Local writer, editor and publisher Joshua Viola is the head honcho at Hex Publishers, and the house has just put out a collection of horror short stories called Nightmares Unhinged: Twenty Tales of Terror. We spoke to Viola about all of that…L
Yellow Scene: How long have you been writing?
Joshua Viola: My debut novel came out in 2012, Bane of Yoto. That came out on the Hollywood music label Fixt. I’ve been writing for as long as I remember, and I’m also an artist. I’ve worked in the video game industry, on titles like Pirates of the Caribbean and Smurfs.
YS: When did you start Hex Publishers?
JV: I started Hex last Halloween. We have a large group of talented writers in the state, Hugo and Bram Stoker award winners.
The publishing market has tanked, so I wanted to start a house that was by writers for writers. We’ve been promoting Nightmares Unhinged heavier than the industry standard, and we’ve been doing it in interesting ways, like the animated trailer that we put together, and Sony have developed a dynamic desktop for the Playstation so that’s cool.
YS: Have you put out any other books on Hex?
JV: Our first publication was “Lunar Love,” a short by me. It was a way to test and see what we’re capable of. This new book is on the number one bestseller spot in the Denver Post.
YS: How did you pick the authors, and are they all local?
JV: Again, we have some amazing writers here. Denver has Stephen Graham Jones, and Jason Heller who is huge right now because of the Goosebumps movie. Again, lots of Hugo and Bram Stoker award winners. My co-founder has been a bookseller for the last 20 years, so he has a great relationship with local writers. The large majority of writers in the book are local, but we have some nationals too like Keith Ferrell from Virginia, and Steve Alten.
YS: Which is your favorite story in there by anyone but you?
JV: “Taking the Dare” by Gary Jonas is wonderful. The hardest part of an anthology like this is assembling the table of contents, and deciding where the stories go. You have to balance the length, the humor, the darkness – it’s like putting together the perfect mixtape. I think you should start with your second best story, and end with your best. “Taking the Dare” is the last story in the book. It’s just about teenagers viewing the world in a relatable way.
YS: And which is your favorite of your own?
JV: “Scarecrows” has a deep and personal message. The character is dealing with losing his father to cancer, and then getting bullied. Also, “The Librarian” is important because the film rights have just been picked up by a UK company, Paul Campion. That’s one of the first times I’ve dealt with humor in a story, and it worked well.
YS: What’s next for you and Hex?
JV: I’ve just gotten Jason Heller to agree to a cyberpunk anthology. He’s putting together a nice list of writers now, some international bestsellers. There will be a theme, of tackling social issues like gender identity. That’s due out November next year. Due out in 2017, I’m editing a crime anthology with Mark Stevens and other local and national writers. It’ll be in two parts – the first 10 stories will be crime stories grounded in reality, and the last 10 will make use of a paranormal twist.