Today we are welcoming to The Book Pushers for the first time ever, Sasha Knight, editor at Samhain publishing. Sasha has been editing stories at Samhain since 2005, and has over 30 authors that she works with. We are super excited to talk with Sasha today about her newest anthology she put a submission call out for: Cyberpunk Romance.
What IS cyberpunk you ask? Well according to wikipedia it’s a genre noted for its focus on high test and low life. So think amazing technical advances with a decline is social order.
The anthology will feature three different cyberpunk romance novellas, and we can’t wait to find out more about it, and other projects Sasha is working on now.
Sasha, welcome to The Book Pushers!
Sasha: Thanks for having me here, Nicole.
The Book Pushers: Why cyberpunk romance?
Sasha: I’ve loved cyberpunk stories for years and years, but have had a heck of a time finding stories that meld cyberpunk with romance. I want my cyber with a healthy dose of love. When I can’t find a certain story type I’m craving, I generally end up putting out an anthology call for it. What better way to encourage authors to write what I want to read?
Sasha: The number of submissions I receive varies with every submission call I put out. I believe for the cyberpunk anthology I got around 45-50 submissions. I’ve received well over 100 submissions for other calls. I’m never sure how many I’ll get–it’s like Christmas, not knowing how many presents will be under my tree followed by the joy of opening each one, wondering what I’ll discover.
The Book Pushers: Are there any additional cyberpunk romance stories planned for the Samhain calendar?
Sasha: Aside from the three Cybershock anthology stories, I edited a fun M/M cyberpunk romance, Break and Enter by Rachel Haimowitz and Aleksandr Voinov, which is releasing this December.
The Book Pushers: Can you tell us a little about each novella?
Sasha: Gridlock by Nathalie Gray is exactly the type of story I was thinking about when I put out the call for cyberpunk romances. It’s dark, gritty, urban. Violent. The characters are so well drawn, the new world so well described, that I saw the story laid out like a movie. Nathalie Gray’s stories do that to me. I felt the same way about Metal Reign. Gridlock tells the story of Dante, who was created and abused by The Grid to become a killing machine. He escaped years ago, and he lives to take them down. Steel, our heroine, has managed to live free of the Grid’s control. When a job goes wrong, everyone around her dies–killed by Dante–but he lets her live. What follows is a slow dance of building trust, and a beautiful ending that makes my heart clench in the best way possible.
Told in alternating first person present tense (the heroine) and third person present tense (the hero), Ghost in the Machine by Barbara J. Hancock is one of the most original stories I’ve ever read. I gobbled the story up, unable to turn the pages fast enough, completely immersed in this world of Shadows and SoulEaters and ashes and one of the scariest alien hive minds I’ve ever encountered. The narrators’ voices are so compelling I did not want the story to end. Barbara took the classic and favorite trope of falling in love with the enemy and turned it into the most unique story of the year.
Stacy Gail has a fun, quirky writing voice that makes Zero Factor a lighter cyberpunk read, but no less exciting. The heroine, Via, is a psionic, hiding from the militia that would enslave her for her abilities. A chance encounter with meched-out militia man Locke sends her world sideways, and to stay alive, she’s forced to go on the run with a man who represents everything she’s spent her life hiding from.
A few advance readers have told me that they wouldn’t have originally thought they’d want to read a cyberpunk romance, but that these three stories changed their minds. That’s the best compliment I could receive. A good story is a good story, no matter the setting, and I’m so pleased to introduce readers to a new favorite subgenre.
Sasha: We usually release our anthology collections in print approximately one year after digital release. These three will be released in print under the anthology name, Cybershock, in July 2012.
The Book Pushers: The covers for the three novellas are amazing, who comes up with the cover art concepts?
Sasha: With anthologies, I work closely with the cover artist in deciding how we want to approach the look of the collection. With the Cybershock series, I knew I wanted to put the focus on the heroes. Each of them had an extra “something” I wanted to come across on the cover, from Barbara Hancock’s hero, Gabriel, who has holographic wings, to Stacy Gail’s hero, Locke, who has cyberoptic eyes, and Nathalie Gray’s hero, Dante, who has a series of dataports along his spine and is seeking revenge against The Grid who turned him into a killing machine.
