{Short Sharp Shocks! Book Review/Interview} Dirty Paws: Dean M. Drinkel

Short Sharp Shocks! #0

Dean M. Drinkel: Dirty Paws

Reviewed By Steve Stred

Dirty Paws Short Sharp Shock! #0, as well as digital, is also available as a paperback

Ahhh, the one that started it all.

Dean opens this up with a brief foreword/introduction to let you know that Demain wasn’t created as a vanity type thing, to get his name in print on this. No, instead, he lets you know that started a small press can be filled with glitches, stresses and unseen variables, so what better way to launch it than with a no-risk author – himself. That way any negativity can be easily tweaked and fixed and it wouldn’t negatively fall back onto another author.

Dirty Paws’ itself is a nice homage to Poe and Barker. Set in Paris, we follow two low life’s trying to make a high impact kidnapping. Instead, they end up taking a waitress who would have been better off left alone.

I think the thing that really stood out for me was the ‘creature’ that Drinkel features in here. Things continue to go from bad to worse and as the action ramps up, so does the deftness with which Drinkel describes it. I’m a bit of a fool for not knowing if Dean has released other stuff before, but after reading this, I’ll be for sure taking a look and tracking it down.

Dirty Paws’ may be a quick action tale with carnage throughout, but it also stands as an excellent first entry into the Demain Publishing Short Sharp Shocks! Series.

Kudos for Dean for taking the risk of starting Demain but also for being willing to put his name up for the first release.

The Short Sharp Shocks! Series has been unique in that you really can’t go wrong with where you start or dive in, but it shows how solid all of the selections have been that the very first one holds up just as well as the most recent ones.

Dirty Paws

From award winner Dean M. Drinkel comes a new chilling short story inspired by both Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders In The Rue Morgue” and Clive Barker’s “New Murders In The Rue Morgue.”

Set in modern-day Paris, ineffective kidnappers Lea and Maxime make one helluva mistake roping local waitress Camille into their grandiose plan. Things go wrong from the get-go, arguments break out, bodies pile up, drinks get spilled. And just who is the big fellow following them and what has he got to do with the carnage left in Lea’s and Maxime’s wake?

Read “Dirty Paws” to find out…

You can buy Dirty Paws from Amazon UK Amazon US

Dean M. Drinkel Talks To Michelle Enelen

(This interview was conducted back in October 2019)

Does publishing differ from the way you thought it would be? (easier, harder, crazier)

Hi! Great question to kick off the interview. Um, so okay, brief answer? No.

BUT I guess I was a bit naïve when it came to thinking how much of my time it was going take up.

Before the setting up of DEMAIN I might have thought it was something I could dip in / dip out during the day whilst I carried on with my own creative projects.

The complete opposite is true and the publishing really is a full-time job in itself. What an idiot for thinking otherwise hey?

I can see why so many indie presses fold so quickly because if you’re not careful it can overtake your life (especially if you’re working from a home office).

I did approach the establishing of DEMAIN extremely seriously and attended business courses, seminars, workshops etc and drew up a fully worked through business plan so I could hit the ground running (and have my own small business advisor).

Of course, as soon as we ‘opened doors’ (so to speak) the business plan went out of the window but at least it’s something I can refer to. I will draw up a mini-plan for 2020 / 21 from the experience I’ve gained these last 18 months or so and try to stick to that but life happens, life gets in the way, life can try and ruin your best-laid plans.

Prior to DEMAIN I’d worked for a number of indie presses both sides of the Atlantic compiling and editing anthologies and / or story collections. I’d never self-published before and to be frank, I didn’t know how to (or perhaps even wanted to). Because of necessity, I’ve had to learn a great deal and without a doubt, my skill-base has increased ten-fold. There is a helluva lot to do on a daily basis but slowly I’m getting there. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even if it hasn’t always been ‘fun’.

