David Bernstein is one of the hardest working, ass kicking, most likeable horror authors in our business. He’s armed with a crazy amount of originality and fearlessness. He’s uber-talented and more motivated by his craft than anyone I know.
His latest release, his short story collection, A Mixed Bag of Blood (Sinister Grin Press, 2016), is an excellent collection and perfect platform to showcase his immense talents and wild imagination. Check out my review: A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD
We recently got a chance to chat…check it out.
Glenn Rolfe: Hey David, thanks for doing this.
Let’s start off with A Mixed Bag of Blood. Great title and totally appropriate. You bring the crimson pain when you need to, and I love that these stories vary from one another quite a bit. A truly nice mix. What got you wanting to do the collection? Were these tales hanging around or did you pound out 10 shorts with this in mind?
DAVID BERNSTEIN: The collection came about after John Foley—the short fiction and novella acquisitions editor for Thunderstorm Books at the time—contacted me. He’d read some of my work and asked if I had a novella or enough short stories to put together a collection for possible publication with Thunderstorm Books. Since I had a number of previously published shorts over the years, many having only seen print before the e-book explosion, I put together the collection. I purposely wanted something that might appeal to a wide audience. Something for everyone. They liked it and I was thrilled to get my stories out there and published with such a great company. Then, Sinister Grin Press published the paperback and e-book and added an introduction by Kristopher Rufty. Both covers complement each other wonderfully too!
GR: I loved a number of them. Eaten Un-Alive and Samurai Zombie Killer come to mind. Can you take me through those two a bit? What inspired them, what past mind warps may have stuck them in that brain of yours?
DB:: Eaten Un-Alive had been sitting on my computer’s hard drive for four years before it finally found a home in Scarlett Galeon’s anthology Dead Harvest. I had written it at a time when the zombie genre was exploding. I wrote and published a number of zombie tales and wanted to mix up genres. What if vampires existed and a zombie apocalypse wiped out their food supply? But I had nowhere to publish it so it sat collecting dust. Anthologies either wanted zombie-only tales or vampire-only tales or no zombies, vampires, or werewolves at all, so it sat. Then one day I was contacted by Mark Parker who was putting together the excellent Dead Harvest Anthology, and I sent him Eaten Un-Alive since it takes place in the country. Lucky for me he liked it so it finally found a home.
As far as Samuari Zombie Killer . . . I’ve always loved watching Kung Fu movies—the Shaw Brothers films being my favorite—and ninja movies like Revenge of the Ninja, Prey for Death, and American Ninja. I also studied martial arts for years—Karate, Aikido, Kung Fu, and Tai Chi. After writing a number of “regular” zombie stories I came across an anthology call looking for historical zombie stories. So I started with a Samurai and that’s how the story came to be.
GR: Were there any specific collection by another author that you love? And maybe you can give us some of your favorite short stories by other authors.
DB: I’ve read so many anthologies over the years it’s really difficult to say. I would read any antho or short story collection that contained stories from Leisure authors. Besides that, I think some of my favorites are the Dark Delicacies anthologies, anything by King. I studied Thomas Mann, Raymond Carver, Phillip Roth and a slew of others. As an English major, I read a ton of short stories.
GR: You work for so many publishers. How does Sinister Grin compare to the others. Is there anything they do specifically that makes you smile when you get to work with them?
DB: I consider myself very lucky. I haven’t had a bad situation with a publisher yet. Well, the Samhain thing is happening, but it’s too early to really go one way or another with that. As far as Sinister Grin, they’ve been all I could ask for and more. They are so accommodating. Communication is super fast. They make sure the author is not just satisfied but happy and fulfilled. They really make me feel like they want me with them. Their editing is wonderful and their artwork is top-notch quality. I’d say if someone has the chance to work with them, go for it. You will thank me later.
GR: I interviewed Krist Rufty. Even he is intimidated by your massive output. That’s some serious writing machine shit. What is your typical work week like when it comes to writing and work. Do you go to the day job and then hit the notebook after dinner? Does Sandy get you at knife point and demand you get to it?
