Fantasy Magazine has officially re-launched! Over on the site you can see the first issue of our new publication model, which kicks off with a Genevieve Valentine story, “The Sandal-Bride.” You can read about Genevieve’s inspiration for the piece in Jennifer Konieczny’s Author Spotlight, and learn about real-world adventurers in Graeme McMillan’s “Three Real Historical Figures who Embarked Upon the Hero’s Journey.” You can also read my interview with our cover artist, Scott Grimando!

Lots of work goes into making a magazine like Fantasy, and since we’ve added some people during the re-launch, I thought it would be fun to give folks the opportunity to meet the staff. Our “About” page will tell you the basics, but if you’d like to get to know who’s bringing you great short fiction every week, read on!

I know what I love about working for Fantasy (and, incidentally, for our sister magazine, Lightspeed): I get to read amazing, rich, creative genre fiction from an incredibly diverse group of writers on almost a daily basis. That’s pretty much what is best in life. But I wanted to ask the same question of everyone who works here, as well as a few other questions about their specific roles. . . so let’s let everybody else speak!

Sean Wallace, Publisher

What drew you to publishing fantasy fiction?

I’ve read a lot of fantasy since I was little, and it’s always been a dream of mine to publish it some day, something that I’ve always wanted to do since about middle-school. I even put together several stapled chapbooks around that time period, and then I graduated to helping out with high-school literary magazines. And then from there I went straight into genre publishing, as if it was natural.

What do you love most about Fantasy Magazine?

Knowing that other people are enjoying the same short fiction that I’ve picked, or that my editorial team has picked, is a real joy, and that’s what excites me the most about publishing Fantasy Magazine, that there’s a real broad selection of material to choose from, and that there’s something for everyone. (I hope!)

John Joseph Adams, Editor

What first made you want to be an editor?

As most editors probably do, I got interested in editing through an interest in writing. My interest in writing grew out of reading, of course, but also out of playing Dungeons & Dragons, and finding that running the game (i.e., “DMing”) didn’t quite satisfy my urge to create, largely because the damn players always ruined my elaborate plans by deciding to do things I didn’t anticipate. In any case, my interest in writing lead me to major in creative writing in college, and while there I naturally took a few fiction writing classes and fiction workshops. It was in those workshops that I discovered that I might like to be an editor—I seemed to take very naturally to working with the stories of others, and both my fellow students and my professors seemed to think that my commentary was valuable and on point, so I started to think that going into editing might be a viable career path for me.

Of course, back then I didn’t really know much about what an editor’s job would be like, and so when I got my first editorial job at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. But I loved the work right from the start, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that editing—and specifically short fiction editing—was a career I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.

What’s the first work of fantasy fiction you remember reading?

If you count anthropomorphic animals as fantasy, then my first work of fantasy would almost certainly have been one of the Ralph S. Mouse books by Beverly Cleary—probably The Mouse and the Motorcycle. And I guess that should count since, you know, mice can’t talk and generally don’t go around riding toy motorcycles. Otherwise, I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time at a very young age and being captivated by the animated film based on The Last Unicorn (which I guess is kind of cheating to mention since you asked about reading not viewing, but it feels like it should count since it was kind of a gateway to reading on account of it being based on a book).

What do you love most about fantasy fiction?

I love that in fantasy, you can take nothing for granted. Pretty much anything can happen in a fantasy story, which is something you can’t say about any other genre, really. Science fiction is capable of that kind of openness to some degree, but by definition sf stories have certain boundaries that restrict their scope, whereas fantasy can really go anywhere the author wants it to. Fantasy is like pure unfettered imagination at work.

What are you most excited about for the future of Fantasy Magazine?

Oh, just ALL OF IT. Having grown up first with fantasy, before discovering science fiction, and having worked as my first editorial job at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, fantasy has always been near and dear to my heart, but until now I never had the chance to play with fantasy fiction the way I get to play with science fiction at Lightspeed. I’ve done anthologies that included fantasy fiction of course, most notably by The Way of the Wizard anthology just last year, but there’s a certain freedom to editing a magazine with the broad title of Fantasy that leaves the editorial doors open to a wide range of possibilities.

