The horror fiction genre is a tough nut to crack. Most genre readers are tired of their local bookstores disinterest with horror and so they need to get their kicks elsewhere. There are a ton of small publishers working magic within the genre by releasing cutting edge dark fiction and readers are overwhelmed with the quality and variety that there is on offer. Social media, word of mouth and blogging seem to be the main avenues that readers explore to find out about their next favourite writer. Magazines are also another great way of finding out about what’s hot in genre fiction. Today, I’m chatting with Eddie Generous. A man who has been very generous with his time (sorry, I couldn’t resist) in answering a few questions about his quarterly magazine of dark fiction called UNNERVING MAGAZINE.
Issue #1 was released in December 2016 and features the written talents of Joshua Chaplinsky and John F.D. Taff amongst others. It also features an interview with Gamut creator Richard Thomas and one with author/Steven Seagal fanboy Adam Howe along with book reviews and more…
The Grim Reader: Firstly, tell us a little bit about Eddie Generous.
Eddie Generous: I am a thirty-two-year-old dude from Canada that has no social life. Which is a good thing because it affords a goodly sum of hours to my love of dark fiction.
The Grim Reader: Where does your love of dark fiction come ?
Eddie Generous: That’s a tough one. As long as I can remember, I’ve really dug horror. It started with movies I guess. Only a touch better than kilometre up the highway from where I grew up, there was a general store. The owners didn’t mind renting R-rated, or worse, to a little kid. I also have an early memory from when I was four (according to the release date) when my parents went somewhere and left me home alone. We had a hacked satellite dish that was the same size as a hot tub and I knew the pay-per-view channels were playing a movie about a doll. I recall my mother telling before they left that I wasn’t to watch that specific set of channels featuring a doll possessed by a one Charles Lee Ray. Child’s Play scared the hell out of me!
My family were pretty well anti-readers, more the watching wrestling, NASCAR and shitty crime dramas type. I guess became the odd duck when I really got into Goosebumps, a friend gave me a couple, then I stole money whenever the Scholastic book fair orders went out in class. Personal favourite was A Night in Terror Tower.
In high school, I latched onto the grim Russian classics and French classics. It wasn’t until seven or eight years ago that I really returned to contemporary dark fiction again.
The Grim Reader: What was the best book you read in 2016?
Eddie Generous: Maaaan, I don’t know…
This is me cheating and too bad if you don’t like it: Bag of Bones – Stephen King, Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin, Hell House – Richard Matheson, Evil Eye – Joyce Carol Oates and Odd Man Out – James Newman.
The Grim Reader: Where did the concept of UNNERVING MAGAZINE come from? Why now and what are your hopes and expectations for the magazine?
Eddie Generous: Unnerving is a befitting word for what I like about good dark fiction. It’s versatile. One day I was on my computer thinking I could put out a magazine, I crunched the six or seven numbers involved and decided just to do it.
I got to thinking about some small magazines available and thought I could do as good a, and sometimes better, job of layout and design as well as editing. I buy small publications, or I had been buying, just to give them a try (my time to read them has dwindled since partaking in this venture, which is probably ok). I found that often the bigger ones focussed more on style than story and to me, that’s backwards, and the smaller ones often didn’t put the worthwhile effort into them. Cemetery Dance does things right in most regards, but they’re a rare breed, so it seemed an additional (one not as deep in wallet or payout) market could exist.
I also figured I could make a magazine float with time and no out-of-pocket expense. I have experience in the mostly dead world of newspapers and the thriving world of advertising mailers. So only working with authors came as a new avenue,
As for the why now, I had the time to do so, so why not?
The Grim Reader: Is UNNERVING MAGAZINE a solo project or do others work with you on the magazine?
Eddie Generous: I have some volunteers to help with reviews, down to two, now (thanks William Marchese and RJ Richardson). In the future, I’d like to gather up some artsy folks (if the money ever gets to that point) as well as feature writers (that is coming as soon as next issue if everything works as planned). I could always use help with reviews, as you know, there’s more books than there is time to read them. Other than that, Unnerving is a party of one, if nothing else, it keeps executive decisions simple.
The Grim Reader: Did you have a large number of submissions for issue #1 how does the selection process work?
Eddie Generous: I had just fewer than 500 if I recall correctly. I accepted a few for Issue #2 as well.
As far as how it goes, that’s pretty simple. I’m a one-man wrecking crew, good or bad. I read the first page (if it’s flash, I read the entire story upon opening it) and if I spot more than a couple of errors, I hate the content, or it’s unoriginal, I mark it negative and move on. Once I’m through, I re-open every negative and try again just in case I was in a grouch, or suffering from stupidity. A handful go back into the general population of stories then, while the others get declined. From there, I get picky. I usually have a handful of good stories of a certain length in my head and say to myself is this one as good as either of those others, if not, it gets declined. Eventually, I’m down to the best bunch and I sit on them. Some will linger with me and I know what I need to do.
