The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with William Cook

Meet William Cook: Horror writer, poet, dad, delver into the darkest of minds and ghost lover (her name is Gladys). READ ON!

Ruschelle: William, as a horror writer, I’m glad to see you prepared for our interview. You look good in a top hat and apron stained with blood and entrails.

Speaking of blood and entrails, your stories are not for the squeamish. And that’s just what many readers of the serial killer genre love.  What kind of research have you done to create your characters? Did you study specific serial killers from history?

William: There aren’t any particular serial killer cases that inform my stories and I tend to research as much about abnormal psychology as I do about serial killers (in general) and their methods and characteristics. I read both fiction and non-fictional accounts involving serial killer and watch documentaries in order to get a grasp of the psychological aspects of these freaks. I have a large collection of old Detective magazines that are very lurid and descriptive and these provide great fodder for researching crime and criminals. These are the same types of magazines that many of the serial killers from the 70s to the 90s used to read.

Ruschelle: What’s your literary “body count?”

William: Far too many to count although I feel quite happy that my count is only a figurative one and not literal. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! (winks)

Ruschelle: You’re also an artist. Your pieces reek brutality and dark, sinister entities. My favorite piece is a black and white illustration of a clownferatu. (My name for it) It speaks to me. But I don’t want to go to jail- so I don’t listen. When working with your artwork does your writing inspire your pieces OR do you pull inspiration from what you write- from your art?

William: The piece in question was inspired by none other than Mr. Stephen King’s ‘PennyWise the Clown’ from IT. So in that regard my inspiration came from sources other than my own imagination – all I did was reinterpret it with my own skill-set and materials at hand (charcoal and paper). Usually most of my artworks stem from an interest in a particular subject and are influenced by both visual and textual works. Sometimes, as a happy coincidence, a story or an illustration I have created will inspire a companion piece to go with it.

Ruschelle: Do you have a favorite piece? What is it?

William: I don’t really have a favorite. I get a bigger kick out of other people enjoying them, rather than having a favorite. As soon as they’re done I tend to distance myself from them and move on to the next one. You can see most of the ones I rate as worth public viewing here on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thewilliamcook/

Ruschelle: Fun question- Speaking of Clowns, they’re hot right now thanks to the remake of Stephen King’s It and Twisty the Clown from AHS.  If you could be any killer clown for a day (and I can’t prove you aren’t now but if I find out you are- I won’t tell), which do you identify with and why?  GO.

William: Mmmmmm –killer clowns crack me up as I don’t find them particularly scary. In fact, I find them quite comical. Perhaps the scariest one for me was a real one – the serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego, ‘Pogo.’ As far as fictional ones I guess that King’s ‘Pennywise’ rates well for me as I have been involved with this one since reading IT many years ago.

Ruschelle: You’re more recent art work makes use of computer images along with more traditional mediums. What prompted you to take a modern tech approach to your art?

William: I bought Photoshop and loved the freedom that resulted – you can create so much more digitally than with traditional mediums (in my opinion) and it’s so much cleaner e.g. no cleanup, messy brushes and paint etc.

Ruschelle: You’ve recently completed your Master’s thesis, on serial killers no less, which leaves you more time to focus on fiction writing again.  Even though you’ve covered serial killers in your book ‘Blood Related’ did your extended research help you gain any new insight into the deviation?

William: No, not really. I’m not proud to say but my knowledge of these abhorrent humans is quite extensive and was firmly in place before writing my thesis, which incidentally only touches on fictional serial killers.

Ruschelle: Jason from Friday the 13th or Michael Meyers from Halloween?

William: I am a big Halloween fan – especially the original series of films starring Jamie lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance. One of the best slasher franchises in my opinion. In saying that I did enjoy Rob Zombie’s reinterpretations.

Ruschelle: Good answer! Michael Meyers is my favorite scamp too.  Let’s see, you have written the novel; Blood Relation and short story collection; Dreams of Thanatos. You have even penned books of poetry; Corpus Delicti and Moment of Freedom.  You’ve proven you are a man who can adapt his writing to different styles. But we all have that “favorite child” that we continue to nurture and dote on. Even though we don’t always want to admit it. For example, you have 4 lovely daughters. I promise I won’t tell them which one of them is your favorite child (LOL) …..but of your writing, what’s your preference?

William: Tough question as my answer tends to fluctuate depending on my mood. When I’m in a dark mood I write the dark stuff – Horror and psychological thrillers – perhaps as a form of catharsis. When I’m pensive I tend to write poetry as it serves as a great medium to philosophize and wax lyrically. And when I’m upbeat and positive I tend to lean towards non-fiction as I find it comes easier to me in that frame of mind than at other times. Despite the changeable preferences I’m never far away from my first love – scary stories, and will probably die still penning things that go ‘bump in the night!

Ruschelle: Have any of your girls been bitten by dad’s writing bug?

William: Yes! Both my little girls, Sienna (9) and Leila (7) are keen story-tellers and have written enough each to fill a small book. I am planning on helping them self-publish their work in the school holidays.

Ruschelle: Did you sprinkle any of yourself in Blood Related? The upright, family man Detective Ray Truman or one of the Cunningham brothers who are depraved serial killers? Isn’t there a little bit of ourselves in the stories we write?

William: For sure. I think any fictional work has some element of truth in it that stems from the author’s own experience/s of life. In my case, writing about taboo subjects is my vent – that is, rather than doing these horrible things in real life, I write about them and that seems to satisfy the demons that lurk in the dark realms of my brain. The same, of course, applies to the heroic actions of my ‘good’ characters – in essence, yes, I live vicariously through my stories and characters.

Ruschelle: You hail from New Zealand. Is there any ‘lore’ or hauntings in your country that has intrigued you and have squirmed their way into your stories or art?

William: New Zealand is a very new country in the whole scheme of things – colonial settlement is less than 200 years old and the indigenous peoples (the Maori and the Mori Ori) have their own cultural legends and myths dating back approximately 500 years before that when they first occupied the land. So in this respect there are two main threads of myth and legend where tales of ghosts and lore originate in New Zealand. There seems to be only a few tales that really stand out, but we do have a bloody colonial and pre-colonial history that is ripe for turning into some solid horror fiction, which I plan to do at some point.

Ruschelle: Many new writers out there would love to know your writing “routine” or ritual. It may inspire them to try something new to spur on their own writing practice. Tell us a bit of your routine when preparing to write.

William: Unfortunately, my routine is that I don’t have a routine so I’m not the best person to ask about this subject. It is something I am trying to develop as I get older, but I tend to rely on the ‘muse’ and shape my stories in my head until I have enough to put down on paper. I make notes with pen and notebook first and create a basic outline with first paragraphs and go from there. I guess, my main routine for writing is to read as it will inspire me to create stories (usually).

Ruschelle: Would you rather be the first man to be probed by a brand new visiting alien species that no one has been probed by before OR would you rather be “romanced” by a 100 year old ghost named Gladys who read your last book and is now your number one fan? I’m really looking forward to your answer here….

William: Ummm – I try to avoid being ‘probed’ at all costs so I guess I’ll have to go with Gladys. She sounds like a nice ol’ gal. Ghost sex is nothing new to me (winks).