We’re going to (hopefully!) up the ante in 2020 and get out there a bit more at conventions, starting with Stokercon in April. It’s all good running a business from a desk/computer but I personally enjoy getting out and meeting our readers – by talking to them face to face we can gauge how successful DEMAIN really is and what (if anything) we need to consider improving to the reader v author v publisher relationship.

Saying all that, however, and I’m sure I’ll touch on this further in a later question or two, what I also personally need to do is look at the whole life/work balance as well the balance between what I do for DEMAIN and my own writing as both are being seriously affected.

I don’t think I’ve come across any crazies just yet but I’m sure I will (in fact we’ve just discovered that DEMAIN might have its own troll – how exciting!). I have had a couple of MS sent to me which made no sense at all and were mixtures of different fonts (and languages!) – do you know Umberto Eco’s The Name Of The Rose (I’m sure you do)? In that there is the character of Salvatore who speaks a mismatch of languages both modern and ancient, I swear one MS was like that just not as profound ha! I also received one recently which was obviously just a cut/paste job from someone else’s work (though I couldn’t see who’s exactly) which was obviously returned with a stern warning.

I suppose the main issue – and this is true of anybody running their own business so this isn’t a unique statement – is that you never have a moment to yourself. Even if you do manage to get a day off, you end up reading subs, answering emails or messages over social media as well as having to update websites/blogs.

It is hard work but I’m conscious of how I, or perhaps other writers I know, have been treated by some publishers (or film production companies!) at some points in their creative careers so I want DEMAIN to be firm but fair in producing high-quality product.

I must also add that one of the skills I’ve picked up is the building of websites – I’m not an expert but I’m happy with the results thus far (www.demainpublishingblog.weebly.com).

Once we are able to expand I’ll be employing somebody to pick that up which will be a weight off my mind (and will give me a couple of extra hours a day) and I’ve already got a friend on retainer (www.digitalcannes.com/) who has done a little bit of work already for me at www.demainpublishing.com and www.deanmdrinkel.com.

Do you have a set number of books you’d like to put out per year or some other sort of structure you would like to maintain?

If you’d asked me this a year or so ago I would have said yes but that also went out of the window with my business plan. I originally put together a schedule spread out over 2019 / 2020 where I could ease myself into the whole business mind-set. However, due to a couple of issues I faced with my original cover artist, everything got put on hold until I could source another and the unreleased books started to pile up – a very large bottleneck was formed and I panicked a little as if I wasn’t careful I would drown.

However, we were able to eventually move quickly when Adrian Baldwin (www.adrianbaldwin.info) came on board – he seriously upped the game with the branding/covers. In the first month of Adrian joining, we had 12 Short Sharp Shocks! published and have steadily been releasing them since. These are smaller books so they’re a little easier to work with but we have published longer pieces of work such as Joe by Terry Grimwood, House Of Wrax by Raven Dane and A Quiet Apocalypse by Dave Jeffery.

All our books are initially electronic but will soon be moving into print – this business model was something I did quite a lot of research into and it seems to have worked.

The first series of the Short Sharp Shocks! finishes at 50 to allow us to concentrate on the Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! and Weird. Wonderful. Other Worlds. brands. There will be a second series of SSS! and I’ve already received quite a number of submissions to read.

Sometimes if a particular MS lands on my desk which I think deserves publication then I’ll try my best to accept it and get it out there as quick as I can – that’s happened recently actually with a short collection of stories and a reprint novel which I’m looking to get out by the end of the year on top of the already planned releases. In the indie world I think you have to have a great deal of flexibility.

Do you read submissions alone or do you have a team?

It’s just me but as we are looking to expand and release even more titles over the next couple of years I’m seriously thinking about bringing in someone to help – not just with the reading but with everything else actually.

