Geoff Brown is the editor of the popular SNAFU series of military horror anthologies. Geoff, who lives in central Victoria in Australia, was previously an editor with Midnight Echo magazine and President of the Australian Horror Writers Association. He took time out from his busy schedule as publisher and editor of Cohesion Press to talk to David Conyers about guns, special forces, horror and monsters.
What is the SNAFU series published by Cohesion Press?
SNAFU is the military horror anthology series I founded Cohesion Press to publish. The idea of a series of anthologies collecting the best (and the best writers) military horror shorts and novellas was something I always wanted to do. I love the genre, as it contains my two favourite genres, military fiction and horror, and I believe the two really work well together.
The first SNAFU is generalised, with no real theme apart from the one the name reflects. I gave the writers no direction apart from soldiers fighting monsters/supernatural threats. I left the interpretation of the horror aspect up to them, and just asked that each story contain military action and/or soldiers as protagonists or a main theme. I aimed it to set up the future releases, which I would narrow slightly to ensure that we didn’t get the same-old-same-old all the time (not that I could ever get tired of vanilla military horror, mind you).
I decided to source known writers, people with an established fan base, and ask for novellas (four or five for each SNAFU volume), and then open up submissions for short stories from the general writing public.
We release one major SNAFU each year, and two more that we spend slightly less on and release only as ebooks. The major releases are also available as signed/limited hardbacks.
Who are some of the authors in the books and gives us teasers of the tales they have contributed?
Ten years of networking has given me some major contacts in the horror scene. That includes a number of writers of action-heavy horror, which involves soldiers or ex-soldiers fairly often. For the series, I decided to reach out to these guys, to offer them a deal that (I hoped) was, literally, ‘too good to refuse’.
So far, in three published and two upcoming/contracted volumes, we’ve published novellas by:
Jonathan Maberry – A novella featuring his renowned ex-cop Joe Ledger, where a helicopter is shot down and Ledger and his team end up fighting a running battle against two groups, both of which seem to want to kill Ledger’s team. Only one group is of this world.
Weston Ochse – Wes wrote an original novella revolving around a secret government group in the 50s who fight supernatural forces that threaten the US. I asked Wes for a SEAL Team 666 novella, but the rights to the characters are sorta tied up right now, between the ongoing book series and the upcoming MGM movie starring (and directed by) Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Wes’ story was well-received by reviewers and readers, and he taken the same team of military investigators on a second adventure in the upcoming SNAFU.
James A Moore – I’ve known Jim for many years now, and have always loved his Jonathan Crowley character, the damaged and dangerous hunter of monsters and demons. I asked Jim for a Crowley story centred more in the military, and he gave me one set back in the US Civil War, where Crowley and his partner face down a cavalry unit and an ancient Indian cryptid at the same time.
Greig Beck – Greig’s bestselling books have been favourites of mine for many years. His novella is an epic tale that spans millennia and pits humans against creatures from the future. Very dark and dirty.
Jeremy Robinson & Kane Gilmour – Jeremy’s Chess Team series are some of the best books in the genre, and the sales they get reflects this. Jeremy worked with frequent collaborator Kane to get me a fantastic Chess Team novella that pits the black ops soldiers against some terrifying creatures of legend in the Gobi Desert.
S.D. Perry – Danelle has written some of the most iconic characters in the military horror world. Sometimes collaborating with her father, Steve Perry (not the singer), she has worked on film and game tie-ins such as Predator, Alien, and one of my favourite mythos ever, the Resident Evil game tie-ins. All of these focus on military or paramilitary fighting terrifying things, the very basis of military horror. Her tale in the upcoming SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest takes us back to the Korean War, where a MASH unit is overrun by a cultural legend with real bite.
We have many other writers in our anthologies, all of them top-notch whether they are renowned or not. As horrortalk.com said of the first SNAFU, “… every single story holds its own and it’s damn difficult to pick a standout as they all leave a mark.”
These are two genres that I love the most, so I naturally wanted to blend them into something totally awesome. I knew how well writers like Maberry, Ochse, and Robinson were doing with readers, so I hoped the SNAFU series would piggyback from their success and gain some traction from the fans of the big name authors I planned to solicit as contributors. It was a new way I saw to market, by taking advantage of established fanbases that already existed for the books and giving new writers a chance to be published alongside the industry greats, and gain fans of their own.
It certainly seems to be working.
Why is military horror a popular genre?
The idea of military science fiction and horror may seem like a fairly new genre, but it’s certainly not. Military writing has been around for as long as the written word, and likely for longer, although we only have a few surviving examples of such.
Beowulf and Odyssey are both examples of early recorded military speculative fiction, although I’m not sure they were designed to be this. The cultures of the time believed in the gods, and sometimes the monsters of early folk tales.
Who are some of your favourite military fiction authors and what is it about their work that appeals to you?
I’ve read many military books, both non-fiction and fiction. I love the special forces biographies and memoirs that have sprung up over the last fifteen years, such as those by Andy McNab and Chris Ryan. I enjoy Duncan Falconer, too, and Australian author Chris Allen writes a lively romp. I also read many straight-up stories of campaigns by the special forces, such as Black Hawk Down and Operation Certain Death, which outlined the first joint SAS/SBS/Paratrooper mission to rescue some hostages held by an African militia.
I read Tom Clancy when I was younger, but he was too dry for my tastes.
Who are some of your favourite horror fiction authors and what is it about their work that appeals to you?
I grew up reading King and Koontz, as well as Graham Masterton. Love them.
I enjoy Joe Hill a lot, and Robert R McCammon, who I discovered later in life.
Jack Ketchum is a brilliant writer of realist horror. I remember The Girl Next Door was the first book I needed a break from before I finished it. It was almost too much.
I like the subtle reality of Ketchum, and I like the broad canvas of King, especially his Dark Tower series, which I tend to read annually. I am a very diverse reader, so I read a lot of genres, including loving to revisit the books I grew up with, like The Hardy Boys, Willard Price’s Adventure series, and the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books.
Apart from more and more art (the next release has a full-page illo for each tale) the SNAFU series has also moved to slightly more focused themes now. After the first came SNAFU Heroes, containing four reprint novels from four big-name writers (Jonathan Maberry, James A Moore, Weston Ochse, and Joseph Nassise) featuring, for at least three of the stories, their most popular heroic characters.
Earlier this year we released SNAFU: Wolves at the Door, focused on tales of military horror featuring lycanthropes.
Next in line is the major work SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest, focused on survival horror, and we plan on following up later in the year with SNAFU: Hunters (think Dean & Sam Winchester, and Van Helsing, and other hunters of the supernatural), and SNAFU: Future Warfare, with a self-explanatory title.
Survival is already mostly put together, and the review copies are already going out. Future Warfare has a couple of writers already lined up, and after that we plan to release (not necessarily in this order):
- SNAFU: Creature Feature
- SNAFU: Blackpowder (pirates)
- SNAFU: Gunslingers
- SNAFU: Ninja
We see a big future in this series, with more and more loyal readers every release. We keep the prices low enough to be affordable, and hope that the series goes on for many years to come as a result of the high quality combined with affordability.