Ruschelle: Oooh we’ll save THAT for another interview! Heh heh. In addition to writing fiction you have also written non-fiction, ‘Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors’ being one of them. You’ve mentioned to me that you are now publishing your own books. Why did you decide to go that route?

William: Having gone down the traditional publishing route before with most of my main titles having been published by other publishers, I realized that I could do more effectively what they could not. Most small-medium publishing companies have little-to-no-time to promote their authors so the marketing always fell back to me anyway. Editorial decisions were sometimes dubious and destructive in terms of the intended effect of the book and took away any control. I had some good experiences with publishers such as Black Bed Sheet books but at the end of the day I realized that with my publishing and marketing background I could get my books ranking higher if I had control over the ‘dashboard’ end of the publishing process. After receiving contractual rights back for my novel ‘Blood Related’ I decided to do it myself and managed to get my book ranking highly on Amazon and actually making good money out of it for a change. Ultimately, the huge increase in royalties and the creative control determined my commitment to publishing my own work. I still outsource editing, formatting and cover design so as not to let myself get complacent with the quality of my work but I am very happy with my decision and I’d recommend it to any author thinking of going for it. Check out my website http://selfpublishingsuccessfully.com for lots of good tips and information about the process.

Ruschelle: Black Bed Sheet Books is awesome, if I may say so myself. And I just did. But any who…If you were lucky enough to visit one haunted/creepy place in the world where you could find inspiration and write your next book where would that place be?

William: I’d love to do the ‘Haunted London’ tour one day.

Ruschelle: I’m going to stow away in your suitcase for that one. Sooo….what is your favorite way to dispose of a body? As per your research, of course.

William: Have to be fire – no DNA and negligible remains. Bwahahaha

Ruschelle: Fire. Nice choice!  Very toasty. Your new book Dark Deaths: Selected Horror Fiction, is out soon. Could you give us a little taste of your new offering?

William: This collection is my second (first – Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales) and will be the last one I put out for quite a while as I am now devoting myself to writing novels and novellas. It includes a bunch that have previously been published in anthologies and magazines and a couple of unpublished pieces also. The stories are pretty solid in my estimation and I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Should be out end of September/early October via Amazon exclusively.

Ruschelle: Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview? Ya know, perversions, bank account number, the usual…

William: Ha ha ha – not really, just thank you for the interview and the great questions. Hello to any new readers out there and old ones alike.

Ruschelle: You’re giving away some of your blood and sweat online. How can we get a nibble of your works?

William: If you check out my website you can get a copy of my novel-length first collection Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales, in the digital format of your choice, absolutely free. All you have to do is sign-up for my rather infrequent newsletter here: http://www.williamcookwriter.com/p/subscribe-now.html

Want more of William Cook?  Well, here ya go!

Website: http://www.williamcookwriter.com/p/subscribe-now.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/William-Cook/e/B003PA513I

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamCookWriter/

 

Taking Submissions: Welcome To Pacific City

Deadline: November 30th, 2017
Payment: $15 (more depending on Kickstarter) and a contributor’s copy

Once again, we are inviting submissions from the world at large! WELCOME TO PACIFIC CITY is a sort-of shared world project: we name the place, you bring it to life through the mediums of science fiction, fantasy or horror. Stories should be set in our fictionalised Pacific City, and a key element should be heroism and/or villainy, be it “super” or otherwise. You can check here for an inspirational guide to the city, or download the short Pacific City Manifesto for other useful information.

However, although this is primarily a speculative fiction project, we are also open to stories that help make Pacific City feel like a real place. Not every inspiring (or insidious) story demands the out of the ordinary for impact — but if a masked avenger wanders by while you’re bringing us down to earth, well, that won’t do your chances any harm…

Although we can only offer a nominal fee up front, all contributors will also receive a physical copy of the collection. In addition, we plan to run a Kickstarter campaign prior to publication in an attempt to raise funds for increased author fees. The editor has previously organised two successful fiction-related campaigns, including one for our 2015 anthology — this is no guarantee of future success, but it bodes well!

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:
  • Maximum Word Count: 7,500.
    • This is a very firm limit. Pieces between 2,500 and 5,000 words preferred. Flash fiction will be considered, but the longer a story the more it needs to impress.
  • Submission Deadline: November 30th, 2017.
  • Minimum Compensation: USD$15 on acceptance of contract, plus one contributor’s copy of the print-on-demand paperback on publication.
  • All submissions must be the original work of the author — we will not accept any story incorporating copyrighted characters or material, fan fiction, etc.
  • We require First Print and Digital rights, plus a six month period of exclusivity from the date of publication. All other rights remain entirely with the authors.
  • While this anthology is intended for an adult readership, this is not a market for pornographic or offensively extreme content. “Artistic justification” is a good (if subjective) argument, and we shall (subjectively) assess each story according to its (subjective) merits.
  • We welcome writers of any and all backgrounds and submissions exploring diverse perspectives, provided they do not seek only to attack or demean those of others.
FORMATTING GUIDELINES:
  • Acceptable document types are RTF, DOC or DOCX.
  • Straightforward formatting is preferred for editorial convenience:
    • Please use an easy-reading font (Times New Roman 12pt, etc.).
    • Do not insert empty lines between paragraphs, or first-line indents.
    • Use a single # to represent essential text breaks.
    • Use italics for italics, don’t underline. Smart (“curly”) punctuation is fine.
    • If your manuscript includes any unusual formatting, please alert the editors when submitting and have a really good, story-related reason.

All submissions should be emailed to Andrew at:

andrew [dot] leon [dot] hudson [at] gmail [dot] com

If you can’t figure out how to turn the above into a working email address, please consider this page your form rejection.

If you can, then we look forward to reading your submissions!

Via: Welcome To Pacific City.

Taking Submissions: Other Covenants: Alternate Histories of the Jewish People

Boy Eating

Deadline: February 4th, 2018
Payment: * cents (CA)/word.

Edited by Andrea D. Lobel and Mark Shainblum

Historian Thomas Cahill, author of The Gifts of the Jews (Knopf, 1999) claimed that the Jews invented the very concept of history. They were the first, he said, to perceive time not as an endless circle of life, death and rebirth, but as the flight of an arrow, on a linear path to somewhere from somewhere.

However, what if time is not one arrow, but a volley of arrows? What if there are other timelines, other histories, other Jews? Would they still have a covenant with the one God? What would have become of their triumphs? Their defeats? Their suffering and their successes?

Award-winning author/editors Andrea D. Lobel and Mark Shainblum propose to answer this question in Other Covenants, the first-ever anthology of Jewish alternate history, to be published by ChiZine Publications in Fall 2019!