As I believe I’ve said, writing is my job and the publishing is seriously encroaching into my creative time. It’s okay for a short while but it’s not sustainable. I’m currently working 7 days a week on average 13 hours a day – don’t misunderstand me, I’m not moaning/complaining, I’m just making the point on how much work is involved. As soon as I’m awake I’m reading subs, answering emails, updating social media, updating the blog (www.demainpublishingblog.weebly.com), checking facts and figures on Amazon, reading reviews of our books, speaking to reviewers, speaking to new writers, going over covers/branding with Adrian – that can all take four / five hours after which I then have to start getting my head in the right space to write. As we do this interview I have three screenplays on the go as well as a number of other commissioned stories/articles. It’s the life I chose and I’m privileged to do it (especially when you get commissioned!) but it’s not always plain sailing.

I try to keep a smile on my face and a sense of humour – even when I’ve got certain writers chasing me demanding decisions on their work only hours in some cases after they’ve sent it to me!

I’m also wanting/needing to get back to France in 2020 (since 2016 I divide my time between France / UK but have been in the UK quite a bit recently due to some tv/film projects I’m involved in) so will need somebody to be a ‘British presence’ for me while I’m over there…one thing at a time though, let’s finish 2019 on a high – there are so many great releases yet to come! Saying that, as DEMAIN is more French than British perhaps we need a Cannes or Paris based set-up…I’m also looking at DEMAIN FILMS…

What do you look for in a story, anything in particular?

I suppose the two questions I ask myself are: i) is the story well written ii) does it hook me. The subject matter/themes etc can be almost about anything but as long as it’s well written and got a great hook then more often or not I’ll accept it for publication.

If you take the Short Sharp Shocks! you’ll hopefully see that there are 50 (or so) very very different stories but there is one ‘constant’ and that they are all written well and have that hook. Those authors (in my opinion) have really pulled out all the stops and several of them I’ve actually re-read for pleasure.

I also made sure when I tested the whole DEMAIN / publishing / Short Sharp Shocks! series right at the beginning and wrote ‘Book 0’ Dirty Paws – I had to make sure it was a kick-ass story. From the reviews I’ve seen people seem to think it is. Which pleases me a great deal. As DEMAIN isn’t a self-publishing venture (though I may dip in with a story here and there) I perhaps should have pushed Dirty Paws a bit more but it’s out there and I’m happy when it gets ‘discovered’.

I will add that if a story doesn’t quite make it then I’ll let the author know why with a couple of suggestions and offer to read it at the next draft.

I mentioned the subject matter of our books – well, we’ve got a very broad spectrum which I suppose mirrors my own taste.

Of course, I would say this (though the many reviews we’ve received back this up) but we’ve got a lot of quality product out there which I’m positive will continue for the foreseeable future.

Is there something you would like to read about, but no-one has written about it yet?

My loves are history and horror so if a writer is able to blend the two and it’s a well-written story with a hook then they are a shoo-in. The history has got to be right though…I’m starting to like Timothée Chalamet as an actor and actually was invited to the UK premiere of his recent The King in London a month or so back – anyway, I was really looking forward to the film as this covers one of my favourite periods of English / European history…I lost interest in the movie after about twenty minutes however, as the history was all wrong. Now, of course you’re allowed a little licence for dramatic purposes and I’m not a ‘period drama snob’ (in fact we had to do it slightly in our award-winning screenplay about Napoleon’s son) but come on, the arc centering around Prince Hal’s brother Thomas is totally incorrect, so much so that in reality Thomas died several years after the death of his father (Henry IV) – not as it is portrayed in this movie. Its mistakes like that which throw me out of the story – and that’s just for starters! Chalamet’s performance was great though as was Robert Pattison’s as the French Dauphin. I suppose that with The King the writers could get away with their inaccuracies by stating that it’s actually inspired by the work of Shakespeare…but that’s a bit of a cop-out isn’t it?

Two of my favourite non-horror authors are John Fowles (The Magus) and the aforementioned Umberto Eco. So if somebody was to write either a Short Sharp Shocks! or even a Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! with elements of these authors/books then they would definitely go to the top of my ‘to be read’ pile.

Right, that’s today’s mission if somebody is willing to accept it.