Esther Inglis-Arkell, Nonfiction Editor

What are you looking forward to the most about editing nonfiction for Fantasy?

One of the wonderful things about working in nonfiction is the opportunity to get paid to go to school. It’s your job to think of new things to learn, to figure out how things work, to try to find out what’s coming next, and to generally follow your own curiosity. Most websites or magazines have themes that guide non-fiction pieces to certain specific areas. Fantasy, as a subject, frees the non-fiction writer as much as the fiction writer. The ideas that come from fantasy can be based in any time period, any nation, and any subject. They can be about exploration, music, art, science, politics, or they can look inward at the fantasy genre itself. As an editor, that gives me the freedom to pick any idea that I’d like to hear more about, give it to a talented writer, and have them give me back an informative essay catered exactly to my interest. It’s a luxury.

Stefan Rudnicki, Audio Editor

What are you looking forward to most about working with Fantasy Magazine?

It’s common knowledge among publishers that short stories don’t sell, and that they’re basically not good for much. That’s an attitude I’ve been fighting for years. Short fiction is where writers grow, where they get to try out new ideas and new voices and see if they’ll fly and sing. In no genre is this more true than in fantasy (and science fiction, naturally). And, of course, exactly the same thing applies to audiobook performers. (I like to think of us as more than mere narrators.) Short stories are an opportunity to don characters, attitudes and, yes, voices, so extreme that we might not be able to sustain them for a full book.

What I love most about the opportunity to work with both Fantasy Magazine and Lightspeed is the chance to match terrific writers with wonderful readers. Often the results are right out there on the edge of narrative style; sometimes epic, sometimes breathlessly creepy, sometimes astonishing in their simplicity. And it’s a chance for me, personally, as a performer, to encounter some of my favorite writers (as well as the new talent the Fantasy and Lightspeed editors are so good at discovering) in a kind of one on one joust where nobody loses, and the big winner is the listener.

Pablo Defendini, Art Director

What are you most excited about in terms of being the Art Director for Fantasy?

I’m excited about working with artists again—illustration was my first love—and I’m excited about exploring the possibilities of designing pleasurable reading experiences on the web—be it on the desktop, mobile devices, or ebook reading systems.

Jeremiah Tolbert, Webmaster

What do you enjoy most about working for Fantasy?

I like working on Fantasy because Sean is willing to consider any and all ideas to improve. The organization is small and nimble and can react quickly when it needs to change!

Wendy N. Wagner, Assistant Editor

What brought you to Fantasy?

Before this, I’d helped Mr. Adams as an editorial assistant on a couple of anthology projects. When he asked me if I was interested in helping at Fantasy, I HAD to say yes! I knew he would be working with truly amazing literature and that I would learn an incredible amount about the genre. It’s like an MFA I don’t have to pay for!

What is your favorite aspect of working for the magazine?

Getting to know all the staff is terrific! We have the best crew, and we’re working very tightly with our sister magazine, Lightspeed, which is staffed by some amazing folks.

But of all my duties, I’d have to say I love reading for reprints. It’s a great excuse to sit around reading amazing short stories whenever I want!

What do you love most about interviewing?

I always get very scared about interviewing people, so right up until I get their responses, I’m totally freaked out and panicky. But when I get the answers and I’m laying everything out for the article, it feels great, as if I’ve gotten to sneak away with this writer and have a private glimpse into their thoughts. It’s very exciting and empowering.

What about the Author Spotlight feature do you find most compelling? Why would you encourage people to read them?

I love getting extra insight into the world the writer’s created. The worldbuilding we see is usually just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s so fun to be able to get a peek at what we haven’t seen. It really makes the story’s time in our publication special.

T.J. McIntyre, Editorial Assistant

What brought you to Fantasy?

I have been a fan of the magazine for a long time. My friend, Rae Bryant, who used to be on the staff, asked if I wanted to help out by putting together a few interviews as a favor, and I was more than happy to help out. I’ve been having fun interviewing authors ever since.

What is your favorite aspect of working for the magazine?

