Starting the new year by -defining the new dates for the blog–each monthly blog will appear between the first and tenth of each new month. This blog is an editor interview as most are–next month will have a “lessons learned /” from the blogs and then I will continue with editor interviews. The number of magazines using short fiction for pay or with no pay has lessened over the years but there are still good markets out there for our stories–and editors who are working hard to bring our words to light. (Note: Will also try to figure out why wordpress is not allowing me to post pix saved to my computer. The cover shot of Blood and Bourbon, above, is a screen shot taken of the jpg they sent me.)
This month’s interview is with the editor of Blood and Bourbon, Phil Halton–I’ve not sent them anything yet, but the interview intrigued me–and I am putting them on my list of pubs to approach in 2019–after reading this, I think you will too.
Joan:Please tell us a bit about the history of your magazine and about the magazine’s goals present day? Particularly, can you define how your magazine differs from other crime magazines out there?
Phil: Blood & Bourbon was started in 2016 by Matt Lennox and myself. He had already published two novel’s traditionally (The Carpenter, Knucklehead) and I was pitching a novel to agents and publishers while also pitching short stories. We both realized how a relatively small number of “tastemakers” controlled what was and was not published, and felt that there was a lot of great work out there that was not getting picked up. We decided that Blood & Bourbon would be a place where we could provide a forum for the kind of work that we liked to read, but that was not getting picked up by mainstream publishers. In a way, we were banking karma as writers by helping other writers. Since then, we’ve met other writers and publishers and our team has grown.
We have a manifesto that outlines our goals as publishers, and as story tellers ourselves. We don’t like overly sanitized work about ideal lives – we like to take a raw, unvarnished look at real life instead. Blood & Bourbon has published a fair deal of crime fiction, but we don’t do so exclusively. We’re open to any genre (or no genre), as long as the writing piques our interest.
Joan: Do you pay your short story contributors?
Phil: We’ve gone back and forth on this, and so far, have not paid anything other than contributor’s copies. We value the work that writers do, and wish that we could pay them more. But as this whole project is essentially self-financed, we have to keep costs to a minimum. Getting to a position where we pay contributors is a goal of ours.
Joan: What are you seeking in general and what especially delights you in a manuscript submission?
Phil: We can tell pretty quickly whether or not something is going to be a good fit for us. We look for authentic and interesting voices, unique takes on clichéd situations, and stories that fit our idea of shining a light on “unvarnished” portraits of life.
Joan:What is an instant turn-off in a submission?
Phil: We’ve been pretty overwhelmed by fiction that depicts violence against women, typically the murder of a wife, ex-wife or girlfriend. While we recognize that these events are a grim part of our North American reality, we don’t enjoy reading about it. Brutal descriptions of domestic violence aren’t raw, gritty and unvarnished – they’re depressing. We choose not to publish depictions of domestic violence unless there is artistic merit that overcomes out initial feelings.
Joan: What are some of your favorite journals/magazines?
Phil: Toronto is blessed with a number of great literary journals, and other magazines who don’t focus on literature but who include it – the Walrus, Rusty Toque, and The Danforth Review among others.
Joan: How can writers contact you with questions and find out about submission calls?
We keep our website up to date, and that is the best way to contact us. (www.blood-and-bourbon.com). We also make sure that our profile on Duotrope is accurate, as we are only open for submissions during two three-month periods each year.
Joan:Is there anything else you would like to say to writers who are considering submitting to you?
Phil:We can’t wait to hear from you and get our socks knocked off by your work! Just go for it!