Friday, September 17, 2021

Six Questions for LaShawn Wanak, Editor, GigaNotoSaurus

GigaNotoSaurus publishes one longish (5,000 to 25,000 words) fantasy or science fiction story monthly. “Send us that story you really believe in–the one, maybe, that quickly ran out of places to submit it to because it’s so long.” Read the completed guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

LaShawn Wanak: Ann Leckie originally started the magazine and handles the more business side of the magazine. I took over as submission editor in 2019. What drew me to the editing position was that it only publishes one story per month, which worked well with my workload with the dayjob and my own writing. 

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

LW: Usually it's just two things that I look for in a submission.

  1. Does it get my attention? I love stories that surprise me and pull me in. It's hard for me to nail down what exactly that means, but stories that subvert the status quo or usual tropes. But then again, even a story that leans on a trope can still catch my attention if it's written well. If a story makes me think, or makes me see things in a new way, or if it makes me happy

  2. Does it fit Giganotosaurus's style? I would say that our style leans more towards the literary that have fun with dialogue and wordplay, or that contains lush worldbuilding. 

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

LW: Make sure the submission has been spell-checked and edited well. I don't mind a few misspellings here and there, but any story that has numerous spelling and grammatical errors will pull me out of the reading experience. I'm not a fan of violence or harm being done for shock value, or women, people of color, or queer characters who are very passive within the story. 

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s) of a submission?

LW: I tend to read broadly, so I like a large number of styles. I like turns of phrases, or situations that make me go, "Oo, this is a strange situation. Let's see how far it will go." My rule of thumb is that if a story doesn't pull me in in the first five pages, then its chances of capturing me at all goes down significantly. If you're wondering what has gotten my attention in the past, reading through our previous issues will give you an idea.

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

LW: I'm not huge into blood and gore for the sake of it.  Also, stories that have violence against women and/or children, or the topic of slavery are a very, very hard sell for me, unless they're done really really well. 

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

LW: Let's go the opposite of your previous question. What would catch my interest then?

I also love stories that use genre to delve into conversations about identity, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, etc. 

The past few issues had stories that meditated on the nature of grief, mainly because I was going through a hard time and those stories spoke to me. But we've also published stories that are downright goofy.

So basically, if I love a story, I publish it, and I hope that other people will benefit from reading that story as well.

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

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