Is there a topic that’s off-limits to your publishing company?

I would say that there isn’t anything off limits per se but obviously we won’t publish anything which is illegal.

I would add that if there is anything specifically ‘sensitive’ and I was seriously considering it for publication then I would have a very in-depth conversation with the author and then after that make the final decision whether to actually publish it or not (ie what exactly is the subject matter / what’s the motivation for writing it / will (and why) people be offended/are any laws being broken etc etc).

What I have tried to do with the Short Sharp Shocks! in particular, is accept horror stories which can be read by all (in the main anyway).

There was a period in my own writing when some of it was quite ‘extreme’ (though it stayed on the side of legality don’t worry) – I’ve moved away from that particularly in the scripts, but I might return to that one day as I’ve got a cracking idea for a story actually, I’ve been approached about seeing up an ‘extreme series’ for DEMAIN and I might give that some serious thought in the future…in our so-far-published Short Sharp Shocks! there are only 2 out of the 50 or so that contain a couple of mildly ‘extreme’ passages (but erring on this side of good taste) and if I thought our readers would get offended I’d make it clear in the blurb and on the cover what the book contained.

I’ve been lucky that thus far I haven’t received anything ‘untoward’ and if I had then I’d return it with a firm no.

How do you feel about anthologies?

Why? What have they said about me? Only nice things I hope!

Seriously, I have no problems with anthologies and have been responsible for a few over the years and whilst I’ve ‘slowed down’ with them a little bit, I hope to do more over the years (in fact, I might as well mention it, just recently I’ve had published by Snowbooks Thread Of The Infinite: Tales Of Industrial Horror and I’m currently compiling/editing a Dante inspired one for TK Pulp called Cities Of Woe) when I think of more ideas/themes. As we’re close to December I must mention 12 Dark Days a Christmas antho I put together for Nocturnicorn Press a couple of years back which is well worth checking out. Please.

From the anthologies I’ve met many writers (and friends!) who I continue to work with to this day.

I’ve done large books (with 26+ writers) and then smaller ones with only 8 or 9 contributors.

One issue with putting together anthos in the indie world however, is getting the word out there and then getting people to buy them! The marketing can be really hard. So much work can go into the books and it’s a shame if the publisher (I’m talking generally here and not pointing fingers at anybody don’t worry) don’t know how to market them.

We haven’t done any anthos here at DEMAIN yet but we might. In fact there was one I put together for a small UK press a little while back but it seems they’ve gone under so I’m going to see if the right have returned. Adrian has already come up with a brilliant cover. So if I can get the rights and all the authors are happy then we’ll re-publish it through DEMAIN. Hopefully with the reviewers/contacts / marketing we’ve got we should be able to shift some copies.

Talking to friends this appears to be a universal problem in the indie world – some anthos have really flown for them but then others die a quick death the day after publication. Such a shame.

Are the book covers your ideas, the writers’ or someone else’s?

Adrian Baldwin has been a godsend to DEMAIN, that’s all I can say in the highest praise. Without him I probably would have chucked it all in a long time back…okay, that’s probably a slight exaggeration but let’s say this, without his ‘branding’ then DEMAIN would look very different and probably wouldn’t have been receiving the great comments it regularly does.

The way it works is when I accept a story/book I put together a few words (nothing too complicated/convoluted) and email to Adrian to work his magic. He was the one that came up with the idea of just a single image for the Short Sharp Shocks! (and now the other series) which was so simple but also so effective! We do of course run the covers past the authors for their ‘sign off’ and to date we haven’t had any refusals/rejections. If I remember rightly one author asked for a font to be changed slightly which was fine because we had offered a number of different covers/fonts / images so that was easily resolved. Adrian really gets what we’re trying to achieve at DEMAIN. He’s very much part of the family.

I have to thank Trevor Kennedy for putting the two of us together. I’ve worked with Trevor for a number of years (and continue to do so) on several projects – I told him the issues I was having with my original artist/designer and he suggested speaking to Adrian. It was an immediate yes. We haven’t looked back.