But it’s the artist, Kanaxa (aka Nathalie Gray) who deserves the credit for taking my requests and turning them into such stunning works of art. I know I can give her a simple idea, and she comes up with covers that blow me away each and every time. I am ever thankful to work with her on my anthology covers.
The Book Pushers: What other fun projects are you working on now that readers have to look forward to?
Sasha: I work with so many talented authors who keep me entertained with all their great story ideas, it’s so hard to pick just one. I’m currently editing my early 2012 releases, so let’s talk about those, since they’re on my mind.
The sequel to Sheryl Nantus’s superhero urban fantasy, Blaze of Glory, releases in January 2012. Heroes Without, Monsters Within, continues the adventures of Jo Tanis–aka Surf–and her rag-tag team of superheroes.
Sierra Dean continues her Secret McQueen urban fantasy series with the release of book 3, Deep Dark Secret, in March 2012. Whether you’re Team Lucas, Team Desmond or Team Holden, you will LOVE this book.
Jodi Redford continues her sexy and fun That Old Black Magic series, with the release of the fourth novel, Getting Familiar With Your Demon. The dialogue in Jodi’s stories keeps me laughing out loud. Hailey Edwards has two beautifully written fantasy romances coming out in the first half of 2012, Evermine, the second book in her Daughters of Askara series, and A Hint of Frost, the first in a brand-new fantasy romance series.
See, I told you I couldn’t keep it to just one. I’m excited by all the authors and books I work with.
The Book Pushers: Do you have any other calls out for unique anthologies like this one?
Sasha: Right now I have the superhero romance anthology call, which closes on September 1. Tera Kleinfelter currently has open a Summer Olympics 2012 romance anthology, which also closes on September 1. After that…well, you’ll just have to wait and see. We have a special page on the Samhain website for special calls. http://www.samhainpublishing.com/special-calls/ Writers (and interested readers, of course) can keep an eye there for info on what to watch for.
Sasha: Usually it’s the editor in charge of the anthology. We pitch our ideas to Heather Osborn, editorial director, and Lindsey Faber, managing editor, and once they’re approved, we figure out scheduling and announce the call.
Sometimes we’ll toss ideas around on the editing group, or an editor will come up with an idea and not have the time to move forward on it, so another editor will take it on. That’s what happened with the superhero anthology. Lindsey Faber had wanted to do that one for years but hadn’t had time. She knew I was interested as well, so she passed “ownership”, as it were, of the anthology to me, and I was happy to move forward on it.
The Book Pushers: What is the most unique submission you ever received?
Sasha: Ooooh, that’s a hard question. I’ve seen a lot of different/strange/odd stories over the years, and the Samhain editors often talk about the strangest ones we’ve seen, so it’s all blurred together a bit. There was the “romance” where both the hero and heroine are serial killers–and mind you, this wasn’t a Dexter-esque story where they were vigilantes. No, they just got off on murdering innocents. ICK. Usually when a submission is that clearly wrong for Samhain–or myself–I don’t read far enough to remember details, but that one has stuck in my head for years just after reading the synopsis.
The Book Pushers: What book or anthology did you have the most fun editing?
Sasha: Oh my goodness, you’re putting me on the spot again. I love editing–I’ve edited more than 250 releases for Samhain in the last five and a half years. I don’t know that I can pick a specific anthology or book that’s been the most fun, but I do have authors who make the editing process hilarious. Keith Melton and Jodi Redford leave responses in their manuscripts to my comments that make drinking while editing their books dangerous to my laptop’s health. If you follow them on Twitter, this shouldn’t surprise you. I love editing their books because they’re both fantastic storytellers, but the extra joy of the personal notes makes the entire process a blast.
Thanks again Sasha for coming to The Book Pushers today! Sasha is giving away one copy of each of the cyberpunk novellas! Leave your question or comment to be entered. Open internationally and ends August 30th. Good Luck!