Things are getting spooky in Erie, Colorado. That's where near-native Josh Viola, seventeen-time award-winning author of The Bane of Yoto, now lives. Viola found himself frustrated by the commercialization of publishing -- so frustrated, in fact, that he set out to change the way authors are treated, launching Hex Publishers, an Erie-based independent press dedicated to publishing mainstream-quality literature. With the help of co-founder and longtime Colorado resident and bookseller Dean Wyant, Hex has already announced that it will release a horror anthology, Nightmares Unhinged, this fall with a notable lineup of award-winning, bestselling authors.
Hex was created "by writers, for writers," as Viola puts it. Through his own experiences, Viola quickly learned that today's publishing industry isn't exactly rigged for writers. "It's such a commercialized machine," he says. And self-publishing isn't much better, he continues, noting that it's an oversaturated market.
Enter Hex: a place where good writers can come for indie treatment and big-house professionalism. The company launched Viola's novella, "Luna One," last month as "a test to get Hex up and rolling," Viola explains.
Hex's next installment is a blood-curdling anthology featuring eighteen tales of dark and twisted fiction written by a roster of award-winning and bestselling authors, working in genres ranging from science fiction to dark fantasy and mystery. Basically, Viola and Wyant will be publishing the stuff they like to read and write. "We are doing what we know, and we're doing it right," Viola explains.
"We've got some really big hitters in our first anthology," he continues, listing such contributors as Mario Acevedo, bestselling author of the Felix Gomez vampire series; Nebula Award winner Edward Bryant, New York Times bestseller Keith Ferrell, Jeanne C. Stein, bestselling author of The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles; and Bram Stoker Award winners Steve Rasnic and Melanie Tem.
Many of the authors are local -- including, of course, Viola, who contributed three stories under his name and two more under his penname, JV Kyle, a collaborative name he uses with Keith Ferrell.
In line with Hex's writer-centric mission, Viola says his authors will receive extensive editing services, advances, above-average pay rates and may even see their stories enhanced with artwork, animated games and music.
"This is the process that the traditional publishing world use to operate by, and it has sort of gone," Viola says. "Our goal from the very beginning was to put writers first while providing them with the tools and support they need to churn out top-notch fiction."
For writers, Hex is a breath of fresh air. Heller, who is contributing a short story to Nightmares Unhinged, likes the idea of working with a small, local press. "It's been a very professional and pleasant experience working with them," he says. "I got my start writing for local publications, so it makes complete sense for me to contribute to a locally-published horror anthology."
Another point of distinction at Hex is the cover art, which will never be stock thanks to Viola's background in art. When the author released The Bane of Yoto, he was working as the art director at Leviathan Games. In that capacity, he made connections in the comic world; he eventually plans to add comics to Hex's repertoire.
Hex acquired the rights to The Bane of Yoto and its prequel, Bloodmoon: Birth of the Beast, written by Ferrell. Both will be released by Hex in 2016. Other forthcoming projects include a mystery anthology. For more information, visit Hex's website.
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