the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Interview

When the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive hit $3500, it unlocked me doing a No Boundaries interview with Jason Sizemore, editor-in-chief of the magazine.  The fundraiser reached that goal a few days ago, and we recorded the interview the other night.  I had a very short window of time to get questions from Jason’s friends, co-workers, his nemesis, and I even got a few questions from my friends who have no idea who he is.

What’s a No Boundaries interview? It’s where I could ask Jason absolutely anything, and no topics were off limits.  I did make him blush, but we didn’t get it on camera.

Enjoy the interview!  And head over to the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive store, pick yourself up a subscription, a subscription bundle, a signed manuscript, short story critique, mystery boxes, book bundle, home made crafts, and brand new in the Drive store are – holy crap there is a copy of The Weird Compendium that is signed by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer!   The Drive runs through April 17th,  and the funds raised will allow Jason and team to purchase more weird surreal fiction, to pay artists and writers more, and to give fan of the magazine more of what they’ve come to enjoy. A fitting anniversary for a magazine that’s coming up to it’s 100th issue, wouldn’t you say?

 

oh, anyway,  here’s a link for the interview. I don’t know how to embed a 22 minute video into a WordPress article.

Jason Sizemore No Boundaries Interview by Andrea Johnson

click the link, don’t click this picture. the picture doesn’t go anywhere.

He says it’s not moonshine in that coffee mug…

 

What did we talk about?  Everything from heated toilet seats, to llamas, to something embarrassing he did at a Con, to who he wants on his Apocalypse team, to famous Apex parties (lots of people wanted me to ask him what’s in the famous Apex Party Punch!), to books he wishes he could experience for the first time.  And yes, we even talked some serious stuff about Apex sales and editing.

 

Enjoy!

 

Also?

Ursula Vernon’s short story “The Tomato Thief”  from Apex Magazine issue 80 is on the Hugo Ballot

Rosewater by Tade Thompson is on the Locus Annual Recommended Reading List

 

 

In Michael Wehunt’s debut short story collection, Greener Pastures,  readers will enjoy a variety of his favorite short stories – everything from unsettling horror, to spooky fun, to Southern gothic, to unnerving dogs and haunted woods.  If you’re looking for unsettling stories that touch on a variety of themes, this is a collection you should look.   Greener Pastures was nominated for the Crawford Award, which is presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts for a first book of fantasy.

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Michael had some fun when Greener Pastures came out from Apex Publications, he made a bunch of meme-ish images, and they are hilarious!  I’ll be posting a few of them throughout the interview, here’s a link to the whole collection.   Michael’s short fiction has appeared in Innsmouth Magazine, Shock Totem Magazine, Aghast,  Unlikely Story, The Dark, Cemetery Dance, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Vol 3,  and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2016 among many others.   Michael was kind enough to answer my questions about the amazing cover art on this collection, how he knew what should go in the collection and what should be left out, why writing horror is so much fun, and more!  Let’s get to the interview!

Andrea Johnson: The cover art for Greener Pastures features some easter eggs that connect with stories in the collection. Most authors don’t have any control over the cover art of their books, but you had a number of conversations with cover artist Michael Bukowksi about what you wanted in the artwork. What can you tell us about your brainstorming sessions with the artist and how the two of you decided what the cover art should include?

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Michael Wehunt: I was lucky to be able to commission an artist for a new piece, and I was doubly lucky to choose someone as talented and collaborative as Michael. He was enthusiastic and communicative from the beginning. The first thing I told him was that I was open to anything. The second thing was an asterisk regarding the first thing—that I had my heart set on trees. Not every story in Greener Pastures features trees, but the book as a whole felt very woodsy and earthy to me. And I knew from Michael’s style that the trees would look amazing and draw the viewer in. We started brainstorming with the diner from the title story, crowded on one side by the woods, but as soon as Michael read the story “October Film Haunt: Under the House,” he really wanted to use the dog with the wooden crown in its mouth as the focal point (the dog unnerved him deeply), and that was instantly a yes for both of us. So the woods became the entire backdrop, which was the right choice. From there we decided to do a full wraparound cover, which was exciting, and with the extra space we chose elements from three other stories to include in the art, and a year later I’m still in love with the entire piece.

