Hello out there in cyber world. Thanks for stopping by. In the coming weeks, we’ll have a lot of fun here at Author Interview Corner. I’ll be posting a central theme question, answered by several authors. Kristopher Rufty will be a guest on the blog, which is exciting news because I love his work!! Also, I’m tossing around some ideas in the old noggin for another giveaway. So stay tuned.
Today, I have a special treat for you. We’ll pry into the mind of magazine editor Sean O’Leary to better understand the tricks of the trade and what it takes to run a successful publication…
You are the editor of the recently reborn LORE Magazine. What draws you to editing?
Control freakery? Ha! Oh, I don’t know, that may, indeed, be the reason, but I’d like to think it’s that I like to be involved in the creative process. While I don’t write the stories we publish, the process of selecting the tales, establishing an order for the TOC, finding an artist for the cover… I find all of that to be fun and creatively satisfying.
What are the top three things you look for in a story?
It has to be well-written, avoid cliche, and hold my interest.
What genre do you most often read for personal pleasure, and what are you currently reading?
I love weird fiction from the late 1800s through the early 1900s particularly, though not exclusively. I’m currently reading William Hope Hodgson’s “The Night Land,” which I find absolutely haunting, so full of the kind of strange imagery I love. I just finished reading a few “John Silence” stories by Algernon Blackwood. I feel like I’m about to start re-reading some Lovecraft again, too. Something about the summer, I don’t know…
Do you write your own fiction?
I used to write more. Sadly, I haven’t done it in quite a while, for a million reasons, or, perhaps, excuses? I have a few ideas percolating, though. Maybe they’ll come bubbling out soon.
If you could invite any five authors from any time period to dinner, who would they be?
Harlan Ellison, Oscar Wilde, H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, and Brian McNaughton. That sounds like a fun table, I think. The repartee would be fantastic. I can record the evening, right?
The original LORE Magazine made its debut in 1995, closing its doors in 2000. Some of the stories published in LORE went on to win The Bram Stoker Award, The Deathrealm Award, and The World Fantasy Award. How did it feel to be part of such an amazing publication, and what are your hopes for the future of this magazine?
It was a terrific experience, more than we had dared to dream, and we (Rod Heather, Joseph Martucci, and I) were on Cloud 9 (or more!) During the years we were on hiatus, technology changed considerably and this new incarnation of LORE has much higher production value. We are able to offer perfect bound issues of around 170 pages with full-color, wraparound covers and we’re now paying five cents per word. It’s a much nicer package as compared to the old saddle-stitched, 64-pagers we started with. I would love to get to the point where we are able to offer interior illustrations again. At this point, we’re just trying to get the word out, increase circulation, and forge ahead!
I purchased an issue of LORE, and I must say, it is jammed-packed with quality fiction. Is it overwhelming to wade through all those submissions searching for the right stories each issue?
Accepting electronic submissions has changed things quite a bit from the old days. I wouldn’t want to go back to the piles of hard-copy manuscripts, but the ease of emailing submissions has also brought an increase in submissions. That’s not something we’re complaining about, we’re glad to see the interest in LORE, but, upon our re-launch, it was just me and Rod (Heather) reading all the submissions. It soon became evident that it was just too much for us to handle by ourselves. We recently added some staff and they’ve been a great help. We’re still not where we want to be with our response time, but we’re working on it. Working and working…
Tell us a little bit about yourself, outside of your position at LORE. What are your hobbies? What inspires you?
I am sometimes involved in making short films. I just shot a science fiction short called “Biding My Time” this past May and that’s in the beginning stages of post-production. Hopefully, when it’s done, it’ll make it into a few film festivals before living out the rest of its days on the Internet. I have the footage from an adaptation we shot in 2001 of Brian McNaughton’s story, “Fragment of a Diary Found on Ellesmere Island” that has been mostly edited for quite some time. A million other things sort of got in the way and I’ve procrastinated actually getting that finished, but I really need to do that. I’m disappointed that I won’t get to show Brian the finished product, but he did say he liked the screenplay and he was pleased with the still photos I sent him during production, so that offers a little comfort.