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

  • Submission window: August 28, 2017 at 12:01 AM Eastern Time to Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • Open to submissions by authors of all backgrounds, from anywhere in the world.
  • Please do not submit by email. We will accept digital submissions only via the Moksha submissions system at https://chizinepub.moksha.io/publication/other-covenants.
  • Stories must be in the alternate history genre and must be clearly relevant to the theme of the anthology.
  • Length: 500–15,000 words. There are relatively few spots for stories at the high end, so please query first if you think your story will go long.
  • Preference will be given to stories previously unpublished in English, however, we will consider previously published stories on a case-by-case basis.
  • NEW: Also open to poetry submissions. Original poems on theme. No more than 2 pages (8.5 x 11) in length. (Maximum word count set arbitrarily to 2,000 words as system won’t allow max lines or pages.) No need to double-space.
  • Submissions may be made in English or French. Author is responsible for translations into English after acceptance.
  • English-language translations of stories from other languages (published or unpublished) are welcome, but we can only accept submissions in English or French.
  • Multiple submissions welcome; up to two stories maximum per author, sent under separate cover.
  • We prefer no simultaneous submissions, please (we promise to respond promptly).
  • Initial responses (rejections, holds, and rewrite requests) within 30 days of submission; final responses no later than 30 days after the deadline.
  • Payment is 8 cents per word in Canadian funds. (SFWA qualifying after exchange to US funds).
  • File formats accepted: .docx, .doc, or .rtf.
  • Formatting: indented paragraphs; italics in italics (not underlined); Canadian spelling; use # (or other unambiguous symbol) to indicate scene breaks; no headers, footers, or pagination; no outlandish formatting, please; full contact info (name, street address, email, phone number) and word count on the first page. That said, don’t fret too much about formatting; good fiction is what’s most important. (Correct spelling also counts.)
  • Please include a cover letter with a brief author bio, title of story, and full contact info, including street address.
  • Please do not summarize or describe the story in the cover letter.
  • To be published by ChiZine Publications in Fall 2019.
  • Rights: First World Rights, including audio and translation rights. (NOTE: CZP has a foreign rights agent who will be presenting the anthology in foreign markets.)
  • NOTE ON PSEUDONYMS: we will only publish one story per author, even if you write under several names; please use your real name on all correspondence and indicate your pseudonym in the cover letter and on the byline of the story itself.
  • NOTE ON SUBJECT MATTER: Any book dealing with the Jewish people, Jewish history and Israel will, by definition, be controversial. We welcome controversy and politics, but don’t forget that this is a fiction anthology. Telling good stories takes first, second and third place. Submissions that grind axes loud enough to drown out the story are unlikely to be accepted.
  • Questions or queries: [email protected]. Please don’t submit stories via email, as noted above.

A WORD ABOUT THE ALTERNATE HISTORY GENRE

Other Covenants is open to authors of every background, and for those of you who may not be familiar with alternate history, here’s a quick thumbnail sketch of the genre.
A popular sub-genre of speculative fiction, alternative history weaves fictional narratives into the “what-if”s of the past, and explores the infinite number of historical roads not taken in the past, present or future.

The Collins English Dictionary defines alternative history as “a genre of fiction in which the author speculates on how the course of history might have been altered if a particular historical event had had a different outcome.” According to Steven H. Silver, an American science fiction editor, alternate history requires three things:

1. A point of divergence from the history of our world prior to the time at which the author is writing
2. A change that would alter history as it is known
3. An examination of the ramifications of that change

Although alternate history is related to counterfactual history, it is distinct from it. The latter term is used by historians to refer to the academic, non-literary, question “what could have happened if . . .”.

Now please don’t take the above as prescriptive or proscriptive. We understand that boundaries are vague, definitions are fuzzy, and the distinction between an alternate history and a counterfactual may be entirely in the eye of the beholder. But whatever voice you write in, please keep in mind that first and foremost we are looking for stories about characters.

Also, though alternate history originated as a sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy and may incorporate tropes like the many-worlds theory, parallel universes, time travel, mysticism and magic, these are notrequirements. Use them if you want to, don’t use them if you don’t. The only speculative element required is the break from history as we know it, and the effect of that break on the Jewish people.

THE KIND OF THEMES WE MIGHT EXPLORE:

Please don’t take these as prescriptive or proscriptive either, the whole canvas of Jewish history is open to you—Biblical, historical and mythological:

What if • the Holocaust had never happened?
What if • Joseph’s brothers had not sold him into slavery in Egypt?
What if • The State of Israel had been established in Uganda? Or Germany?
What if • Jesus’ followers had not broken with Judaism?
What if • The Jews had proselytized their faith door-to-door for a thousand years?
What if • The Romans had not destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple?
What if • Judaism became the dominant Western religion, but was riven by conflicts between the Temple priesthood and reformist rabbis who put the Torah and prayer before Temple ritual and sacrifice?
What if • The Spanish Inquisition had never occurred?
What if • Napoleon had not smashed down Europe’s ghetto walls?
What if • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were reality . . . in some other universe?

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Andrea D. Lobel has been a writer and editor for over a decade, winning two awards for her work.

An ordained rabbi and university lecturer, she holds an M.A. in Religious Studies (McGill University), and a Ph.D. in Religion (Concordia University), specializing in the history of religion and science, astronomy and religion, celestial mythologies, calendars, magic, and religious authority in Judaism, as well as in the Hebrew Bible and its ancient Near Eastern context.

Her book, Under a Censored Sky: Astronomy and Rabbinic Authority in the Talmud Bavli and Related Literature, is forthcoming from Brill Publishers in 2018–19.

Mark Shainblum was born and raised in Montreal, where he and illustrator Gabriel Morrissette co-created the acclaimed comics series Northguard and Angloman with Gabriel Morrissette. Northguard has recently been revived by Chapterhouse Comics in Toronto.

In addition to writing comics, Mark has published science fiction in various magazine and anthology markets including On Spec and Island Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic. As an editor, he co-edited Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas with John Dupuis in 1998 and Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen in 2016 with Claude Lalumière.

Mark shared an Aurora Award with John Dupuis in 1999 for Arrowdreams, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Joe Shuster Awards Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame.

Mark and Andrea live in Ottawa with their daughter.

ChiZine Publications.

Ongoing Submissions: Feed Your Monster

Payment: We pay £3.50 for original flash fiction, £5 for original writing articles, and £6 for original short stories over 1000 words. For all reprints we pay £2.50.
Note: Reprints Allowed

Monsters everywhere are hungry, so we need you to write for us! 

Here at Feed Your Monster we seek only the very tastiest, most unique delicacies for fussy monsters everywhere. We don’t serve school dinners or ready meals or cold leftovers. Our monsters want something satisfying to sink their hungry teeth into and we aim to deliver.

We love to dish up lighthearted fiction with a sprinkling of horror and a pickled garnish. We want original, fantastic, funny, gory, and scary all in the same course. To please us you’ll need to cook up your very best.

Here’s how: 

***

What do we want? 

Flash Fiction

Our bread and butter. We love flash fiction. We prefer it short and snappy, but with buckets of flavour and a shot of dark humour. Send us your snacks and appetisers.

Maximum word count 1000 words.

Short Stories

We prefer bite-sized stories, however every now and then we need something really meaty. If you can supply a bone chilling tale to pile high the greediest plate then we want to see it. 

Maximum word count 3000 words

Writing Articles

We’re seeking well structured, dynamic pieces designed to help writers refine their skill. Can you help us pen the perfect plot, create heroes we root for, villains we love to hate, tips on prose and writing success? If so, we want to hear from you.

Maximum word count 1500 words 

The Finer Details

One submission at a time please, wait for a response on your first submission before submitting another. 

Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please let us know if your story is accepted elsewhere if we have not already responded.

