One of an editor’s greatest pleasures is coming upon a fine story, so Adrian Simmons, David Farney, and William Ledbetter must have felt pretty delighted when they came upon the most recent batch of fiction they’ve published in Heroic Fiction Quarterly.
I’m sad to say that I’m more familiar with Heroic Fiction Quarterly e-zine in theory rather than in practice. I’ve heard good things about it for some time and I’ve read a few tales now and then, but it’s been years since I sat down for a visit. I’ve tried two of the stories in the most recent issue, “Dusts of War” by Ben Godby and “Kingdom of Graves” by David Charlton and was tremendously impressed. This is stirring, polished adventure fiction and needs to be seen by more readers. I’m looking forward to finding out what the rest of the issue holds. I’m looking forward to seeing what PREVIOUS issues hold.
Just prior to joining the Black Gate staff, I was managing the Flashing Swords e-zine. I selected and edited the tales for the first six issues. It was a small market with a small budget, and as might be expected, some of what I pulled from the submissions pile were diamonds in the rough, work from promising amateurs. It was sort of a “market with training wheels”: a place where burgeoning writers could hone their craft and start their careers. But a lot of the stories proved very fine indeed, better than such a small market had any right to be, and I can recall my frustration that more attention wasn’t being paid to them, as well as the frustration when the wrong sort of attention was paid — a reviewer tearing apart a first-time writer’s first published story with the same claws that would be used on a veteran writer in a pro market, or a fine writer’s work being dismissed by something as foolish as the old saw “first person stories have no tension because you know the narrator will survive.”
I can’t claim to know the minds of the staff at HFQ. But I can imagine that they must feel the same sorts of frustrations. Here they have some great work, yet no one seems to be talking about it.
I always wished I could find a way to draw more attention to the Flashing Swords e-zine when I helmed it. Well, it’s gone now. But HFQ is alive and well, and doing good work. So I’m using the mighty bandwidth now possessed by Black Gate online to point you to the e-zine. I can personally vouch for the stories I’ve named above. If you’re a fan of sword-and-sorcery and heroic fiction, you owe it to yourself to check them out. Go there, celebrate the stories, and the writers, and the market, because markets are fragile things and should be cherished while we have them. So often, it seems like the only people frequenting the markets are the writers wanting to be published there. I want to send some readers to HFQ.
I hope to see you there.
Howard Andrew Jones is the author of the critically acclaimed historical fantasy novels The Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones, as well as the related short story collection The Waters of Eternity, and the Paizo Pathfinder novel Plague of Shadows. You can keep up with him at his website, www.howardandrewjones.com, and keep up with him on Twitter or follow his occasional meanderings on Facebook.