – nothing that has the sexual abuse/exploitation of minors. I don’t care if it’s implied or spelled out in graphic detail, if it happened in the past as a memory or in the present and I don’t give a rat’s ass if the perpetrator gets his/her/its comeuppance for such a heinous act. The answer is NO. Summarily rejected NO.
The second thing we don’t want is a torture or gore scene for no reason other than shock value. If you don’t have a valid story to wrap your amazingly brutal death or torture scene in, don’t bother.
A sort of not-interested would be high fantasy.
AJ: Yeah, Herbie hear’s you, even if he does have his hands over his ears. Where can we find Dark Recesses?
BH: At this moment, Dark Recesses can be found at http://www.darkrecesses.com/ for our main site, from there you can Love us on Facebook, Crash us on MySpace and even follow us on Twitter.
You can also get your digital fingers on Issue #12 through the website.
In the not too distant future (4-6 weeks or sooner) anyone preferring to lay real hands on her sexiness will be able to do so by purchasing a print copy of issues #11 & #12 and Issue #13, due for release in October, through Amazon.com.
http://www.CuttingBlock.net also has print issues #9 & #10 available for sale right now in their shop.
I’ll be at KillerCon August 26-29 in Vegas (how could I not go?) with a vendor’s table and due to the sad fact that Miss Monica O’Rourke will not be able to attend, I will be moderating the panel- A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN THE HORROR – at 3pm on Friday. Excellent line-up there so it should be very interesting.
Dark Recesses is everywhere. ~grin~ Join us and see how good it feels.
AJ: Vegas? Well, you know what they say about Vegas…
Bailey Hunter, thank you for coming in to The Donor Center and, if you wouldn’t mind, lash Herbie a couple of times on your way out…
BH: It was my pleasure. Thanks for allowing me to spill a little AB+ on your floor. Are you sure you don’t want a lash or two yourself before I go? No? Pity.
So long then.
(Herbie’s Note: Herbie makes very good coffee. Just ask him.)