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Editor Interview: Mythaxis Magazine

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Sf/f/h & crime, let's say

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: In addition to the usual prestige genre publications too well known to require listing by name yet again, I admire Metaphorosis, Sci Phi Journal, The Future Fire, and The Fabulist.

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: Supremely difficult to answer, so off the top of my head and current reads: Kim Stanley Robinson, Patrick O'Brien, William Gibson, Ellis Peters, Iain M. Banks, Charles Dickens, Ursula K. LeGuin, Frank Herbert, Maureen McHugh, Ted Chiang, Christopher Brown, Ada Palmer, Cormac McCarthy, Ben Aaronovitch... plus John Sandford is a guilty pleasure.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: Mythaxis is a different beast from what it was under it's original editor, Gil Williams, but I believe we still hold true to his core principle: to present good writing with a minimum of distraction, in particular no advertising. All stories are complemented (hopefully) by a piece of original artwork, and if authors request it we attempt to provide some degree of constructive criticism in the event that we do not accept a submission. We are always open to the experimental, but we are very much a market for storytellers first, wordsmiths second.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Mythaxis Magazine is free to read, so I suggest authors start with that - and once they've seen what we've published in the past, show us something different.
In addition, submission filenames that begin with the full title of the story are much preferred, as this makes administration of the slush pile vastly easier. Attachments called "Story title - Author Name" are perfect, although the author's name isn't necessary; any other variation just makes them harder to find in an alphebetised slush folder.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: As Gil once said, "An original, clever idea, expressed in stimulating English, without spelling mistakes, in a simple format." To this I'd add my own quartet of specifics: Tight plotting, engaging characters, quality of prose, and believable dialogue.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Frequently manuscripts are not formatted in line with our requests, which is frustrating. We don't reject pieces on those grounds, but knowing that accepting one such also means some needless labour to make the text usable doesn't do a submission any favours. Submission emails that literally include the words "Your Story Title" in the subject line are also not unheard of...

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: Cover letters are fine, as is a short author biography. A summary of the submitted story is not necessary, indeed we would prefer to approach each piece as blind to its content as possible.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: If the piece is obviously very unsuitable in subject matter or quality, it gets rejected fairly quickly. However, the vast majority of stories are read in full.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: We hate sloppy work, however creative, so a text which would demand very heavy editing will struggle to be accepted. However, we are open to submissions from around the world, and we are happy to make allowances for multi-lingual authors whose writing in English is strong but not perfect; in such cases we collaborate with the author to bring out the best in their work.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: We publish four times a year, and are open to submissions four times as well. I would say that each issue represents roughly "one month" of work (meaning "one month of evenings and weekends"): two weeks for the reading period, and another two for editing stories, creating story art, and preparing and releasing each issue. The reading period is especially intensive; we are a small publication, but submissions are increasing each window; this editor's life at the end of July 2021 was divided more or less equally between the day job, story reading, and complete unconsciousness...

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: Mythaxis was coded from the ground up by the originating editor, Gill Williamson, with the intention of platforming fiction in as clean and readable as way as possible: speculative fiction with no distractions was the goal. Over a decade later, we've taken steps to update the site while maintaining that philosophy as much as possible, but also making the zine more accessible to mobile technologies that weren't a consideration back in 2008. So we do have an eye on advancing tech, but that doesn't mean we're about to walk away from the traditions of craft that make good writing what it is. A slick zine is nothing without quality fiction.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: All accepted pieces will undergo a minimum of editing to meet our "house style" and standards. We expect such proofing-level edits to stand, but deeper edits are always subject to the approval of the author. If we anticipate significant revision, we will discuss and agree on the process in advance. In some cases, we will invite authors to rewrite based on feedback.

Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?

A: We attempt to do so, of course, and if any of our contributors raise the possibility of their candidacy for a particular award we will do what is required to put them forward.