Friday, July 19, 2013

Six Questions for Hydra M. Star, Editor, Infernal Ink Magazine

Infernal Ink Magazine is a different sort of a literary magazine, in that we are focused on publishing extremely dark and violent fiction and poetry, of all genres. We favor pieces with erotic, sexual, or humorous aspects, but love anything that disquiets the minds of our readers. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

HMS: Sex, gore, and blasphemy.

Those three elements sum up fairly well what Infernal Ink is all about, but a story need not have all three. Blasphemy or gore on their own can be enough to sell me on story, but it helps greatly if it also has an erotic element. I will always favor the stories that do. Also, blasphemy need not be of the religious or serious sort. There are plenty of other sacred cows in our society and culture to barbecue besides religion and often satire is the best way to get the grill burning.

We want to be a home for the sorts of stories many other horror and dark fiction publishes would reject because they go too far, aren’t appropriate for younger readers, or might otherwise offend. We want to offend uptight and morally rigid people. It makes up happy when we do.

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?

HMS: There really isn’t any common mistake multiple would-be contributors have made that turns me off. A few of them have needed to learn how to better format their stories, but I’m far more laid back when it comes to that sort of thing than many other editors. I can clear the formatting on a piece with just a few clicks of my mouse. It’s no big deal and such little work. It does not greatly bother me.

I’d say the one thing that has turned me off the most has been the few people who have told me too much about the story before I had chance to read it. I don’t ask for a synopsis to be included with story submissions for a reason. I like to read stories the way a reader of the magazine will, with no knowledge of where the story is going.

SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog?

HMS: We accept reprints, of all types. So, that is not a problem. I may ask the contributor to remove the post from their blog, if I know about it. Writers who are submitting pieces that have been included in their blog should be prepared to do this, with or without me asking them.

SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions 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?

HMS: Most of the rejection letters I send out are sent solely because the piece didn’t fit well with the basic theme of the magazine. These rejections aren’t a reflection of the author’s skill as a writer.

We get a lot of horror or dark fiction submissions that are lacking in gore or sex. If there is enough of a “creepy factor” with these kinds of submission, sometimes, I will take them, but by and large most of what I reject are nicely written non-extreme horror stories. I, also, reject quite a bit of erotica that lacks any sort of horror or supernatural elements that would make it acceptable for a mostly horror market.

I’ll usually send the author a note stating exactly why their story is not a good fit for us, explain what it was lacking to make it right for us. Sometimes, I won’t. It really depends on the story and how far off the mark it was. In a few cases, I will include a link to another magazine, either run by a friend or one edited by someone I have worked with in the past, if I believe the story I am rejecting will be a better fit with them. A couple of writers have been accepted into these magazines and had work I had rejected published with them.

Additionally, I’ve had a handful of authors send me a second or even third submissions after a reject or ask me questions about their rejection. I welcome this. I really don’t mind extended interaction with authors, as long as it’s not argumentative and I feel I’m sharing things with them that might aid them. Of course, everyone has a different opinion on what will and won’t aid a writer, that is fine. I have a block feature on my email I’m not shy about using, if communications go in a hostile direction. I don’t waste time on such negativity.

SQF: What is the best part of being an editor?

HMS: Meeting new and up-and-coming writers and getting to read their work, often times, before anyone else.

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

HMS: These have all been great question, but I would ask myself about read time. Understanding what the read time is for any market is important. Also, rather or not to expect a reply, if the piece is not accepted. I, personally, find it rather callous and unprofessional not to send a reply to all submissions. Even if it is just a form letter or a two line note, I think editors should send out something letting the author know the status of their submission.

There are, naturally, glitches with any email system and delays that cannot be avoided, but I aim for a 100% reply rate on all submissions and a read time of three weeks or less. Usually, our read time is much less than three weeks. I would encourage any writer who has not heard back from me after a month or more to email me to inquiry about their submission.

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

NEXT POST: 7/23--Six Questions for Judith Lawrence, Editor/Publisher, River Poets Journal


  1. Thank you, Jim, for having me. It was a real pleasure.

  2. Interesting.
    As an author on the cusp of submitting a piece of work to II Magazine . . . I think I'll go do something of a rewrite!
    Can't help but agree, from the other side of the fence, on contacting writers whether their work has been rejected or not. There is nothing worse than being ignored when you've put your heart and soul into a piece.

    1. Thanks, Destry, and we're always open to submission. So, take all the time and rewrites you need.