WIHM 2022: An Interview With Editor Rebecca Rowland

In celebration of Women in Horror Month, we are continuing to highlight some of the amazing work that women have been doing compiling and editing magazines and story collections in the horror industry. We’re continuing our Women Who Edit Interview series with Rebecca Rowland.

Could you introduce yourself, and tell us a little about you?

Hi! My name is Rebecca Rowland, and I write and curate dark fiction. By day, I teach high school English in a large, urban district, and I really like my students. I like to think of my role as an author/ghostwriter/editor as my superhero identity: it’s not something I necessarily promote in my day life, but people seem intrigued (slash, surprised) when they do learn of it. Also, the wardrobe is much more comfortable than my day job’s. 😊

What is (or was) the most rewarding aspect of editing an anthology, magazine, or collection?

It’s varied from project to project, but overall, having a writer tell me that s/he was truly happy with how a submission was handled, from the editing process to the promotion of the work, has made me the happiest. I try very hard to treat authors the way I want to be treated, to value writers’ contributions the way I want my work to be handled. I am far from perfect, but if an author tells me I’ve done exactly that, it makes everything worthwhile. 

What is (or was) the worst aspect of editing an anthology, magazine, or collection?

It sounds clichéd but having to send out rejection letters is by far the worst part. With every project I’ve curated there have been submissions that were wonderful but just didn’t work for one reason or another, and I know what it’s like to receive a rejection email, especially for a story that means a great deal to me. Even if a submission is haphazardly tossed together or it’s obvious the writer didn’t even bother to read the call requirements, I still feel a twinge of sadness sending a rejection. We put a piece of ourselves in everything we write, and submitting a story is a lot like asking someone out on a date. Even if the date is a casual thing, it still stings a bit if the person says no. 

In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of creating a collection or issue?

Quality of writing and variety. First and foremost, while kind and careful copy-editing can clean up mechanical issues, there’s no faking a talent for writing cadence, so if I come across a well-written story in a slush pile or among submissions for a call, I earmark it immediately. When I’m whittling down the final line-up, I try to focus on diversity of voice, plotline, and approach. I enjoy anthologies and lit mags as a reader because I know, if I’m not jazzed about one story, it’s likely—if the overall work is curated well—that I’ll love the next one. It’s also fascinating to see how different authors interpret themes or subgenres.

Is there anything you’d like people to know about you or your work?

I am horribly, painfully shy. I know that’s true of many writers, and it seems like an odd quality for someone who presents in front of more than a hundred students every day, but I do want people to know that if we meet at a convention or event and I seem awkward or unnervingly quiet, it’s not them. I’m awkward and unnervingly quiet! While it may creep the hell out of some people, I’ve made peace with that weird personality glitch of mine. I think it makes me a better listener and closer reader, two qualities that perhaps work in my favor when writing, curating, and reviewing.

If we’d like to cyber stalk you, where can we find you online? 

I’d love it if people would check out my website (RowlandBooks.com): I try to keep it updated with everything I’m doing, from book reviews to upcoming projects, but I’m also trying to be better at maintaining my Instagram @Rebecca_Rowland_books even though I’m still not a fan of taking selfies. 

Link(s) to anthology/magazine/etc. you’d like our readers to check out:

My two most recent anthologies are Unburied: A Collection of Queer Dark Fiction and Generation X-ed: I’d be over the moon if readers took a look at them. The authors are truly kick-ass and gifted, and I still feel grateful they trusted their work with me.

Unburied book site

Generation X-ed book site

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