One of my favorite projects that I’ve had the chance to work on since I began my journey as an author was to take part in the "Autumn Nights: 13 Spooky Fall Reads" short story anthology. While short stories aren't usually my forte, I am really proud of how my story “Dawson Farms” came out.
To make the experience even more magical, the first anthology was the #1 New Release in Horror Anthologies off and on for a good part of last September and October. It's also raised over $2000 for the ASPCA so far. I know I speak for everyone involved when I say that we're all immensely proud of both that achievement and the good we were able to do along the way.
One of the people who was instrumental in making sure my story was the best it could be was fellow indie author Cass Kim. She’s the author of multiple YA books, as well as an editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach with a brand new Youtube channel.
Not only that, Cass also is the brainchild behind the Autumn Nights series of anthologies. She was nice enough to sit down with me and discuss the latest installment, “Autumn Nights: 12 Chilling Tales for Midnight” (which is available for preorder right now).
Matt: Cass, thanks for joining me! Cass: Thanks so much for having me!
M: What was your inspiration for the Autumn Nights anthology?
C: Well, the original inspiration was my love of fall and working with other fantastic Indie Authors, like yourself! Then when the first one was able to do so well for the ASPCA, I really wanted to create one for Feeding America.
M: I had the pleasure of working with some truly talented authors last year for Autumn Nights during the beta reading process, and I really enjoyed reading all of the stories when the book came out. Tell me a little bit about the authors in this year’s edition.
C: Oh man, that’s always the best part! This year we have a few repeats, and a lot of new faces for the series. I still wrote the opening story, just like last year. We had A.W. Wang write a story this year rather than edit. Helen Whistberry brought her talents, and has one of my favorites in the anthology this year. Jacob Klop and Mallory Kelly, who both have published horror books, wrote two stories this year. Another established horror/thriller author who joined us is E.H. Night. Nicole Scarano wrote a short as well as completed the formatting for the interior of the book this year. Plus we have K.A. Miltimore, Martin Shannon, and Meg Holeva back this year.
M: I’ve read the work of five of the authors included before, and I have one of the other author’s in my “to be read pile,” so I’m excited. Sounds like a great cast.
In last year's Autumn Nights, we got a taste of your new Sage Roberts Saga. Are we getting a continuation from you in this year’s edition, or something new?
C: Ahhh..hahah...no. I never did end up writing that series. I’ve put it on the back burner in the interest of writing slightly more mature protagonists for a while. This year we get a taste of the icy waters of Lake Superior and a new CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant] feeling like a fish out of water at her first job.
M: We all got to have A.W. Wang as our editor last year. Is he jumping back into that role for this year as well as writing, or are you taking over that role this time around?
C: Great question! We did three beta readers per story, plus a different proofreader for the final drafts. We didn’t have a copy or line editor this year. I did the developmental editing for the anthology as a whole, determining parameters and selecting story order.
M: Sounds like a good system! We all had an easter egg to work with last year with regards to the black cat. Can you tell us what this year’s animal easter egg is and what inspired the choice?
C: This year is a Great Horned Owl. I picked that one because it looks spooky and has a lot of versatility. There are actually two things that were required in each story this year, but I’ll wait and see if anybody catches the second.
M: The thing I loved about working on this anthology was the fact that the profits all went to charity. Last year’s edition was the ASPCA. Who’s benefiting from this year’s anthology?
C: This year all of the profits are going to Feeding America to help put food in food banks and on tables in every community across the US. As a note, the profits from last year’s anthology continue to go to the ASPCA - as the series continues the number of charities profiting will only grow.
M: That’s a fantastic cause. I love that we were able to do so much for the ASPCA last year, and look forward to seeing which charities get the nod in the future.
Speaking of authors and animals, I can only imagine that trying to keep us on on task is a bit like herding cats. What are some of the lessons that you learned from the first Autumn Nights that you’ve implemented this year?
C: I have to admit I feel kind of bad for your first anthologists with me, because I learned a lot. I started with a google doc from day one, invited people privately and individually so that they could say no if they wanted to, and had the parameters ready. I also used a blind beta reading method, which allowed me to make sure each author was completing their beta reads, as that was a bit of an issue for the last couple stories turned in last year.
M: Does the surprise #1 New Release success of last year’s version of Autumn Nights add any pressure for this year’s version to do well?
C: SO much pressure! I feel like if we don’t get into the top three at least, I’ll feel like I let everybody down. Plus, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a LOT of anthologies out this year. The competition is pretty fierce.
M: Sounds like a few others noticed Autumn Nights’ success last year. However, we did slay Cthulhu last year, so I feel pretty confident for you guys!
Let’s pivot to your own books. As you know, I rather enjoyed your half-pocalypse "Wilders" trilogy, though I question my sanity of having read them during quarantine this spring/summer. What have you got in the works now that the series is complete? Or is it?
C: Thank you! I’m really glad you read and enjoyed it. The series is complete, but I gotta admit I miss writing Alyssa a lot. She’s pretty bad ass. I am working on a 4 book series of ghostwritten books at this time, which I can’t share any details on. I’m also constantly doing other freelance projects, so I’m just stewing on my own ideas right now. I might add to my sci-fi space opera, since that’s smaller installments, but otherwise I won’t be publishing under my own name for the rest of 2020, I fear.
M: Well I know that personally I’m very excited to get my hands on this year’s edition of “Autumn Nights: 12 Chilling Tales for Midnight.” When can we expect it out? C: Presales start August 15th and the Ebook and Paperback will be released into the wild on September 1st!
M: Well I’m a paperback junkie myself and look forward to getting my hands on that bookshelf bling.
Cass, thanks so much for joining me. I hope this year’s edition blows last year’s away. It’s such a good cause, especially with everything going on in the world right now.
C: Thank you Matt! I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview, and am deeply grateful for the support/time/work you’ve given both anthologies!
If you're interested in picking up either Autumn Nights anthology, you can find them both linked to the images below. And remember, all profits from the sale of either book go to a great charity! It really is a win/win situation!