Joining me today is writer and editor Josh Schlossberg. A member and co-founder of the Denver Horror Collective, Josh is also the editor of The Jewish Book of Horror, which is out in time for Hanukkah this year. He was kind enough to take a moment to answer some questions, so without further ado, I give you Five For Writing with Josh Schlossberg:
1-What inspired you to create The Jewish Book of Horror?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that I heard a booming voice coming from some flaming piece of shrubbery or a cloud on top of a mountain. I was actually talking with my mom on the phone about how I wanted to push the envelope on horror fiction (without getting canceled), and so I said to her in jest, “I should just do a Jewish book of horror.” And then the menorah in my mind lit right up.
2-Putting the book together, did anything surprise you?
I was most surprised by the many flavors of Jewish horror we received in terms of author submissions. Many of the staples for sure, such as golems, dybbuks, and demons. But thanks to their creativity, THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR has redrawn the boundaries of this barely known subgenre.
3-How does your Judaism intersect with your writing?
I’d say mostly through a sensitivity and awareness of the shadow throughout all dimensions of life. Part of that undoubtedly came from reading about the Holocaust from a young age. Yet the rest may have been genetically passed down through the generations, as in the past, an unwary Jew was often a dead Jew.
4-Your website focuses on biological horror. How would you define that, and what’s the appeal of it to you?
The definition of biology is the study of “living creatures and vital processes,” so it’s basically that plus horror. Ever since I was a little boy looking for frogs on streambanks and inside sewer grates, I’ve felt very connected to the natural world. And the more you learn about how nature works—from ecosystems to microbes, from wildlife to the human body—the more fascinating and disturbing life becomes.
5-You talk about “the gatekeeper’s burden.” Editing two anthologies, what have you learned about the gatekeeper role, and how has it influenced you as a writer?
That a gatekeeper has an obligation to treat authors with respect, whether it’s passing on a submission or buying a story, because without them, there is no book.
In terms of gatekeeping influencing my writing, I now have more of an understanding of how an editor might pass on one of my own stories simply because it doesn’t fit into their idea for an anthology or meet their specific tastes, not because its lacking in story or craft. And that the behavior of editors that tends to peeve authors the most—ignoring emails, form rejections, no feedback—is probably more about poor time management than spite.
A big thank you to Josh for taking the time to answer the questions. You can find The Jewish Book of Horror, which contains my story “On Seas of Blood and Salt” for sale just in time for Hanukkah.
Next up is the master of Pugmire, Eddy Webb. Tune in next week for some very good dogs!