Through Adrian I’ve also come across Roberto Segate a very dark artist indeed but again, he’s been brilliant. His work has graced at least one of DEMAIN’s covers and because of a project which has recently landed on my desk there might be a lot more collaboration between us all. By the way more about Roberto can be found at: https://www.roberto-segate.co.uk/

Books vs Movies or are they equal?

They are equally different! We should also through TV into the mix now because there is so much quality genre stuff being produced and because of platforms such as Netflix, reaching a wider audience. With Netflix in particular there is a lot of inspiring genre TV from all around Europe – particularly Belgium (Black Spot), France (Marianne) and Germany (Dark) as well as some US programmes such as Umbrella Academy and Titans (as a quick aside here I must mention that I’ve recently written a TV pilot and we want to attract one of the younger actors from Umbrella Academy as he would just bleedin’ perfect for the lead role; similarly one of the feature film screenplays I’m working on has this sassy/cocky younger character and as soon as I saw Curran Walters as Jason Todd in Titans I knew he’d be brilliant – so once it’s finished (and we’re very close) then I’ll be going after him to see if he’s interested.) We also have Watchmen now on several UK platforms – I’m really enjoying that and totally seeing Don Johnson in a different light. I’d forgotten the man could sing. And sing well! For my sins I’m also partial to Supergirl but I’m not entirely sure why – I’ll just call it a guilty pleasure.

I’ve mentioned Eco’s The Name Of The Rose a couple of times and not sure if you’ve seen the TV adaptation yet but that’s worth checking out – that now exists as a book, a film AND a TV series (which I guess is also true of Watchmen to some extent).

These last couple of years I’ve really enjoyed the books by David Mitchell (number9dream, Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks) but never thought they were filmable – I’ve seen most of the film version of Cloud Atlas but am yet to finish it (it’s rare nowadays I can sit and watch anything from beginning to end)…does that mean it’s not as good as the book? I don’t know…perhaps I should stop as I’m losing my articulation on this one. I’ll simply say, if you enjoy a book, great…if you enjoy the film version of a book you haven’t read, also great…if you then seek out the book and read that – even better!

If you don’t mind, I’ll finish answering this question by something I recently saw about the British writer, Will Self as it’s kind of relevant – he’s got a new book out (daringly called Will) and in it he states the case that the novel is dead and has been for some time.

One of his sons apparently saw this and (I’ll paraphrase here as the tweet has been deleted) said that his father was only saying this because his last books were rubbish and hadn’t sold a copy!

A lesson to us all there, don’t p@@@ off the kids.

If you weren’t publishing, what would you most like to be doing?

Okay, so I’ll answer this question as: if I wasn’t working at all in the creative industry, what would I be doing?

Well, when I was at school I didn’t really get into playing sports until I was about 16. It was just something that didn’t interest me. But then I saw my first (American) football match, the Dallas Cowboys against Chicago Bears and everything changed.

Dallas lost but I was totally smitten by what I saw that day. I devoured everything about the Cowboys and the game in particular (I even became somewhat of a ‘pen pal’ with Coach Tom Landry and in fact, I have named one of the characters in a recent script ‘Coach Landry’ – it’s a bit of a cameo and guess what, I’m going to play him if I can).

Anyway, I joined a local team (the East Side Jets) in Southern England. I was going to be the star Quarterback and drew up play after play after play. I had books full of offensive, defensive formations – I even worked on a number of ‘special teams’ special plays (try saying that after a couple of drinks!). I really found something that turned me on.

The problem was I suppose is that I wasn’t big enough (in terms of muscles etc) to be a professional. The UK game at that time was very amateur with pads that didn’t fit properly, only a couple of helmets between the players, not enough players so you ended up playing offense and defense (sometimes at the same time ha ha!) and the uniforms themselves were often mismatched.

I was a kid playing man’s game.

