An author interview by Janine Pipe
Glenn Rolfe is not only a kickass author with his own small press, he is also one of the biggest supporters. Whether best-sellers or brand-new voices, he can be found championing writers whenever he can. We sat down for a chat so I could find out more about his plans for Alien Agenda, what he is hoping to release this year and whether there will another charity anthology in the works
Janine: Hey Glenn. I would like to talk to you a little about what you have going on this year.
I’d like to ask first off about your press, Alien Agenda Publishing. What do you have planned for the press and what are your ultimate hopes and dreams for it?
Glenn: Right now, Alien Agenda is just a tiny spot for me to put out books by some people I really enjoy. I started with a couple of reprints of Samhain Publishing and Dark Fuse books that no longer had a home (Nightcrawler by Mick Ridgewell and Skinner by David Bernstein) and have since put out some werewolf fiction from Jackson R. Thomas, a great short cosmic horror novel by Brian Fatah Steele, and we put out our first charity anthology in November, Survive with Me. All the proceeds from the antho are going to the American Indian College Fund.
In 2018, I put out a short eBook sampler. Sort of what the indie punk labels used to do for their bands with their compilations. For a special price, you’d get songs from each of their bands and get a feel for what the label was about. I brought that into Alien Agenda getting help from some indie friends along the way. We’ve had stories by non-Alien Agenda writers such as Bryan Smith, Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason (aka the Sisters of Slaughter). Tim Meyer, and Somer Canon (among many others). The point of that is to help bring some attention to our other authors and titles, but I also want to use it to spotlight some newer writers.
As for what I’d like Alien Agenda to become… I’d love to get to the point where I’m able to do maybe six books a year, and a charity anthology every other year. I’ve just done royalty splits with authors so far, but we’re looking to start doing small advances (hopefully) this year. I have two novels that will be landing in my inbox in the coming months and hope to start there. We’ll make announcements if and when the contracts are signed. I have high hopes for this venture, but I don’t want to get in over my head. I’m working it very slow and making sure I can do for the authors what I want to do. To quote a book by Dr. Leo Marvin, it’s all about “Baby steps.”
Janine: Survive with me was your charity anthology last year. Do you plan to release any more like this?
Glenn: Yes. I’m in the very early stages of charity anthology #2. I’ve reached out to a few authors (two of them everyone will know), and I have a title, a charity, and a list of folks I’d love to have involved. Nothing is set in stone yet, so I should have some sort of announcement this summer. After doing Survive with Me, I learned it’s not a quick process. To do it right, I need at least two years to put a good anthology together. I have a pretty hectic writing schedule, as do many of the authors I work with, so that all plays into the time, too. So, look for the next one to be released at some point in 2022.
Janine: You are a HUGE supporter of indie writers, small presses, women authors and POC. Why? Why take your time to promote others rather than focus on your own stuff?
Glenn: While I enjoyed the Gallagher brothers and their battle with Blur, I actually come from a punk rock background where DIY and brotherhood were just how things were done. We raised each other up, shared bills, compilations, and cheered for one another at shows and rooted for each other whenever one of us had something good happening. We felt like if one of us made it, then we all made it.
I try to bring that same mentality to the indie horror writing world. We’re all in this together. We all want to see each other succeed. Plus, it feels good to help someone else out. Sharing and retweeting is such an easy thing to do.
I make sure to tell everyone I know about a writer or book I love, especially if that writer is just starting out or doesn’t have the same exposure as some of the bigger indie kids.
And as a white male author in the indie horror world, I know I’ve already got an advantage, for better or worse. It’s not right but acknowledging that gives me a responsibility to raise up the voices of any and all kick ass voices belonging to females, POC, or LGQTB.
Janine: Tell me about what you have out this year, I want all the details!
Glenn: This spring, my next novel, ASCENSION AGENDA will be unleashed from Splatterpunk Books. Ascension Agenda is the sequel to my 2015 horror/sci-fi novella, BoomTown. There’s an alien ooze living below the town of Eckert, Wisconsin, and it has rumbled back up to stir more shit with the human race in this small town.
After that, I have my next novel with Flame Tree Press, August’s Eyes. That one should be out on August 17th. It’s about a man facing the guilt of something he was involved in as a pre-teen. There’s also a serial killer involved in the story and a dream world known as Graveyard Land. It’s definitely me as an author pushing myself to go beyond my comfort zone. Hopefully, my readers will enjoy it. As an artist, you have to keep pushing to get better, so that’s what I’ll continue to do.
At the end of the year, Silver Shamrock Publishing will be releasing my 3rd short story collection, Nocturnal Pursuits. Short stories are so freaking hard to write, but that challenge usually produces some great surprises. I think people that enjoyed my previous collections (Slush and Land of Bones) will love this one.
For Alien Agenda Publishing, there are two book I’m hoping to put out, but nothing is concrete. I still don’t have any plans to open to submissions. I don’t have a staff to go through manuscripts, so that’s still a way down the road idea for me.
Janine: And what is hopefully coming in 22/23 and beyond? Do you have any plans as yet?
Glenn: I have SOOOO MANY plans. That’s always part of my problem. As of today, I have the sequel to Blood and Rain started. I’ll probably outline my next book for Flame Tree sometime this spring or summer, and I have three novellas to finish for something that hasn’t been announced yet.
And like I said, the next charity anthology is set for a 2022 release from Alien Agenda Publishing.
Beyond that, who knows.
Janine: Which books are you most looking forward to coming out and reading this year?
Glenn: The new ones from Sarah Langan, Ronald Malfi, Stephen Graham Jones. I’m also looking forward to whatever Patrick Lacey releases next. Love his voice. Looking forward to the new ones from Heather Herrman and Gwendolyn Kiste, as well. And I’m sure Flame Tree Press will have a laundry list of books on my Must-Read list, too.
Janine: What is the single best piece of advice you have been given and what is the single most important thing you would impart to a new writer?
Glenn: When I attended my first convention (World Horror Con 2013), I was writing all sorts of different short stories. I had a draft of Blood and Rain, and I was putting up chapters from The Haunted Halls on a serial website. I was still uncertain of my voice, but I felt I was definitely closing in on it. That fear though, had me going to online college and taking writing classes. It wasn’t until the convention when I was having drinks with Rena Mason (Bram Stoker Award-winning author) that I confessed these things to her, and having read The Haunted Halls, she said to me about school, “Don’t lose your voice.” In other words, don’t let them change the way you write. That gave me all the confidence I needed going forward. I trusted in my voice and it’s served me well.
Even in the time since that convention, so much of the writing world has changed. My biggest suggestion for new authors is to bust your butt to land on a publisher. Take your lumps, take some criticisms, and prove you have what it takes. That’s not taking a shot at self-publishing. I’m all for self-publishing. That’s coming from a writer who has taken that road and learned the hard way. There’s nothing like the feeling of a publisher emailing you that first contract and getting that first pro-payment. The amount of confidence alone is worth it.
Today, I do both. I took something Brian Keene said in the Samhain aftermath to heart. He told us to make sure we spread out our work as much as possible. In other words, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Work with a variety of publishers alongside self-publishing some of your works.
“Don’t let anyone change your voice.”
“Work hard for that first contract.”
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
What do you believe the future is for indie horror?
It’s always changing, so it’s hard to say. I could easily see it continuing as it is now for some time, but I’m always hopeful that an indie writer or press is going to help shed some light on the shadows we all hang out in. Then, who knows, maybe we’ll make some real noise!
Glenn: Thank you, Janine!