We publish such a diverse pool of authors who come to their writing from some very unique life experiences. I sincerely relish having the opportunity to talk shop with such talented and interesting people.

What do you love most about interviewing?

I guess the opportunity to meet other authors. I’ve made some great friends and had some really interesting conversations that I’ve truly enjoyed. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy talking about stories? That’s what makes some literature classes and book clubs so popular, after all. And getting to talk to the authors themselves? It’s simply awesome fun for this book nerd.

What about the Author Spotlight feature do you find most compelling? Why would you encourage people to read them?

I really enjoy it when an author’s personality is revealed through their answers. Some of our authors are funny, others are cerebral, and it seems that all of them are kind. I also enjoy delving into world-building and into light literary theory from a genre fan’s perspective. I’d recommend them to gain insight into the stories behind the stories. I like to delve into an author’s process, their inspiration, and perspective. As a writer myself, I find these things fascinating.

Jennifer Konieczny, Editorial Assistant

What brought you to Fantasy?

I began reading Fantasy Magazine while I was on an extended research trip in January 2009. There was a finite number of books I could afford to carry with me, and I didn’t (and still don’t) own an e-reader. But I craved new speculative fiction, so my boyfriend recommended Fantasy, Strange Horizons, and Ideomancer. Their stories hit the spot exactly: well-written, quickly read, and easily accessible. Soon I wanted to know how I could be a part of producing quality work. When Cat Rambo posted that Fantasy was looking for slush readers in September 2009, I jumped at the chance.

What is your favorite aspect of working for the magazine?

There’s so much to do at the magazine. I love the opportunities that arise to try something new, but if I had to narrow it down I think interviewing—getting to hear how authors’ think about their works—is my favorite aspect.

What do you love most about interviewing?

After several years in drama club stage crew, I like to pay attention to the person behind the curtain. Interviewing an author gives me the chance to hear the voice behind the scenes, distinct from the story’s narrator or other characters. It’s fun to learn about which characters were most difficult to work with and what methods an author used to bring the story to life.

What about the Author Spotlight feature do you find most compelling? Why would you encourage people to read them?

The author-reader interaction, for me, is the most compelling part of the Author Spotlight features. Authors have invested so much into the work, and readers bring their own interpretations. I love to listen to the conversation that ensues when authors and readers start comparing notes. Q&As are always my favorite part of author readings, and the Author Spotlights capture that spirit. They’re like DVD commentary tracks. Authors get to lead us through the process: what they intended, what their favorite parts are, what they incorporated from their own lives. They can answer fans’ questions about the story, they can offer advice, and they can recommend other works. It’s wonderfully informative.

Raechel Dumas, Proofreader

What do you think is your favorite aspect of working for the magazine?

Definitely getting to read such a diverse array authors, many of whom I would never have become acquainted with otherwise. I’m one of those literature grad students who’s always complaining that she doesn’t have time to read. Working for FM forces me to step away from my translation work, thesis, or whatever else I’m doing for school, and spend some time with new (to me) writers.

Our awesome slush team is, well, awesome! We’re lucky to have Lisa Andrews, Jenny Barber, Mark Bukovec, Paolo Chikiamco, Bob Cooper, Michael Curry, Jennifer Konieczny, Nick Matthews, Suzanne Myers, Wendy N. Wagner, and LaShawn Wanak all slushing for us; when I asked them about what they loved about working for Fantasy and what’s fun about slushing, here’s what they had to say:

Jenny Barber: I love finding that one shining story that absolutely has to be published, then seeing it published. I came to Fantasy as part of my eternal search for fabulous online fiction to appease my poor junkie soul.

Mark Bukovec: I enjoy watching writers get better over time. It’s satisfying when we buy a story from a writer who previously submitted a story that was close-but-not-quite. When your rejection says we’d like to see another story sometime soon, we mean it! I write, too, and reading slush serves as a reality check. You can’t take rejection personally–we get hundreds of stories a month. Submitting stories is like boxing–you gotta keep throwing punches. If you dwell on failure, you’ll get smacked in the face. Keep moving and punching!

