This time, the spotlight falls on my friend and my publisher, noted author, occult researcher and Dark Moon Press CEO Eric Vernor. Eric’s a kind and fascinating individual with a broad range of writing interests and an unbeatable work ethic. Welcome to Portals and Pathways, Eric!
- How did you get started writing? Do you have any specific literary influences?
I started writing back in 2004 with Embracing the Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures, when I interviewed people of different alternative lifestyles, like Goths, witches, Satanists and other interests like modern primitives, black metal enthusiasts and BDSM. This was in part to dispel misconceptions that ‘different than normal’ was evil, as a guide for parents, teachers and law enforcement in order to understand the people they might encounter in their careers and also partly a historic reference for those in the culture to better know the particulars of their own background. It took off and I kept researching and writing other dark genres, like the paranormal, vampire history and other related topics.
My literary influences are Gavin Baddeley, who wrote Goth Chic and Lucifer Rising: A Book of Sin, Devil Worship and Rock’n’Roll, because he tackles similar themes in a journalistic fashion. Other influences of mine are Michelle Belanger of The Psychic Vampire Codex, and the fiction series Conspiracy of Angels. I am a big fan of Rosemary Ellen Guiley also.
- Do you have a process for researching a topic for a new book?
Since the vast majority of my work is academic research or ‘dark sociology’, I typically start with an introduction relating my own reason for having an interest in the topic, then I begin with the oldest known reference to the subject and bring it forward into modern popular culture, while citing various books for citations of my facts and in order to bring it down to a relatable level , I make mention of contemporary films for my reader to connect the with the material.
- When did you have the idea for starting a publishing company of your own, and what do you think are the advantages of that versus publishing with someone else’s company?
It sort of happened by accident. I didn’t want the stigma of its time period in being a ‘self-published hack’ because I didn’t want an editor’s mighty red pen to strike out one of my interviewees section, so to keep my material mine, I created an imprint called Dark Moon Press. An early mentor, author and now dear friend named Michelle Belanger designed the logo so it would look like a publisher put it out. It became successful and I kept writing, which eventually attracted more authors. Now in twelve years, we have branched out from occult books to science fiction, true crime, romance novels and paranormal with over forty authors, and 240 titles and sell in fourteen countries that I know of.
In being a publisher myself, I have much more freedom in what my book looks like, when it comes out (six months as opposed to two years with a typical publisher) and since I have been published elsewhere, I have a better understanding of what my authors needs are, and what isn’t being done for them that I can provide. As a small press, I can be more directly in contact with them for input, as well as direct contact with distribution like Amazon, stores , and libraries, which translates to faster sales, which helps all parties. My writers get to help develop their book, from fonts, cover art input and get networking resources like radio interviews, lists of conventions and writers tips from me I share, because most of the time it is a sink or swim job. New authors don’t realize that their career is in their own hands, no matter who publishes you. Being a New York Times level Stephen King is nearly impossible, so I created a writers’ success course and book, So You Want to Be a Successful Writer, to pass on my decade of experience learned the hard way on how to make a good living off being creative instead of working as a labor of love at a hobby, while slaving away at a day job you hate.
- How would you describe your work ethic? How did you develop that?
My work ethic is roll out of bed, check email and social media, then after getting back with fans, authors and buyers, I place orders for the day and throw myself into cover designs, book formatting, updating my web designer so she can build the publishing site quicker, and then any free time after that I devote to writing my own books, which amounts to roughly six per year.
I developed my work habits by trying to create a system that was efficient for a business and yet gave me time late at night to free my mind of the demands of publishing, so I could be creative without distractions. I paint to be more free flow creative; to loosen up (and it sells via social media to fans), so I am not bogged down with research all the time. I tell people, writing the type of books I do keeps my interest varied, but the method of doing it is much like a thesis paper in college that never stops, so you need something to unwind with.
- Do you have any particular music you like to listen to when you work?
I avoid music while writing because it takes all my focus to not make mistakes, unless I am painting, in which case I love Nox Arcana, Evanescence and Nightwish. Melodic Goth music helps my mood and art flows easier.
- What about your artwork? How did you get started with it?
I was always interested in art. I come from an artistic and musical family. I started off with the Bob Ross method around ten to master backgrounds, and then incorporated figure study and portrait techniques into it to create fantasy and Gothic art, occasionally erotica.
- Do you have any particular influences in the visual arts?
My influences in art are classical Renaissance artists for realism, and in the modern age, my friend Joseph Vargo was an early influence who taught me his stone techniques (it was a proud moment in my life when he agreed to write the introduction in my art book), the artist Brom, Frank Frazetta, and Luis Royo.
- Do you have any advice for someone who wants to have a successful career in a creative field?
Never give up on your dreams, first off. Master your skills; either find teachers and mentors or use books and YouTube tutorials to develop techniques. Read the life stories of successful people to get inside their heads; the motivational thinking they share will keep your chin up during the lean years. Do it because you love it, perfect it, and learn marketing and social media tricks. Nobody can just get accidentally discovered; they work hard and get noticed because they fought for it.
- What are your goals for the coming year?
To grow my business so that 75,000 libraries carry my company’s titles, that all my writers earn a good living doing what they love, and to finish my eighth book of the year. I also want to finish a horror film starring one of my writers, Hollywood actor Robert LaSardo (Nip Tuck, Death Race) and convince Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, Z Nation) he needs to take the role I offered him at a couple conventions ago! With Robert and John Dugan (Texas Chainsaws ‘Grandpa’) already signed, Dark Asylum and its sequel, Hell Hospital, should take off in 2019.
- What do you think is the best thing you’ve written?
I think Haunted Asylums is one of my best, but I also have a special place in my heart for Embracing the Darkness: A Decade of Darkness, which brought my debut book full circle in a retrospective new edition.
- Bonus Question: You do a lot of personal appearances every year. Why do you think this is valuable? Is it something you would recommend to other writers?
Absolutely needed. Without getting out there and meeting fans you miss that personal touch. Fans want to see you, shake your hand, and get that autograph with a smile to connect with you. The networking is vital to your career also, I have meet movie and television stars, the majority of my authors I sign were because I met them at events, and you can always learn tips at events from others who have been doing what you do.