Today sees the launch of a brand new magazine – an absolute treat for all horror fans. The much heralded Massacre Magazine is finally here and issue 1 is a real chiller-fest. I am delighted to be joined by Julia Roberts - who you will know better by her pen name Julia Kavan - and Steve Emmett – Joint Managing..well, we’ll find that out.
They’ve brought along their own special home brewed wine. I must say it is extremely red…quite an unusual consistency…and an unusual aroma. Hints of, well, iron if I’m honest. Almost like…No. Couldn’t be.
Anyway, down to business. Welcome Julia and Steve. I must say, I’ve been looking forward to this first issue ever since I learned that you were planning to launch Massacre Magazine. So, go on, spill, what can we expect from it? No, actually, first can you clarify your roles in this exciting development?
Julia & Steve: Thanks for having us along, Cat.
Steve: Do you want to explain, Julia? I daren’t risk putting my foot in it at the start.
Julia:*Sighs* Okay. No doubt you’ll be hard to shut up when you’ve finished that red...erm…beverage. As you know, Cat, Steve and I are very different people with a shared interest in horror and the dark side of things. In many situations I guess we wouldn’t be able to work together because he can be so disorganised I’d probably drive a stake through his black heart—
Steve: If I didn’t snap your broom handle and shove that—
Cat: Children! Don’t fight, or I’ll send you out to the cornfield.
Julia & Steve: Sorry.
Julia: Ahem! His good points are that he has so many ideas and is really multi-talented (much as it pains me to say it)—
*Cat looks daggers at Steve*
Julia:— as he’s got a lot of experience in business. But he does remind me of a headless corpse on speed at times. Steve and filing are about as compatible as oil and water.
Cat: And you’re the organised one?
Julia: Well, don’t sound so surprised! I’ve been teaching creative writing for local colleges for more than ten years and that requires organisation, I can tell you! So, Steve whizzes about like a Duracell Zombie, and I remain calm, catching all the good bits and gradually sticking it all together. Then he sweeps in and takes all the credit! NO! JOKE! I don’t mean that really!
Steve: Laugh if you want. See if I care. I’ve got the bottles, remember?
Cat: Are you on the second one already? *holds out empty glass* So, are you saying you don’t have strict roles?
Julia: Not really, no. We both write of the dark side, we can both edit and we both know how the other will react to something, so there is quite a bit of overlap. And despite his enormous ego we do consult each other on everything. So we came up with job titles that aren’t exactly the norm for the publishing industry. Steve is the Curator of Concepts, and I’m the Catcher of Souls.
Cat: *drains glass and gulps* I see.
Steve: It isn’t just us, either, but our Keeper of the Keys is by nature more secretive than the head of MI5 so you’ll never catch sight of him, not even at 3am in Highgate cemetery.
Cat: So, what made the two of you decide to create a magazine in the first place and how did you decide on the format?
Steve: Remember we come to this as horror writers with some modest publishing success, and we are both determined to push our writing to the limits. At present the publishing industry is in a mess. Over recent years we’ve noticed how horror has almost been forgotten. Personally, I blame sugary vampires like you see in Twilight which, of course, is not horror by any stretch of the imagination. Even some publishers who claim to be dark fantasy/horror seem to accept only horror light – or women’s fiction with a djinn added to the doylies. This is not horror.
Cat: Too true.
Julia: And this means there are lots of talented horror writers not getting published—
Steve: Which means that readers of horror are as hungry as caged werewolves.
Cat: I see. And the format?
Steve: Our first idea was to publish novels and novellas, but we really feel very strongly that there are too many digital publishers about who may make enough money for themselves but their individual writers are getting a rough deal. We did not want to join this club. In my former incarnation I built up a business over 25 years based on reputation. I am not the least interested in quick bucks and pissing people off. Our reputation means everything to us.
Julia: And even if this means we are regarded as old-fashioned, we really believe that a good author deserves a good agent and a good publisher. A deal that gets real books in genuine stores as well as the digital retailers. Yes, digital is massive and is growing, but if you are serious about your work and want to get your book to the biggest audience you do need to get noticed by the likes of The Guardian, The Times and even Richard and Judy. An eBook only release with some print-on-demand paperbacks will not get you there.
Steve: So we changed our plan and came up with the idea of a magazine that we can produce relatively cheaply, therefore sell cheaply, and get the authors some exposure and experience as a step towards that eventual big book deal. So we are not saying Massacre will make the authors rich or famous (nor us!) but that being in it just might be another piece of the complex puzzle.
Cat: What would you say makes Massacre Magazine stand out from the crowd?
Julia: Well, what Steve said really. But add to that the fact that we are very selective, very particular about what we will publish. We’d rather miss an issue than put out something that doesn’t pass the horror test.
Steve: And we edit. No sticking a load of unedited stories together and pushing the button at Massacre, I can tell you.
Cat: You invite contributions, but what are you looking for – and how should writers contact you?
Steve: The easiest way to contact us is via the contact form on our website. It’s here: http://massacrepublishing.com/contact/ And there is a section on the site explaining what we are looking for and how to submit here: http://massacrepublishing.com/submissions/
Julia: Anyone thinking of submitting should think of the reader. We are filling what we see as a gap in the market, so we want short stories that push the boundaries. Forget ‘safe’ fiction. Make us recoil and tremble. Poetry also, and we will look at non-fiction articles for our Point of View section.
Cat: What sort of submissions don’t you want to receive?
Steve: Horror light, paranormal romance, women’s fiction, sparkly vampires, kind zombies.
Cat: Your company is called ‘Massacre Publishing’, do you have any plans to branch out into other areas?
Julia: Well, we are not a ‘company’ just yet. But no, not immediately. I have a really heavy chain which I have to restrain Steve with from time to time when his head bursts with expansion plans. Right now we want to make Massacre Magazine the best of its kind. We have launched first on Kindle and will soon have print versions available, as well as adding other retailers.
Steve: But once we have two or three successful issues out there and have ironed out any problems – I do have some exciting ideas that will take this to a whole new—
*Julia sticks broom handle in Steve’s mouth*
Cat: So, how do readers sign up for the magazine?
Steve: Mmph, gmph, brgh.
Julia: We are working on a subscription package but that’s one thing we haven’t cracked yet. The best thing is to sign up for our newsletter to avoid missing an issue and you can do that via the site here SIGN UP
Cat: Thanks for coming, guys. Wish you all the best with it.
Julia: Our pleasure, Cat.
Julia: And we will announce other outlets shortly, including the print version.
Cat: Thanks. Now, if you keep that broom in his mouth we might be able to get another drink.