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Editor Interview: AHF Magazine

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

A: alternate history fiction

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

A: Uncanny Magazine has been quite inspirational, seeing it develop from a Kickstarter project to a fully-fledged live publication.
I was inspired by DWB in the past - the magazine that started off as Dr Who Bulletin, then ended up as Dreamwatch, before being demised.

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

A: My favourite authors, who were alive when I was reading them, and in some cases still are, include Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R Delany, and Robert Adams who wrote the Horseclans books. I also greatly enjoy reading le Carré at his best, as well as Dick Francis, Ruth Rendell, and Elizabeth Moon.
Artists (since we also publish art) include Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, Rowena Morrill, and Boris Vallejo, as well as Dali, Rembrandt, Renoir, Joshua Reynolds and George Romney

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

A: We welcome unpublished authors in the genre of alternate history, or near-genres such as steampunk, science fiction, and urban fantasy. We are also very keen to publish poetry with historical, science fiction, or associated topics.

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

A: Please read the Terms and Conditions, and please make it clear in your submission what magazine you are submitting to since we have more than one. Including a bio, social media links, and if you wish a headshot or avatar when you send it simplifies things for us, as we don't have to chase them, if we accept the submission.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: A 3000-word alternate history story which can stand alone irrespective of its universe, and which tells a story from start to finish, with some sort of twist involved on a familiar subject, or which addresses a less familiar subject in an open and accessible fashion.

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

A: I guess there are 3 things that sometimes happen - they do not state they have read and accept the Terms and Conditions, they don't make it clear it is a submission to AHF Magazine, or they don't include a bio of any sort. None of these are too drastic, since we will ask them to make clear they accept the Ts&Cs , make sure we know to what they are submitting, and request a bio, but it is always easiest if it is upfront. I guess, also including a covering note that tells me the Editor what the story is about can help, since sometimes it's not altogether clear!

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

A: We are happy to include a bio of a couple of paragraphs. If it important to the person submitting that they include the names of other publications, then we can publish that, but it doesn't not matter to us in and of itself. We like to know the general basic information - where they are from, what they like to write, if they have genre specialities, and also where people who like their story can find out more about them.

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

A: Rejections are always difficult as they can occur for different reasons - if a piece is too obtuse or all over the place, then I am not going to read all of it, I am going to do my best to persevere but if it becomes a struggle then there is no way I can justify publishing it, so there is not much point in reading it all. If something on the other hand is well-written but we are unsure if it suits our genre, I will read it closely to the end, and send it to others to look at, before we make a decision. If something is too long, we will look at it as a literary work, and consider whether we can perhaps split it over more than one issue, so in that case we would also read it to the end, before making the decision to offer serialisation.

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

A: As Editor, it is stated in the Terms and Conditions, that I will proof-read and spell-check pieces, and will if I make any major changes refer those back to the author for approval. If I am simply correcting the spelling of a word, I won't need to, but sometimes it's obvious that something has been missed out, and although I can guess what it is, it is always best to check with the author - sometimes I have been known to have guessed wrong!

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

A: Before I go to the day job I will run through all of the previous night's submissions, sorting and filing, and writing any emails that need to be sent. My day job doesn't allow for me to be online, so in the evening I will catch up online with any new submissions, queries, and chase any replies that don't seem to be coming in. Later on, I will take myself offline and work on covers, spreadsheets of the works in progress, and the first rough drafts.

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

A: Our business basically runs on modern technology - from submissions, to publishing, to advertising. There would not be a Wolfian Press without it, and there would not be an AHF Magazine without it, so obviously it is vital to us. As for publishing in general, I am not certain enough to say.

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

A: I rarely engage in copy-editing because if I have accepted the piece then I have accepted what it is. What I do do is proof-read, and spell-check. Minor edits won't be referred back to the author (e.g. for a spelling correction) but anything else will be. Occasionally, I will ask for something more from the author - I won't make the change for them, but sometimes for example we get a submission that is one of several the author has written set in their own universe, and it is not clear enough in the particular one submitted to us what is going on, or at least would not be clear to the reader, so in that case I will request the author change or add in a little background information.

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

A: We never have, but that does not mean that we would not. It's not come up, and we haven't really looked into it.