We do consider reprints provided the rights have reverted back to you, however we pay a marked down price for these see the payments section and please note, if your story is a reprint please say so in the submission email.

We welcome new and experienced writers. You may send us a bio with your submission if you like, however it’s the story we are interested in first and foremost. 

Only a handful of stories will make the cut each month so make sure you send something extra tasty for the monster.


Send submissions to [email protected] 

You can either paste the story into the body of the message, or attach a document. 

As Feed Your Monster has only a very small amount of staff please allow three months for us to respond, after which you may query your submission. You can retract your submission at anytime by emailing Rinoa Cameron at the above address.

Payment

We don’t believe in free dinners. Every story or article we accept will receive a small payment to thank you for your hard work.

We pay £3.50 for original flash fiction, £5 for original writing articles, and £6 for original short stories over 1000 words. For all reprints we pay £2.50.

You will receive payment once you have agreed to our contract, which we will send upon accepting your submission. You will also receive the opportunity to have any books you wish to promote and up to two chosen webpages or Facebook pages featured in the Writer’s Buffet section of our website. 

Payments are done via paypal with no other form of payment available.

Rights

Feed Your Monster purchases First Electronic Rights and/or (your contract will stipulate)  limited one-time, non-exclusive rights to audio. All stories are copyright of and credited to their authors, however by submitting to us you are agreeing that you are in possession of the correct rights to the story/article. Please tell us if it is a reprint.

An important note to consider: If you sell your First Electronic Rights to Feed Your Monster, it is worth remembering that most other publications will consider it a published work that can only be sold going forwards as a reprint. This will limit the number of markets available to the piece in the future and will also reduce the pay rate you may be able to receive. Therefore, before submitting to us, please be certain that selling your First Electronic Rights for our token payment is something you are happy to proceed with. After all, we care about our writers and only want what’s best for you.

Tips for success 

Keep it clean – we love a good scary, gory tale and we don’t even mind the odd F-bomb, but some things are just too disgusting to eat. We’re not looking for extreme horror here.  

Read our ezine – there’s no better way to find out what we like! 

Tidy up your mess – check your spellings and do your writing homework. Stories littered with mistakes will be fed straight to the monsters in our rejection bin.

Freak us out – be creepy or weird or creepy and weird. Make your story smell better (or perhaps worse) than the rest.

And good luck – sometimes it doesn’t matter how amazing a story is, it may just not be right for us. If we reject you don’t be disheartened. We want you to be the very best writer you can be. We love writers, we care for writers, we exist for writers. 

 

Thank you,

The Feed Your Monster Team.

Via: Feed Your Monster.

Taking Submissions: Antimatter Magazine

Deadline: October 31st, 2017
Payment: $20 per story.

ANTIMATTER publishes flash fiction and story experiments inspired by the latest science news and discoveries.

We’re most interested in flash fiction, but we’re also open to story experiments, narrative games, and text messager-based stories.

HOW IT WORKS

First, find a recent scientific story, headline, or discovery that sparks your imagination. (View science headlines here. View scientific story prompts here.) Then, use that real science headline to inform, drive, or inspire an original flash science fiction story.

  • A short story up to 500 words (about one single-spaced page that can be read aloud in about five minutes).
  • A story with a plot (though we’re open to creative interpretation).
  • A story linked to a recent science headline, new discovery, or new hypothesis or theory.

Writers are encouraged to experiment with the flash fiction story form. For example, your story could be framed as a lab report, scientific article, message transcript, or a poem, or a script. It’s not required, but preference is given to stories crafted to feel real – like they really happened. Such stories can include many links to sources, authoritative quotes, and other techniques that lead the reader to suspend disbelief.

HOW TO SUBMIT A STORY

We use Submittable to manage story submissions. When you send us your story via Submittable, you will need to include a link to the article that inspired your story as well as a short bio.

  • You will receive notice if your story is accepted within five days of submission.
  • Payment is sent within 21 days of notice of acceptance.

Antimatter will promote your story via social media, potentially including paid promotion, and via our email newsletter.

PAY

  • Antimatter Magazine pays $20 per story.
  • We issue payment within 21 days of story publication.
  • Additionally, we reserve the right to offer you more money for additional reprinting in ANTIMATTER anthologies.

RIGHTS

In exchange for the fee we pay for your story, we ask for first North American serial rights and First Electronic Rights. Here’s a good, simple explanation of those rights. What does first publication mean?

  • Your story will be published on AntimatterMag.com.
  • Your story might be syndicated to our Medium publication at Medium.com/AntimatterMag.
  • A link to your story will be distributed to our email list.
  • Your story will be available to our other channels, including AntimatterMag.com, RSS, and through anthologized issues, which can appear on e-readers and other devices, and in our AntimatterMag.com archives.
  • Also, unless arrangements are made in advance, we reserve exclusive rights to published
  • content for 60 days. This means no other posting of the accepted story anywhere on the Web, or in print in the United States or Canada, for 60 days after its exclusive appearance on AntimatterMag.com and Antimatter Magazine channels.
  • After 60 days, AntimatterMag.com will share full rights with original writers.
  • First publication in Antimatter grants the Magazine permission to republish flashes, articles, and reviews elsewhere (in, for example, an anthology of the best pieces from Flash).
  • We are also asking for indefinite archiving rights, as the story may appear on AntimatterMag.com and associated channels.
  • At the writer’s request, we will remove the story from our archives after 60 days.
  • If the story is republished after 60 days, we ask that AntimatterMag.com be credited as the original publisher with a link to the piece on AntimatterMag.com in the byline or the body.

Please Note

  • In most cases, we don’t accept reprints, including from your personal website. If you think we should, though, let us know.
  • Please don’t submit the same story to us and any other venue at the same time. We’ll let you know if we accepted it within 5 business days of submission.

PROMOTION

  • We promote your stories on social media and in our newsletter.
  • Your bio and a link to your website and social profiles will be listed on AntimatterMag.com.

REQUIREMENTS

For Antimatter to accept your writing and pay you, we will need:

  • A print-ready, third-person bio with your cover letter.
  • A PayPal address or mailing address where we can send payment.

submit NOTE: Details valid through October 31, 2107

Via: Antimatter’s Submittable.

Taking Submissions: Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine

Deadline: September 30th, 2017
Payment: $30 per story, $10 per poem

Please read the following in its entirety before submitting. The rules are needed, and EC will not consider your work if they have not been followed.

It’s important to read samples of published work on EC. You can find just a few examples here.

HERE IS HOW YOU SUBMIT:
No unsolicited work of any kind is being accepted. Only the kind of submissions outlined below will be accepted at EC.

— Six times a year, writers and poets will have a chance to submit fairy-tale inspired stories and poems. No non-fiction of any kind.
— Here are the submission periods: Months–January, March, May, July, September, November.

