Sunday, March 10, 2013

A dash of Something Wicked with Joe Vaz.

Joe Vaz and I go back a long way. I've had a short story called Last Woman Standing published in his Something Wicked magazine ages ago (issue #9 I think) but since I started with the SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment short story competition and anthology, Joe has offered his support by judging the competition. Of course now I'm totally tickled pink that he's bringing out horror anthologies now (and is on volume two already), so I absolutely had to have him over to share a little Q&A about what he's up to. You can get volume one here.

So, Joe, while you were pulling together the anthology, did you discover (as some editors do) an underlying theme occur? 

Not during Vol One of the anthology, but probably because it was made up from the six individual issues of Something Wicked Magazine from 2011. I’d have to look at the issues themselves to see if there are any underlying themes, there usually is.

What are the hallmarks of a great story, in your opinion? 

I think believable characters that the reader can empathise with (or detest) are central to a good story everything else is bonus. Give me a character I care about, whether that’s because I like her or detest her, and you’ll have me interested in your story.

Having said that, the stuff that blows me away are stories that take me where I don’t expect to go. As I am sure you know, one of the downsides of slush reading is, over the years, you develop a sixth sense for obvious storylines, so, when a story surprises, it’s always a good thing.

If you had sixteen words to tell someone what the Something Wicked Speculative Fiction Anthology, Volume Two is all about, what would you say? (Yeah, this is a bitch of a question, I know)

Imagination. Adventure. Terror. Fear. Sorrow. Loss. Anger. Disbelief. Displacement. Revenge. Horror. Awe. Space. Gods. Empathy. Love.

I’m guessing that’s not what you wanted. :)

In sixteen words that make a sentence, I would say:
A place to let your imagination run wild; experience fantastical stories, great emotions and beautiful writing.

Your cover artist for volume one and two has walked a long way with Something Wicked. Tell us more about what makes the collaboration so outstanding.

Well for starters, Vincent Sammy is outstanding – his art is incredible and we were so blessed to be the first magazine to find him (and exploit him) because he is well on his way to becoming an international phenomenon. Just in the last year he has had art featured in a Hollywood movie (the Issue 8 cover, actually) and he has illustrated stories for Black Static and for Pandemonium’s Lost Souls anthology – (a hardcover copy of which is sitting right beside me as I type this – jealous? You should be).

The collaboration we have with Vincent is similar to the ones we have with our other cover artists, they all have an understanding of cinema language. As an actor, it’s the only way I know how to describe images when commissioning art, and it is no coincidence that four of the five primary cover artists all work within the film industry in some way (Pierre Smit is a scenic artist, Jesca Marisa is a director and animator, Hendrik Gericke is a matte painter and Vianne is a scriptwriter) in fact the only one that doesn’t work in film is Vincent.

Having said that though, Vincent has an inherent sense of mood and texture, he can deliver a pencil illustration that looks like a 19th-century photograph, complete with negative scratches and faded edges, or a holographic image or, well, anything really. Our communication is usually very sparse, I tend to describe a mood or a scene in the story, perhaps the angle of the shot, or the lighting, and Vincent adds his own touches and inspiration and then delivers a masterpiece – every time.

What does 2013 have in store for Something Wicked

2013 kicks off with a bang with Volume Two of our annual anthologies which is being co-published by eKhaya. They will be handling the digital and South African distribution of Volume Two.

Volume Two is currently available for pre-orders here.

And yes, Vincent has illustrated our cover.

Submissions? What are you looking for? When do they open for the next anthology? 

This is always such a difficult questions because my love of stories is so organic – technically we’re after science fiction and horror, but any kind of speculative fiction is good. Over the years we’ve published a couple of really dark and urban fantasies that blew me away (Freemantle Mons and Sky Painter by Michael John Grist and Jack of Spades, reversed by Cat Hellisen which is featured in volume two). I also love gothic, contemporary, humorous, supernatural and psychological horror.

Science fiction of all types, from surreal alternate reality stuff, to the mundane, from hard space-opera to political and social – I love it all.

At the end of the day it has less to do with the type of story and more to do with the story itself – if the story blows me away, I will publish it, regardless of genre.

We’ve haven’t got an official date for re-opening submissions, but it will be sometime in June. Subs will be open for a six-week period and we’ll be looking for twenty-four or so original, never-before-published stories for 2014’s Volume Three.

While we’re running our pre-order special, you can get all our books and magazines at hefty discounts, including exclusive and extremely limited hardcovers of Volume One and Two.
Special ends on March 25. See this link...

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