DB: I have my day job Mon-Fri, and I’m fortunate that I can write a lot during it. I also write at home before work, but not as much as I used to since I can write at work. I get home around 12:15 a.m. so I watch TV and spend time with Sandy then. I don’t write on weekends except for maybe a little on Sunday morning. I was struggling for a while a few months ago. My output was small. I spent time writing short stories for anthos and after seeing A Mixed Bag of Blood come to fruition it got my juices flowing again. Sandy has been super supportive, always making sure I get my writing done, and she always makes sure to proofread and edit my work. Damn I scored big in the partner department!
GR:I’m working my way (slowly) through your back catalog (which sounds funny since you haven’t been writing all that long). Goblins really stands out for me. Like your short stories, the characters are engaging instantly, and your imagination, man, it’s impressive. Where did Goblins come from and how much frigging fun was this one to write?
DB: One day I got the idea that I wanted to write a book about trolls or goblins, but not in the typical fantasy genre. I’ve always loved Dungeons and Dragons books, games and movies, as well as other fantasy novels—Drizzt books being my favorite. So let’s use traditional fantasy creatures in a strictly horror novel. I wrote a synopsis involving a troll but it was all over the place and complicated, so I moved on to Goblins. I wanted to write something scary involving fierce, small creatures. Nasty critters. But how to make it different? I’ve always loved the whole Roanoke story and figured hey, why not go there? So I did some investigating and what would you know—it was goblins that caused all the chaos! With Goblins I decided it was going to be simply a fun, gory monster book and I hope I succeeded at that!
GR: Out of the works you have out there right now, do you appreciate or have a warm fuzzy feeling for one or two more than the others? Obviously, you love them all, but is there a couple that make you smile wide?
DB: I love all my children equally! But if I was forced to choose . . . I’d say Amongst the Dead and Witch Island. Amongst the Dead because it’s a coming of age tale and an adventure. I love those types of tales best. I really connected with the main character Riley. Witch Island because I love the slasher genre and it entails a mix of shows I watch. Witch Island is like Pretty Little Liars meets Friday the 13th meets Fallen. I could sit and watch the most simplistic slasher film and never be bored. It was a lot of fun to write.
GR: I will be attending Scares That Care III with you and some of our Samhain brethren in July. That should be a blast. Anything you’re looking forward to there? Anyone you can’t wait to meet?
DB: I’m truly looking forward to meeting readers and meeting up with friends. Last year was a lot of fun. It’s great just talking with everyone. Whenever I get together with like-minded writers anything can happen and the fun never stops—until Sunday. Then it’s like a tire deflating. Ugh, the ride home. But I’m looking forward to meeting so many of the guests, including William Zabka, William B. Davis, and Bob Gunton to name a few.
GR: Obviously we’re on a wait and see mission with The Blue Demon…we won’t go there. What else is in the pipeline right now?
DB: Let’s hope that goes well for us. Moving on . . . Episodes of Violence is a novel coming out from Sinister Grin Press. It’s a revenge tale that deals with a group of really bad teens that have turned mailbox baseball into human baseball as they drive around with machetes, bats, axes, crossbows, etc. trying to take out joggers, bicyclists, and the like. Then there’s Retch coming from Bizarro Pulp Press, a novella about a man who is cursed to puke every time he has sex. The Sludge is a long novella coming from Great Old Ones Publishing. It’s B-movie material and involves a bank robbery, campers, a National Forest in Montana, toxic waste being dumped, and a monster. It’s got everything.
GR:Thanks again for sitting down with me, sir.
DB: It was my pleasure.
A Mixed Bag of Blood synopsis
- Print Length: 86 pages
- Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
- Publication Date: March 1, 2016
From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.
This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.
Biography of David Bernstein
David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.
Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood
“Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you’ll want to read. With an introduction by Kristopher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did.” –Cat After Dark
Praise for David Bernstein
“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight
“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure
“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.” —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden
“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift
Check out Sinister Grin Press