     — Days of those months–the first through the 30th. That’s starting at 12 a.m. on the first day of a submission month. That’s ending at 11:59 p.m. of the 30th of a submission month (28th for February). Those are Eastern Standard Times.
     — No stories or poems will be accepted in the following months, so please do not send any: February, April, June, August, October, December.
     — You submit through email only. Please use this address only: [email protected] That’s for submissions only.
     — All questions, but no submissions, should be sent to [email protected].
     — Your last name, the month and the year should be in the subject line of the email.
     — You must be 18 years old or older, but may be from any country.
     — You should try to use American English word forms and punctuation.
     — Do not send attachments. They will not be opened or considered. Paste your work in the body of an email.
     — You will receive a response telling you I have received your submission.
     — No editorial feedback of any kind will be provided. I’m sorry about that. I just do not have the time.
     — No fancy spacing or characters, please. Do not indent for new paragraphs. Just do an extra return between them. My publishing platform is tricky. Heavy dialogue is very hard to format. Resist the urge. Most classic tales are not heavy on dialogue.
     — Your submission must include how you follow EC. Methods include something Google related, Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest (the board called New Posts at Enchanted Conversation). You only need to follow in one way. Just search for my name, Kate Wolford, and you will be able to follow both me and EC. But if you don’t follow, your work will not be considered. For a better explanation, go here: http://bit.ly/27Y2FNI
     — A Paypal address must be included. Without one, work will not be considered.
     — Only previously unpublished work, please. Only one work per writer per submission period.
     — First electronic rights are being bought. Once the story is published, you are free to shop it elsewhere.
     — All things being equal, authors who comment and support EC will get greater consideration of their work. But quality takes precedence over all other considerations.

THEMES
Each of the six submission periods for 2017 will have a theme. Here they are:
1. January: “Steadfast Tin Soldier,”
2. March: “Diamonds and Toads,”
3. May: “Donkeyskin,”
4. July: “Emperors New Clothes,”
5. September: “Godfather Death,”
6. November: “Elves and the Shoemaker.”

When each window for submissions opens, a theme-related post will be published. Please read the relevant post before writing your submission. All of the themes are classic fairy tales, but I do not want retreads of the original stories. At the same time, your works should reflect the chosen theme, or there is no chance of publication.

WORD COUNT and CONTENT
Stories should be no shorter than 700 words and no longer than 3,000.
Poems may be of any length.

Absolutely none of the following: Sci-fi, dystopian, erotica, high fantasy, excessive world building, time-travel, futuristic, space travel, western. Oh, and I hate love triangles. Also, EC is NOT a children’s publication. Period

It’s essential that you read past EC stories and poems to see what I publish on EC. (Note, to make sure there is no confusion, understand that EC is on e-publication only. 12-31-16.) Also, Beyond the Glass Slipper, Krampusnacht, He Sees You When He’s Creepin, and Frozen Fairy Tales give great insight insight into what I publish. You can find them at Amazon, B&N and other booksellers. All are available in ebook form.

The essence of classic fairy tales must be maintained when you write these stories. Your are free to explore themes by retelling a classic tale–but in your own way and in keeping with the theme. I tend to prefer things to end happily, but it’s not essential. Please think of the classic fairy tale form when writing poems or stories.

NOTIFICATION OF SUCCESS and PAYMENT
— Story pay: $30, Poem pay: $10. US dollars only.
— Payment will be made through PayPal only.
— Non-acceptance emails will not be sent out. Instead, the names of those whose works are chosen will be posted on EC no later than the 7th of the month following a submission month.
— The winners will usually be published at the end of the non-submission month following a submission month. Example: January is a submission month. Winners will be posted no later than February 7 and winners would usually be published on the last day of February.

KW

Via: Fairy Tale Magazine.

Taking Submissions: Uncommon Evil

Deadline: November 15th, 2017
Payment: Royalties

Submission Details:

  • Submissions must be in English and written to the highest quality you are capable. Avoid passive voice. Consider making a pass with an editor before submission.
  • Maximum Word Count is 10,000, however I’m not going to turn away something awesome that’s a little over.
  • This is a paid market anthology, with a royalty cut for each author. Details available upon request.
  • Each author retains all rights to their story.
  • All submissions will be edited and sent to the author for final approval before publication.
  • Open internationally, but submission must be in American English.
  • There is no fee to submit.
  • Please, no reprints or simultaneous submissions.
  • Multiple submissions accepted. Limit of two submissions per author.
  • Any genre is fine. However, we are not looking for nonfiction at this time.
  • Adult language and sexual situations are permitted.
  • Standard submission format is accepted, or please send in WORD doc or docx, formatted with; 12pt Times New Roman with 1.5-line spacing; left justified with 0.3″ indents on the first line of each new paragraph (Do NOT use TAB); no extra spacing between paragraphs; and no headers/footers/page numbers; one space at the end of a sentence, not two.
  • To submit, please send your story to [email protected] and include the following information in the body of the email:

Author (Legal) Name:
Pseudonym (if applicable):
Email:
Story Title:
Word Count:
Short Summary:
3rd Person Biography:

If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected] or submit your question through the contact page.

Via: Fighting Monkey Press.

Trembling With Fear 09/17/2017

Following Stuart’s recent article on author bios, it has been great to see a number of contributors have actually taken this advice onboard and a few have even sent in a revised bio as a consequence. I can guarantee these bios have given the author a more professional appearance, showing they take their work seriously. The hardest time to write a bio is at the start of your publishing career, I mean what can you say? I know that was the time I found it tough – everyone else was reeling off all their publications and there was me with nothing. That, for me, has now changed – as it will for any of you yet to be published, but, for those currently in this position, I would refer you back to that article and read what the editors in the business say themselves. Then go back to your bio and redraft it.

Stuart has a number of articles planned in the future which we hope will help you on your writing journey, however, if you have any particular topics you would like us to cover, please drop us a line at Horror Tree.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Eat It

My shaking hand nearly drops the hunk of meat on its way to my mouth. I fight valiantly against my gag reflex as my tongue and teeth mash the fatty, globular slab of jiggling pink flesh against my gums. I swallow the macerated compote of raw protein, slimy and soft, down my throat. The taste is about as repugnant as you’d think. Pungent. Clammy. The tiniest bit salty.

The revolver’s hammer cocks, the only sound in the otherwise silent chamber. Cold metal licks the side of my head, pressing through my sweat-laden curls, into my skin. The blood pulsing through my temples struggles against the pressure of the gun and the bullet promised in its barrel.

“Another.”

His demand is husky. Vocals ravaged by a life of chain-smoking and barking orders.

My vision swims and swirls. The remnants of ketamine he’d stabbed into my veins blur my sight, corrupt my perception of reality. The restraints pinning my ankles to the fancifully carved mahogany seat at the head of the dazzlingly long, disturbingly empty dining room table seem to tighten. Their leather kiss is not gentle. I can feel the bruises blooming, sickening violet, putrid yellow.

I lift another chunk of brain from the gilded china platter. Meat oozes beneath my fingernails. Grease slathers my palms.

“Go on.”

My sob is involuntary, muffled behind a mouthful of my sister’s cranial contents. I chew slowly. Nausea churns my gut but the shame is a thousand times more potent, warping my mind, roiling my stomach, cinching my throat tight like a garrote.

I splutter. Bits of grey matter and frothy saliva spray onto the immaculate tablecloth.

His revolver slams into my head, snapping my head to the left. I can’t help the pathetic yelp and the effeminate whimper that escapes my lips in fear of the bullet inside.

“Eat it.”

I am a coward.