I could throw the ball though and read the game so that stood me in good stead but I remember turning up to the first practice session, telling the existing QB to get out the way as that was my position (I was 15, 16 – he was a good ten years older).

I lined up, took the snap and guess what, nobody protected me. I got knocked from one end of that field to the other. They found it very amusing. My doctors didn’t.

The training was hard but good and oddly I miss that – lots of carrying tree-trunks around soccer pitches, singing US army songs and being laughed at by the local populace. Though we did make the newspapers – probably on the ‘oddities’ page.

I’m laughing now I recall all this: we went to London to play this team from Brixton. It did not end well. They were built like proverbial sh@@houses.

As I could handle the ball I was told to play Wide Receiver. I was so light, the Corner Back was able to pick me up (I kid you not) and throw me to the ground.

I lasted a couple of downs but I was too much an easy target so I was sent to join the ‘chain gang’ for the rest of the game, measuring downs/yardage. I think my team lost 100 – 7. Still turned up for training the next week though. Bruised, battered and bloodied but loving every minute. Even if these were men and I was a mere boy.

My dream at that time was to go to college full time in the States, bulk up, get picked by the Cowboys and become starting QB. I wanted to wear Number 12 after Roger Staubach who I had learned was a Cowboy legend. I told my school career’s advisor this. She laughed out loud and told me to be more realistic. My parents didn’t want to pay all that money either so I ended up deciding to college in the UK majoring in American History / World History but was lucky enough to spend some time at a university in Maryland where I met some great people – some are still my friends to this day. I still support the Dallas Cowboys. For my sins.

The other sport I got into as I left school was field-hockey.

Now this was I brilliant at.

I played as a foreword and could literally score from anywhere on that field. I was a demon with the stick. I got picked for the school’s first team and all was fine and dandy, the thing is though in those days (and only on the field I must add!) I had a bit of a temper. I think I scored and it was disallowed and I blew up – I argued with everybody (players, officials, supporters) and got sent off; I then got sent off again, this time in the teachers v pupils match. I didn’t get picked for the first team again and was ‘relegated’ to the 2nd or even 3rds. I didn’t care really though because I was still scoring, even if my mouth ran away with me. My form tutor at the time said I was an ‘avant-garde rebel’ which I didn’t agree with but still had a nice ring to it.

A year or so later, when I was packing to go off to college I bought myself a new stick, carried it over my shoulder as I moved into Halls of Residence (yeah, yeah, very pretentious I know). I put the stick in the corner of the room…and never picked it up again! I had so wanted to play for the college but now I was there I started to get a life, met new friends, partied, and then started writing…I could have been a contender aaarrggghhhh.

I’m older and a lot less fitter now but who knows, maybe one day…one day…

I will also quickly add this story here because it’s funny and related (slightly!)…a couple of years back now, I was in Monaco as one of my short scripts was up for a screenplay award at a little festival there. One of my good friends was also at the festival as he was in a film (and ended up winning Best Supporting Actor – so fair play to him) anyway, we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years so spent most of the time together, talking, laughing, drinking etc etc.

On the final night we were approached by one of the other festival-goers. He told us that he had been observing us closely (which was weird in itself) and was wondering whether we would consider playing Macheath (Mack The Knife) in a production of Brecht’s / Weil’s The Threepenny Opera he was staging in London. He wanted us to play the character on alternative nights. We thought he was winding us up but he went serious and said how he could see each of us bringing something very different to the character and that was why he wanted to cast both of us. There was obviously a lot of singing too and wondered if we could handle it…we said we could and shook hands, we were going to be famous, we were going to have our names in lights, we were going to win Tonys…never heard from him again! I think I’d be up for a part in a musical…

Does anyone ever try to bribe you or threaten you to publish their work?

