1. Welcome, Giovanni. The name of this anthology certainly is unique. Where did the idea for One Star Reviews of the Afterlife come from?
The title “One Star Reviews of the Afterlife” came from a crazy comment I made during a dinner party. For some reason, one of my guests felt the need to cross that line of discussing ‘money, politics or religion’ in mixed company. Said guest made the mistake of taking a strong stance against organized religion to defend their choice of being an atheist and it was really bringing the party down. I tried to steer the conversation back to something lighter but they wanted to dig in. After a minute long diatribe about people betting so much on an afterlife they had no proof of, I said, “Too bad they don’t have an app for that. Like Yelp! For the hereafter! That would be the best selling app ever.” Everyone laughed and the discussion turned to just what kinds of afterlives might get a one star review. From there, a theme was born. FYI, about almost all of the ideas from the party were submitted by someone during the reading period.
2. What's the hardest part of putting together an anthology like this?
Reading bad submissions. I’m a little more forgiving about proofing than most editors, having lived half my life with an undiagnosed learning disability, but bad stories and unlikable characters are unforgivable.
And then there are the unfunny stories. I try not to take the unfunny ones poorly. I understand humor is a subjective thing and what makes one person laugh might offend someone else. Still, if the story just doesn’t seem like it was even trying to be funny or it’s just a 5000 word lead up to a bad punch line, I get a little miffed.
3. What's the best part of putting together an anthology like this?
I love working with new authors. Finding a great story by an unpublished author and helping them get their name in print is very satisfying.
I’ve also been known to work with them if the story is close to ready.
4. I understand you have a couple of stories included in this anthology. Can you tell us a bit about them?
I have two stories in each anthology, the first one and the last one. Not that my ego is out of control by being the alpha and the omega of each collection.
My first story in this one is The Accidental Rapture. It was very fun to write because I got to work out my frustrations from my long career in I.T with that one. I hope I was fair by mocking the end users and the IT people evenly. My biggest struggle with the story was keeping the tech references in check. I wanted them to be difficult to follow for a laymen but not impossible.
The other one is called Tort Reform for the Devil. This one grew out of my love of the classic deal with the devil story. I’ve seen a few recently that have tried to update it and bring the concept into the modern era but I’m always stuck on all of the things they don’t address like how modern technologies fit into the process or how things like depression or pharmaceutical fit into the signing process. If someone signs a contract in the real world with an undiagnosed mental condition, a lawyer can have that contract invalidated because the signer was mentally incapable at the time of the signing. Does the Devil have trouble with this? You think it would come up, right? Who in their right mind would sign a deal with the Devil anyway?
5. What's next for Strange Musings Press?
Of course, we’ll be putting out another Alternate Hilarities edition next year. I haven’t decided on a theme just yet. I’m leaning towards the Apocalypse/Dystopia. I have the sub-title “Not your Mama’s Apocalypse!” stuck in my head but there’s still time for that to change. I have a few ideas for an “end of days” story myself and I’m looking forward to seeing submitters take shots at the Hunger Games or Divergent. Plus, I have a story to reprint from the old series called “The Last Man Alive”, so it will fit the theme.
Beyond that, I would love to get a line of humorous speculative fiction novels underway. It was part of the plan when I started Strange Musings Press. I’ve been holding off because I just don’t have the funding to be sure I can do it right.
6. Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am working on a full length novel now. It’s a humorous science fiction epic called Happy Birthday to the Galaxy. It’s about a high level government bureaucrat that gets thrown to the wolves during a global coup. He’s forced to live by his wits and the apps on his smart phone to avoid taking the fall for the gross corruption in his government. I’ve finished the first draft of that and I’ll be working on the second next month. I hope to be sending that out by July or August. I should be shopping it around later this year. If no one is interested, it might turn into Strange Musings Press’ debut novel.
As you shuffle off this mortal coil, many things will go through your mind. Will you be remembered well? Did you live the best life you could? Did you leave the iron on? And most importantly, did you remember to delete your browser history recently? But the big question that will finally hit you full on, is there something after all of this? And if so, will it suck? If only Yelp! had a category for the afterlife.
Here is a collection of humorous tales of the afterlife that covers the I.T. woes of Heaven, the dangers involved in using out-of-date occult tools, the perils of not saving appropriately for the hereafter, the shock of finding out that not every good deed will get you through the pearly gates and the cold hard fact that paradise just isn’t for everyone.
So go to the light at your own peril.
It could be life everlasting, or it could be an oncoming train.
List of Authors involved:
Steve Billings * Ben Boyd, Jr. * Dani J Caile * Ross Clement * John Wayne Comunale * Desiree Delong * Preston Dennett * John H. Dromey * Ken Goldman * Larry Hinkle * Carl R. Jennings * Anne E. Johnson * J.J. Jordan *Daniel M. Kimmel * Ken MacGregor * Stephan P Mount * Columbkill Noonan* William Presley * Michael M. Rader * Holly Riordan * Rie Sheridan Rose *Edward R. Rosick * Amy Sisson * Giovanni Valentino * Stephanie Vance *Randy Whittaker * Tiffany Michelle Brown * E. M. Sole * Wayne Via * Hillary Lyon * TR Clark * Laura Thurston * Joe Mogel * Jerome W. McFadden *David Elliott
ABOUT THE EDITOR:
Giovanni Francesco Valentino has struggled at the art of writing for four decades against many demons like self-doubt, chronic depression, OCD and severe dyslexia. He has written a few memoir pieces about his struggles going undiagnosed for more than half his life as well as almost a dozen humorous speculative fiction short stories. His long-term goal is to become such a famous science fiction and fantasy author that other people want to write fan fiction in his worlds.
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