I don’t want to die.

So I force her brain down my throat, waging a grotesque war against my humanity with my will to survive, to flee this godforsaken place, and put as much distance between me and this cannibalistic monster of a man.

“Eat.”

The gun is a frozen, undeniable force against my skull.

“Go ahead, Michael,” he says. “It’s okay to like it.”

I shiver. I cry. Snot and tears do nothing to improve the taste.

I shovel quivering handfuls of my sister’s brain into my mouth, murdered by the man’s unforgiving axe just hours before.

I eat it. Piece by agonizing piece, I eat it.

Gobs of it lodge between my teeth. Drool slathers my face. My stomach moans in betrayal.

“Wasn’t so bad, was it?” His laugh is deep, drawling, casual. “I’ve tried it every which way.”

The revolver is icy.

“Sautéed. Baked. Grilled.”

His breath is rank.

“But raw…”

Goosebumps sting my skin.

“That’s the way to go.”

And then he shoots me.

Should’ve never gone to that damned dinner party.

 

Brianna M. Fenty

Brianna Fenty is a state maritime academy alumna hailing from New York’s wonderfully weird Long Island area. After spending a few months learning highland voodoo from Scotland’s resident fairies (AKA taking a gap year), she now keeps busy at home begrudgingly searching for a day job, writing strange stories, and forcing her very moody cat to read them. Brianna specializes in writing bizarre speculative fiction, including horror, sci-fi, and dark fantasy. Her work can be followed on her blog, https://briannafenty.wordpress.com!

A Simple Accident

It was just a simple misstep on the stairs.  She landed heavily, neatly snapping her ankle.  There was no pain, unless she tried to move.  She was stuck.

She was alone; her husband was away on business, the phone was out of reach and the nearest neighbor a mile away.

For three days she lay there.  Their dog snuffled around trying to help, asking for food and water.

She realised she was going to die, not from the fracture, but from thirst.  The dog was the same.  She stared into its eyes.

“Help me.”

She felt breath against her throat.

RJ Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.

He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.

You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

The Chase

The intruder lunged, its claws grazed her arm. Clutching her cellphone, Helen burst from the house and scurried into the woods — her only escape. She could lose it in the woods.

No time for tears. Keep running. Breathe. Breath. Don’t look back. Run.

She switched on the phone’s flashlight. It helped a little.

Run. Run.

She tripped, but caught herself. She turned back. Nothing there.

Run. Breathe.

A sound came from the right. It reached for her. She dodged it.

Run. Run. I can’t see.

She tripped, falling head-first into a thick tree trunk. Helen was scared no more.

 

Pernell Rogers

Pernell Rogers is a product of the supernatural world. In his mind, the real world isn’t real at all. All human motivation is based on fear, and it’s that fear that he tries to expose in his writings.

You can follow his work on Smashwords.

The Greenhouse

Her ghost lurks in every corner. The shelf dust, the molding webs, even the corner shadows. I hadn’t been home in years.

“She’s obviously been here,” Mark said, pointing to ivy, flowering plants, fresh blooms. “Who else would care for these?”

But I didn’t reply. My brother’s question hung in the silent gloom as I traced roots along the walls, thickening like fat fingers pointing to a secret.

“Do you think she’s still living in this dump?” he yelled.

Vines wound their way into a back room, where they dug into Sarah’s corpse—the best fertilizer around.

“No, I don’t.”

Kevin Holton

Kevin Holton is the writer behind all sorts of work, ranging from dozens of short stories, to a variety of poems, and even a co-written screenplay. His first traditionally published novel, The Nightmare King, is forthcoming from Siren’s Call Publications. He also has a YouTube channel reading some of his drabbles and flash fiction. When not writing, he’s a gamer, actor, athlete, and coffee enthusiast who probably likes Batman too much.

You can follow his work on his homepage, Amazon, and Patreon.

The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with Lee Battersby

Selene – Please tell us a bit about yourself. Namely, why do you have two blogs, same content, two different places?

Lee – Heh. The two blogs thing is because I’m a touch lazy and a touch sentimental: I’ve had the Battersblog running on the Blogger platform for nearly 14 years now. It’s got a readership, and it’s archived by the Australian National Archives, so I’m rather fond of it. In the last year, I also set up a permanent website at leebattersby.com through WordPress, which has a blog as part of its central functionality, and is much more flexible than the Blogger platform, so I can include multiple pages and whatnot. But I’m still sentimentally attached to my old blog, and can’t bear to just shut it down and shift everything over to the new platform permanently. So, yeah: two blogs, with matching content– one of which is my shiny, tells-you-everything website, and one still hanging around like an old dog, lying blind and useless on my front porch, farting and gumming away at a bone.

As to myself, I’ve been around for about 16 years. I have 3 novels, a collection, and just over 80 stories on my ledger. I’ve won a couple of Australian Shadows Awards, an Aurealis, and a few others. I’m too fat, have pretty much run out of hair, and am addicted to Pokémon Go, dinosaurs, Nottingham Forest, Lego, boxing, graphic novels and metheglin. Apparently, I’m also an adult. I’m married to a brilliant writer in her own right, Lyn, and have three bonus kids and 2 of my own that I have to take responsibility for and can’t blame their behaviour on pixies.

Selene – I noticed a lot of humour on your blog, and there is a relationship between humour and horror. What makes you laugh? 

Lee – I have a fairly absurd sense of humour: I grew up inside an English tradition of comedy, so I have a lot of comedic heroes and influences like Spike Milligan, Kenneth Horne, Peter Cook and the like: the whole Oxbridge Mafia, and the British comics who came through the war are huge influences. But I’ve always been a bit dark, psychologically—my family situation growing up wasn’t ideal, and I’ve developed a fairly bleak and cynical side that probably expresses itself best in my horror work. I can be pretty misanthropic, and I think that comes out, too: a friend once said that even if I was capable of writing a story about fluffy, happy bunnies, they’d all end up in a soup.

Selene – Reading your bio would lead any of us noobs to think that you’re a sci-fi writer, although this is a horror blog. How do you approach writing horror vs. sci-fi? I mean, we all know the difference between, say, rocket ships and serial killers, but is there a thematic or structural approach that is fundamentally different?

Lee – That’s funny, because a science fiction writer is just about the last thing I think of myself as being. In something like 80-plus stories, I think I could point to less than half a dozen and say they were real science fiction. I just don’t have the scientific grounding, or curiosity, to write good science fiction. At best, I think I skirt the outsides of what the New Wave of the 60’s referred to as ‘science fantasy’—something a bit sciency, maybe, if you squinted at it in a dim light, but which is really a fantasy story that conforms to fantastic rules rather than scientific rigour. If I’m honest, I’ve published more poems than pure SF stories.

The same goes for horror. I think there are fairly entrenched rules for horror writing, and I think I come off as more of a fantasist who takes his fantasy into dark places. The two forms are much more closely aligned, but I think I write very differently than, say, James Herbert or Karon Warren. I think more along the lines of Paul Haines, who considered himself a fantasy author, but one who write fantasies you didn’t want to get caught up in.

