the Little Red Reviewer

A quick chat with Apex Maggers Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner

Posted on: April 2, 2017

We’re getting close to the halfway point of the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive, (and holy cow have you seen the awesome stuff in the Drive Store?!?!?!) so let’s catch up with Editor in Chief Jason Sizemore and Managing Editor Lesley Conner!   Jason and Lesley let me pick their brains, and it is very important that the resulting document they sent me back was exactly 666 words!  Now that I’ve wrecked that  word count with an intro and outtro, let’s get to the interview!

 

Andrea:  I really loved the print edition of Apex Magazine:SFFH Volume 0. What needs to happen for there to be more of these?

Jason: Glad you liked it. I kind of did it in a nostalgic cloud for the old Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest of yore.

Like most things, it comes down to time and money. I don’t expect the print edition to make Apex the big bucks, but it has to at least pay for itself and make enough profit for me to buy a bag of Nate’s Coffee.

The ultimate answer: more copies need to be sold.

Andrea: How many short story submissions do you get in a month? Are there certain times of the year when you get way more submissions, or times of the year when the quantity of submissions dip?

Lesley:  We average between 800 and 1,200 submissions a month. We definitely get more submissions in January and right after we open after being closed for a while. Other than that, the rate at which we receive stories seems to be pretty constant. Apex Magazine is typically open 9 or more months out of the year, so yeah … we read a LOT of stories. Good thing I love it!

Andrea: When you’re reading a submission, what makes you say “I gotta buy this story!”

Jason: One of the things I’m proudest of is how well Apex Magazine has branded itself. So many of our fans and readers tell me that there is a certain…tone or theme that makes our original fiction standout as an ‘Apex story.’ Writers who read our zine have a huge advantage over those that don’t for that reason. Certain writers from the get-go tap into this with ease: Rich Larson, Lavie Tidhar, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ursula Vernon.

I’m big on ideas, characterization, and symbolism. I like stories that carry an edginess. Stories that can tap into my emotions are particularly great, as I’m a rather emotionless editor (okay…this is true of most editors).

Lesley: Stories that evoke a strong emotional reaction definitely grab my attention. Also, great characterization and a since of purpose. If I finish a story and immediately want to read it again, then I’m definitely sending it up to Jason.

Andrea: What are you hobbies when you’re not working on the magazine?

Jason: My favorite hobby is giving Lesley Conner a hard time. Other hobbies include chasing Pumpkin the Apex Cat around the house, playing video games (it’s my mindless escape), ranting about the inequities of life, and reading (of course).

Lesley: When I’m not wearing my Apex editor hat, you can often find me doing something cool with my Girl Scout troop. Whether we are camping, going on trips, making a horror movie, baking goodies for our local police officers, or volunteering at the food bank, the girls in my troop really know how to keep me running!

If I have a break from both Apex and Girl Scouts, then I’m doing something … calmer. Reading, hiking, yoga—things that are nice and relaxing amid my chaotic life.

Andrea: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Jason: Some favorite writers include Nick Cutter, Ben Winters, Nisi Shawl, Cat Valente, Cherie Priest, and Nick Mamatas (but please don’t tell him). My writer crush is Jacqueline Carey.

Lesley: How much room do I have to answer?

For short fiction, I adore Rich Larson, Damien Angelica Walters, E. Catherine Tobler, Douglas Warrick, Sarah Pinsker, A. Merc Rustad, Iori Kusano, James Beamon … There are so many fantastic authors writing really stellar short fiction right now; I could go on and on. For longer work, I will pick up anything and everything by J.F. Gonzalez, Sarah Pinborough, Cherie Priest, David Wellington, Shirley Jackson, and Katherine Dunn. I’ve recently read books by Consuelo Saah Baehr, Laura Hillenbrand, Fredrik Backman, and Paolo Bacigalupi and really enjoyed them so I’ll definitely be looking for more.

… I may have a slight reading habit.

 

Andrea: Thanks Jason, Thanks Lesley!  I really have no idea how those to do it. They must have some kind of time creation machine that lets them have 32 hours in each day.

 

Hey, did you know? The $3500 award in Revive the Drive is me getting to harass interview Jason over Skype!  Which means I need all sorts of fun questions. The above interview was informative and all, but those were some gentle questions, wouldn’t you say? Give me some suggestions of both heavy duty and crazy things to ask Jason!   If the video goesn’t go viral on YouTube, we’ve failed in our mission!

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