Interview: Jackie Chin of Zombiepalooza Radio and Stitched Smile Publications

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Jackie Chin, the producer, creator, and host of Zombiepalooza Radio, a live radio program that showcases the world of horror entertainment. From actors to novelists, from talented SFX technicians to filmmakers and musicians, Zombiepalooza Radio provides listeners with the opportunity to learn about the industry they love and to discover both established and emerging artists in the horror genre. Chin is also an integral presence behind Stitched Smile Publications, a publishing house serving up bloodthirsty fiction to audiences hungry for the printed word (including A.J. Brown’s short story collection A Stitch of Madness, Lori Fontanez’s psychological Stalker, and the werewolf-zombie hybrid Strychnine, by Michael S. Freeman and Donelle Pardee Whiting).

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One can’t help but notice the “zombie” in Zombiepalooza Radio, and Chin has certainly delved into the apocalyptic underworld by hosting some of the most influential creatives in the undead sub-genre. “The show has included guests ranging from actors, authors, expert movie makeup artists, and many other fans of the topic of zombies, apocalyptic fiction and horror,” Chin explains, a clear indication of the impressive variety the program has to offer. Chin adds, “I have had actors [on the show] who have played roles of zombie walkers from the AMC series The Walking Dead as well as guests from George Romero’s horror film Dawn of the Dead.” Fortunately for horror fans, Zombiepalooza Radio reaches far beyond shambling corpses to explore additional avenues within horror entertainment. In the past, the show has featured guests from the reality television series Face Off (among them, SFX specialist Kevon Ward) and various Bram Stoker Awards winners and nominees, including Nicole Cushing (Mr. Suicide) and Brian Kirk (We Are Monsters). As Chin says, “[On the show] there have also been musicians, producers, editors and stunt people from small budget horror and zombie films as well as the people who write them.” As Zombiepalooza Radio continues to expand its loyal audience, Chin has worked tirelessly to highlight the efforts of artists in multiple genres. She also has plans to include more educational material on the show as well, with topics ranging from survival to firearms and emergency management.

Hopefully, you’re itching to listen to a few episodes of Zombiepalooza Radio right now. I asked Chin how audiences can catch the show. She explains:

“Zombiepalooza Radio is listed as Zombiepalooza Radio Live on You Tube, and can be heard on Friday nights from 8pm till 1 am EST. The lineup for each episode can be found on our official Facebook page, Zombiepalooza Radio Live. Because of the show’s gaining popularity we are being invited to go to conventions where both indie and professional house creatives will be more accessible. It is a wonderful experience to be messaged and asked to attend these cons with full media passes available. Each of these events will be listed on the Facebook page as soon as I get reservations settled. The next convention I will be attending will be at the end of this month in Louisville, Kentucky is Fandom Fest. We will also have representation during this same weekend at MonsterFestMania in Akron, Ohio.  From these festivals we will be gathering new opportunities to bring on quality guests that our listeners will greatly enjoy.”

Podcasts and radio shows dedicated to both the horror and true-crime genres have been gaining momentum in the past several years. The NoSleep Podcast will keep brave listeners up late at night with fictional tales of madness and mayhem, while The Faculty of Horror examines horror cinema through an academic and analytical lens. Meanwhile, podcasts such as Sword and Scale and Generation Why are devoted to non-fiction stories about murder, kidnappings, missing persons, and other morbidly fascinating subject matter. I asked Chin about the increasing popularity of these shows and the ways in which she sees Zombiepalooza Radio fitting into the rise of horror broadcasting. “I believe that a large part of the changes we’re seeing are because of the number of cell phones and tablets that people are using to access their favorite media,” Chin says. “The popularity of those genres…fits hand in glove with the continuing effort of people to get that thrill, that scared feeling, whereever they might be.” Chin hopes that Zombiepalooza Radio can grow right along with the genre, adapting to changes in new media and continuing to deliver the horror goods to audiences all over the world.There’s no limit, no end in sight, as long as people want to know how their favorite shows and movies are made,” Chin says.

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Chin has also expanded her horror universe by venturing into written publications, exposing the reading public to some of the latest talents in the world of horror fiction. Stitched Smile Publications began in January 2016 with some very clear goals in mind. The objective behind the publishing house is to “elevate the look and standard of what people have come to expect from Indie Authors and Publishers as a whole,” Chin describes. “We’ve gotten a bad rap from sub-par editing and publishers that promise to deliver but sit back and collect royalties. What they actually do isn’t any more than what the author was, or could be doing, by themselves.” Chin goes on to explain that too many indie books are poorly edited, leaving writers dissatisfied and readers frustrated by paying for third-rate material. Stitched Smile Publications intends to work hard for its authors, providing them with professional editors, promoting their stories throughout social media and other avenues, and teaching them about the publishing industry. A transparent company, Stitched Smile Publications invites authors and staff alike to every staff meeting and treats everyone involved with mutual respect and honesty. “They’re allowed to feel a sense of ownership because it really is all about them,” says Chin.

Clearly, the hard work that goes into Stitched Smile Publications is paying off. According to Chin, the company’s books are among “the top 100 on Amazon and getting global exposure. We are passionate which means sometimes sparks fly, but we’re also family so no matter what happens there is a fierce loyalty among us.” Other aspects to SSP make it unique and appealing to both new and veteran authors. In recent years, small publishing houses have come under fire for less-than-desirable marketing ploys and royalty/contract conflicts with their authors. Chin hopes to distance Stitched Smile Publications from such kerfuffle. “We offer mentorship roles and VIP Author Programs which allow the author to put their all into the company and in return gain more in monetary returns with higher royalties,” she says. “We also give them a different take on marketing, which is that all our marketing is organic (word of mouth) and we are growing that fan base every day with support from our street team, beta readers, and fellow authors helping one another out.”

Be sure to check out the links above and keep both Zombiepalooza Radio and Stitched Smile Publications on your horror radar. My thanks to Jackie Chin for giving Scream Quarterly Magazine the scoop!

Josh Hancock is the author of two epistolary horror novels, The Girls of October (2015) and The Devil and My Daughter (2016), both published by Burning Bulb Publishing. For reviews, book trailers, and convention appearances, please visit www.foundfootagefiction.com.

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