On April Fool’s day, Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife (a collection which includes my flash fiction piece “Bad Vibrations”) hit the interwebs, and the publication’s editor, Giovanni Valentino, was likely chuckling for a couple reasons. One, readers near and far probably wondered if Alternate Hilarities was a “real” short story collection or if they’d click on a link to purchase the book and simply be rickrolled. Two, the sheer relief of being done with a project of this magnitude (I’ve heard it’s hard to make a book!). And three, because the stories in this collection are damn funny!
As you shuffle off this mortal coil, many things will go through your mind. Will you be remembered well? Did you live the best life you could? Did you leave the iron on? And most importantly, did you remember to delete your browser history recently? But the big question that will finally hit you full on, is there something after all of this? And if so, will it suck? If only Yelp! had a category for the afterlife.
Here is a collection of humorous tales of the afterlife that covers the I.T. woes of Heaven, the dangers involved in using out-of-date occult tools, the perils of not saving appropriately for the hereafter, the shock of finding out that not every good deed will get you through the pearly gates and the cold hard fact that paradise just isn’t for everyone.
So go to the light at your own peril.
It could be life everlasting, or it could be an oncoming train.”
Sounds fun, right?
I also decided a blog takeover with none other than the mastermind of Alternate Hilarities V would be fun, too. Today, he’ll share a little behind-the-scenes peek into the creation of a comedic anthology (spoiler alert – it’s not just a laugh fest!). So, without further ado, I give you Giovanni Valentino and…
A Funny Thing Happened during the Submissions Process
Giovanni Valentino here, Editor in Chief of Strange Musings Press and editor of the Alternate Hilarities series. I’m here to talk about one of the toughest things for me when working on the anthology, the fact that humor is subjective. I read about 150 stories for One Star Reviews and only 37 of them made it into the final book.
Stories don’t make the final cut for a lot of reasons – poor writing quality, not quite fitting the Afterlife theme, or even humor themes that I’d rather avoid (in this edition’s case, I kept the big guy and his son out of the forefront).
You would figure since this is a humor anthology that all the submitted stories would be funny, right? Not necessarily so.
I’m not going to say that I have a monopoly on what’s funny. Sometimes my sense of humor can be a little juvenile. I think there is a fart joke in almost every story I’ve ever written and according to my wife, there isn’t a single oddball, expletive-filled cartoon that I don’t watch.
A story can fail the burden of funny for me on a few points. The first is poor pacing. One or two jokes, no matter how funny, isn’t quite good enough for a fifteen-page story.
Sometimes I pass on a story because I can see where the author is trying to be funny but it just didn’t hit me. If I don’t laugh at least once, the story is probably not going to fit with the rest of the collection.
Another reason might be lack of story. This is a fiction anthology, so they need to be funny stories and not just a series of unrelated jokes. Although, I do have one piece that is a series of afterlife-themed Feghoots but that’s because I have a weakness for the art form.
But beyond that, I’ve gotten more than one submission where I just didn’t see the humor at all. Sometimes to a disturbing level.
I could limit these submissions by being a little tighter with my guidelines. Still, I hate to tell people what is funny because then my submitters can’t surprise me with something new. So, I happily read the incompatible ones and hope there aren’t too many of them between me and the brilliant ones.
Giovanni Francesco Valentino has struggled at the art of writing for four decades against many demons like self-doubt, chronic depression, OCD and severe dyslexia. He has written a few memoir pieces about his struggles going undiagnosed for more than half his life as well as almost a dozen humorous speculative fiction short stories. His long-term goal is to become such a famous science fiction and fantasy author that other people want to write fan fiction in his worlds.
Thanks, GV! Want to connect with Giovanni?
To purchase Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife, click HERE!
For more stops on the press tour, click HERE!