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Editor Interview: Tough

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

A: Crime fiction and reviews

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

A: I appreciate journals like Switchblade, Pulp Modern, EconoClash Review and Mystery Tribune.

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

A: My favorite writers at the moment include Alen Mattich, Jim Thompson, Lawrence Block, Laura Lippman, Donald Ray Pollock, Christa Faust, and many more contemporary crime writers.

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

A: Tough publishes strictly crime, and would like to publish more stories that intersect with the weird or occult. Some of our stories tip over into horror, other into literary territory. Any well-told story with a crime in it has a chance.

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

A: All our stories are available for free on the website so there's no excuse not to read a few to see what I like. I get a lot of stories with paranormal elements that just don't fit the aesthetic I've built.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission comes in rich text format, in standard manuscript style, with name and address featured prominently in a header, so I don't have to search for contact info or write unnecessary emails when it comes to contracts and edits. Beyond that, a good story opens with a reason to keep reading. In crime fiction, that's a crime, usually a body, or the promise of a body, or many bodies. But good stories surprise me too with the ways they can insinuate themselves into me more subtly.

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

A: I'd like to know whatever you feel I need to know, but in no more than two paragraphs, and without story summary. Previous publication credits don't matter.

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

A: I read until I get annoyed or bored, but if the writing is stellar, I give the writer more time and opportunity to seduce me.

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

A: I make all editorial decisions on the spot, more or less, but I build in a grace period. If I feel like I'm not giving the writer enough credit for some reason--this does happen--I wait to respond and reread the story or review until I'm fresher.

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

A: I get up in the morning and check the mail which I continue to do at various times throughout the day. Then I look at no more than five to seven stories a day. After I've sat with them for an hour or two after reading, I respond as necessary. I usually respond within a couple weeks. If I go beyond that, PLEASE check in via email. Something's gone awry, or the journal has become quickly famous and well-known and I'll have to hire associates to help me.

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

A: All stories get copy edited, at a minimum. I can clean up a manuscript pretty well. Depending on the story, more substantive edits may be necessary. The author always gets final say.

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

A: I nominate for Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, the Pushcart Prize, and other genre awards as I become aware of them and see a good match for the work I publish.