What type of music do you listen to?
I’m tempted to say “all kinds,” but that really doesn’t say anything, does it, and my listening habits are probably more narrow than I think. On my way to work this morning, I listened to Black Sabbath’s first album, then “Welcome Oblivion” by How To Destroy Angels while I typed these answers. Over the weekend, it was a Gorillaz-themed channel on Pandora and you can always expect to find a healthy dose of David Bowie in the mix. I’ve mowed the lawn quite a bit to a couple of early Public Image Ltd. albums and I’ve been listening to “Push the Sky Away” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds a lot lately, too. Love that one. So, whatever kind of music that is.
You’ve been involved with the publication of so many horror stories, I’ve got to ask… What scares you?
I don’t think I’ve been genuinely “scared” by reading or watching anything in a while. It’s all fictional, so I find it hard to really be scared by it. Some things give me “the creeps,” though. That’s different than being scared, isn’t it? But if you’re asking in a more general sense, I’d have to say my own mortality scares me. The take-off and landing portions of airline travel aren’t great.
Trying to come up with questions for this interview, I noticed your “favorite quotations” on Facebook include a quote from Harlan Ellison. I remembered seeing Ellison’s name on the TOC of an issue of LORE, and something clicked in my brain. I realized that you are both an editor AND a fan (Although, isn’t that how it always is? Otherwise, why bother working so hard as an editor?) Getting to my point… I want you to be honest… Have you ever been starstruck by an author? Have you ever said “Holy crap, I can’t believe we just got a submission from this guy!”?
Without a doubt. Harlan, of course, was one. You said it, we’re fans as well. We’re involved in this because we love it and when you suddenly come face-to-face, so to speak, with one of the legends from your formative years, it’s mind-blowing! Receiving artwork from Richard Corben was another such moment. Of course, the delivery sometimes adds to the excitement. I remember going to the original LORE compound (Rod’s basement) one day and he tells me we received a package. I ask who it’s from, Rod pauses, puts on the most serious face I’ve ever seen, then says, “Richard FUCKING Corben!” The top of my head blew off. I mean, here’s a guy whose artwork I must have spent years of my life just staring at… the “Bat Out of Hell” album in my cousin’s record collection, when I was ten years old, the issues of Heavy Metal I would hide inside other magazines to read in the grocery store, like it was illegal material. I rode my bike six miles to the local hobby shop to buy those “Fighting Fantasy” game books just for the Corben covers… I had that Heavy Metal one-sheet with Den on it hanging in my college apartment.
It was the same with Harlan Ellison’s work, though a little bit later. I can remember the first time I read one of his stories, how electrified I felt. It was “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” in an anthology called “Machines That Think.” It’s no wonder the things you become exposed to that really make a connection with you when you’re a young kid or a teenager become so important. Physically, you’re growing and your body needs food energy to accomplish that kind of cell production, but your imagination is hungry, too, and the things you feed it at that time become part of your DNA. Those are just two examples. Short answer without all the gushing: Yes, it’s a thrill!
During my Facebook snooping (Hey, I take my interviews very seriously!) I also noticed you have provided cartoon voices for some web cartoons. How fun! Can you tell us about this and where to find them?
My buddy Rob Feldman at Earworm Media created a few animated web series and I provided voices for a several supporting characters and some monster noises. Yeah, they’re great fun and I have a blast coming up with the voices based on Bob’s character sketches and basically acting the scenes out, gesticulating wildly, while I record them. You can check them out here:
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to talk about before we wrap this up?
I’ll just say that we publish new issues of LORE twice per year. E-books are not available yet, but they’re in the works. Check out LORE and let us know what you think.
Where can we find you on the web?
Check out the LORE website at www.lore-online.com. You can find interviews there with, most recently, Thomas Ligotti and Carlos Ezquerra. Our submission guidelines are there as well as the LORE Store with our latest issues of the new LORE as well as a collection of tales from the first incarnation, “LORE: A Quaint and Curious Volume of Selected Stories.” You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/LOREfiction and on Twitter @LORE_online