I fell in love, first with the concept of The Night of the Flood, and then the book when it came out in March. It’s interesting, unique, gripping, and in turn poignant and funny. I loved it so much I’m giving away a copy to one person who leaves a comment.
Alan Orloff, one of the contributors, interviews the two intrepid editors, E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen.
Alan Orloff: You two (Ed Aymar and Sarah M. Chen) should be commended, not only for the sterling end product, a buzz-generating novel-in-stories (THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD), but for surviving the task of editing/babysitting/torturing 14 thriller writers, all with mayhem on their minds. Let’s start at the beginning. Can you describe the genesis of this fascinating project?
E.A. Aymar: It was an idea originally proposed, in a different form, by J.J. Hensley. He, along with seven other writers in this book, regularly contributes to The Thrill Begins, and we had all become good friends and fans/supporters of each other’s work. He had the idea to do a joint collaboration on a project, and it morphed into THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD.
That said, J.J.’s a terrible person and we really don’t want his further association with this project. So Sarah and I kept his name off the cover, refused to give him credit, and you should probably just delete that preceding paragraph. Fine to keep this one, though. (Sherry here. For those of you who don’t know this crew — this is a joke and J.J. has a story in the book.)
AO: Getting fourteen writers all on the same page seems daunting. How did you manage it (without bloodshed or lawsuits)?
EA: Oh, we all weren’t on one page. That would have been a very short book.
AO: Ha ha, that was a good one.
EA: Anyway, we had a very loose outline to which everyone adhered, and the stories were split hourly. Writers were free to borrow elements from each other’s work and occasionally did, and that worked well turning an anthology into a novel. We did take pains to avoid repetition, more in word choice than theme. For example, there were a lot of references to the town name (Everton) and “The Daughters,” the group of women who blow up the town’s dam and instigate the rioting that night. We made sure to space those out.
AO: Getting two editors on the same page seems daunting. How did you manage that? Can you describe your east coast/west coast working relationship?
EA: First off, let me say that Sarah M. Chen is the best partner a co-editor can have. She’s thorough, funny, and razor smart. We paired up sort of incidentally, and she’s really an absolute dream to work with. And I don’t know how or why she puts up with my crap.
Regarding communications, we exploited all sorts of modern technology and went back and forth on texts, e-mails, vaped smoke signals, and (very rarely) phone calls. From ideas to editing to promotion, we ran stuff by each other and made sure we were on the same page. Safe to say that we’re both intensely proud of this book, and want to give it the best treatment possible.
AO: With fourteen different stories/writers, I imagine there were some significant continuity issues. How did you make sure the book flowed as a unified story?
EA: I kind of addressed that earlier, but I’ll add something to that earlier point. Having good writers makes editing so much easier. Good writers tend to be inventive, and the contributors did a great job of ensuring continuity on their own. And then Sarah’s sharp eye caught discrepancies like the position of the moon or the changing height of the water.
We approached this idea as a group, so we all, essentially, began at the same starting point. That was a huge, and unforeseen, help in unifying the concept.
AO: Publishing a book is more than just writing words, doing a few revision passes, and shipping it off to the publisher (the wonderful Down & Out Books). After it’s complete, there’s the “other” stuff: promotion, marketing, sales, making book trailers, collecting awards, enforcing restraining orders against disgruntled authors. Can you describe some of those efforts?
Sarah M. Chen: It was a collaborative effort from everyone as we pooled our ideas together on different ways to market and promote. One of the benefits of working with such experienced writers is that I learned so much. Normally I just go through the usual social media channels, but there’s so much more than that. Like the UrbanaAMA app. Ed and I answered questions about editing / writing an anthology via video and it was a blast. I’d never had a book trailer done before and thanks to Ed, we had our very own cool book trailer. I want to say that Ed was really good at organizing our promo efforts, generating ideas, and just getting us psyched about our little project. He was a great cheerleader. Other contributors promoted the book through their respective newsletters and did things like scavenger hunts. And I don’t want to forget Down & Out’s efforts. They did an incredible job sending out review copies to everyone, including Publisher’s Weekly, Foreword Reviews (they even made FLOOD a Book of the Day!), and Crimespree. D&O provided us with some awesome promo graphics to spread all over social media.
AO: What has been the response to THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD within the crime-fiction community, from both writers and readers?
SMC: It’s been amazingly positive so far and I’m grateful for every single review. The blurbs we received early on blew me away as well. (AO adds: From Lee Child – “A brave concept brilliantly executed.)
AO: A second book with a similar multiple-author novel-in-stories concept, THE MORNING OF THE KILLERS, is on the drawing board. A brief description, please? What lessons learned from FLOOD will you apply as you plan, edit, and promote it?
