Q: What is your background as an editor? Why a horror related magazine?
Taking the second question first, I've been interested in horror for as long as I've been reading--started out with stuff like "The Monkey's Paw" and Twilight Zone/Alfred Hitchcock story collections, worked through Poe and Lovecraft as a youth, started my still-ongoing Stephen King phase in junior high, and never looked back. The Universal Monster classics were a big influence in my love of horror too, as were the great films of the 70s and 80s that I probably started watching way too young. It's just always been my favorite genre, so when I started writing my own stories and getting interested in producing and editing literature, I knew that was where I wanted to be.
As for my editing background, I have a BA in English and an MA in Literature, and very nearly earned an MFA in creative writing before entering the "real world." Reality is overrated. I edited a few literary magazines during my college career (most notably The New Delta Review at Louisiana State University), and once I was out of school went back to my first love, horror. I've been editing for City Slab now for a little more than three years.
Q: How did the name for the magazine come about?
Dave Lindschmidt, our publisher, editor-in-chief, founder and fearless leader, wanted to start a magazine focusing on supernatural horror tales in an urban setting, first because that was the kind of stuff he liked to write and read, and also because the city setting has such a wealth of potential for truly gripping, truly original, truly scary fiction. Cities have their own personalities, each one different, good sides and bad, just like well-drawn characters--and fiction that makes use of those qualities has a certain something that really resonates and makes for great stories.
Anyway, Dave tells me the title just came to him and seemed to fit. Analyzing a little, the "City" tells you where we're at, and "Slab" brings many images to mind--desolate acres of concrete and asphalt, monoliths of steel and glass, the metal tables in the morgue, even hunks of fresh meat. It's descriptive and evocative, and we like to think it's perfect for what we're trying to do.
Q: How long has CITY SLAB been published?
City Slab has been around about five years now. We just published issue 12, which we think is quite an accomplishment. We're now in a regular quarterly publication cycle, which we hope will help us keep our readers and fans happy.
Q: You cover everything horror related, fact and fiction, from music to movies to short stories. Why everything?
We started out as a fiction-only magazine, and we always saw the rest of our content as being there to augment the stories, to present them in the best possible setting. With the nonfiction, music, and movies, our goal is two-fold--first we want to deliver pieces on subjects that readers of our fiction will likely find interesting and relevant, and second we want to bring in readers interested in those things as a way to expose them to our great fiction. Because the fiction is really our focus, and that's what we think sets us apart from other horror culture magazines.
And I've found that most people who love horror fiction also like movies, and music, and historical stories that have to do with the genre. Horror is so broad-ranging--it's more than just one thing. It's a lifestyle, an obsession. So we're trying to serve that demographic, of which we are definitely a part.
Dave and I like to say we want to make City Slab the kind of magazine that we, as writers, would be thrilled to have our stories published in. I think we're succeeding there.
Q: The magazine also has a Goth slant to it, particularly with the covers. Do Goths constitute a big percentage of your readership?
Well, I haven't done any polling on that issue, so I really don't know! But like I said before, horror has become a lifestyle for a lot of people--some of them would identify themselves as Goths, some might not. I hope we have stuff that would please either group. As to our cover girls and featured models, though, we love beautiful, strong, scary women, and our readers obviously do too. :) I don't know if it's Goth, but I know what I like!
Q: In regard to the short stories, do you solicit authors, like Tom Piccirilli or are most sent via standard submission?
We do occasionally solicit stories for our feature fiction--Tom's story "The Woman in the Dark" in issue 12 is an example where we contacted the author and he had something that was just perfect for us. David Niall Wilson and Jack Ketchum also gave us stories in the past. However, the large majority of our fiction comes from the slush pile. That's one of the really exciting things for me as an editor--to discover a story in my inbox that just really hits me, really stings, and to have the opportunity to bring it to a wider audience.
We publish a lot of first-time sales. Bottom line is, lack of a long publishing history won't keep you out, and a bibliography a mile long won't guarantee your acceptance. We're looking for the best stories we can find--wherever they come from.
Q: What have been some of your favorite stories & articles that you've published to date?
I've done a couple of nonfiction pieces for City Slab that I'm really proud of--a history of absinthe in #8, and an article about the films of Jose Mojica Marins (aka "Coffin Joe") in the latest issue. But if you mean stuff that I didn't personally write (LOL), we've had a lot of great material in the last several issues. David Niall Wilson's long story "The Milk of Paradise" from #7 was a real knockout, I thought, and I believe it was nominated for a Stoker. I've already mentioned Tom Picirilli's story. Lisa Agnew's piece on the history of the Grand Guingol in #12 is another favorite. And in #11, "Caramula" by Hunter C. Eden really blew me away. But honestly I could say that of nearly every story we print--we're lucky in that we keep getting so much great fiction that the stuff that makes the final cut is always something we're very proud to put out there. Just because I didn't mention an author's name here doesn't mean I didn't think his or her story was fantastic! They all are! In my unbaised opinion, of course... ;)
Q: What do you have lined up for upcoming issues?
More great fiction, of course! We've already got a few stories set for #13 that we're really excited about. Also, since thirteen is the lucky number of all horror fans, we're doing a fascinating piece on strange superstitions from around the world. I was really excited to get to interview horror metal legend King Diamond for the next issue, since I've always been a huge fan--that's one of the perks of being an editor. :) Let's see, there's a bit of historical nonfiction about the horrible prisons of 19th Century England, a short interview with Ramsey Campbell, our regular book and game reviews...and lots more! Be sure to check it out!