Editor Interview: The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award

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

A: Supernatural stories

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

A: Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Horacio Quiroga, H.P. Lovecraft, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, Juan Rulfo, Gabariel Garcia Márquez, Stephen King, Toni Morrison

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

A: In judging our two literary competitions, we search for stories that not only contain a supernatural theme or element, but also feature fine writing and some insight into the human condition. Also, rather than just publishing online, in cooperation with Wyrd Harvest Press (Durham, U.K.) we anthologize all our winners and honorable mentions in "21st Century Ghost Stories," a paperbound collection that we publish every three years.

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

A: Read the stories that have won or received honorable mention in our competitions. They're all published in our anthology, "21st Century Ghost Stories," and the most recent ones are available on our website.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal story grabs my attention within the first few paragraphs, keeps me hooked with a combination of fresh imagery and strong character development, and takes me to some unexpected places.

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

A: Two things: The first is failing to read enough of the previous winning and honorable mention stories to get a good sense of what we're looking for. The second is sending stories via snail-mail rather than using our electronic submissions system.

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

A: I love a concise, interesting bio. I'm interested in who you are—and it doesn't matter if you've had a ton of publications, or none at all, as our competition winners and honorable mentions have included plenty of each. If you want to give me a list of your previous publications, I don't need them all—just a few of the ones you're proudest of.

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

A: Although usually I can tell within the first couple of pages whether I'll want to revisit or reject a submission, I try to read every story through to the end. I can't always do it, though!

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

A: We tend to get an avalanche of submissions as the deadline approaches. Post deadline, we're always in a crunch to review and evaluate the most promising stories, contact (and pay!) the winner and honorable mentions, select illustrations, edit the pieces, and finally to publish them on the date we've told readers to expect them. In order to avoid being overwhelmed at the end, as soon as we start accepting submissions I try to read and make notes on each one within a couple of days of it's arrival. This generally works well until the point where we're receiving a couple of dozen stories a day. . . .

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

A: I don't have any opinions on how other publishers should operate. For my part, I don't think I could do what I do without our very efficient electronic submission system. . . .

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

A: Step one is to send the author a list of questions I have and revisions I think need to be made. After that I line edit, copy edit, and proofread the revised manuscript and return my version to the author for approval, a final proofread, and any further tweaks he or she wants to make. Disagreements are infrequent. When an author feels strongly about a point I'll usually give in—but most of the time they accept my advice.

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

A: Both of our contests, The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award (for full-length short stories) and The Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition, are international award competitions. We receive submissions from all around the English-speaking world.