Thursday, November 3, 2011

Six Questions for Bosley Gravel, Editor, Bosley Gravel's Cavalcade of Terror

"The Cavalcade of Terror is flash fiction site that actively seeks horror and dark fiction under 1000 words." Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

BG: CoT's roots are firmly planted in playful horror. To that end we hope that all submissions are vivid, horrific in some fashion, and lots of fun.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?

BG: Most of our submissions are well written, and don't (or wouldn't) require much editing--and we are quite thankful for that. Typically, it’s flat endings, too much telling, and too loud a voice that cause us to reject the story. We reject a lot of good ones since we've switched to a paying market. We simply can't afford to take all the stories we would like to.

SQF: What other mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

BG: We are happy to look at 'experimental' pieces, but weird artsy attempts that lack story are not likely to be accepted. Anti-art has it's place, but not at CoT. An overly formal cover letter is just annoying, we aren't a big publisher and don't want to be one. Like Van Halen, we've got our own little rock star request in the guidelines. Submissions indulging the request are given a higher priority. We don't like stories that are cruel, mean spirited or hateful. If we ask for a rewrite, please take more than an hour to do that, it's important that you spend some time on it, for both your sanity and ours. Thankfully, our slush is pretty close to what we want, so thanks very much to all who have submitted this past year.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

BG: A character should want something, and should want it badly. He or she should also be accessible to the reader. Often this can be addressed in terms of what he wants. (He wants the girl, he wants the money, etc, etc ..) However in horror, the protagonist often wants something that is difficult for the average person to align themselves with. (He wants to kill the girl and eat her, he wants to steal the old lady's money, etc, etc.) In these cases, the author must be a bit more tricky. For example in Thomas Harris' 1975 "Black Sunday", one of the bad dudes, (a suicide bomber) had a scene right before he was off to do some truly horrific stuff where he bought a chocolate bar and ate it. Harris took about five words to mention that this person, who was to shortly become a mass murder, had always enjoyed buying chocolate bars, then letting the chocolate melt on his fingers and licking it off. He was instantly humanized. Adding traits and quirks the reader can relate to is important for depth. Without depth of plot and character, you've got nothing but a bunch of words on the page.

SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I'm sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

BG: Authors are always free to respond to rejections from CoT. We've not had any problems with angry authors thus far, at least. We are low key and are happy to respond as time permits. In general, we don't offer a lot of feedback since most of the stuff we get is written pretty well, but is rejected because we've got something that is a closer fit.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

BG: Q: Beyond the cash honorarium why should an author contribute to CoT?

A: Have a look here.

Thank you, Bosley. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 11/07--Six Questions for Patrick Trotti, Fiction Editor, Feature Magazine


  1. Thanks for all your hard work, Jim. You're the man! :)

  2. This was quite fascinating since I had never heard of the Cavalcade. I've never written horror either, but I'm going to click on 'look here' and see what happens.