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Editor Interview: Danse Macabre

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

A: Noir coloratura letters

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

A: Tonopah Review, Gloom Cupboard, decomP, Mad Swirl, Word Riot, Tattoo Highway, and Bicycle Review all feature strong literary voices in a lively visual framework located in the 21st Century.

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

A: Though we pride ourselves on an expansive editorial viewpoint, archtypically favored fiction writers include F. Sheridan Le Fanu, The Brothers Grimm, Lord Dunsany, Kafka, Joseph Roth, Graham Greene, and RA Lafferty. As for poets, again we behold a very wide (historical & international) palate - contemporarily, Lyn Lifshin, Alan Britt, Ali Abdolraezi, Martin Newell, and James Ragan are all favs.

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

A: We feel our ongoing fusion of the literary and the visual, the contemporary and the classic, the colloquial and the international is a unique masala that has on its merits attracted a comprehensive swath of noted writers (as well as promising beginners) from around the world. We're proud of being able to not only accomodate this swath but to grow in concert with it.

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

A: As much as others say the same, READ AN ISSUE FIRST! DM has a particular editorial vibe that is as much the product of our rich body of contributors as our defining toponomy. It's not hard to spot a spam-bot carpet-bombing journals far and wide with their work; while most print journals may be six-of-one, half-a-dozen-of-another, our particular noir coloratura vision demands a bit more discretion in what we seek (notwithstanding our long-standing openness to new voices).

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: At bottom, simply following our modest submission guidelines is a big first step forward. A bespoke cover letter is always appreciated, as is literary content approximating our stated (and quite plainly visible) editorial preferences. A brief bio that does not require heavy editing (or proofreading) is nice. But, crucially, we most look forward to reading fiction, poetry, and feuilleton that either through subject matter and/or execution creates an imaginative framework for colorful material. Think noir coloratura; eschew workshop-driven suburbanality and other common orthodoxies!

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

A: Clearly indicating they have never sampled our brand by submitting work outside our stated visions; multiple submissions that are withdrawn within hours of the initial query; re-queries within a reasonable (6-to-10 week) grace period; forgetting to include a brief bio.

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

A: Cover letters give a good first impression not only of a prospective contributor's intent, but of their understanding of how their work will find a good home in DM. They are a definite plus as far as we're concerned. We are strongly committed to encouraging new and under-published writers who meet our aesthetic standards while demonstrating clear future potential; credits matter in as much as the written product and our visions have some concert. That said, we rarely encounter discordance with the many accomplished international writers who have come our way. It's no surprise that a fulsome bio usually indicates a highly worthwhile submission.

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

A: If a piece is completely wrong for us, it doesn't take long to see this. On the other hand, we almost never fail to read an entire submission that at least elicits initial interest. Certainly, this often slows down our response times, but more often than not makes for a more rewarding relationship between DM and our future contributors.

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

A: Certain pieces may, on their individual merit, be referred to other editors for second opinions. But our initial evaluation by any given editor is often the first (or last) as far as vetting goes.

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

A: Dealing with submissions are adjunct to our daily blogpost and our monthly issues, so there is a daily In tray of material to be dealt with. Happily, we have reached a point after 6 years and sixty-some issues that a good majority of our intake is worth a read, so the legwork for us isn't as wearying or discouraging as other editors or mastheads might find.

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

A: This is crucial. Contrary to what one might glean from our socio-politcal bodies, the 21st Century has arrived, and it is incumbent on all good people of letters to embrace technology as a positive adjunct to our work. The word 'Traditional' is too often used as an excuse for retrograde attitudes preened to justify curricula, policies, texts, and dogmatic preferences that reek of obsolescence. Our editorial staff defers to no one for width and breadth of personal libraries, but we think Kindle and iPads are wondrous, Facebook highly useful, Twitter timely, e-publishing convenient and democratic, each opening new vistas of readership (and value-add) for our brand. "National" print journals whose web sites are years out of date, with decades-old editorial perspectives, visual presence, and actual sales in the three-digit range should be treated as what they are: Taxpayer-subsidized vanity rags. On the other hand, those (often electronic) mastheads able to exploit 21st Century technological realities rarely possess editorial visions inconsistent with that explicit modernity.