Actually this hasn’t happened to me (though I do know of another publisher who has been offered ‘favours’ if you get my drift) but now and again I will put coded messages on the DEMAIN Facebook page to see if anybody picks up on them – I’ll say something like I’m going to be at British Fantasy Society or Horror Writers’ Association event and the fact that I love red wine (or Breton cidre) – the idea is that I’ll get loads of free drinks and don’t have to spend a penny and if the writer says ‘Dean publish my work’ I won’t be in any state to refuse.

Doesn’t seem to work though and whilst I do end up quite drunk my wallet always seems a lot emptier than it started.

Personally I don’t have a problem with bribery – particularly around Christmas time ha ha.

Okay, I’m joking obviously…I can’t be bribed. I’ve got a reputation to maintain.

I will admit though some writers can be quite insistent that I publish their work even after I’ve said no. I’ve got a particular writer right now who sends me emails or messages on social media quite consistently even though I’ve said no, not my genre/expertise and the MS they did send me was incoherent (so much so that I honestly thought someone was playing tricks on me).

I’m still finding it amusing but I wish they would cease/desist …saying that though, some of my best friends – particularly those in France – became friends because I stalked them over Facebook or Twitter so perhaps it is the way forward.

Obviously, I don’t want to be stalked.

My mantra is this: if you see me at an event, come up and say hi, and I’ll talk to you if I can. If I give you my card then even better. If you give me a red wine then it’s a shoo-in!

December is going to be a busy month for me as I should be in London at both the BFS and HWA events – so authors, here’s your chance…

Was there a particular moment that made you decide to publish?

Yes. A situation arose in 2018 where I was involved in a short anthology which was a follow-up to one I’d previously worked on. We pressed forward with the original publisher. However, quite early on in the process he let us know that he wasn’t going to be in a position to publish it after all – though if we were to continue, he would fully support it and if possible, contribute a story.

Of course, we were disappointed but as many of us had started working on (or even completed) our stories we weren’t sure what to do.

For my sins, I decided to step up and said I’d publish it – and we haven’t looked back have we?

What are your interests besides horror and books?

Interests? What are they? Right now I don’t have time for any interests. I’m just so damn busy. This needs to change in 2020 for definite. As I’ve said, I follow the Dallas Cowboys. In the UK I support Tottenham Hotspur (soccer) and get to as many games as I can. If everything works out then I’ll be back in France full-time next year so want to go and support a local team (there is one in Cannes but they’re not amazing right now) and I want to get a lot fitter and perhaps join a sports club of some description…I’ve always wanted to fence, so that’s my goal for next year…I can handle myself with a sword for sure..oh, I suppose I could add here that I love karaoke and this is something that has kept me sane for a while now.

I do it a lot in Cannes as well as once or twice in Paris and at a couple of conventions in the UK. I can’t get enough of it.

My song choices are like my musical tastes very eclectic but I can actually sing – don’t worry!

It can be funny though when you start a song that you haven’t sung before and you’re in the wrong key or get the phrasing wrong or whatever…it can be cringing.

As we do this interview, I’m learning some Taylor Swift songs – Out Of The Woods is my favourite.

I love some of the old crooners (Sinatra, Martin, Darrin) as well as a bit of Queen, Elton, David Bowie, Oasis, Coldplay, Keane, Pet Shop Boys, U2, Madonna, REM and some show tunes (particularly Rocky Horror Show or Les Miserables, Man From La Mancha).

My favourite though – and I’m being dead series – is my rendition of Justin Bieber’s Baby. The way I do it is very unique (in a good way) and many many times it’s been recorded and I’ve received standing ovations for it. The rap part I’ve nailed too.

A couple of months back I even did a ‘jazz version’ of Baby which nobody knew what hit them but I got a massive round of applause when I’d finished. It’s been suggested a couple of times that I try The Voice or something but I don’t know…we’ll see…now I’m thinking about it, it’s a real shame we didn’t end up doing Mack The Knife…myself and my French co-writer have wanted to write a musical piece called Lucifer/Satan – perhaps I should play one of the parts…

What motivates you to keep reading?

