Friday, January 19, 2018

Six Questions for Brendon Taylor, Editor, Deep Magic

Deep Magic is an e-zine dedicated to professional quality fantasy and science fiction that is free of graphic violence, sex and vulgarity, and with almost no profanity.  It was run as a non-profit over a decade ago for four years.  In June of 2016, Deep Magic re-launched under a new business model, with the original 3 founders and new Board Members with expertise in the industry.  We pay professional rates for the short fiction appearing on our electronic pages, and feature stories, articles, book excerpts and interviews from a mix of well-known authors and industry professionals, as well as amateur and debut authors. Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Brendon Taylor: The founders and current board members have long been fans of fantasy and science fiction.  The niche we have sought to fill with our publication is excellent fantasy and science fiction that is also free of graphic violence, sex and vulgarity.  We believe fantastic writing does not require those elements that seem prevalent in much of the literature in the genre.  Our focus hearkens to the writing of C.S. Lewis, Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Rick Riordan, John Flanagan, and J.K. Rowling, who all excel at storytelling at the adult and young adult levels.  Our original tag line remains true to this day: Deep Magic is a safe place for minds to wander.

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

BT: We look for compelling characters, original story-lines rich with tension, and strong endings.  The editors at Deep Magic find these are three essential elements to good story-telling, and in short fiction are particularly important.

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

BT: Although there are many reasons a story might be rejected, here are 10 common mistakes we see:

          1.  A lack of a hook at the beginning to grab the readers' attention.
          2.  A lack of tension throughout the story that loses a reader's interest.
          3.  Poorly developed characters that result in the reader not connecting or caring about them.
          4.  A lack of believability in the plot -- logical disconnects, inconsistent behavior by characters, etc.
          5.  An ending that fails to deliver a powerful conclusion.
          6.  Flat, uninteresting dialog.
          7.  A common theme or plot that feels too similar to other stories we have read.
          8.  Lack of focus, or editing, resulting in the plot jumping around too much or leaving holes in the plot.
          9.  Stories about cats that are the main character.
          10.  Stories that fall outside of our submission guidelines, genres, or requirement for clean writing.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

BT: We have provided comments on some rejections, but not all.  We allow those who review and make rejection decisions to offer comments as they deem appropriate.  If a story is close to acceptance, but falls short for one reason or another, we are more likely to offer commentary.  On occasion, we have requested the author make changes and resubmit.  In those instances, our comments can be extensive.

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

BT: There are many styles, approaches, and ways to tell an amazing story.  Formulaic approaches may help an author trim bad habits, but writing is artistic in nature and true works of art are not made when one paints by the numbers.

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

BT: Which Deep Magic Board Member has the best beard?  That would be me, Brendon Taylor.

Seriously, a question we sometimes get from authors is, "Why should I write short fiction if there are so many more marketing options for novels?"  First, we believe short fiction is alive and thriving.  With the increase in electronic publishing, stories of different lengths can make it to market.  Also, our readers have commented on many occasions that they enjoy reading the short stories in our e-zine because not only are they fantastic stories, but it is a wonderful way for readers to discover new authors.  If a writer wants to market a book or series herself, or boost his exposure and draw more readers to the small publisher novels bearing his name, having short fiction published in a professional e-zine is a great way to garner that attention and be introduced to new readers.

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


  1. This platform seems ideal for my brand of story telling. I'm looking forward to seeing if I can live up to the expectations of not only the staff, but more importantly, the readers as well.
    Congratulations on your success thus far and may it continue to exceed your greatest expectations.
    Henery X (long)

  2. I like your comment about stories being artistic in nature, and not paint by numbers. Thanks.