WIHM 2022: An Interview With Stephanie Ellis
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 anthologies in the horror industry. We’re continuing our Women Who Edit Interview series with Stephanie Ellis.
Could you introduce yourself, and tell us a little about you?
Hi Holley, thanks for inviting me here! I’m Steph, author of the novel The Five Turns of the Wheel and the novellas Paused and Bottled with Silver Shamrock. I’m also a poet and have recently published the found poetry collection Foundlings, co-written with Cindy O’Quinn based on the works of Alessandro Manzetti and Linda D. Addison. I’ve self-published a folk horror collection, As the Wheel Turns, and a non-themed collection, The Reckoning. I am co-editor of Horror Tree’s weekly online flash zine, Trembling With Fear, and its associated anthologies and have been co-editor of anthologies from the Infernal Clock (Infernal Clock, DeadCades, CalenDark and Inferno) and Black Angel Press’ Daughter of Darkness I and II with Alyson Faye. As well as editing these books, I was also responsible for formatting and in some cases, cover creation. I am a member of the Dark Fusion podcast with Beverley Lee and Shane Douglas Keene and an active member of the HWA where I have joined their mentorship programme to support other writers.
With my family all grown-up(!), I’ve been able to move into the world of ‘full-time’ writing, with the support of my husband, although sometimes this means more time to procrastinate!
What is (or was) the most rewarding aspect of editing an anthology, magazine, or collection?
There are two rewards. One comes from accepting a story which you can see is a diamond in the rough and working with the author to pull that story out, especially when it’s someone at the beginning of their career. Giving a new writer their first break in print is a big thing. I know how I felt and it’s wonderful to offer others that same opportunity.
The other is seeing the finished product. At the start, you’re presented with stories which are often wildly differently formatted (regardless of guidelines) or which may follow different style rules, eg UK versus US. It’s a lot of work to bring them into a coherent whole, but when you see it come together and look as good as anything else on your shelf – then that is a moment of pride.
What is (or was) the worst aspect of editing an anthology, magazine, or collection?
Some of the tedious checks you have to apply. I use Search and Replace for a lot of things but I have yet to discover how to do a Search and Replace for the smart (ie straight) apostrophes or speech marks and change them to the ‘curly’ version. So it’s an individual search which takes a while. If anyone can tell me how this is done using this feature, please let me know – I’d love them forever! Applying a style with the correct font doesn’t always pick these up.
Another difficulty can sometimes arise when a story has been accepted subject to editing and the author resists taking those comments onboard. You can push so far – politely – but when a brick wall comes up, it’s tough and the feeling that you’re including a story that hasn’t realized its full potential can irk. Do you still include it? Do you drop it? Is the author a friend? It’s a difficult situation. This is a bit of an elephant in the room for anthologies and most don’t talk about it. I didn’t realise others had experienced similar until I spoke to a few editors privately. I will say this hasn’t happened very often – before people start thinking, ‘does she mean me?’. But the situation is there so it may as well be acknowledged. On a personal level, if I’ve been invited to submit to an anthology – a rare occasion! – I will always indicate I understand if it’s not what they’re after and that they might still reject my story. I believe it’s a professional courtesy which removes some of the anxiety for the editor.
In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of creating a collection or issue?
That the stories fit together is very important. It’s easier for a themed collection but when it’s non-specific then it’s harder to balance, for instance there may be a trend to quiet horror in the ones you’d accepted so far and then a wonderful extreme horror comes in but you just can’t include it because its tone jars.
Proper proof-reading, editing and formatting. Absolute attention to detail. I will hold my hands up here and say yes, things will slip through. Even with that vital necessary second pair of eyes on the product, it happens but the goal is to make it as clean as it can possibly be. Though it annoys me, finding typos in books from the big publishers always gives me a little reassurance. We are human after all. This is where the ability to correct a manuscript and upload it to amazon in quick time – allowing for its tendency to tell you to make tea whilst you wait – is a god send.
I want to throw in here, that editors who are writers will still make the same mistakes and typos as others, although probably to a lesser extent. We too, need those extra eyes!
Is there anything you’d like people to know about you or your work?
I’m approachable and willing to help folk wherever I can. I know how isolating writing can be, how much of an outsider you can feel when you see people engaging with each other online in their ‘magic circles’, and you wonder when you’re going to be seen as part of this world. I’m more than happy to connect, help and support, although I have to balance online time with my work!
As to my work, I am 2/3 through my next novella for Silver Shamrock and writing shorts for anthology submissions like everyone else. I am an avid music fan, particularly of heavy metal, and I am combining the two in a found poetry project, tentatively titled Metallurgy with a section from me (Of Love and Death and Metal) and a section from Cindy O’Quinn who is mining Classic Rock (Between a Rock and Hard Place). This is a labour of love so there is no set publication date, it will appear when it feels right, as will Revenant, a poetry collaboration with Shane Douglas Keene.
If we’d like to cyber stalk you, where can we find you online?
Twitter: @el_Stevie – the main place to find me
Instagram: stephanieellis7963 – though I keep forgetting to go there!
Link(s) to anthology/magazine/etc. you’d like our readers to check out:
Daughters of Darkness I http://mybook.to/DaughtersofDarkness
Daughters of Darkness II http://mybook.to/DaughtersofDarknessII
- About the Author
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Holley Cornetto was born and raised in Alabama, but now lives in New Jersey where she writes dark fantasy, horror, and weird fiction. To date, her writing appears in over a dozen magazines and anthologies. To indulge her love of books and stories, she became a librarian. She is also a writer, because the only thing better than being surrounded by stories is to create them herself. In 2021, she earned an MFA in fiction writing from Lindenwood University. She is a proud member of the Horror Writers Association.