The fact that I have a publishing business for starters! Now that I’ve committed myself I have to see if through (I’ve got a five-year plan and we’re officially in year 2) don’t I?

What has suffered a little is my reading for ‘pleasure’ so I’ve tried to pick that up again and am reading several books which are not in my genres.

I also do read a lot of non-fiction (particularly history) and there are quite a few titles recently released that I need to get hold of. I’m planning a new script about Napoleon at Waterloo (a horror script actually) so need to do a bit more reading on that before I can actually put pen to paper. I’ve been talking about that one for a while but want to really get it moving in 2020. It’s called Scum Of The Earth and Napoleon is the protagonist – there is a very specific French actor who I want to play Bonaparte too – I promised him about 10 years ago we’d work together and we’ve been close a couple of times but hopefully this will be it at long last – it’s amazing how quickly time flies if you’re not careful.

I need to get hold of Bret Easton Ellis’ new book too…

We’ve all heard that writers have to grab attention within the first couple of pages, what amount of time do you give to each story before you make a decision?

I will read everything that’s sent to me.

My outlook on this is that if someone has put their heart and soul into creating something then the least I can do is read it and from start to beginning.

While it’s commonly accepted that the first few pages need to grab your attention, I’ve read plenty of stuff that are ‘slow burners’ and if I had given up after one / two pages then I wouldn’t have realized how special the book (or story, or script) is.

Ironically perhaps I’m not always a great fan of the short story but what I hopefully can do is spot something that will resonate with other people.

I would say on the almost 50 Short Sharp Shocks! we’ve published, every book has received at least one glowing review, some have received so many I can’t even keep up with them.

I try to be positive when I say no to an author and if I can, offer some advice on how they can make their work better.

What certainly doesn’t work for me though is when I open a file and the format is all over the place – on our sub calls we don’t ask for a particular format (perhaps we need too, I don’t know) but come on, if you are going to submit something then at least try and make it look professional?

It shouldn’t be for me (or any other publisher) to format the work before even reading it?

It does surprise me, even today, some of the stuff that gets sent…

Dean M. Drinkel

Ambitious, Dean M Drinkel is a published author, editor, award-winning script-writer and film director and was Associate Editor of FEAR Magazine – he has also contributed several non-fiction pieces to various publications. He has over thirty credits to his name in the field of genre writing (including short stories, collections, novellas, anthologies); has written and directed fifteen theatrical plays in London and the South East of England and during the years 2002 – 2008, he wrote and directed several short experimental films. In 2016 Dean moved to Cannes, France to write a script with Romain Collier entitled “The Tragedy Of The Duke of Reichstadt”. This won two screenplay awards (Best Historical Drama / Best Independent Spirit) at the Monaco International Film Festival. In 2017 Dean directed the short film “15” for Midas Light Films. Dean has won five awards (thus far) for his script-writing and one for his directing. He was runner-up for the 2001 Sir Peter Ustinov Screenwriting Award (International Emmys) – for his script “Ghosts”. He makes his feature film directing debut in 2020 with the comedy film “Chocolate Potato”.

You can follow Dean on Twitter @deanmdrinkel

For more information about SSS! please visit the Official Demain Website www.demainpublishing.com

Steve Stred

Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.

Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.

He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.

Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.

Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.

You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred

You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred

You can visit Steve’s Official website here

Michelle Enelen

Raised by Pentecostal preachers, horror was not a readily available commodity. As her love grew, her parents were occasionally summoned to school to talk about book reports and various projects that weren’t quite appropriate for her age. They were lost as to where she’d gotten such “trash”. Luckily for her, there was a librarian that understood her insatiable hunger for darker worlds. Even now, if she could, she’d live among the stacks.

Her penchant grew to include ghastly movies and music, which she’ll happily share with anyone listening. The love of horror continues with her favorite videogame, “House of the Dead, Overkill”. She’s not the best gamer, except when defending herself against the wrong monsters. Head shots are her speciality.

Twitter @falln468

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