Interview with Lynne M. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief of Apex Magazine

by on Nov 1, 2011 in Interviews | 0 comments

Stephanie Jacob: Congratulations on being named the new editor at Apex Magazine.  What about the position appealed to you? Are you excited to jump in and begin editing short fiction and poetry?

Lynne M. Thomas: Thank you! I had been editing nonfiction for a while, and was excited at the opportunity to edit fiction and poetry for one of the most respected SF/F/H magazines on the market. Apex has developed a reputation for publishing cutting edge, dark fiction and poetry, thanks to the work of Catherynne Valente and Jason Sizemore over the years. It’s an honor to have been chosen to follow Cat, and I will do my best to expand upon what has been built here.

SJ: How will former editor Catherynne M. Valente’s editing philosophy differ from your own? What types of fiction do you hope to publish?  Do you have any themed issues planned?

LMT: My editing philosophy will be fairly similar to Cat’s, especially as I settle into my new role. I’ve known and worked with Cat for several years, and we have comparable taste. My previous editorial work has been celebratory rather than dark, so I’m looking forward to exploring my dark side a bit more. I’m hoping to publish fiction that pushes at the edges of the genre: visceral, emotionally honest storytelling that shows us who we are. I am committed to showcasing the diversity of writing in our field, so I’m very interested in seeing submissions from a wide range of writers from all over the world. I don’t have any specific themed issues planned at the moment, but I am planning on having at least one in my first year.

SJ: Your first issue will be released in November.  You opted to go with solicited material for your first edition. When soliciting fiction how do you decide on which authors to approach?

LMT: My approach to soliciting fiction for this issue was to turn to writers I know and whose works I already really enjoy, and ask them for something specific. This was not an easy task, because I know and enjoy the work of a lot of fantastic writers. Two-time Hugo winning writer Elizabeth Bear’s story is genre-bending, cerebral and raw. She opened a vein for me.  Cat offered a story as a parting gift; I’m always excited about her work, as she has redefined and pushed the boundaries of the genre since she debuted. Tim Pratt, along with being a fantastic novelist and Hugo-winning short story writer, is also an award-winning poet. Tim rarely writes poetry these days, but he provided a gorgeous, wrenching piece. World Fantasy Award winning writer Rob Shearman’s reprint in this issue is a ghost story that really moved me. Most people know Rob for his work writing the Doctor Who episode “Dalek”, but he’s also a fantastic short story writer, and I wanted to encourage more readers to experience his short fiction. I think Bryan Thao Worra deserves more attention; he has a splendid book of poetry called On The Other Side of the Eye, and his writing has been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Tansy Rayner Roberts, an Australian fantasy writer who won an Aurealis Award this year for her novel Power and Majesty, wrote our nonfiction essay. She’s a member of the Galactic Suburbia podcast team, too. We seem to think about storytelling in many of the same ways, and I wanted to hear more about the Australian dark fantasy scene.

SJ: As far as submissions go, what turns you off?  What elements are crucial for a story to succeed?

LMT: First and foremost, I want well-written material that takes my breath away at a sentence level.

I’m not a big fan of gore for the sake of gore. I enjoy horror, but I’m much more on the spooky, psychological, and suspense end of things rather than splatterpunk.  Horrific and dark story elements need to serve the story, not just show off how gross you can be. I’m a character junkie: if you can make me care about your characters and what happens to them, I’ll want to keep reading, no matter how much you torture them. The best ideas in the world won’t be enough to keep me interested if the characters aren’t there. I realize that it’s more challenging to achieve that in short fiction, but it can be done.

SJ: What is your vision for Apex Magazine? Where do you see the magazine a year from now?

LMT: A year from now I’m hoping to have published a lot of work that I’m proud of.  I want to have connected with our current audience, and published work that they like so much that they are handing the magazine to their friends and saying “you’ve GOT to read this.” I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to discover new stories, new writers, and to showcase the amazing things that can be achieved in fiction when we let go of the edges of the field and push the envelope. If I’m doing my job correctly, every time our readers pick up an issue, they should experience a “whoa” moment.

SJ: You recently were awarded the Hugo Award for Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who By the Women Who Love It.  How did you find out you won and what was your first reaction? Was there a happy dance involved?

LMT: I found out at the Hugo Awards, when Farah Mendlesohn opened the envelope and announced our book as the winner. There was some screaming. And a bit of shaking. The rest of the evening I was pretty much in shock. The happy dance came later, when it really sank in. It is a huge honor, and I’m thrilled that our love letter to a particular fandom resonated so much with Hugo voters.

SJ: Thank you for a great interview. We all look forward to working with you.

LMT: Thanks! I’m thrilled to be taking on this new adventure.


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