Jason Rolfe co-edited Fear of the Dark with Maria Grazia Cavicchioli. He talks about how horror extends into absurdism, how he became involved in Horror Bound, the process of editing Fear of the Dark, and some of his highly intriguing upcoming literary projects. You are quite involved in a variety of literary genres. How does horror fit into them? There is an element of horror in everything I write. Over the last year and a half I haven’t written anything that really resembles traditional horror. I’ve instead focused more on short absurdist fiction. When I did write “traditional” horror stories, I wrote about things that might frighten other people. With my absurdist work I’ve focused on the one thing that truly frightens me. The philosophy behind Absurdism is essentially this:  we live in a meaningless, chaotic world and then we die. Like nihilism it stresses the absence of reason. Life and death are completely arbitrary. I find that sense of pointlessness truly terrifying. With that in mind, one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever read is Albert Camus’ play, Caligula. My recent work might appear light hearted, or (on occasion) darkly humorous, but it is inspired by a sense of hopeless dread. How did you become involved in Horror Bound Magazine, and then co-editing Fear of the Dark with Maria Grazia Cavicchioli? Maria accepted a short story I wrote called “Notes on the Crypt and Bones of Clive Church” (although the story appeared in Horror Bound Magazine as “That Which Is Hidden”). She accepted the story the very day I submitted it, and went on to publish a few more of my stories. She was a wonderful editor to work with. She really supported and encouraged new writers, and through Horror Bound Magazine gave them an opportunity to be read. As a writer struggling to find a foothold I really appreciated that, so when she asked me to be an associate editor at Horror Bound I leapt at the chance. When she asked me to co-edit Fear of the Dark I didn’t think twice. It was an amazing experience – really my first glimpse inside the wonderful world of editing. You and Maria did a phenomenal job selecting the stories and editing the anthology – it’s very slick – the kind of book where I couldn’t wait to read the next story. What is your process when you’re editing together a collection of short fiction? Thanks! I can’t speak for Graz, but I personally think the stories that made our final cut actually selected themselves. The quality of the stories and the professionalism of the writers really made the decision-making process an easy one.  We knew exactly what we wanted before reading a single submission, so that when we saw something that met our shared vision we recognized it right away. The process was fairly straightforward. Maria would send a group of submissions my way. I read each story twice (or more), first to capture my gut reaction to the story, and second to judge it based on our overall vision for the anthology. I marked each submission either “yes” or “no” and sent it back to Maria with an explanation as to why I felt it did, or did not, work for us. I don’t think we debated any of them. As I said, I think the stories that made the final cut selected themselves. We just recognized them for what they were – excellent stories by very talented writers! Please tell me about some of the upcoming projects you have on the go. I am currently guest-editing the spring issue of an online magazine called Sein und Werden. The theme I chose for this particular issue was the Oulipo - l’Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle - a group of writers and mathematicians determined to learn how abstract restrictions can be combined with creative writing in order to unlock literature’s truest potential. Rather than inspiration, or experience, or even self- expression, they view creative writing as an exercise in constraint. I challenged would-be contributors to apply at least one Oulipian-style constraint to their work. I’ve been very pleased with the results. I’ve had contributions from writers I’ve never read before, and from writers and artists I really admire! The spring issue of Sein und Werden will appear online soon. Later this year I hope to see an expanded version in print. I have three personal projects on the go. One currently searching for a home is an anthology inspired by Frederick Rolfe (Baron Corvo) and featuring the work of writers I absolutely love! I am also (slowly) assembling a collection of my absurdist short fiction, and wrapping up the latest (and hopefully last) draft of an odd novel about Franz Joseph Haydn.  To be honest, I have next to no time for writing, so when I say “wrapping” up I really mean “it should be ready sometime in the next 1-2 years! I don’t write for a living – I write because its fun and I enjoy it. I suppose I’m a recreational author, so my own writing gets done when it gets done. That being said, I do hope to find a home for my absurd collection this year!
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Lurking in the shadows: Fear of the Dark - edited by Maria Grazia Cavicchioli & Jason Rolfe - now available as an ebook!
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