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The Sirens of Suspense




John Raab is the CEO/Publisher of Suspense Magazine, and the host the of Suspense Magazine radio show. His latest project, GREEN LAKE, co-written with Donald Allen Kirch is an ongoing web serial novel.

Find John on Facebook.

John Raab: Keeping Us in item1

You started Suspense Magazine five years ago. What prompted you to choose a journalistic outlet for your passion? Is journalism part of your background or has this been your first foray into print media?

Funny thing about the magazine and journalism is that I had no experience in either subject before I started Suspense Magazine. What prompted me was actually my wife. She is a huge reader of thriller / suspense / mystery / horror books and we would visit Barnes and Noble at least once a week looking for books. We would also visit the library, to save money and support libraries, to find her books. The biggest problem she had was finding new authors. I decided that the internet had to have a good resource to find new authors in the genre, but was shocked that you had to visit many different websites, and even then it was difficult. It was then that I thought the world was ready for a magazine that would cover the most popular genres in reading and give all authors a voice to capture new readers and fans. Publishing companies push fans to buy the popular authors that make them the most money. While business is business, it hurts the fans to find the authors that get lost in the shelves of the big book stores. Most people don’t know that the front tables in Barnes and Noble are pay to place. Publishers have to pay big dollars to get their books on the table, so of course they are putting their marketing money behind the authors that they know will sell, instead of putting some more money behind the authors that really need the help. So Suspense Magazine was born with the idea of giving the fans one place to go and find some great reads by great authors, and also get some behind the scenes information right from the author’s mouth.


Have you always been a mystery fan?

Agatha Christie has always been my favorite author and I still read her books today. I’ve always been a fan of the who-dun- it mysteries, because I feel when you read a mystery like that, it forces the reader to use their brain and think about the story, instead of a thriller that would simply leave you breathless, because the action is fast paced, causing the reader to tap into different emotions while reading.


The magazine covers are always fabulous - even the ones you choose not to use any particular month. Who designs them? What's the process?

The magazine covers are always a source of talk. When we started the magazine we wanted it to be different. What do most magazines have in common? You will see a person’s face on the cover and I wanted to separate ourselves from the masses. This is why you will never see an author’s face or the face of a celebrity on the cover of the magazine. Art and books are in the same category and therefore having the suspenseful or thriller art on the cover is very important to the overall package of the magazine. While you keep hearing don’t judge a book by its cover, we all do. If Stephen King had a cover that looked like a harlequin cover, what would people think the book is about? Having the cover interesting is the first impression a publisher and author has to get a reader to pick up the book and read the back. If the cover is not interesting, most of us will pass it by and spend our money elsewhere. But the covers are all done by different artists from around the world. They submit their art to the Creative Director and the process starts of looking at their portfolio and selecting the five images we put on Facebook to have fans vote for their favorite. That is another thing we feel is important, is having our fans select the cover image, because we want to be as interactive as possible.


Do you have a favorite issue of the magazine? If so, why?

I’ve never been asked this question and shocked that this is the first time. I can’t pick just one issue, because each issue is so unique with the contents, I don’t have a favorite issue. I know that is a bit cliché, but it is true. The amount of time and effort it takes to produce a monthly magazine, which we are one of the only magazines that come out monthly, if I selected just one issue, it would seem to diminish the efforts of the other issues.


Any advice to mystery fans on how to get more involved in the community? How about advice for a newly published author who is finding their way around media and promotion?

No matter what genre you read there is a community of readers out there for you.  I would search different reading groups, join a book club, start a book club, get your kids to read, and take a chance on someone new. The good thing about EBooks, not only the availability of the books and the ease you can download them, but the cost is lower, giving the reader the ability to read three books for the price of one. This is a great way to expand your library and discover some great new authors. Also, get your kids into reading. It doesn’t matter if they are reading a comic book or the Twilight series, as long as they read, because they need to find out which type of reader they are. This is why I feel the books that kids are forced to read in school, are not helping kids wanting to read, but turning them off. I’m not going to pick up “The Grapes of Wrath” because I’m not that type of reader. If I’m forced to read something that I know is not in my genre, I will already go into the book with a negative feel, right or wrong I will. I can hear people now saying, “Yea but then I loved the book, blah, blah, blah”, sure but most people don’t feel that way, which is why popular fiction (not taught in schools) is at least 65% of the book sales today and the authors are all over the NY Times Bestselling list. In short for the first part is, find people that read what you read and connect with them. As for new authors, you have an uphill climb. They need to know who their fans are and find out WHERE they are and start talking to them. Be interactive, be approachable, be interesting!!! I can’t stress that last one enough. I tell all my guests, no matter who it is, make sure you are interesting on the radio show, because remember you write suspense / thriller books and if you are boring, people will think your books are boring. But new authors have to bust their butt and get out there with the fans, they can’t sit back and hope people find their book, cause that won’t happen.


item6Tell me about your ongoing "webisode" series GREEN LAKE. This is an innovative project, how does it work, what was your inspiration, and why this format?