Now and then, to go against what I’ve stated above, I start reading a story and love it start to finish and accept it without sitting on it.
So I’m unreliable and I likes what I likes when I likes it.
The Grim Reader: Are submissions open for future issues? Where do people go?
Eddie Generous: Yeah, open until I decide I’ve had enough: http://www.unnervingmagazine.com/submissions
Also open for novella submissions for standalone releases.
The Grim Reader: What are you looking for with regard to story submissions for the magazine?
Eddie Generous: Excellent plots, functional writing, clean copy, tact and originality. You wouldn’t believe how many knock-off Stephen King stories come in. I understand how it happens and often enough it isn’t intentional, but that man does cast one hell of an awesome shadow, one easy to remember when it comes to people biting his style and content.
Maybe I should’ve put originality first.
The Grim Reader: Generally speaking, the dark fiction genre seems to me to be very welcoming and supportive. What has the reaction to the magazine been from readers and writers so far?
Eddie Generous: So far it’s been good and surprising. I’d worried a bit that nobody would read it and I’d waste people’s time with my offering to publish stories, but people have been cool and a few have said nice things in reviews, in emails and on Twitter. A couple even mentioned my art as being good, which really puffed my ratty-ass peacock feathers. I’d worried a lot about my chintzy abilities, but I guess it’s coming off in the best possible light. In some kind of funky, kitschy cool maybe. Which is probably up my lowered brow alley.
However, positive light might embolden me and blow up in my face, I guess until there’s a pot to purchase art, you’re getting Eddie specials and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.
The Grim Reader: You recently opened the doors to novella submissions with one being accepted already. Can you tell us about the novella accepted and how authors can go about submitting their manuscripts?
Eddie Generous: Same page as the above to submit and I’m fairly open to content. It’s a very small acceptance size, maybe two or three to start and as you said, I’ve already accepted one, so send in what you’ve got and let me decide if it fits.
Now as for the accepted novella: It’s titled Festival and it’s written by Aaron J. French. It’s a vacation story gone wrong in straight B-horror flavour. Due for release in May, there’ll be a small portion of the story printed in Issue #2 in March.
The Grim Reader: I’m always interested in publishers/writers opinions on social media. A lot of writers I am in contact with seem to detest self-promotion. If it wasn’t for Twitter I’d have never come across UNNERVING MAGAZINE. I think it’s hugely important that writers connect with their readers. What are your opinions about it and where can people find and follow UNNERVING MAGAZINE?
Eddie Generous: I understand people hating self-promotion, it’s easier for me with Unnerving because I’m presenting a collective work. Promotion has to happen or you don’t sell and nobody reads your stuff. Whether you’re doing it yourself or you’ve hired a professional, it has to happen, but there has to be a happy medium or you won’t sleep at night and your soul will wither.
It really helps if you aren’t constantly shouting about your personal wares. The reviews are a big service to authors, enormous for indie authors, Tweeting and Facebook posting that stuff is good for the universe.
I use Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, links at the bottom.
The Grim Reader: I see the website unnervingmagazine.com is updated regularly with interviews and book reviews. You have interviews with James Newman, William Meikle amongst others. Who else will you be chatting to in the future?
Eddie Generous: I haven’t really nailed down too many, I should probably get on that. I always try to do something with the authors selected for publication (so far in Issue #2 there’s Jessica McHugh, Sarina Dorie, Stephen Kozeniewski and William Cooper). I have some tentative agreements if everything works out with a few for Issue #2, but I’ll just keep them quiet until I’ve put words to processor and had the answers returned to me.
The cool thing about indie authors is that you pretty much just talk to them. I understand the bigshots being picky as there’s only so much time, but in the indie world, you send a hello and better than half the time a hello is coming back.
The Grim Reader: If you could have any 5 writers contribute a new story to UNNERVING MAGAZINE who would they be and why?
Eddie Generous: Stephen King – The man is the greatest, simple. As a secondary pro, I’d sell enough copies to hire all kinds of artists and probably be able to bump my rate if he sent me a story.
Joyce Carol Oates – She rocks the quiet unsuspecting, unnerving, kind of horror story in a way that defies nearly everybody else. Her stuff can be gum stuck to your brainpan.
Stephen Graham Jones – This man is a killer at re-imagining classic tropes. That zombie-esque Western about the snake oil salesman was incredible, or the story with the babysitter and shifted universe… Dude is an all-star.
Chuck Palahniuk – This guy is known for Fight Club but his short stuff is fucked up and off-putting in all the ways I’d love to see in the magazine. Say the words corn and Palahniuk to anyone that’s read Haunted and see exactly how a simple kernel stays with them.
Rick Hautala – This man died a few years ago, but I still get excited whenever I saw his name on a table of contents. He had straightforward way that often let you see what was coming and still surprised you when it hit.
Ahhh, an editor can dream.
Eddie, thanks for your time and best of luck with the magazine. I will have a full review of issue #1 soon…In the meantime…
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