Ty Drago: An Author’s Journey and ALLEGORY
Ty Drago: An Author’s Journey and ALLEGORY
By Angelique Fawns
Ty Drago has been writing fantastic fiction and creating a home for speculative short stories for almost 25 years. With the recent release of his latest YA novel RAGS, and a career shift to full-time writing, Drago opens up about the next chapter of his life.
You can check out his new novel here:
In my own personal writing journey, ALLEGORY ezine has been a beacon of hope and encouragement. I’ve been submitting to this biannual speculative fiction market since 2018. ALLEGORY sent me several personalized rejections which were thoughtful and encouraging. Four years later, I finally sold them my slipstream fantasy “The Guanche, the Iguana, and the Kidnapping of Anita Brown.”
AF: Tell me about the birth and inspiration for ALLEGORY?
TD: Well, let’s see. Picture this:
It’s 1998 and I’m a struggling author. I’ve sold a few short stories but that’s pretty much it. So, in an admittedly self-serving effort to get my name out there, I get it into my head to start an ezine. As it happens, I already own a domain name called peridotbooks.com, which is left over from an earlier half-brained idea of mine to set up a rare books business.
In June of that year, the first issue of PERIDOT BOOKS launches. I receive just enough submissions (six of them) to fill it. Reception is…mixed.
Short afterward, as I’m planning the second issue, I’m contacted by a woman named Kelly Ferjutz. She’s a writer, editor, and publisher of “regency” romances. She volunteers to become PERIDOT BOOKS’ proofreader, and I gratefully accept. She continues in that role until her death in 2021.
As the ezine grows, more and more submissions come in, making it harder to keep up all by my lonesome. So, I start recruiting assistant editors. The first is a young woman named Kimberley Bradford, who helps me with the website’s first redesign. Later, after Kim moves onto green pastures, along come Linda Cambier and many others.
In 2006, PERIDOT BOOKS enjoys a long overdue name change to ALLEGORY (www.allegoryezine.com). As further years pass, it goes from a quarterly, to a tri-annual, to a bi-annual publication. However, while the ezine’s frequency of publication decreases, the number of fiction pieces it showcases annually does not. ALLEGORY currently publishes twelve stories twice a year, in May and November, with a staff of thirteen dedicated volunteers sifting through between 600 and 800 submissions per issue. We charge no subscriptions, accept no advertising, pay our authors for their work, and would stack our readership up against that of pretty much any other genre publication in the world.
It’s been almost a quarter of a century, and ALLEGORY is still going strong!
AF: What type of story does ALLEGORY typically look for? What is the secret sauce for an ALLEGORY acceptance?
TD: I get this question a lot, so I’ll tell you what I tell everyone else. We look for strong, character-driven tales of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We believe in grabbing the reader from the first line and pulling them through the story with a well-paced narrative and relatable characters. Emotional impact is key. Make me laugh, and you’ve got a good shot. Make me cry, and you’re in!
AF: In my opinion you have the best first readers in the business. Can you tell me about them, and how the chemistry of your masthead works?
TD: You’re obviously very perceptive! LOL! I’m fiercely proud of our staff, each of whom donates their time and energy to helping introduce exciting new voices to the world of speculative fiction. I honestly can’t say enough good things about these men and women! Without them, there would be no ALLEGORY.
Currently, we have two tiers of editors. Well, three, if you include me. Associate editors read slush and then pass along their critiques and recommendations to me. Then I reach out to the individual authors myself, incorporating the editorial comments in either a rejection letter or a “maybe” letter. More on “maybes” later. The next tier is senior editors, who receive their own ALLEGORY email addresses and respond to authors directly, notifying me of the “maybes” so that I can add them to the list. Every senior editor is vetted by me to make sure the ezine’s style of rejection (constructive criticism only) is maintained. So far, I have yet to be disappointed by anyone! They’re truly great people!
