Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Many sources of great lit and a question about horror

Lots to read, as ever! There's a new blog post up on the Short Review blog as part of Dzanc Books' 2009 Best of the Web anthology launch that I highly recommend you pop over and read. It's a guest post by M. Thomas Gammarino, one of the authors picked for BoTW, talking about his story, The Fridge. It's here.

Another source of lit: the latest copy of Irish lit mag The Stinging Fly landed in my postbox this week, and it looks great, with short stories by Aileen Armstrong, Jon Boilard, Philip Cummings, Catherine Finn, Alison MacLeod and Heather Richardson, poetry from Arlene Ang, Carolyn Jess-Cooke and others, and a fabulous article by Colm Liddy called "My Struggle ... to Grow Up and Be a Writer", which talks about how getting his first book deal affected him. I haven't read much of this Summer issue yet, am saving it!

And me-centred news: two flash stories have been accepted by the London magazine for their August issue, which I think will be science-themed, something that always thrills me. Lovely way to welcome me to England when we move at the end of August (although not to London, but who's quibbling?!)

Right now I am working on a new short story that I wrote the other day with the Manchester Fiction prize in mind. I was pretty surprised when 1600 words came out all in one go. Now I have to tweak and polish, haven't read it since, am a bit nervous in case I hate it. Always a risk! And inspired by the Waterford Film Festival competition for a short screenplay, I am adapting one of my published stories into a film (something my mother's been telling me to do for ages, okay, fine, I'm doing it), which is such fun: the story is there, but I have to think hard about how it can be told visually, with images instead of all those words. Loving it.

A question for all my dear blog readers: I am, as I mentioned a while back, attempting to only submit fiction to paying markets. I keep a close eye on Duotrope's What's New page and notice that the markets that pay, and often pay a lot, are the ones with titles like "End of Days: An Apocalyptic Anthology", "Fight On! Weird Enclaves and Black Pits", "Dark Moon Anthology: Zombie Short Stories", "Middle of Nowhere: Horror in Rural America", and "Zombology VI: The Undead Versus the Living Dead" - and that's just this week!

What does it say about the state of fiction markets that the horror markets pay their writers seemingly so well, but the literary markets, on the whole, don't?? Why not? Most importantly, what does this say about readers and what they are willing to pay for. Answers please.


Sarah Hilary said...

Congratulation on the lovely London Magazine news! I don't have an answer for you on the horror question. I rather like horror as a popcorn film genre but find it tremendously limiting as reading or writing matter. Ah, well.

Debi said...

Congrats for London mag. The first of much more Anglocentric acclaim to welcome you, hopefully.

Elisabeth Ingram said...

I just wanted to say a big thanks for all the great links you have been posting, such as 'upcoming deadlines' and 'mira's list' - I am finding them really helpful this week - thanks!

jonathan pinnock said...

I don't think the imbalance between the earning power of horror stories and literature is anything particularly new, though, is it? Pulp fiction has always sold well. What I would say is that horror editors tend to be very nice people, who respond in a damn sight more timely manner than a lot of the literary crowd. I sent a couple of zombie pieces that I had lying around (don't ask why) to Zombology IV (still open for flash submissions) last weekend and received a nice response from the splendidly-monikered Dr Pus by the next morning.

Here's a question for you, though. A lot of literary fiction could in fact be classified - at a stretch - as horror. I'm thinking here of much of Ian McEwan's early output as an example. But how about the title story of "The White Road" (which I thought was terrific, BTW)? It's got all the elements.

Tania Hershman said...

Sarah, thanks for the congrats. Interesting about horror, perhaps people are willing to pay for the "popcorn" effect!

Debi - thank you!!

Elisabeth, lovely to meet you, I am so glad my links are useful. Basically, I post anything that I find helpful, with the aim that others might too. Glad they helped!

Jonathan, nice to meet you too, and it's lovely to hear that the horror editors are so nice, we always moan on our blogs about the tardiness of lit mag editors, or even the lack of any response at all. Glad Dr Pus (!) responded so swiftly!

And yes, of course, you are right about what could be classified as horror - this is the old problem of what the hell "genre" is anyway, and I hate genre. I wish we could all just focus on great writing, whether it has zombies or not! Ian McEwan's early dark stories were most definitely horrific and brilliant... who sets these definitions? What would you say are the elements of horror?

Thank you so much for your kind words about The White Road. I have given up defining my own writing - some people call it sci-fi, some people call it magical realism. I don't think it's my place to say what shelf it should be on!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I didn't know about the sci-fi label. That would have put me off, and I'm enjoying your stories very much. Congrats! ~Miriam

Tania Hershman said...

Thanks so much, Miriam, glad you're liking it! No labels, that's what I say.

Teresa Stenson said...

I'm finding that the more I write, the more I read (I think it's that way round) and I'm reading more and more widely.

A year ago I'd have been put off by a label but now I think I'm more open minded and try to just recognise 'good writing'. And bad writing too. I'm not sure when this change occurred... It might have something to do with Kate Atkinson, and her genre-bending talent.

Great news about London Magazine, btw.

(My involvement in Zombie film making hasn't enlightened me enough to answer your original question, although it was bloody good fun.)

(No pun intended.)

Susannah Rickards said...

Congratulations on London Magazine, T.

No idea on why horror pays. I'm intrigued by the health of that market and the weakness or lack of a literary market.

I got ten quid for my most recent acceptance. Does that count as a paying market?

Tim Jones said...

It's been a while since I wrote horror per se (there's a couple of horror stories in my first collection), but my recollection is that horror writers and editors spent a lot of time bemoaning the state of the field - dropping pay rates, falling circulations, fewer paying markets, publishers who won't take a chance on something new ... which may sound familiar?

But the real question surely is: when are we going to see the publication of "The White Road and Other Stories ... With Zombies"?