The following is an interview with writer Ronald Kelly regarding the upcoming release of his memoir, Southern-Fried and Horrified, through Stygian Sky Media. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Kelly about the creative process of bringing his story to life, how his story may connect with its readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your memoir! After a thirty-six-year career of telling stories filled with horror and the macabre, what inspired you to share your own story with readers?
Ronald Kelly: Actually, I’ve considered doing this for quite a while. Looking back at my life and my writing career, it’s sort of been like a roller coaster… full of ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. I figured that I had a story to tell that might interest my readers and maybe just help aspiring writers avoid a few pitfalls and mistakes that I encountered during my journey as a published author.
BD: Did you feel that there was a different creative approach or process to crafting your memoir as compared to your other work?
RK: I come from a family of oral storytellers, particularly my maternal grandmother, who was a master at a spinning yarns, passing on family history, and telling creepy ghost stories. Writing Southern-Fried and Horrified was a lot like that. The effort and craft of writing fiction took a back seat and penning this memoir seemed to flow naturally. It was the story I knew best – my story – and as I revisited my life from childhood to adolescence, and throughout adulthood, I felt very much as my grandmother must have felt, sitting in her rocker on the front porch, telling an interesting and engaging tale or two.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that your story will connect with and impact readers?
RK: I hope that the book will appeal to genre readers who have been familiar with my brand of Southern-Fried horror over the years, as well as mainstream readers who might not even know who Ron Kelly is. More than anything, Southern-Fried and Horrified is simply a story of how a boy from rural Tennessee worked his way past hardship and various obstacles to attain his goal to become an author in mass-market publishing. Maybe new writers will find some helpful advice and encouragement in the essays and information scattered throughout its pages. And there is plenty of horror genre history in SF&H, as well; from the implosion of mass market publishing in the mid-nineties, to its resurrection a few years later, and its current boom in popularity.
BD: What makes Stygian Sky Media the perfect home for Southern-Fried and Horrified?
RK: When Jarod Barbee and Jeremy Wagner announced that Stygian Sky would specialize in all sorts of fiction and nonfiction, they were the first publishers I approached to help me bring this memoir and writing guide to fruition. Upon reading only few sample chapters, they immediately understood my vision and embraced it. The interior design, the incredible cover art by Justin T. Coons… it all culminates into a very eye-pleasing book that is enjoyable to read. I couldn’t be any happier with the end result.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
RK: I have several projects approaching publication during the remainder of 2022. My three-book chapbooks series, Somewhere South of Hell, will be released by Death’s Head Press soon, and I just turned in the second book in my western-horror series, The Saga of Dead-Eye, titled Werewolves, Swamp Critters, & Hellacious Haint, which will be published in a limited hardcover edition by Thunderstorm Books and in eBook, paperback, and audiobook by Crossroad Press. Also, around Halloween, I’ll have an EC Horror Comics-inspired collection of swamp-themed short stories called Tales from the Southern-Fried Crypt, featuring my own artwork. It’ll also be released by Crossroad Press.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Southern-Fried and Horrified?
RK: Southern-Fried and Horrified will officially be released on September 6th. Folks can find out more about the book and its availability at the Stygian Sky Media website, as well RonaldKelly.com. They can also follow me and Stygian Sky on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And I always have news and updates on SF&H and my upcoming releases in my bi-weekly newsletter, The Fear County Chronicle, so I encourage everyone to subscribe.
Born and bred in Tennessee, Ronald Kelly is the Splatter Punk Award-winning author of Southern-fried horror fiction with fifteen novels, twelve short story collections, and a Grammy-nominated audio collection to his credit. Influenced by such writers as Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Joe R. Lansdale, and Manly Wade Wellman, Kelly sets his tales of rural darkness in the hills and hollows of his native state. He lives in a backwoods hollow in Brush Creek, Tennessee with his wife, Joyce, and their young’uns. You can visit him online at ronaldkelly.com
In SOUTHERN FRIED AND HORRIFIED (September 6, 2022; Stygian Sky Media), Splatter Punk Award-winning author Ronald Kelly expounds on a lifetime shaped by his love of horror and the macabre, as well as a thirty-six-year career as a Southern storyteller. His early influences, the long road to publication, success as a Zebra Horror author, the devastating collapse of mass market publishing in the mid-1990s, and his ten-year hiatus from writing and horror… it is all here, between two covers, as well as his triumphant return to the genre and a fresh, new resurgence of his creativity and popularity. Sprinkled generously throughout are essays, writing advice, and lists of Kelly’s favorite books and movies, as well as his most cherished heroes, villains, and creatures from the RK mythos.