Recently I was lucky enough to interview both Armand Rosamilia and Jerry Benns about not only the release of State of Horror: New Jersey and State of Horror: Illinois, but also the future for the State of Horror Anthologies. Armand Rosamilia is the State of Horror anthology creator, and the successful author of the Dying Days series, Flagler Beach series, and many other titles including the upcoming novel Chelsea Avenue. Rosamilia previously published nine State of Horror anthologies before handing the reins over to author, editor, publisher Jerry Benns. Charon Coin Press was founded by Benns in 2014.
The State of Horror anthology features a book from each state of the United States, with 13 tales of terror specific to that particular state. The stories contain aspects unique to each state whether the aspect is setting, folklore, haunted places, or the culture of the state. The state plays a part in the story. In each of the State of Horror books a new Dying Days story from Rosamilia will be included. Charon Coin Press has just released the first two books in the newly re-launched series: New Jersey and Illinois, on August 26th. Both Rosamilia and Benns are excited about the recent release of State of Horror and here is what they have to say.
Charon Coin Press: What do each of you like best about the State of Horror anthologies?
Jerry Benns: State of Horror allows readers a chance to explore so many different settings and folklore. With the breadth of the platform, all 50 states, it also has the longevity to introduce many different authors to the readers.
Armand Rosamilia: State of Horror is a great concept (I may be biased) and it offers a chance for every author out there to find a state they wish to explore and write a dark story with that setting featured.
CCP: Each State of Horror book has twelve stories set in the state, with the thirteenth story being a new Dying Days story. So tell us why State of Horror and Dying Days fit so well together.
AR: As the creator of the Dying Days series, the ultimate goal would be to write a million stories that are then sold to readers, obviously. With State of Horror, I can explore new characters and put established characters in new settings and situations. Again the ultimate goal would be to have 50 Dying Days stories set in all 50 states, and I think it is quite possible.
JB: As a fan of Dying Days, I have always liked the idea of exploring different scenarios in the Dying Days world. Many of the stories in the series take place on the east coast, but through the State of Horror platform, we will get to see how the end impacted the other parts of the country and where the characters came from before they were led to Florida-the main setting for Dying Days.
CCP: Armand, when you started State of Horror, did you see the Dying Days world playing such a large role in it and Jerry, what do you believe the impact of Dying Days in State of Horror is?
AR: Not at all. In the original nine books I put out, I think I had three of my own stories in them but none of them were Dying Days stories. I had a couple of zombie tales I re-released as part of my “Zombie Tea Party” collection, but had no idea to write Dying Days stories for the State of Horror releases until Jerry and I started talking.
JB: As the editor for the first releases and a fan of Dying Days, it was fun to read the characters and the “Easter eggs.” I would message Armand to ask “Is this so and so?” or “How are you going to do this one?” It is an exhilarating place to be from an editors view point when you are just as excited as the reader are to see these new Dying Days stories.
CCP: With the plan of putting a new story in every State of Horror book, will the Dying Days characters overlap and will we be seeing a Darlene Bobich story in State of Horror?
AR: They already have in the first two releases, New Jersey and Illinois. Also one of the characters from the Illinois story ends up in the North Carolina story. As far as Darlene Bobich, Perhaps… she starts in Maine and works her way to Florida. In the prequel to Dying Days, “Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, “ she makes a few stops but the entire story of her journey is not even close to being written yet…
CCP: Armand, would you say you are pleased with the direction State of Horror is taking and is it easier for you to create stories in your Dying Days world?
AR: If I had even a sliver of a doubt Jerry Benns and Charon Coin Press couldn’t do a great job with the series, I wouldn’t have let him move it forward. I am really pleased to be able to see the State of Horror series get 100% attention and each release pain-stakingly released. It is always fun to write new Dying Days shorts.
CCP: Jerry, as editor of State of Horror, what do you look for in a good State of Horror story?
JB: As always, good storytelling. Each state has its own folklore, geography, and “feel,” which the stories should capture. I look for these elements in order to give readers a glimpse into the states and provide an entertaining experience.
CCP: Which states are you most looking forward to seeing released in the future? Could we get a hint of upcoming states? Armand are there states you would like to lobby for?
AR: All 50. But if I had to pick one (and now that New Jersey is out), I would say Florida next. Since my Dying Days series is mostly set in Florida, I can do a fun side story with the characters everyone knows if I want. I want to lobby to do all 50 states eventually. That was the original (and huge) concept and how this series started, so I’d love to see all of them done. That’s a lot of great stories…
JB: I agree, I am interested in seeing all 50, but I am looking forward to Louisiana. It is one of my favorite destinations inside the US to explore and I am looking forward to the readers getting a chance to see the side of it I do. In addition to a sneak peek, we have New Jersey and Illinois recently released. The next upcoming releases will be Louisiana and North Carolina, currently Tennessee with its rich folklore is open for submission. This week, we are announcing State of Horror: California to open for submission beginning October 1st. There are quite a few exciting things coming down the line for State of Horror. It will be a series which will explore many new avenues.
CCP: Aside from each book being in a different state, what do you believe sets State of Horror apart from other horror anthologies?
JB: There is a collectible aspect of the series. The books are broken into regions and will be released with different books from the different regions. Sort of like any collectible, you have to have the whole set. With the Dying Days stories in each one, the fans may not get a chance to discover the background stories on their favorite (or most hated) characters without collecting the State of Horror books.
AR: It is a unique concept, and will have a long shelf life because readers will hopefully buy the state they are in or from or have an interest in, love the stories and want to keep adding more. Completist readers will want the entire set of books and Dying Days completists will want to read every story as well.
CCP: You are both huge music fans, so if you could put together a soundtrack for each State of Horror book what bands would be on the soundtrack?
AR: Each release would have the top ten metal/hard rock/ rock bands known to or connected to the state…
JB: I agree about the bands on the soundtrack being associated with the state. New Jersey has a Bon Jovi feel (Keep it Jersey). But many of the stories almost have a feel or song playing themselves, depending on the action within the tale.
CCP: What do you see in the near future for State of Horror?
AR: I’m excited to see what other Dying Days stories I can come up with in the future. I already have a few ideas sketched out in my head for other states as well as characters I want to explore further or brand new characters to write about. Some are specific to a state, established characters you see in Florida came from somewhere… I try to give a glimpse into one part of their hazardous journey. On top of that, I want to read the other twelve stories in each State of Horror release too.
JB: State of Horror has a long road ahead of it and with it, Dying Days as well. The Dying Days story is the 13th story in each book and brings a consistent thread between the states. I truly cannot wait to see where the road leads and what stories we explore for each. Take a look at the first couple of stops along the way with New Jersey and Illinois.
State of Horror: New Jersey and State of Horror: Illinois are available now as well as the Dying Days series books 1-4 and prequel —Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer. Take a trip to the dark side around the country.