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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!

Lee Thompson’s newest novella, Shine Your Light On Me, is now available through Apex Publications. Thompson writes thrillers, mysteries, and horror, often focusing on how to regain our humanity when we feel that all has been lost. His previous novels include A Beautiful Madness, It’s Only Death, With Fury in Hand, and When We Join Jesus in Hell. (Click here for info on purchasing Shine Your Light On Me)
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In Shine Your Light on Me, Aiden faces a family tragedy only to months later be given the gift of healing. He doesn’t understand how his gift works, but his neighbors and acquaintances demand that he use it for them. When he could have the power to heal an entire town, does Aiden really have a choice? Desperate measures, indeed. Lee Thompson was kind enough to chat with me over e-mail about this thrilling new novella and other projects he has in the works. You can learn more about Lee at his website, Lee Thompson Fiction.

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Let’s get to the interview!


Andrea: The plot of Shine Your Light On Me sounds absolutely fascinating. Miraculous healings, hopefulness that turns into dark desperation, and a teenager thrown into the middle of it all. Where did the idea for this story come from? Even more incredible is that this is a novella! How did you cram all of that into less than 200 pages?

Lee: Thanks for the interview, Andrea.

Well, Ken Wood from Shock Totem would tell you I was inspired by the cover for issue 4. And he’s partly right. Mostly it was asking myself, what things haven’t I written about that I want to now, right now? And I thought about it for weeks, finally realizing that to go from being a no one to everyone wanting a piece of you, would be terrifying to me. Especially if I was still a teenager. It’s kind of the opposite of Stephen King’s Carrie.

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alethea-lumos-2New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a fairy godmother, and a geek. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, and ranting about fairy tales on YouTube.  Her YA novels have won two Gelett Burgess Awards, and she’s twice been nominated for the Andre Norton award. She’s the author of  Wild and Wishful, Dark and Dreaming, the AlphaOops series, the ongoing Arilland Fairy Tale series, and her short fiction has appeared in Apex Magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Shimmer Magazine, Shroud Magazine, and various anthologies.

Alethea’s newest novel is Haven, Kansas.  She was kind enough to let me in on all the behind the scenes secrets of how this accidentally humorous and on-purpose scary horror novel came about,  her Traveling Sideshow,  how she scored such beautiful cover art for this newest novel, and more. Learn more about Alethea at her website AletheaKontis.com, her Patreon site, or follow her on twitter @AletheaKontis.

And Alethea? If you’d like to place your next novel in Hell, here you go. While she’s brainstorming on that plot, let’s the rest of us enjoy this fantastic interview!

Little Red Reviewer: Haven, Kansas is first and foremost a horror story, but it’s also very humorous! Did you set out from the start to include funny lines, or did they just grow with the story as you were writing? What’s the trick to successfully mixing humor and horror?

Alethea Kontis: I’ve been writing regularly—and submitting for publication—since I was eight years old. Due to a genius-level aptitude for math and science (because: irony), I did not take a formal class on fiction writing until I was 27 (Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp). One of the things I learned in that class was, “Humor sells. But it is almost impossible to write, and write well, so just don’t do it.” So I didn’t do it. I didn’t even try. I wrote dialogue I felt was real, and true to my characters, and I moved on.

haven-kansasAnd then I started hearing back from readers. I mean, beyond the AlphaOops books, because they were supposed to be funny….but like, I remember one of the first reviewers for Dearest said how it was the most romantic and funniest novel I had ever written, and I was shocked. Really? Romantic, yes, but I didn’t write it to be funny! I just created a world that included seven brothers who talked smack to each other, like every bunch of guys I’ve ever hung out with. I felt much the same way when I started getting feedback about the humor in Haven, Kansas. Humor and horror? Who does that? But I’m one of those crazy people who will cry all the way up to a funeral and then almost burst out laughing in the middle of the ceremony. Humor and hurt and fear and love…they’re all feelings—true feelings—that we all feel, whether we have control over them or not.

