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RLK! EXCLUSIVE interview:

RLK! is delighted to be able to bring you this exclusive interview with Richard Chizmar, the man behind Cemetery Dance Publications - one of the best small publishing houses on the planet. Rich took time out of his busy schedule to talk with RLK!'s roving reporter, Randall Wiggins.

Richard Laymon Kills!: I would like to begin by thanking Richard for granting this interview.

For those of you who do not yet know who Richard Chizmar is, he created CEMETERY DANCE magazine. He followed this up with a line of high quality hardcover limited editions signed by the authors. He has also created a comic book entitled GRAVE TALES, adapting stories by some of today's best-loved horror writers.

Let's begin by having you tell us about the creation of Cemetery Dance Publications, including the magazine, comic book and hardcover book lines.

Richard Chizmar: I started the magazine back in the Summer of 1988. I was still in college at the time and had just recently started selling my short horror fiction to many of the small press magazines. At some point - shortly after discovering David Silva's wonderful magazine, THE HORROR SHOW - I decided to give my own magazine a crack. We started real slow and grew steadily over the years…and the rest is history.

As for the books…the same sort of thing happened. I was buying small press limited editions from Ziesing Books and Dark Harvest and Borderlands Books and I finally decided that I wanted to put some of my own personal favorite authors in hardcover, so why not start my own press? Plus I knew I had a real solid audience to market to because of the magazine.

GRAVE TALES, the comic book series, was created as a response to my desire to read more of the old-fashioned, pulpy, fun (but still spooky) horror comics. There was nothing else like that being published, so I figured we would have to try it ourselves!

RLK!: When did you first meet Richard Laymon and do you have any special memories of your time working with him? What led you to re-issue THE CELLAR as a limited edition?

RC: I never had the pleasure of meeting Dick Laymon, although we spoke on the telephone many dozens of times and I felt like I knew him as a close friend. Special memories? Too many to mention, really. I worked with Dick on everything from short stories to novellas to articles to screenplays ("The Hunt" in SCREAMPLAYS) to new and reprint novels - and it was ALL fun. We shared the same type of love and enthusiasm for this stuff…like two kids sitting on a fencepost with a couple of brand new comic books. He was one in a million, and I don't think I'll ever have a more enjoyable working relationship with an author.

THE CELLAR came about as the result of a single phone call. I called and asked if CD could start putting some of his novels in limited edition hardcover. We talked about THE MIDNIGHT TOUR (which he was finishing at the time) and we quickly decided that we would go back and re-release THE CELLAR and THE BEAST HOUSE simultaneously, then publish THE MIDNIGHT TOUR with a higher print run. Then, after a few more discussions, we decided that we would take the next decade or two and release ALL his books in limited edition hardcover!

RLK!: What can you tell us about FRIDAY NIGHT IN THE BEAST HOUSE and TRIAGE?

RC: FRIDAY NIGHT IN BEAST HOUSE is available right now and is a wonderful story. Very creepy, very suspenseful and dark as can be. It's on the short side (about 160 pages) with gorgeous interiors by Alan Clark and a great Clark cover that goes with the other covers he did for the series. It's a fitting conclusion to the series!

TRIAGE is a collection of novellas by Richard Laymon, Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum. Dick's novella (heck, it's really a short novel) is the title piece ("Triage") and takes place in an office high-rise building. Each story starts with a stranger walking into a place of business, pulling out a gun and opening fire…now just imagine what Laymon could do with that set-up!

RLK!: Are there any of Richard's other books you plan to re-issue, such as the uncut editions of THE WOODS ARE DARK, OUT ARE THE LIGHTS or RESURRECTION DREAMS?

RC: Yes, sir, as I stated above, we hope to publish ALL of Laymon's books in quality hardcover editions…not the standard, cardboard-bound, NY publisher quality…but nice cloth-binding, smyth-sewn, the kind of book his work deserves.

We are creating the "Richard Laymon Library" and plan to publish a couple books per year until we cover them all!