SMC: It’s a novel-in-stories so it’s similar in concept but it’s not a sequel. Contributors can use their FLOOD characters though if they’d like. We haven’t officially announced it and we’re still hashing it out but it involves a crime boss, infidelity, and bounty hunters. I’m really excited to be working with the same writers as well as new ones. And of course, co-editing with Ed again is a bonus. He really knows how to rally all of us together and spearhead a lot of the promotional efforts. I’m telling you, he’s our cheerleader.
We have more writers involved in this project, so Ed and I are cobbling together a loose outline after all of us agreed on the basic premise. From there, all the contributors will bounce ideas off each other and flesh out the storyline even further. Chris (Rhatigan) is a fantastic editor and we’re excited to be working with D&O again on this project. A perk working with so many writers is that there’s a good chance I’ll learn of some new platforms and ideas on promotion as I did with FLOOD.
AO: What other projects do you have on the horizon?
EA: The first half of this year has been all about THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD, chiefly in regards to promotions. I have a standalone coming out from Down and Out Books in March 2019, called THE UNREPENTANT, and Sarah and I are going back and forth on THE MORNING OF THE KILLERS. We haven’t officially announced it as of this writing, but Down and Out likes the concept and we’re set for a 2020 publishing date (with many of the same contributors as THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD, along with some new faces). And I have an essay coming out in the second UNLOADED anthology this July. And…oh, I guess that’s it.
SMC: I have a few short stories that are set to be released in upcoming anthologies, including MURDER A GO-GOS, edited by Holly West and released by Down & Out Books. All stories are inspired by song titles of The Go-Go’s. This is one I’m extremely proud to be a part of. All proceeds are to go to Planned Parenthood.
AO: Thanks for a great interview, Sarah and Ed, and stay dry!
Readers: Do you have a favorite theme (or hook) for a book or anthology?
Sarah M. Chen has published crime fiction short stories with Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, and Betty Fedora, to name a few. Cleaning Up Finn, her noir novella with All Due Respect Books, was an Anthony finalist and IPPY award winner. For more info, visit sarahmchen.com
In addition to The Night of the Flood, E.A. Aymar writes a monthly column for the Washington Independent Review of Books and is the Managing Editor of The Thrill Begins, ITW’s online resource for aspiring and debut thriller writers. He also runs the Noir at the Bar series for Washington, D.C., and has hosted and spoken at a variety of crime fiction, writing, and publishing events nationwide. He has never won an award, so let’s get on that. For more info, visit eaymar.com
Alan Orloff has been a finalist for the Agatha and Derringer Awards. His eighth novel, Pray for the Innocent, came out earlier this year. He’s published numerous short stories, including “Rule Number One,” which was selected for The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 anthology edited by Louise Penny and Otto Penzler. For more info, visit alanorloff.com
About THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD
“Each of the 14 varied and fitfully amusing stories in this solid anthology takes as its starting point the destruction of a dam and the subsequent flooding of Everton, PA. Aymar and Chen deserve kudos for putting together a distinctive anthology.” —Publishers Weekly
It happened the night Maggie Wilbourne was to be put to death, the first woman executed by the state of Pennsylvania in modern times. That was when a group of women passionately protesting Maggie’s imprisonment struck. They blew up a local dam, flooding the town of Everton and indirectly inspiring a hellish night of crime and chaos.
Fourteen of today’s most exciting contemporary crime writers will take you to the fictional town of Everton, with stories from criminals, cops, and civilians that explore the thin line between the rich and the poor, the insider and the outsider, the innocent and the guilty. Whether it’s a store owner grimly protecting his property from looters, an opportunistic servant who sees her time to strike, or two misguided youths taking their anger out against any available victim, The Night of the Flood is an intricate and intimate examination of the moment when chaos is released—in both society and the human spirit.
Contributors: E.A. Aymar, Rob Brunet, Sarah M. Chen, Angel Luis Colón, Hilary Davidson, Mark Edwards, Gwen Florio, Elizabeth Heiter, J.J. Hensley, Jennifer Hillier, Shannon Kirk, Jenny Milchman, Alan Orloff, and Wendy Tyson.
Praise for THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD:
“Plenty of complex characters and hard edges. Take a breath, then hang on and enjoy this entertaining romp.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author
“Bravo to all the authors who contributed to The Night of the Flood, a collection of brilliant short stories about residents of the dysfunctional town of Everton who are thrust into the turbulence of decisions that will forever change who they thought they were. A stormy page-turner that will leave you wanting more.” —Sandra Brannan, author of the award-winning Liv Bergen Mystery Series
“A brilliant, multi-leveled concept, Faulknerian in its structure. A novel in stories. Wow. Fourteen exciting crime writers create a rare three-dimensional mosaic of a doomed town and the night hell flooded through it. Terrifically exciting. Wonderfully inventive.” —David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Murder As a Fine Art
“A brave concept brilliantly executed.” —Lee Child, bestselling author of the Jack Reacher Series
“An impressive collection of stories from some of the most talented writers working in the crime genre today.” —BOLO Books Review