GREEN LAKE is something that I thought about doing for about a year. I had an idea of putting out a story little by little, which would read and feel more like a TV series than a book. I couldn’t find anybody that really did it this way, with most serial stories having an end, where with GREEN LAKE right now there is no end or finale right now, it is ongoing and will be as long as people want to read it. Donald Allen Kirch, author of MANCHESTER HOUSE and REICH is my co-author and one of the most interesting minds I’ve come across. I approached him with the idea of doing this, and couldn’t think of a better person to write with. Nobody on the staff, except Donald and I know about what is coming up with the story, they have to read it like everyone else.

But what is GREEN LAKE? Think of it this way, people loved the TV series LOST. But when it started the producers and writers didn’t have a specific time frame on when it would end, they just wanted to create a universe that would continue for as long as it could, this was what I envisioned for GREEN LAKE. Donald and I agreed that we would just write each scene one by one, not knowing what was coming up, but letting the story write itself. The reader will be thrown in the deep end of GREEN LAKE, a fictional town in California, and watch the town struggle to stay alive. Every town has a history or an urban legend, but what happens when a curse thought to be a legend is real? In 1692 Salem, MA was the sight of the famous witch trials. 300 miles away and 100 years later before the gold rush in California and still a Mexican Territory, Green Lake, CA was the first to actually burn a witch at the stake. A curse was placed on the town that day and now it seems 200 years later, the evil that was burned has come back to life. Let the fun begin and best of all it is FREE!


You also host a radio program. Tell us where we can hear it.  Whats the most interesting thing you've learned in an author interview?

In line with the magazine we wanted to expand marketing to authors and thought a radio show would be a good way to do this, since people can listen live or listen to the archived version and they are up there forever. We have had the honor of interviewing some of the best authors in the genre on the radio show and continue to increase listeners, over 43,000 now. Best of all it is FREE for authors, but of course we only have so many slots open. I’m the host of the show and love to have the authors on, especially four different styles of authors on one show, to bring the wide range of the genre to as many fans as possible. The show is on Saturday’s and can be heard on blog talk radio: or from 70 other podcasting sites and iTunes.


What's coming next for Suspense Magazine?

If I told you there would be no “Suspense”. Just sign up for the four free issues and if you like it stay around. Every door in the magazine has a secret just waiting for readers to find, come inside and explore we only bite sometimes!



QUESTION FOR JOHN? COMMENT ON THE INTERVIEW? Tell us your thoughts by using the Comments box further down on this page, or commenting on this blog entry on our Facebook page and be entered to win a subscription to SUSPENSE MAGAZINE!



Reading now: Steven James OPENING MOVES. It has not come out yet, so I’m reviewing it. But I’m also reading Agatha Christie for fun.

Book he wishes he could read again for the first time: IT by Stephen King. It is one of the best horror novels ever written, if not the best and is King’s best book. Has such a wide range of emotions and different feelings, where you are scared on one page and feel sad and happy on another.

Book or e-reader: 100% eReaders! I love not having to worry if the pages get ripped, wet, lost, etc. With my eReader, I can store thousands of books, get free ones and keep them forever.

Cats or Dogs: Cats! They are independent and I love their attitude.

Favorite protagonist: Hercule Poirot and James Bond.

Favorite big or small screen detective: I love Columbo and Mike Hammer, but one guy that doesn’t get a lot of play and I miss a lot is “The Equalizer”.

If he could have any profession other than writer: It would involve pro football somehow, probably coaching.

He’d like to travel to: Germany. My family is from there and I still have family there. I will get there sometime!

Period in history he’d like to time travel to: I want to know if King Arthur actually existed and it what form. I [also] love the renaissance period of art.

If he could have any superpower:To be invisible. Haven’t you always wanted to be a fly on the wall?

Favorite Online Resource: Did you expect anything else? Also, - a great way to find new stories from authors trying to make it.

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