I sometimes give writing workshops in the Ottawa area and mentor local writers. One piece of advice that I feel comes off as a broken record is that there is *so much* good short fiction out there, for readers to taste and for writers to learn from.
Not everyone is into short fiction. My formative reading experiences were novels and comic books, two media that lend themselves to very long arcs with exploratory digressions. Only after largely failing at two novels (consuming ten years of writing time), did I finally take the old science fiction advice: work my writing career up to novels through short fiction.
Although I didn’t appreciate it then, short stories really are their own medium, with conventions and beat structures that take a lot of time to internalize. I forced myself to read a lot of short fiction, from Year’s Best collections to Hemingway and other Nobel winners. I didn’t enjoy the form for about two years, until I stumbled upon an editorial taste that worked for me, and that happened to be Escapepod, and then Podcastle.
Consistently listening to several stories a week gave me such a broad view of the kinds of writing out there and what I liked and how the different forms connected to each other and what rules each played in, or broke, as the case may be. So, I’m a late convert to short fiction and I feel the missionary need at times to show people just how much range and quality is out there. I picked three stories I wanted to recommend to the world.
Hi, folks! Mike Allen here. When I last came through, I bloggedaboutmonsters. I want to thankBlack Gateoverlord John O’Neill for granting me leave to return to this space and shill my new project.
Among the many things I do, I’m the editor of a series of fantasy anthologies called Clockwork Phoenix. At least, the first three books were marketed as fantasy by my previous publisher, even though I included some strange science fiction in their pages as well. (Though I’m someone who sees science fiction as a subset of fantasy rather than a whole separate thing, one of the reasons I’ll use them if they’re odd enough.)
And I’m going to be editing and publishing a fourth volume in the series, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that’s still underway. As of this writing I’m closing in on an $8,000 goal that will let me for the first time pay five cents a word for fiction – we’re going pro. If we keep going past that, I hope to launch a webzine that will be a companion to Clockwork Phoenix and the poetry journal I also edit and publish, Mythic Delirium, creating even more space for the kind of writing I love to thrive.But we’ll blow up that bridge when we come to it, eh?
John suggested I talk to you folks about how Clockwork Phoenix functions as a fantasy market, and I think that’s a fair question, given what Black Gate is all about.
Put bluntly, Clockwork Phoenix is a market for those who want to push the boundaries of what fantasy can be. I encourage stylistic experiments but insist the stories should also be compelling.
I want to point out that this gives me also sorts of freedom to include material that can’t be easily classified, I wouldn’t call it a break with long standing tradition in our field, at least as I’ve experienced said traditions.
I want to tell you how I was first introduced to short fiction that carries the fantasy label. I’m pretty sure then you’ll see what I mean.