A local publisher who specializes in bizarre and scary stories is encouraging people to give the horror genre a chance this spooky season.
Since 2013, Brett Reistroffer has shared his passion for dark fiction with readers through his small Lynnwood-based publishing company, Bad Dream Entertainment. This Halloween, he said he wants more folks to give the horror genre a chance.
“There’s so many great authors in the field right now that are legitimately great storytellers (and) great writers,” he said. “They’re telling quality stories that aren’t campy slashers.”
Reistroffer initially got into publishing to create comics and started an online fundraiser to hire artists to draw stories he had written. When that didn’t work out, Reistroffer said he decided to turn his business into a publishing company that catered to underground dark fiction and science-fiction authors.
As a kid who grew up watching “The X-Files,” Reistroffer said he enjoys stories that are “weird” or “surreal” but also story driven. He began by publishing short stories online and said he prefers short stories because he enjoys an easy read.
“I like the art of being able to tell a whole story in a pretty short format,” he said.
The first to be published under the label was a 2014 dark fantasy anthology series titled “The Tales of Victor Coachman,” by Birney Reed. Bad Dream has since expanded to include novellas, like the company’s latest sci-fi book “Lamella” by Max Halper, a New York City-based author. It’s set to be released March 7, 2022.
According to Reistroffer, Bad Dream typically publishes one or two booka each year. When looking for new manuscripts, Reistroffer will post guidelines online and put a call out to writers. However, he added that rules aren’t always set in stone. For instance, Reistroffer said he read “Lamella” after requesting submissions for gothic fiction, and chose to publish it even though it didn’t fit the description. He said he chose the book because it had a solid story.
“I like strong characters and a strong story and this one has it,” he said. “It’s just put in a very bizarre context and that’s what grabbed my attention.”
However, owning a small publishing company means small profits, and Reistroffer also does commercial embroidering work in Bellevue. Though he’d like to work in publishing full time, Reistroffer said there are difficulties in the field especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to supply chain shortages, the release date for “Lamella” was pushed back from November 2021 to March 2022.
“There’s a lot of small presses working in horror right now and they’re all being impacted,” he said.
Still, Reistroffer remains optimistic and said each book published sells more than the last one. He also said he wants to feature writing by authors from the Pacific Northwest — of which he said he’s had very few — even if horror isn’t their typical genre.
“I always encourage authors to step outside their usual bounds,” he said.
To learn more about Bad Dream Entertainment and their published works, visit baddreamentertainment.com.
–By Cody Sexton