Okay now, “maybes.” ALLEGORY doesn’t buy ahead. Every one of our issues is self-contained. We read the stories that come in during each submission period, and those that have promise are declared “maybes” and put into a bucket for later evaluation. Then, when the submission period is over, the senior editors and I go through the “maybes” that have collected (usually around 50 or 60 of them!) and whittle them down to the final twelve that will be included in the coming issue. Those “maybes” that don’t make the final cut are offered “honorable mentions.” Some accept. Some don’t.
That’s how it’s worked almost from the beginning.
AF: Do you have a day job? What is it?
TD: I spent 35 years in Corporate America but retired in 2018. Now I write novels and manage ALLEGORY full-time. Yay, me!
AF: You are a writer yourself and recently released a new book. Can you tell me a bit about Rags? Is it the beginning of a series?
TD: “Rags” is a YA horror novel. It’s set in Atlantic City, NJ in December of 1982 and tells the story of 16-year-old Abby Lowell. She’s an orphan living in a crowded but loving foster home that occupies a dilapidated hotel a half-block from the famous Boardwalk. One night, she and her foster sister are saved from drugged-out gangbangers by a mysterious, hooded figure wearing dumpster-divings and wielding a long, black-bladed knife with deadly precision. Abby dubs him “Rags” and, while she’s frightened of him, she soon comes to rely on him after he saves her again, and again.
This is because the ruthless Bernard brothers have decided to buy her foster parents’ hotel to build yet another casino, and they won’t take “no” for an answer. Add to the mix their army of thugs and their grandmother, an ancient and powerful Voodoo witch, and Abby finds herself in desperate need of a champion, even one as violent and mysterious as Rags. But to save her family, Abby must not only discover the shocking truth about Rags, but also accept that truth, terrible as it is, before it’s too late.
Anyway, that’s Rags!
AF: You also have a series called The Undertakers. Can you tell me about it? How successful has it been? Do you have more books in this world planned for the future?
TD: I had a lot of success with The Undertakers, I’m happy to say. It’s a five-book series (plus one novelette) and each was extremely well-received. I loved the experience! As to the possibility of continuing the adventures of my teenage heroes? Well, let’s just say the publisher has asked me to consider it. But their story is told and, were I to start up another one with the same characters, I would need a new concept and new villains to make it work. Honestly, I don’t see it happening. But never say never!
AF: What is happening with the feature film based on the first book?
TD: They’ve been trying to turn The Undertakers into a movie for a while now. The people involved are great, especially Andrew van den Houten, who has championed the effort from the get-go, and Jeffrey Reddick (creator of the Final Destination series), who penned the screenplay. I consider both these gents to be good friends and I know they want to see it happen as much as I do. But the film industry is challenging, to say the least, and these things take time…
AF: How do you manage to find the time for writing? Do you have any routines or hints for others struggling to find success in the publishing world?
TD: Back when I was working, I deliberately rose at 5 am each weekday morning and wrote for two hours before heading off to make money. These days, being comfortably retired, I can write whenever the muse strikes—which is a lot. In the last four years, I’d penned and sold four novels and I have high hopes for a fifth!
AF: What’s in the future for Allegory and Ty Drago?
TD: ALLEGORY is going strong. She’s a “grand old lady of the Internet” at this point and I have no plans to change that. But, after twenty-five years, I’m not as young as I once was, so I guess we’ll see.
As for writing…I’ll keep authoring novels until they pry the keyboard from my cold dead hands! I’m a storyteller by nature. I couldn’t stop if I wanted to!
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this peek into one writer/editor/publisher’s peculiar psyche. Good luck out there and keep writing!
- About the Author
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Angelique Fawns writes horror, fantasy, kids short stories, and freelance journalism. Her day job is producing promos and after hours she takes care of her farm full of goats, horses, chickens, and her family. She has no idea how she finds time to write. She currently has stories in Ellery Queen, DreamForge Anvil, and Third Flatiron’s Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses. You can follow her work and get writing tips and submission hints at http://fawns.ca/.