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Editor Interview: Nightmare Magazine

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

A: Horror for *everyone*

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

A: Vastarien, Lightspeed, Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny, FIYAH, PseudoPod, Orion.

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

A: Shirley Jackson, Stephen Graham Jones, Octavia E. Butler, Joel Lane, Nathan Ballingrud, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Robert Aickman, Tananarive Due, Jeff VanderMeer, Pamela Dean, Margaret Mahy, Rebecca Solnit, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mary Oliver, Stephen King, R.L. Stine.

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

A: Since its founding, the magazine has run the "The H Word" column, a series of personal perspectives on horror and what horror means to different people. If you study those essays, you'll realize that everyone has a unique relationship to fear and the darker side of life, and that our genres—horror and dark fantasy—can give people the tools to sit with and understand that relationship. Our goal at the magazine is to publish horror for *everyone*. That means publishing the widest possible variety of dark stories, poems, and essays by the widest possible array of creators, and emphasizing work that explores the deep humanity of the genres.

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

A: FICTION: I buy a lot of fiction that runs less than 5,000 words, so your best chance of breaking in is with your shorter work. And I prefer flash that's really short, too—we'll look at work up to 1,500 words, but I really like flash that runs less than 1,000, because it's so much more fun. I'm particularly keen on unusual forms in flash fiction, too. As for longer work, I'd say that prose is very important, but not as important as a sense of character. The emphasis at Nightmare is very much on character-centered fiction.
NONFICTION: We get a lot of nonfiction submissions that are miniature book reports or informational articles, but what I'm looking for is work that focuses on the personal and emotional experience of the dark side.
POETRY: Please note that we have very limited formatting options; we can't include works with a variety of line indentations, for example. So we're not a great market for people who love to play with the visual form of their poems.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission is so creepy I get spooked when I take my dog out to pee at night! It would also be nice if it had a few really memorable turns of phrase or a really interesting character.

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

A: I can usually tell from the first few paragraphs whether a story might be a good fit for us. I'm looking for a piece where the characters are instantly established, and if that doesn't happen within a few paragraphs, it definitely won't meet my needs.

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

A: I won't accept a story if I feel it needs substantive editing, although if I really like the conceit of a story and I think it has a lot of promise, I'll reach out to an author to do a rewrite-and-resubmit. Once a story has been accepted, I'll work with them on line edits, and after those, the piece will be examined by our copy editor. The author gets to approve any and all of these edits. After everything has been formatted, we'll pass the work along to a proofreader, who will make only the most cursory of fixes.

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

A: We submit to the genre awards that require submissions/nominations, such as the Stoker and the Shirley Jackson. Many awards in genre fiction, however, are not open to nominations outside the particular voting block (such as SFWA for the Nebulas and the convention membership for the Hugos).