Hyperpulp is a bi-annual online magazine publishing fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, horror, mystery, war and westerns. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
Alexandre Mandarino: I look for interesting stories and sceneries in the first place. The literary aspect is also very important. I guess I even do prefer a well written so-so story than a badly written good story. The third point would be the conformity with our guidelines: formats, file extensions, etc. Lots of people appear to think this has no importance, but it exists for a reason. It facilitates our work, for instance.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a submission is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
AM: Vampires, zombies and high fantasy are red signs. They were done to death and it would need a very, very good story (in terms of both plot and style) to make it through. Messages and allegories are also big no-nos. I hate being talked down to. Messages should be reserved to non-fiction, mostly. As for the third reason, I’d go with the wrong sense of humor. Authors who want to write comedy stories or black humor pieces should always check and re-check if they are, well, funny persons.
SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important.
AM: Plot and character are equally important. A good plot is a character, in the sense that it may open new ways to show the psychology of the characters. The characters can also be plot: it’s important to listen to the characters, get their voices right, let them guide the story to its natural ends, psychologically speaking. If I’d be forced to choose one, I’d go with character. Plot driven tales with shallow people on them sound more annoying than the opposite, since a “mere” character study can be very interesting.
SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission?
AM: Read a lot. Read the best authors in the genre you want to write, but also read the best authors in the genres you don’t like - or think you don’t like. Read the classics. Read all kinds of stuff. Try to grasp what impresses, pleases and surprises you in your favorite writers.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
AM: I learned that it is harder than people think it is, but also simpler than they think it is. This simplicity is hard to achieve.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
AM: “Who are your favorite writers in any genre?” OK, this may be cheating, because it’s a fairly easy answer. But I guess it can be useful. Some of these authors are the best in what they do. Reading them all makes it easier to grasp plot, psychology, descriptions, dialogue and the single most important element of fiction: rhythm. The ebb and flow of the narrative. Rhythm is all.
My darlings are Jorge Luís Borges, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway, Elmore Leonard, Georges Simenon, Grant Morrison, William Burroughs, Clive Barker, Patricia Highsmith, Chesterton, Paul Auster, Neal Stephenson, Umberto Eco.
Thank you, Alexandre. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 11/22--Six Questions for Jeremiah Walton, Editor, Underground Books