Today I'll be interviewing Loren Rhoads, who is the publisher/editor of the upcoming book I've been talking about for the past few weeks, "Death's Garden Revisited." We'll start with a biography, followed by a blurb about the upcoming book, and closing with the interview questions themselves. And obviously you'll see some of the covers of her other books scattered throughout. Plus, the Kickstarter campaign for "Death's Garden Revisited" is active until April 16th. Enjoy!
Loren Rhoads is the editor of Death’s Garden: Relationships
with Cemeteries and Death’s Garden Revisited. She was the editor of Morbid
Curiosity magazine and the book that grew out of it, Morbid Curiosity Cures the
Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual. She’s the
author of a space opera trilogy, a short story collection called Unsafe Words,
two memoirs – This Morbid Life and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery
Travel – and a travel guide called 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. See
what she gets up to at https://lorenrhoads.com.
Death’s Garden Revisited’s blurb:
The book Death's Garden Revisited collects 40 powerful
personal essays — accompanied by full-color photographs — to illustrate why
people visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from
Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of
relationships between the living and those who have passed before.
Genealogists and geocachers, travelers and tour guides,
anthropologists, historians, pagan priestesses, and ghost hunters all venture
into cemeteries in these essays. Along the way, they discover that cemeteries
don't only provide a rewarding end to a pilgrimage, they can be the perfect
location for a first date or a wedding, the highlight of a family vacation, a
cure for depression, and the best possible place to grasp history. Not to
mention that cemetery-grown fruit is the sweetest.
1) What is your current
work in progress?
At the moment, I’m wrapped up in editing Death’s Garden
Revisited. Most of the essays are edited and ready to go, but there are a few
more to go over. Backers to the Kickstarter funded two additional essays, so I’ll
need to commission those. I need to pull together the photographs and finish my
introduction before I turn everything over to the book designer. I’m excited to
see the whole book assembled.
Once I finally hand that off, I’m editing a book for Wily
Writers called Tales of Nightmares. It’s going to be an anthology of horror
short stories. I’ve got stories by Lisa Morton, Angel Leigh McCoy, E.S. Magill,
and Jennifer Brozek already. That book will be out in July.
2) What is your favorite
I’m trying to create a cocktail now. It’s called the Ghost
of Lone Mountain Cemetery. Lone Mountain Cemetery used to take up the middle of
San Francisco, where I live. That graveyard was renamed Calvary because people
thought Lone Mountain sounded really lonely and uninviting. Calvary Cemetery
was removed in the early 20th century and replaced by the University
of San Francisco. I’ve heard that bones they missed removing continued to wash
up through the soil for years.
The cocktail is a combination of St. George Gin, crème de
mure, and crème de violette, with a big skull-shaped ice cube in it.
3) What do you do to break
a case of writer’s block?
I switch to writing longhand in a notebook. There’s
something about feeling the words flow through my arm to my pen that shakes things
loose for me, better than sitting at a keyboard.
4) Have you had any
negative fan experiences, such as cyber stalking or the like?
I think I’ve been really lucky. All my fans are lovely
5) What’s your stance on
reviews of your work? Do you ignore them, read every one, obsess over them?
When The Dangerous Type came out – the first book in my
space opera series – I read every review. I used some of the commentary as
jumping-off points for the essays I wrote for the blog tour. Since then, I’ve
decided that reviews usually tell more about their authors than they do about
the books under review. I’ll glance them over from time to time, but I don’t
pore over them anymore. Reviews aren’t intended for authors. They’re meant for
6) How do you handle
rejection from magazines and publishers? Do you have any particularly funny or
unprofessional rejections to share?
For a while I was trying to get 100 rejections a year. I
made it a contest and gave myself a prize every time I got 10 rejections. It
took the sting out of it and forced me to keep sending things out without
agonizing too much. When Emerian Rich and I made our Spooky Writers Planner, I
asked her to design a rejection chart. It’s like a gameboard.
7) Do you usually do a lot
of research before you start a project?
Way too much.
8) What are your feelings
about your earliest stories? Do you feel they still hold up, or are you a bit
embarrassed by them?
There are a couple of early pieces that were published, but
I’ve let them vanish. I’m not embarrassed by them, but they’re not up to the
standards I hold myself to now. Some of my other early stories went into Unsafe
Words. I’m still proud of those pieces.
9) What pieces of advice
would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep at it. Writing is a long game.
10) What’s your writing
history? Did you start as an adolescent, or was it later? And then how long did
it take before you started submitting your work?
I wanted to study creative writing in college, but my
parents talked me into journalism instead, so I’d have a “marketable skill”
instead of an English degree. After I graduated, I spent a summer at the
Clarion Science Fiction Workshop (as it was called then). That convinced me to
start submitting my short stories professionally.
11) What’s your
post-writing process? Do you edit extensively? Do you use beta readers or
When I’m writing fiction, I write things all out of order,
then piece them together. That way a lot of the revision goes into a book
before I consider it finished enough to show to people. Then I have a couple of
close friends who read my work. I don’t really think of them as beta readers,
but that’s what they are, I guess. For the last couple of books, I’ve paid a
copyeditor. There have been a couple of pieces I’ve run past sensitivity
readers. I guess the process varies, depending on the subject matter.
12) How much of your work
is based on your personal experiences, such as work, relationships, and so on?
I’m not sure what the percentage is, but it feels like a
13) Do you have any writing
rituals, such as doing it at a regular time every day, or writing in public
places, or while listening to music?
In the Before Times, I used to drop my kid off at school
every morning and go write in a café for an hour or two. Now I have writing
zooms every morning and afternoon with various groups. I work for at least 5-6
hours a day writing, editing, and managing the business. I like the rhythm of
writing at the same time every day. Having a schedule keeps me from feeling
guilty when I take time away from my desk.
14) How has the COVID-19
pandemic affected you, both writing-wise and in general?
Since my kid has a chronic illness, we’ve kept to a really
strict isolation for the last couple of years. I just started walking around my
neighborhood in January, but I keep my mask on all the time, even when I’m alone.
I would feel terrible if I ever brought anything home to her, especially since
we think her health problems were started by a virus when she was in elementary
So I’ve done everything online for the last couple of years:
given readings, met with my local HWA group, co-worked with other writers,
hosted happy hours, attended conventions… Thank goodness for the internet, or I
would have been really lonely.
15) You’ve been a writer, editor, and publisher. Which
of these is your favorite? And has serving as the latter two changed you as a
I still want to grow up to be a novelist, but the nonfiction
I’ve written makes more money. I love editing, but it hasn’t been as lucrative.
Still, it’s really rewarding to help a writer make their work the best it can
be. Being a publisher is my least favorite part. The business isn’t fun for me.
It just allows me to have the control I want over the other aspects.
16) As an editor/publisher, what’s the most
unprofessional and/or crazy experience you’ve had with a writer, or submitter?
When the final issue of Morbid Curiosity magazine came out,
one of the first-time contributors pitched a fit about seeing her essay in
print. She had already rewritten it several times after I accepted it. Once the
essay was edited and set in design, I told her she couldn’t “fix” it anymore. She
had to call it done and move on. After her contributor’s copy arrived, she told
me she wanted to get ahold of all the copies of the magazine so she could tear
her essay out of it. To be honest, it just underlined my decision to stop
publishing the magazine with issue number 10. I’d lost patience with people’s
drama after 10 years.
So I'd like to thank Loren for stopping by, and giving us some more information about "Death's Garden Revisited," and about her life and career in general. Still more info about this book to come!