Editor Interview: Triangulation Anthology Series

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

A: SF/F/H (speculative lit)

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

A: We're fond of Analog, Asimov's, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fantasy Magazine, Clarkesworld, TOR.com, Nature, PodCastle, Escape Pod, PseudoPod, Strange Horizons, Uncanny, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Nightmare

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

A: Short fiction writers who come immediately to mind include Robert Sawyer, Ted Chiang, Geoffrey A. Landis, Timons Esaias Cat Rambo, Kij Johnson, Connie Willis, Gardner Dozois, the Killer B's (Bedford, Bear, Brin), Ursula K. LeGuin, Paolo Bacigalupi, Greg Egan, Octavia Butler, Aliette de Bodard, Stephen Baxter, Ken Liu, N. K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Wenmimareba Klobah Collins, Kelly Link, Theodora Goss, Osahon Izeiyamu, Catherynne M. Valente, China Miéville, Isabel Yap, Yoon Ha Lee, Lois McMaster Bujold, Wen Spencer, Jonathan Maberry, Saladin Ahmed, Tananarive Due, Amal El-Mohtar, Nnedi Okorafor, Daniel José Older, Diana Wynne Jones, Harris Durrani, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, J. D. Barker, Michael A. Arnzen, Ellen Klages, Chris McKitterick, Delia Sherman, Bud Sparhawk, Ellen Kushner, Tobias S. Buckell, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Gene Wolfe, Gary Braunbeck, Catherine Asaro and David Barr Kirtley.
We already have cover art.

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

A: This 200-page anthology will be available for purchase online as an ebook and paperback, as Triangulation anthologies have been in the past. What sets this one apart is that it was paid for by a science and technology grant and will be distributed for free at Pittsburgh astronomy outreach events, coordinated through PghConstellation.com

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

A: Light pollution is the topic for this anthology. Work this issue into your story. If you don't know what light pollution is, check out the International Dark-sky Association's website at http://www.darksky.org/. Looking for exciting genre stories with proactive protagonists who make hard choices. That said, we have purchased a list story with no characters and some stories that only have dark skies without light pollution. So, let's see what you've got!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Here's a previously published story that I would have loved to have included in the anthology. "When We Were Starless" by Simone Heller in Clarkesworld Magazine. http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/heller_10_18/
I'm finding enchanting story submissions that I never could have dreamed up, so I dislike pointing people in any particular direction.
I thought I'd be getting stories from people who looked at the IDA website (http://www.darksky.org/) and let the issues spark their story ideas. For instance --
Light pollution is increasing at 2% per year. If this goes on . . .
From space studies, like this -- Astronauts have trouble sleeping on the ISS because the sun rises ever 90 minutes. What is the Circadian rhythm adaptive process when the visual cues are gone?
From animal research -- The increase in artificial light in the nighttime ecosystem causes disrupted migration, predation, nesting, foraging, mating, etc.
From exoplanetary observations -- Lots of weird planetary orbital configurations to pick from there.
Consider setting the story elsewhen, in a far future or distant past.
Consider stories with a wealth of diverse characters.
Consider stories not set in ordinary America (except I'm fond of Pittsburgh stories).
CliFi (climate change fiction) is a useful way to storify the issues of anthropogenic global warming. Can't we come up with entertainment that an activist can use to bring these dark sky issues to the public?

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

A: If a story does not have page numbers or a word count listed on the story's first page or in the cover letter, I'm probably going to pass on it.
Most incorrect interpretation of the topic? Writers who put a negative spin on "Dark Skies" as scary places, when we are trying to change the culture through storytelling to encourage people to embrace the dark.
Also heaven = heavens hasn't been a thing since the 1300's.

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

A: I love that many authors have included a short, third-person bio. That way, later, I won't have to ask for one from the authors of accepted stories (since we do print them bios near the back of the book). Do I care what's in the cover letters? It doesn't make any difference to my read of the story, since I look at the cover letter afterward. I tell my Alpha students (alpha.spellcaster.org) to include the story title, word count, genre, and any significant publication credits in their cover letters. If you have not had anything published yet, don't say that -- just don't mention anything about previous publications. The story stands on its own, so don't stress over the cover letter.

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

A: My team includes 20 slush readers who have instructions to stop reading if the story is offensive. Other than that, several readers finish each story--they're learning the process of editing. They rank and comment on the stories they've been assigned. I skim the ones that they have ranked low before sending rejections out. The middle and highly-ranked stories, I read through once or twice. I have enjoyed reading many of them, even if they aren't right for this anthology.

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

A: If I am close friends with the author of a submitted story, I rely on my team to make the decision, after a group discussion. I find I can't be impartial.

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

A: I'm a faculty member in the Physics Department at Carnegie Mellon University, where I teach astronomy.
Nights and weekends, I read stories and work with my slush readers, training them how to edit an anthology. I started the Triangulation series in 2003. Since then, many local writers have taken their turn seeing what life is like from the other side of the desk. It's an eye-opening experience for a writer. I am ever so grateful for the help from last year's Triangulation editor, Douglas Gwilym, without whom this venture would not have been possible.

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

A: I am from the future.

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

A: I would love to accept every story as is, without a single change, but I have a feeling some stories may need heavy lifting to be acceptable. I will work with authors and I promise to listen to their thoughts on requested edits -- we'll do this after the submission period has closed. I respect that their vision and mine may not always be the same. Of course they get to approve final edits. Issues of Triangulation have been compared to any issue of a pro magazine. I would like to continue that tradition and I take that goal very seriously.

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

A: Yes.