Most styles of narrative writing require discipline and structural rules—most effective storytelling follows a character in action across a setting. It all has to contain a sense of verisimilitude, character identification, and willing suspension of disbelief. Where, say, horror and SF depart from each other is in the narrative components required to achieve that: good SF demands scientific and physical rigour, and realism that is more upfront than in more fantastic stories (I’m generalising like a mad thing, of course: for every argument, there is an equal and opposite ‘Yeah, but…’). More socially-based genres, such as horror and fantasy, require a set list of general physical rules but throw the weight of verisimilitude on cultural interaction and emotional believability.

That is the grossest, and most generalised approach to outlining the differences you could ask for, but it is, perhaps, a starting point. What I tend to refer to when teaching writing is the concept of ‘The World Plus One’—the easiest way to create a fantasy narrative is to take a recognisable world and alter one component so that it no longer fits: you could enter a particular genre based on what component you choose to alter, and how.

I could ramble about the various whys and wherefores all day, but that would be a column in its own right……

Selene – How did you start writing, and why genre fiction instead of something else? 

 

Lee – My first publications, way back when I was attending University in the late 80s and early 90s, were poems. I never set out to be a speculative fiction writer. All I’ve ever wanted to do was be a writer, period. But I’ve been a lifelong reader of speculative fiction, so my thought processes fall naturally into that sphere. And once I’d made my first sale within the genre, they kept coming. In effect, I trapped myself into a way of working that became a simple circle of call-and-response. I’m now in a position where I’m trying to broaden myself again—to work across several genres and forms as I’d always intended—but my reputation remains largely within the Australian speculative fiction field.

 

I have an enormous amount of love for speculative fiction, and for the SF community, but as an artist I don’t want to limit my growth by sticking to one label.

 

 

Selene –  You mentioned a former teacher who hated genre fiction. What do you think are the differences between genre and other types of writing? 

 

Lee – Suspension of disbelief. A good story has to contain the necessary elements, no matter what form it comes in. The only difference is that ‘genre’ fiction has a secondary set of criteria to match—not just speculative fiction, but romance, westerns, crime: anything that can be pigeonholed by its narrative conventions is ‘genre’. Frankly, the snobbery towards speculative fiction boggles me. I’ve written across a number of forms and genres, and it’s all bloody difficult to get right. That’s what makes it fun. If it was easy, anybody could do it.

 

That particular tutor—Elizabeth Jolley—was a contemptuous sort of teacher, who held anything not in her own wheelhouse in disdain. She should never have been in charge of a group of aspiring authors: she had no understanding of the requirements of writing, in a wider sense, and absolutely no ability to interact with people who wanted to work in anything outside her very strict, realist definition of literature. God knows what she’d have done with an aspiring Keats or Borges. But her name brought credibility to what was one of only 2 or 3 tertiary writing programs in the country at the time, I guess. It probably took me ten years to unlearn what she taught, and to create work that actually found a market.

 

 

Selene – On your blog, you write about your experiences at a writers’ retreat. How does this enrich one’s experiences as a writer? Most of us who can’t afford it can only look at the photos! 

Lee – I wish I could afford a retreat, too! I was fortunate to be chosen as the Establish Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre this year, and I can’t overstate how wonderful it was to be able to spend 2 weeks focussing solely on my writing, with nobody else’s timetable even entering my mind. Real Life ™ has eaten my writing career alive over the last 2 years: being able to put absolutely everything else aside, even the things and people I love, and focus only on the act of writing, was immensely liberating.

 

Selene –  I guess “where do you get your ideas” is a common question, but what does influence your stories? What do you like to write about?

Lee – A lot of it is simply following your passions and reading widely. I think any artist owes it to themselves to absorb as many experiences as they can. Then it’s a matter of your ability to intertextualise—to draw comparisons and contracts between all those bits of data you have filed away, all those experiences you’ve accumulated. Stories don’t really happen in the learning of facts, or the observation of events—it’s the space in between them, the places where otherwise unrelated nuggets of understanding overlap, that creates ideas. And the more of them you have, the more you’re exposed to the world and creating this ongoing web of connections and inferences, the more ideas you’ll have.

After that, whatever the voices in your head tell you is your problem……

For myself, amongst many other subjects, I have a special love of what I think of as ‘hidden histories’: histories of things outside the mainstream, or which you might not think of as having a story. For example, one of my favourite authors, Catharine Arnold, has written histories of Bethlem Hospital, of London’s funerary practices, its criminal classes, and so on. I also have a deep love of true crime, particularly from before the 20th century. As a horror writer, they’re not bad as staring points J

 

Selene – You mention world-building on your site, and that you’ve developed some theories over the years. What is the best approach to world-building? I know it’s extremely important in sci-fi and fantasy, but how is it the same or different for horror? 

Lee – I think it’s exactly the same. What makes for good speculative fiction is the disturbance in the status quo. But for that to be effective, you first have to establish that status quo. I see a lot of horror stories where writers simply throw everything at the reader in the hopes that some of it will have an effect, and those stories always end up reading a bit like a child jumping in puddles: lots of splashing, very little impact. Verisimilitude is everything: if your reader believes in the world you’re portraying, then they’ll believe in the abuses you visit upon that world when they arrive.

I run entire workshops on this subject, but the very short, Reader’s Digest version is: make sure everything works. If you depart from what we accept as our reality– where the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, and gravity is nine metres per second per second, and up is up and down is down and all that jazz—then that departure has to be justifiable, and it has to work within the physical constraints of the Universe you’re creating.

So, your Universe must have rules, even if you’re writing a story set in the hidden 10th level of Hell, because without them, there is nothing for reality, (or if you’re writing a story about unreality breaking into normalcy, the other way around), to react against. Fiction is based on restraint and conflict—if anything can happen, then nothing that happens has consequence. And without consequence, there is no conflict.

 

Selene – I notice you’re a Doctor Who fan. I’m not (sorry!) and haven’t watched the show since I was very young, back in the late 70s/early 80s when it was the guy with the fro and the scarf. I noticed the trailer for the female Doctor on your site, and was wondering what you think of the gender-flipping that’s been happening with characters. Female Ghostbusters. Female Ocean’s (Eight) Eleven and Lord of the Flies. A male Heather Duke. Is there something to be gained by a gender swap, or is it just a calculated move toward “inclusion?” 

Lee – I’m not at all averse to gender-swapping. I think it can do wonderful things to a narrative, and bring light to issues that may not be apparent in the original text. The Ghostbusters reboot is a fantastic example of that: the original is a story about a bunch of guys who are frustrated in their attempts to catch ghosts because ‘normal’ society thinks they’re a bit kooky. Then it gets gender-swapped, and there’s a whole new level of conversation that happens about how women with innovative ideas are marginalised. It immediately layers the narrative.

Where it enables those new commentaries to be opened up, I think gender-swapping—and colour-swapping, which can also bring new things to a text but doesn’t seem to capture the same media attention– is an excellent idea. Like any narrative tool, if it’s used effectively, then it should be explored. Where it will be ineffective is if it’s just used as a way to drop a female actor into an unchanged text. If so, nothing changes. You just add a layer of exploitation.

 

Selene – I read about your “writing karass” on your blog, the idea that certain people influence you. How did you come up with this idea, and what does it mean? Does this ever affect how you develop your character ideas?

