There is little I enjoy more than spreading the word about my favorite writers and sharing in the excitement of upcoming books.
On the 23rd August Grey Matter Press will release I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD; A collection of novellas that all use the same title, but come from 5 very different voices that lurk in the darker corners of fiction. One of those authors is John F.D. Taff, a writer whom I have a great deal of time for due to his wonderful books. John’s work first came to my attention when I was lucky enough to win a copy of his collection THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS, also published by Grey Matter Press. THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS is a collection of emotional horror that is still among my favorite books released in the past few years. Since then I have followed John’s work with keen interest. His most recent releases have come in the form of the novella THE DESOLATED ORCHARD (I reviewed that here (link) and the short story CARDS FOR HIS SPOKES, COINS FOR HIS FARE which is featured in the latest anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing called GUTTED: BEAUTIFUL HORROR STORIES.
John was kind enough to speak with me and tell me all about I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD. Enjoy!
BtB: Thanks for stopping by, John. Can you tell us a little about the title of the book? Where did it come from and who came up with the idea to write a series of novellas around the title?
Sure, Adrian. Thanks for having me, and double thanks for being a supporter and fan. It’s very much appreciated.
I Can Taste the Blood came about after I saw those words scrawled onto the wall of a dive bar bathroom in St. Louis. I loved the weird phrase so much that I mentioned it to another writer friend of mine, Joe Schwartz. We thought it was so cool that we both wanted to write something using it. After kicking it around a little, we thought it would be great to have a couple of writers all work with it as a title. And thus, I Can Taste the Blood.
BtB: Were the other writers hand-picked by you or did you go through the traditional route of putting out a submission call?
No submissions here. Once Joe and I had the idea, I took it to two other guys I know whose writing I admire—Erik T. Johnson and J. Daniel Stone. I was looking for a mix of voices that would be completely different, because that was what Joe and I thought would be the strength of the project. Five unique voices all approaching novellas from five wildly different views, all with the same title. I’d also recently met Josh Malerman, and we hit it off. So, I took a chance that he’d have time in his crazy schedule to write something for this. And that, too, paid off.
I think what we came up with is really different from what else is out there. Nothing, absolutely nothing ties these five disparate stories together except the title. And we’ve got everything from high weirdness to transgressive to a kind of Biblical noir story.
BtB: I really like the concept of this book; one title – 5 unique voices. Is this something you would like to do again in the future?
Absolutely! It’s been a blast working with Joe, Erik, Dan and Josh—not to mention Tony and Sharon at Grey Matter—on this. And, who knows, we might have ideas for a follow-up should this catch on with readers.
BtB: You must be happy working with Grey Matter Press again, one of my favorite publishers. Tell me, how did Anthony and Sharon at GMP become involved in the book?
I am deliriously happy with Grey Matter. Their work is phenomenal, from layout and design to who they choose to work with. There are literally only a handful of publishers I’d work with these days, and Grey Matter continues to occupy the No. 1 spot on that list.
How did Tony become involved in I Can Taste the Blood? Well, I sent him a note when Joe and I had pinned things down, to see if he was interested or if we needed to shop the idea around. I guess you can tell what his answer was.
BtB: You are taking on editing duties alongside Anthony Rivera on this project. Is this the first time you have co-edited a book?
Yep. I asked for it, and Tony readily agreed. I thought that since the idea kinda started with me, I felt a certain responsibility, an obligation to see that the final product retained that spark that Joe and I saw in it from the beginning. So, in terms of who got the invites and what the parameters were, that seemed like an editorial job to me. But it was really more curating than anything else. I wanted some things…like an afterword where each author talks about his piece. I wanted them to also tell the reader what the titles of their pieces would have been if we hadn’t imposed the group title on all the pieces. Stuff like that.
Thankfully, Tony and Sharon really apply a collaborative approach to what they do, so working with them was incredibly easy. I’ve got a lot of experience working with them over the last several years. They’ve published my work in the Bram Stoker-Award nominated Dark Visions, Vol. 1, Ominous Realities, Death’s Realm, Savage Beasts, Dread, and, of course, my Bram Stoker-Award Nominated novella collection The End in All Beginnings.
BtB: Was there any specific direction you wanted the stories to go in or did you give the other writers’ free reign to do as they please?
Nope, no direction other than to take the title, I Can Taste the Blood, and write what it spoke to them. I wanted vast differences in the tone, style, voice, direction, whatever. Everything. And that’s exactly what we got.
BtB: The first thing I thought of when I heard about this book was Vampires! But I have a feeling that would be too obvious. What can readers expect from I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD?
Ugh…I mean, hah. I mean…sigh. No vampires. Can’t say that the big horror tropes hold that much interest for me. I have doubts that I’ll ever read another truly great vampire take in my lifetime, but who knows? There are always voices out there we haven’t heard from yet.
But, no, no vampires, and really, as I think on the stories, nothing that any reader is going to expect. The stories come at you from every direction except the expected ones. We’ve got Josh’s kind of Biblical noir story. A lush, decadent, gory horror tale from Dan. A transgressive piece wherein bad things happen to bad people from Joe. Erik contributes his patented phantasmagorical horror. And my offering is a look at what might be killing Smalltown, U.S.A.
BtB: There has been quite a buzz around this book, with Twitter handles, readings from the book posted on YouTube etc. I get the feeling that you really believe that you are onto something very special. Can you tell the readers exactly where they can find out more about I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD?
I think it is special, and the other guys and I and Grey Matter are excited for readers to get a taste. We’ll have a lot going on between now and the August 23rd release date. But people can go to ICanTastetheBlood.com or follow us on Twitter at @ThisBookBleeds for more information. The website is particularly interesting, because we update it at least once a week with content from each of the five authors.
BtB: What else can we expect from John F.D. Taff for the rest of 2016 and beyond?
Well, it’s been a busy summer. In addition to I Can Taste the Blood, I’ve had stories in Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward’s Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Alessandro Manzetti’s The Beauty of Death and Pete Kahle’s Not Your Average Monster Vol. 2. Cutting Block Books also brought out my freestanding novella “The Desolated Orchard” in late June. All of these pieces seem to be making a splash.
Looking further out, I have some projects I’m working on right now. Trying to finish a novel that I swear might be the death of me. Hopefully that’ll be out in 2017. I’m also putting together a short story collection for late next year, since that will mark the five-year anniversary of my successful collection Little Deaths. Also charting out a new novella collection to follow up The End in All Beginnings. And I’m sure I’m forgetting other stuff.
Many thanks for your time, John. I Can Taste the Blood will be released by Grey Matter Press on August 23rd. You can pre-order it from Amazon here.
I will be reviewing I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD over at Ginger Nuts of Horror later this month, so stay tuned for that!
In the meantime you can find out more about I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD by visiting:
Follow on Twitter @ThisBookBleads
‘Like’ the Facebook page here.
Find out more about the works of John F.D. Taff.
Listen to John read from I Can Taste the Blood here.