RLK!: I understand that you are editing a Laymon Tribute anthology, called IN LAYMON'S TERMS with Dick's daughter, Kelly, and the Webmaster of RLK!, Steve Gerlach. Can you let us in on where the project currently stands?

RC: Yes, we'll be officially announcing this project in early November, along with several other surprises! The anthology will indeed be co-edited by the three of us and will feature all sorts of Laymon-related material by numerous authors - short stories, articles, essays, interviews, photos, etc. It should be something very special!

RLK!: What other new Laymon projects do you have in the works that were close to completion when Richard passed away? I understand there is a chapbook offered when you buy a certain book or books, could you tell us about that?

RC: Let's see…the next couple books will be a short story collection entitled MADMAN STAN AND OTHER STORIES and the illustrated book, THE HALLOWEEN MOUSE - both of these titles will be announced soon. As for books we were discussing…there were too many of them to even talk about. We were always tossing around ideas for new projects and new adventures.

The title of the chapbook is TELL ME A TALE (a great story, one of Dick's best) and it's available to anyone who purchases three books from the Cemetery Dance website. Just be sure to mention the chapbook in the Additional Comments Section on the order form.

RLK!: Do you plan on expanding into the mass-market trade edition or paperback markets at any point? Do you plan to publish any first novels by new writers?

RC: Yes, we do plan to expand into the mass-market paperback market…in 2002. Stay tuned for more news on this!

As for new writers, we're always on the hunt for great material and when we find it from a brand new writer the excitement level is even higher. That's always been one of the most satisfying feelings…helping a new writer to find an audience. We will have a couple new writers on the 2002 list (which was announced in October).

RLK!: Concerning the CD Novella series - will you be continuing the line for the foreseeable future and what authors do you have slated for the coming months?

RC: Let's see, we have a novella from Graham Masterson coming in December, one from Ed Gorman a couple months later, and then novellas from David Niall Wilson and a few others later in 2002. Yes, this series will continue for a long time!

RLK!: There has been a lot of discussion among Laymon fans that are on the e-mail discussion list about the cover art for various CD titles, predominantly Richard Laymon's books. Have you considered offering a line of prints suitable for framing of the various covers? I know many people who would love to have a print of COME OUT TONIGHT among many others. My personal favorite Laymon CD cover is ONCE UPON A HALLOWEEN or THE BEAST HOUSE.

RC: Absolutely, those are some wonderful covers! We probably won't venture into the art print business anytime soon, but you can check out Alan Clark's website (he's the main artist for the Laymon books). You can purchase his prints at

RLK!: As a second part of the book cover art question, can you tell us about the person or people who do the art for you? Do you have a personal favorite cover or covers?

RC: We have a number of artists - a dozen or so - who do art for us, for both the magazine and the book imprint. Don't want to start mentioning names for fear that I'll leave someone out! As for favorites, I love the Halloween-oriented stuff the best, but that's just personal preference!

RLK!: One more question regarding the book and magazine lines, do you have a distribution agreement with any foreign book distributors or are you willing to ship internationally?

RC: Simply stated, I WISH we did…but we don't!

RLK!: On average, how often do you update the CD web site?

RC: Unfortunately, not often enough and that's been my fault (not enough hours in the day and all that stuff). But, in the future, we've made arrangements to have it updated at least once a month - plus we're adding a shopping cart feature, monthly columns, excerpts from the books we are publishing, etc. It's very exciting to think about the future of the website!

RLK!: Regarding Cemetery Dance Magazine, do you plan to go on a bi-monthly or remain with the quarterly publishing schedule?

RC: We actually ARE a bi-monthly magazine (don't laugh, I know we've been late!)…and now with the recent hiring of Bob Morrish, we've released three issues right on schedule, and are right on track for the future.

RLK!: Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to the Richard Laymon fans or the Cemetery Dance fans that are reading this interview?

RC: Just that we're going to keep trying to bring you all the best from Richard Laymon and all our other beloved authors. We'll keep trying to get better and better, so stay patient and stay with us for the ride!

RLK!: Rich, thanks for your time.

BH: Anytime.

Check out the latest releases from Cemetery Dance Publications at their website.
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