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As many of you know, I’m a non-fiction contributor at Apex Magazine. I  interview authors, and occasionally do some other fun stuff. If you’re a spec fic reader who is always looking for something a little weird, a little different, something unexpected, Apex Magazine is for you!  Jason and Lesley get this incredible magazine out the (digital) door every month, jam packed with surreal and atmospheric fiction, speculative poetry, author and artist interviews, and essays.  But that’s not enough for Jason and Lesley. No, they want to bring you more fiction! more poetry! more non-fiction!  For the next 2 weeks, the Apex Subscription drive aims to do just that:  gaining more subscribers means more people will enjoy this magazine every month, which means funding for more Apex awesomeness.  But why don’t I let Jason and Lesley tell you more? And why don’t we do that while surrounded by gorgeous Apex cover art?

oh, and by the way, there is something really awesome (and a little crazy) coming later this week. It involves you putting your thinking caps on, and me giving away a subscription to Apex.

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Andrea: First things first. How did you each get involved with Apex Magazine? What are your responsibilities at the magazine?

Jason Sizemore: I’m the creator, owner, editor-in-chief, and He Who Writes the Checks. I started Apex in response to an early midlife crisis. Here I am, truly in midlife, and I’m still doing it.

Lesley Conner: I’d been working on the book side of Apex Publications for a few years when Cameron Salisbury decided to step down as the managing editor of Apex Magazine. Jason had recently stepped back into the editor-in-chief role and we already knew that we work really well together. He asked me if I’d be interested in filling the vacancy, and I immediately said yes.

As for what I do … a little of everything. Except write checks! That is all Jason!

apex-aug16

Andrea: What goals are you hoping to reach with this subscription drive?

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tade-thompsonTade Thompson’s work has appeared in Apex Magazine, Interzone, Escape Pod, African Monsters, and in numerous anthologies. Most recently, his horror novella “The Murders of Molly Southbourne” was acquired by Tor.com. His work combines thrillers with horror, first contact with mythology, and a voice that is purely Tade. His newest  novel, Rosewater, out of Apex Publications, will be available in November.  Part alien invasion story, part psychological thriller, and all intelligence, this novel is sure to make an impression.

 

Tade’s debut novel, Making Wolf, won the Golden Tentacle Award at the Kitchies.  He’s taught science fiction writing classes, loves the Netflix show Stranger Things, and suffuses his longhand manuscripts with arrows, flowcharts and doodles. All this is to say he’s an author you need to keep your eye on.  Be sure to check out Tade’s website and his twitter feed @tadethompson.

 

Tade was kind enough to let me pick is brain about Rosewater, the joys of writing and brainstorming longhand, and his favorite writers.

rosewater
Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your new novel, Rosewater! What inspired this story, and how did the characters and plot come together?

Tade Thompson: Thank you! The ideas came first. I spent ages ruminating on a particular theme, almost as an exercise. Why would aliens come to Earth? I wrote a short story in the universe many years ago, and kept extrapolating. Then my main character, Kaaro, presented himself, and I started on the first draft. The plot grew around him and it changed quite a bit over subsequent drafts. At one point, for example, it was going to be a dark love story. Let’s just be grateful that didn’t happen. The most important aspect of Kaaro was his flawed character. His personality has been scored and mutilated by life. I fractured the story because that’s what I enjoy. Alejandro Inarritu, when talking about the film “21 Grams”, said that stories are rarely told in a linear fashion in real life. There are always digressions and culs-de-sac. I subscribe to that idea.

LRR: Aliens are so much fun to write, that authors have been writing alien invasion and first contact stories since the beginning of literature. I know there is something that makes Rosewater different, but my blog readers may not. So, what makes Rosewater different from other alien invasion and first contact novels?

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.