Bewildering Stories

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Interview with Al J. Vermette,
editor of Sapphire Publications

by Eric S. Brown

Al J. Vermette is a man who is serious about his horror. He has spent the better part of his life writing, editing, or publishing it. Not only is Al a published and working writer, but Al also runs Sapphire Publications. Sapphire is a company based of New York and does the color, print magazines Blood Moon Rising, The Horror Writer, Werewolf, and others. Recently, I had a chance to corner Al and ask him some questions about his work, his company and the publishing world in general.

Al, You are one of those people who write, edit and publish horror. What got you interested in the genre, and which aspect of working in the genre do you enjoy the most?

Al J. Vermette: I have always loved horror as far back as I can remember. When I was little my father would tell me about The Creature From The Black Lagoon and King Kong. He would bring me home monster models and tell me when a monster movie was on tv. I would dress up as creatures and scare my sisters or my mother. You could say that I was a very odd child and I took that love of all things spooky with me as I grew up. I have always enjoyed writing and made my own little books since I was nine. At age 12, after seeing the movie Jaws I wrote my own killer beast story using a killer ape running wild and killing people kinda like King Kong but not as big. Since the late 80’s I thought about doing a horror magazine of my own, and after becoming a published writer and learning about publishing I wanted to make that dream come true and add something of my own to the genre.

Tell us a bit about Sapphire Publications and its magazines.

Blood Moon Rising is our flagship publication. It’s a horror magazine that was about 35 years in the making and 12 from the day I thought about doing one till the day the first issue rolled out of my printer back in June of 2000. Since it’s been 3 years now doing Blood Moon Rising I wanted to bring out other publications as well. I have a kids’ magazine in the works that we are going to publish soon, and my new pet project, The Horror Writer is something that I think will really be loved by people who want to learn to write in this genre but don’t know where to begin.

How did Sapphire Publications come into existence and what are your future plans for it?

I want Sapphire Publications and Blood Moon Rising to rule the world! No... but really I wanted to start my own little publishing house mostly because I like to do things my own way. I didn’t want someone else telling me how to write my stories or books or anything else. My writing is mine, and I hold that very high on my list. It’s the one thing as a writer you can do like no one else on Earth... be yourself and write like no other. I guess you could say it goes back to my childhood when I was making little books if for no one’s eyes but my own. I was yelled at all the time my teachers for writing wild stories and drawing in class. If they only knew I would one day become a published writer and run my own publishing house.

I started Sapphire Publications with my partner Shoshana Strier, who I met a few years before. I would teach her all I knew about publishing and she would help me bring it all together. That began in late 1999 with a comic book novel by myself called Come The Reaper and later Blood Moon Rising. I hope in the years ahead we can do many other magazine ideas that I have rolling around in my head.

What are some of your proudest moments as a writer/publisher?

I would say the proudest thing to happen to me as I writer was to have my very first short story published in a magazine called Hybrid Moments. The story was called “Creep,” and after its publication I was able to show it to all who didn’t believe that I could write. I think this is true for most writers, no one thinks of you as a writer until that first published story is in the pages of a real magazine. That same story is also being used as part of the new movie Creepy Tales: Girls’ Night Out, so not only am I proud to have that one story, my first ever published, but it is also the first one to be filmed for a movie. As a publisher I have to say that any time a young or not so young writer tells me “thank you for publishing my story in your magazine” I feel very proud to have made their publishing dream come true, just like someone did for me years ago.

What is the most difficult part of running Sapphire, and is it a full-time job?

Keeping the ship going is the hard part. Publishing can be very hard and when you’re using your own money to make it run, it can drain one’s money and your soul. It’s not a cheap thing to get into: the cost of printing is unreal, and I know a few people who got out of publishing due to that very thing. I try beating that by being my own printer, saving me money, then if I sent my magazines out to someone to print it for me. Yet to print all that I do I have to lease a big $35,000 machine to do it with... And let me tell you, that’s not cheap.

I spend about 6 to 8 hours a day at Sapphire Publications and it’s not really my full-ime job. Damn good thing I only work 3 hours a day on that one.

What inspired you to do a magazine like The Horror Writer which just started up at Sapphire?

I saw that all the (how to) writing magazines like Writer’s Digest were not doing anything with writing horror. Many of the these magazines are very good and have giving me much insight into my own writing, but they seem to stay clear of horror writing. So I got to thinking: if there’s not one out there, then hell, I’ll make one; and the ideas to The Horror Writer were born.

Since I already publish a horror magazine now, I get to see all the writers out there wanting to have their work published; so I got to thinking: before they even send me a story for BMR it would do wonders for some of them to have a magazine like The Horror Writer to teach them to write in this genre before they even think about sending work to a magazine like mine. Since Blood Moon Rising is a magazine that works with mostly new and unpublished writers, I thought The Horror Writer would be a great spin off for it.

Any plans for a novel or screenplay in your future?

I have been trying to find the time to sit down and write one of the 50 books that had been resting within my head for the last 15 years. The funny thing is, before I had time to write I had no one wanting to publish me, and now that I am the publisher I have no damn time to write other then the work I do for my magazine. (Just can’t win I guess). The same goes for a movie I would like to write and shoot, but maybe one day I will fit it all in and get them books out of my head that have been haunting me for years.

So tell us the dirt on the rest of your staff at Sapphire. Any notable people in your employ?

Well most of them I have never really met. They work for me from all around the U.S. over the Internet. It’s really funny to talk to people almost every day and become friends and have them work with me doing short stories, articles and artwork and have never spoken to them face to face. The Internet is an amazing thing, how one can reach out and talk and yet not really talk but write the whole conversation. I have only a handful of people that really walk into the Sapphire Publications office door. If there is one that stands out that would be my movie reviewer. I don’t know his name... hardly know what the man looks like and he is only called by the name Dark Soul. I think he’s on the run from the law or something... who knows?

Is Sapphire as a whole open to submissions from unpublished writers or do you prefer to work with writers who are to some degree more established?

I prefer to work with new, unpublished writers because all other publishing houses only want the big-name writer like King and others like him. Yeah, that would be nice, but I like the new writer who is fighting to get his or her little niche in the world. Most publishers don’t want them and I think that this is wrong. Even King was a nobody once. We all should have our shot at it too.

Will Sapphire ever expand into doing books?

Yes, we have a few books coming out in the next few months. Three are kids’ books and one is a Sci-Fi novel by a wonderful new writer named Joel Mann. I have my own short story book called Sick Twisted Little Tales hitting the bookstore soon, as well. We have two comic books out right now, one called The Begotten and the other is Kindred Knights. I have always wanted Sapphire Publications do many, many things in the wonderful world of publishing since its beginnings.

And finally, how can one order copies of your magazines or submit to them?

Blood Moon Rising can be found in bookstores all over the U.S., but to order it from us or any other of our publications one can just E-mail us at and ask for our new catalog or write us at the office at:

Sapphire Publications
100 W. Park Ave, office #305
Long Beach, NY 11561

The same would go for submitting a short story or article. to any of our magazines.

Copyright © 2003 by Eric S. Brown