Lee – The karass is a concept dreamed up by Kurt Vonnegut for his novel “Cat’s Cradle”— a group of people who are linked spiritually, without necessarily knowing it or understanding the link. It’s a measure of effect, rather than overt cultural placement. You could be a part of my karass because you performed what, for you, was a small act, but one that had a lasting effect upon me.

I like the idea, because it’s a way for a person to catalogue and include the people who have affected the course of their life, without ever having more than a single act or moment. It also allows you to give equal weight to good or bad actions based not on their intent or duration, but on their effect: Elizabeth Jolley is a member of my writing-based karass because of her negative actions over a period of time, just as Algis Budrys is because of a brief positive action that was small for him, but momentous for me.

 

Selene – Is there a type of character or a story idea you haven’t written yet but would like to? Why or why not?

Lee – Oh, hundreds. As I said earlier, I set out to be a writer, not just a writer of a specific genre. I really want to have the kind of career where I wander from idea to idea as the whim takes me. So, I’ve not written a crime novel yet, or a post-apocalyptic western, or a comic book series. I’ve not written a TV series, or a stage play. I’ve not written an historical, or a memoir, or a picture book.

I have more plans than I have lifetime J

 

Selene – What are you working on now? What’s coming in the near future for you? 

Lee – Writing’s been a bit up and down for me for the last 18 months. I’ve gone through some difficult times at my day job that have affected my writing life. I’m chipping away at a new children’s novel, entitled “Ghost Tracks”, about a boy who is tricked into derailing the ghost of a train and then has to travel to the ghost world to make amends. And my wife and I are about to undergo a big life change that should mean I can devote more time to writing: essentially, we’re going to undergo a job swap that will see her become the main breadwinner and I’ll stay at home. She’s about to finish qualifying as a teacher, and we’ll be going country for the next couple of years, which will enable me to keep house, write, and devote some time to setting up an arts consultancy business, which I’ve been toying with doing for a little while. If that happens, I’ll be looking to spend 2 years absolutely cranking out work to get my career back where I want it to be.

 

 Selene – You mentioned you started writing in 1989. How has writing and publishing changed in the last 28 (gulp!) years, and what’s the same about it?

 

Lee – My first publication—a poem—was in 1989, during my first year of University. It was written on a manual typewriter. I made a copy on the library photocopier, for the princely sum of 4 cents. I sent it in an A4 envelope. When I sent overseas, I had to include International Return Coupons so that my rejection (and they were all rejections) could be sent back to me. I kept track of my submissions using a card system in 2 boxes—one for stories, and one for markets—which I filled out in pen, after having received submission guidelines by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the market in question. Those guidelines I punched and kept in a file.

 

As of right now, I haven’t sent a story in hardcopy to a publisher in over half a decade. All my records are kept in a single Excel spreadsheet. I haven’t received a physical cheque in I don’t know how long—even my overseas payments happen by direct deposit. Everything is quicker, easier, and simpler. The internet is the best invention in the history of writing. And it’s all portable. I have a hard drive the size of my palm that contains my entire career amongst the other 1 terabyte of information inside of it. I love living in the world of tomorrow.

 

Perhaps what’s changed most for me—and keep in mind that I don’t buy e-books, I don’t own an e-reader, and I still get depressed when websites close and take my story with them—is the widespread acceptance of how temporary the nature of the reading experience is, now. Reading is a form of disposable entertainment, whereas the purchase and storage of books is something permanent, and something that can be revisited. It’s illusory, of course—second-hand book stores exist for a reason—but I feel like the last vestige of the generation for whom physical books meant something. That’s my hang-up, though: my inability to adapt to the prevailing culture.

 

On the flip side, as an artist, not a lot about the creation of work has changed: no matter the tools you use, the basic building blocks of creation are as they have always been—the tenets of storytelling still require you to connect with your audience, to gain their belief and participation, and to deliver a satisfying narrative. Everything else—the means by which you do so, the cultural markers and milestones you incorporate, the way you deliver the product– is just adaptation, which should be part of the basic artist toolkit anyway.

 

 

Selene – If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing? 

Lee – I’d be suicidal in the Public Service. When my writing career really kicked off, I was working for the Tax Office, having been shunted there after a disastrous spell in the Child Support Agency, which is the most toxic environment in which I’ve ever worked. I was deeply miserable, and essentially giving in to depression. My arts work, largely based around my writing, was the key to escaping that atmosphere: I was able to get a job in arts administration, and escape. If not for that, I’d probably still be there, and I would be absolutely radioactive as a person.

 

Selene – What advice would you give an aspiring writer, or one who’s just starting now?

Lee – Diversify. Don’t think of yourself as a writer in a lineal sense. Don’t constrain yourself to one genre, or one form of expression. I started out as a poet, am best known for horror and dark fantasy, and find myself working in children’s books at the moment…. with side-quests in stand-up comedy, cartooning, legislative writing, reviews, theatre, and more. Everything I’ve done along the way has given me a new set of skills to draw upon. The bigger your arsenal, the more you’ll have to use when the time comes. Don’t fall into the trap of limiting your experiences, your skill set, and your opportunities, by allowing the publishing industry to dictate what kind of an artist you are.

 

Selene – Is there anything else you’d like to talk about here? 

Lee – I’ve always felt that art should never be comfort food. Even horror has its comfort zones, its warm snuggly blankets, and its banalities. But art should be a guerrilla enterprise—it’s our job, as artists, to question the status quo; to undermine it if necessary. Art should always throw the beliefs and acceptances of the audience into question. It should always discomfit. Write all the happy books about how great grandmothers are that you want. You may even sell them and make some money. But you won’t be remembered. Art is subversion, and we need be strong enough to continue to subvert wherever and whenever we can.

Can I borrow a stepladder? This soapbox is high……

 

You can follow Lee’s blog’s here:

 

leebattersby.com

battersblog.blogspot.com

 

 

Taking Submissions: After The Orange

Deadline: December 15th, 2017
Payment: $0.02 cent a word paid on publication + shared royalties.

B Cubed Press is accepting short story submissions for “After the Orange,” an original science fiction and fantasy anthology about the post-Trump world.

The Premise:

The Trump Presidency has come and gone.  Has this invoked the Trump Dynasty or has it spawned a return to core values, a hedonistic paradise or what?  Truly, what does the future, the post Trump future hold?

What We Want:

We are looking for near- or farther-future stories, society as it is AFTER 2032 – at least two presidential election cycles after Donald Trump’s last eligibility. Show us America or the world in a new era, or look at world politics changed by the actions of US policies and people. Or go beyond.

Stories may present an optimistic or pessimistic, utopian or apocalyptic visions of the future, with some clear connection to current events and the world as it is in 2017. Political shenanigans would be interesting, as well as romance, spooks, robots and evil overlords, satire or parodies. But remember, the world has moved on. The editors generally favor character- and/or plot-driven stories.

How to Submit:

Send submissions IN STANDARD MANUSCRIPT FORMAT* to: [email protected] in .doc., .docx, . or rtf .

Deadline – 12/15/2017

Publication Date. – Spring/Summer 2018

Word Counts – 500-5000 words

Pay US $0.02 cent a word paid on publication + shared royalties.

Via: B Cubed Press.

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