Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Two in a Row

I often tell would-be contributors to ST that it’s quite definitely not a horror magazine. This is because would-be contributors often send me emails along these lines:

'Hi Dave!

I’d like to know if you are interested in receiving submissions right now? My work has appeared in Nutjobs with Power Tools 1, 2, 3, and 5, along with Slashed, Poked, Crushed, Gorefest, Bloodspurt, Disembowelled Orphans, Put That Down, Myron, It’s Rusty! and other leading literary periodicals. My novella ‘Rabid Woodchucks in Chopperville’ was shortlisted for the Wouldn’t Be Allowed to Roam the Streets in a More Rationally Ordered Society Award for budding authors. I am currently working on a novel about aliens that suck people’s brains out through their eyeballs, as friends tell me children’s books are easy money. My hobbies include thinking wrong things about Girl Guides, eating cold pizza and wearing the same death metal tee-shirt for months on end. I hope to learn the banjo if I can win a scholarship and my teeth become sufficiently decayed.'

And so on, and so forth. Perhaps I exaggerate a trifle. I exaggerate a whole heap of profiteroles given half a chance. But the point is that the more visceral and (to me) cheap brand of horror isn’t especially interesting. Apart from being unrealistic, it has the same tedious quality as bad pornographic fiction. It takes very little imagination, and no talent whatsoever, to write badly about people behaving badly. 

Now I’ve got that off my hairless sunken chest, let me add that I am always delighted when a good horror editor picks up a story from ST and hands the writer a chunky cheque. This has now happened two years’ running with the benchmark UK anthology The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.  Editor Stephen Jones picked up Lynda E. Rucker’s story ‘The Last Reel’, from ST10.  A year later, he chose Joel Lane’s ‘Still Water’, which appeared in ST13. I am chuffed about this, as the only previous appearance in the MBBNH was Chico Kidd’s story ‘Cats and Architecture’ from ST1. Bit of a hiatus, there.

I suspect that being afforded this accolade two years running is a coincidence. There’s always an element of luck in these things. But, fingers crossed, I’ve got some good stuff coming up this year. Including, as it happens, another story by Joel Lane. Could it be third time lucky? Pass the profiteroles. 


Todd T said...

Admit it: not only did you _not_ exaggerate, you quoted verbatim from a letter on your desk right now.

It may be a while before I'm done chuckling over that letter.

Congrats on the best-of selections. I think there have been other stories just as good as those two in ST during that period, so it is partly luck, and partly editorial taste.

valdemar squelch said...

Sad to say, TT, I do get some wildly inappropriate stuff. People don't read the magazine first, y'see, which is a fatal mistake, especially for an aspiring writer. But if I want to make sure someone never submits anything to me again all I do is say 'Your stuff reminds me a bit of James Herbert'. Or, if they're American, Dean Koontz.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Hilarious post. The "steaming-pile-of-guts" school of horror seems to be doing just fine on the writing end; thanks to discerning editors, I don't see it much in the magazines I subscribe to (Weird Tales, Doorways, Something Wicked, Cemetery Dance).

That's great news on the stories you've published moving on to anthologies. Keep up the great work.