Paolo Chikiamco: While some slush stories have already been through multiple rewrites or passed through a workshop, I always feel that there’s something more raw about an unpublished story, and whether that story is good or bad, by the time I’ve taken a position on the story I’ve already learned something new about what works for me and what doesn’t. Reading slush also makes me feel more connected with the general community of writers. It’s no secret that writing is a solitary task, especially for someone like me who doesn’t have access to a writing group, so just being able to see other authors (published and unpublished alike) engaged in the writing-submitting process makes me feel like a part of something greater than myself. I may never meet these people in person, but they’re struggling with the same things I am, and being constantly exposed to people who have the dedication to finish a story and the courage to submit that story, well, it’s an inspiration.

Michael Curry: My favorite aspect of working for Fantasy is likely the almost inexhaustible supply of great stories. There’s also the chance to contribute to the spec fic short fiction community that’s brought me so much pleasure over the years. I always enjoy the chance to read a variety of work from both some my current favorite short fiction writers and from talented new writers who may become favorites.

Nick Matthews: Slushing is a great way to read new fiction. I get a deeper understanding of the mechanics of story writing, as I get to see what makes a story idea work. I’ve focused some of my academic studies on science fiction, I get the chance to read fantasy without a theoretical lens, but rather the critical lens of story mechanics.

Suzanne Myers: I love reading stories, and this gives me an opportunity to read a LOT of amazing stories. It’s also an inspiring and educational experience. As an aspiring writer myself,  it’s an incredible opportunity to see a side of the business that new writers are rarely exposed to. I have the opportunity to learn what kind of stories sell, based on the editors’ tastes, the magazine structure, and the quality of the story itself. For many, writing is a very personal process, and I think it’s very important to understand how it’s handled from the business side. I think a term of “slushing” should be a requirement for every author!

LaShawn Wanak: For me, slushing is an crash course in learning what make a story works and what doesn’t. If it doesn’t pull me in, it won’t pull in our readers either.  It also forces me to think why the story bored more, or conversely, why I loved it. And I can apply those principles to my own writing to make it stronger. I also love finding out a story I really liked from the slushpile made it to being published on the site! It fills me with gooey happy pride.

Melissa Gross: Reading the many interpretations of “fantasy” is fascinating. Short stories lend themselves so well to experimentation, to pushing and re-drawing the boundaries of storytelling. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that hardly matters. The process in action is a thrill. When I came across an online call for slush readers I applied before I could talk myself out of it. The chance to read others’ work and learn to evaluate writing (and hopefully strengthen my own writing in the process) was so strong I couldn’t resist.

I (me, Molly) also thought it would be interesting to query the slushers on what they’d love to see more of! Here are some of their general thoughts:

  • I enjoy character-driven stories which are framed by a familiar myth, as in a myth retold. I like to see attention given to the mechanics of good writing, with a good, quick hook that develops into the story. I want to read a story which plays with nuanced characters, in which true character development occurs.
  • More comic fantasy, that’s always good!
  • I would love to see more stories set in non-Western locations (particularly those set in various versions of Africa), and stories that veer hard away from what some might define as standard fantasy tropes.
  • Adventure stories that can manage well done action with riveting story and extra bonus deep emotional notes.
  • I love wordplay. Stories with strong plots are great, but when they’re paired with poetic imagery and lyrical prose, those submissions have me tearing at my hair yelling, “How did they do that? HOW DID THEY DO THAT?!” Well, actually, no, I don’t tear my hair, but that’s the gist of it.
  • Stories that show historical or mythological characters from a different angle.
  • Anything with really strong worldbuilding. I’m a total sucker for exciting new vistas, especially if they contain cool creatures.
  • Anything with a dynamic female protagonist!
  • The best stories keep me wondering what’s going to happen next. It’s all about skilled writing!
  • I love to see all the different ways writers integrate magic into a scientific-based world view, playing with mythology and mythological creatures, bringing them into modern times, and making them interact with technology.

Well, that’s about all! I sincerely hope you’ll take the time to see what’s new and what’s familiar about Fantasy—I have a feeling you’ll like it!