An Interview with Geoff Brown

Geoff Brown is the award-winning Australian writer and Australian Shadows Award finalist-editor owner of Cohesion Press.

Cohesion Press is best known for its flagship military horror anthology series SNAFU, stories from which recently made up a decent percentage of the fiction used to create the Netflix series Love, Death + Robots helmed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller.

[AC] The biggest news for Cohesion Press this year was the release of its stories in Love, Death + Robots. How does a small publisher from regional Victoria in Australia end up with their stories in a Netflix series?

[GB] Hard work combined with the best product possible. That is all. The Internet made it possible for us to reach anyone if we tried, so we tried, and we reached Hollywood.

I knew right from the get-go what I wanted in SNAFU, which is the book that caught Tim Miller’s eye in the first place.

Tim has since told me he read the first SNAFU when it came out in 2014, and he went ahead and read every anthology we released after that. Tim loves the short story format.

My advice to get the right attention? Just do a proper job. No cutting corners. No ‘near enough is good enough’. Just do it as it should be done.

So many publishers these days do a half-arsed job with every aspect of their output.

Crappy cover art and design, editing done by a friend who teaches high-school English (editing is a skill in itself, and being good at English and/or a heavy reader is NOT enough), layout done by Amazon when they upload a Word document.

That was never enough for me. If I couldn’t master a skill required, I would find an industry professional to do that aspect.

Hell, some of the presses these days are started by people who are barely authors themselves, let alone professionals, but suddenly (thanks to the ease of publication as a result of Kindle Direct and print-on-demand services) anyone can call themselves a publisher and release piles of crap on unsuspecting readers. No training, no industry awareness, and no care to gain any experience or knowledge.

We worked hard to reach the audience we have with SNAFU.

I’ve read my whole life, and then I worked in the publishing industry first as a beta reader, and after that I went on to study full-time for two years to gain the skills necessary to edit and perform layout for our work. I then opened as a freelance editor with the skills from study, as well as studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Publishing, online through a university. You can’t just put half-assed crap out and then feel entitled to success.

[AC] Not to make you pick from your babies, but which was your favourite adaptation and why?

[GB] I loved them all, for different reasons.

I thought Kirsten Cross’ short, Sucker of Souls, was brilliant, both as a story and as adapted into the animation. The characters, the humour, the dialogue, all made it across the process and were adapted beautifully.

Steve Lewis’ short story Suits had a real poignant humanity about it, how family and friends will do anything for each other, no matter the cost, and that was also brought perfectly into the short film.

David Amendola’s short, The Secret War, was just brutal in nature, and again, the animation sourced by Tim (Miller) and David (Fincher) was just right to convey this brutality in all its glory. Digic Pictures managed to make the short with almost photo-realism, capturing every spray of blood and head ripped from shoulders. Loved it, but I loved them all.

[AC] SNAFU is Cohesion’s flagship series. What is it all about and what can grimdark fans find in there to like?

[GB] SNAFU is the dark horror of war, short and simple. So much horror is creeping, subtle and gothic… ours is violent, brutal, and desperate. We ask for action, violence, tension, and blood, all as a result of warriors pitting themselves against monsters. Think Aliens (the sequel with the Colonial Marines), Dog Soldiers, Predator, all that cool shit. Violence, betrayal, intestines… who could ask for more?

[AC] You’re also Tim Miller’s senior story consultant. What does that role include?

[GB] I’m one of the senior story consultants for Love, Death + Robots. There are a few of us. What we did, and still do, is read. A lot.

After contacting Cohesion and buying rights to some of our shorts, Blur (Tim’s studio) was still hunting for more stories for season one. Tim’s taste was decisive for many of the final choices, and because he believed I had a similar taste in action/horror as he did, he wanted me to read widely in my narrow area of the genre and let him know when I found a short that I would have included in a SNAFU if it had been sent in for consideration.

All the story consultants were basically sending in the best stories we found. There was a spreadsheet Blur Studios had put together on Google Docs, a list of anthologies (hundreds and hundreds of them) that potentially may have something that could be used, so we slowly read through that list, but the beauty of having so many different readers in so many different genres was that we would likely come across stuff that wouldn’t be on that list.