From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Publishing Dark Faith: An Interview With Jason Sizemore

Why did you decide to accept Dark Faith as a project for Apex Books?

Because I was hung-over and was tricked into it by Maurice Broaddus. Okay, it wasn’t quite that way. . . but I was hung-over and Maurice had to do a lot of smooth talking. . .

It’s the third day of Mo*Con. I’d just spent back-to-back nights of drinking and socializing until 4 a.m. I hadn’t done such a thing since my college days 14 years ago! You can imagine the state I was in. So I was setting in a deck chair in Maurice’s front yard, sipping cold water out of a mug and while I watched Alethea Kontis fan herself in a cute ‘Southern Lady’ manner. Yep, it was hot outside. We were the dead dog party.

I was watching Wrath James White hold court with a large group of attractive ladies when Maurice whispers into my ear. “Hey, can I talk to you alone?”

He was using that tone of voice that makes parents and preachers perk up and cry “what’s wrong?”

Nothing was wrong. Maurice pulled me into the shade. “I have an idea for a new book.”

I groan. “Christ, Maurice, do you know how many times I’ve heard that very phrase this weekend?”

“No, no, this one is good. It’s an anthology.”

“You know anthologies don’t sell.”

“What if I say that I can guarantee you Tom Piccirilli, Gary Braunbeck, Wrath James White, Linda Addison, and Alethea Kontis.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Go on.”

Over the course of the next few weeks, Maurice and I hammered out a publication plan and had nailed commitments from other awesome authors like Catherynne Valente and Jay Lake.

As to why I did accept Dark Faith as a project? First, the subject matter interested me. Second, I had worked once before with Maurice on his collaborative (with Wrath James White) novella Orgy of Souls and knew him to be a professional and someone fun to work with. Finally, I felt the anthology could turn out to be something big, a loud booted foot stomp proclaiming that Apex was making a huge upward move.

You stated “the subject matter interested me.” Since this is an anthology centered on various faiths and beliefs, would you like to share a little bit about your own world view?

I had an interesting childhood experience with religion. Neither of my parents were terribly religious, so it was left to my grandmother to see that I got in tight with The Big Man. Every Sunday for fifteen years she took me to worship at a small Southern Baptist church named Big Creek Baptist Church. Good people. And I sure learned a lot about the Bible.

And I had religion scared right the hell out of me.

The preacher was a big believer in scaring the sinners straight. He had me convinced that the events in Revelations would be occurring not just next week, but tomorrow! Every coal truck that passed our trailer sounded like Gabriel’s trumpets. Every jet flying over was an Jesus making a landing.

When I escaped the mountains and went to college, the fear disappeared only to be replaced with resentment. Why did God have to scare the piss out of me to make me a believer? Wouldn’t God prefer to accept me based on how I lived my life? Be nice to others. Don’t cheat or steal. Etc.

Eventually, as I got older, I’ve become disillusioned with religion completely. As I describe it to those who ask me, I believe strongly in God, but I do not believe in religion.

Off the top of your head, what is your favorite piece of fiction that blends speculative elements and faith?

Novel length: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Short fiction: “Sanctuary” by Michael A. Burstein

What do you think it is about The Sparrow and “Sanctuary” that makes them work so well as a fusion of faith and fiction?

The Sparrow is a harrowing and mind-opening experience. A Jesuit is sent on a secret mission to a planet named Rakhat. Upon his return, the Vatican initiates and inquest into what exactly happened to the missionary while he was there. The book is an exploration about the existence and function of God, the meaning of life, the use of suffering and healing in the creation of faith, and the delicacy and necessity of human relationships. Mary Doria Russell has written a novel that will be read for decades to come.

Michael A. Burstein is the author of a collection Apex published called I Remember the Future: The Award-Nominated Stories of Michael A. Burstein. One of these award-nominated stories is “Sanctuary.” It’s a bit of a far-future story with space colonies and humans working along with several other species of sentient life. A Catholic missionary is called up to provide ‘sanctuary’ to a young female alien who has been ordered to have her unborn child aborted. Burstein, like Russell, creates a mind-expanding work of fiction that explores just how far we will take our faith and what happens when opposing faiths clash. It’s a story that is amazingly germane to our current cultural situation.

Would you like to take a moment to tell our readers where they can buy Dark Faith? What upcoming titles can we look forward to from Apex Books?

As with any small press book, it’s best to buy directly from the publisher. Failing that, you can go the online route with the big conglomerates (Amazon, B&N, etc.) or indie (Powells, Joseph Beth Booksellers). The book will also be available in a small number of Barnes & Nobles. If you go to a B&N and they’re one of the unlucky stores that aren’t carrying Dark Faith, then go to customer service and make a fuss until you’ve convinced them to give it some shelf space.

Upcoming from Apex Books:

  • The final chapter of Gary A. Braunbeck’s Cedar Hill novels
  • A non-fiction book about the life of the writer from Gary A. Braunbeck
  • New dark fantasy novel from J.M. McDermott
  • New dark fantasy novel from Dru Pagliossotti
  • A non-fiction collect from Nick Mamatas
  • A surreal-SF novel from Lavie Tidhar
  • The second novella in Sara M. Harvey’s Penemue series
  • A second volume of The Apex Book of World SF

As you can see, we have a lot on our plate!

T.J. McIntyre has seen his short fiction and poetry published in numerous publications including recent appearances in Everyday Weirdness, Ruthless Peoples Magazine, and Scifaikuest. He is a member of various writing organizations, including the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA), and serves as a moderator for the Lobo Luna and Western Writers writing communities on LiveJournal. Until earlier this year, he published Southern Fried Weirdness, an anthology and web zine celebrating speculative fiction and poetry with a Southern perspective. He lives in a busy household in the muggy heart of rural Alabama with his wife, two young sons, an aging Doberman mix, five tiger barbs, and three salt-and-pepper catfish.