Friday, March 9, 2018

Six Questions for Eddie Generous, Editor, Unnerving Magazine

Unnerving Magazine is a quarterly release and accepts short story submissions of horror, dark science fiction (light), dark fantasy, crime, thriller, and suspense. On the website, I run weekly reviews and podcast interviews. Unnerving also publishes standalone titles of novels, novellas, novelettes, and collections, as well as anthologies. Content generally leans toward horror over other genres. Read the guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Eddie Generous: I had some time to spare and there were so many publications starting and withering away before their first anniversary that I saw it as a bit of a challenge. Mostly though, I knew I could make it work and do a decent job ascetically. The rest of it built from there, the reviews, interviews, and doing the standalone stuff. Publishing gets to be addictive, working with and talking to other authors even more so.

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

EG: First off, a clear grasp of English. This takes practice. I can turn down half the submissions coming my way within two paragraphs.

Second is interesting subject matter and style. I read a lot (as should any writer, like as much as they watch TV, at least) and see a ton of regurgitation of other authors’ stories. Be clearly you in a story. Also, that there’s no gross or boring stuff: sexism, racism, bigotry, or junkies sitting around tripping, rape as a tool to make a hero want revenge, religious messages… nothing lazier than a god parachute/answer. Have variety in structure, don’t start every sentence with the same words or phrase length.

Third would be an ending. Don’t be a coward, end your story. Make a choice, don’t leave a reader standing at the airport with a blank ticket to wherever they want to imagine. Vagueness is fine: Is it A or B? Maybe even A or B or C? More than three or four choices and you haven’t finished your story.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

EG: Bad writing. A gross message. A lack of nuance. Repetitive writing. Clearly has never read Unnerving and has sent something absurdly unbefitting (space opera is the most common). Trying to game me with lies in a cover letter, I’m petty, I look that shit up. NOT FOLLOWING THE GUIDELINES (Single-spaced? Take a hike, ya hoser).

SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?

EG: None regularly. The big monthly releases in dark speculative stuff have no interest for me anymore. If story isn’t first, count me out. Sure, there are good stories there, but you have to wade through a sea of wilting flowers and un-stories to find them. I have a subscription to Cemetery Dance. Last year I read four issues of Lamplight. I read about a dozen indie mags a year (alongside about 100 books, many indie). I pick up them up on Amazon when I want to know what kind stuff to send them myself as a writer. The way one does. Should.

When I first started Unnerving, I used Cemetery Dance as a model, but have outgrown chasing being someone else’s magazine.

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

EG: Similar. Heavy gore and torture. This has to come with more story than gore and that’s rarely the case. Exploitation is boring, so if torture or gore go there, I’m out. Also, Lovecraft fan fiction. R’yeh-koo-wgah-cha-snoooooooze.

I listed things above that I don’t touch, they aren’t hard sells, but no sells. Obviously if a subject isn’t listed in the stuff published, don’t send it to me. Read the magazine, don’t be lazy.

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

EG: What’s the easiest way to give a good first impression?

Firstly, don’t address me as editors, it’s not a killer, but it suggests you pay zero attention to Unnerving Magazine. Simple.

Secondly, follow the recommended formatting on the Unnerving site. It’s not weird stuff like getting rid of curly quotes or adding a bunch of spaces, it’s simple, normal stuff.

Thirdly, don’t tell me a bunch of pointless crap in the cover letter. Be you, but keep it to a couple sentences. Don’t tell me who influences you (unless it is imperative to the story you’re submitting). Don’t tell me which way you swing. Don’t tell me your skin tone. Don’t tell me your religion. This stuff comes out in a bio enough, don’t try to use it as a platform.

Lastly, (I know already said this) don’t lie. During my first open window someone sent a sub stating that they’d read every issue and hope to see Unnerving for many years to come. Also, if you’re going to butter me up, make sure it’s sensible.

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

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