Category Archives: Interviews

Art Taylor’s “Blue Plate Special”

barrelhouse10_500Crime fiction writer Art Taylor’s stories have appeared in quite a number of digest magazines. Foremost, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, but he also made his way into the special Crime issue of lit mag Barrelhouse, issue 10 in 2011, with an unsettling “Blue Plate Special.”

Read our extensive interview with award-winning author Art Taylor in The Digest Enthusiast book four.

The Grift that Keeps on Giving

grift_2One of the original crime fiction digests out of the early digital age of POD was Grift Magazine. The creative vision of John Kenyon, Grift Magazine has appeared twice. The first in April 2012, the second in July 2013. It’s been a long haul for No. 3, but as recently as August 2015, Kenyon posted on his Facebook page, “Life gets in the way sometimes, but it will be worth the wait.”

I interviewed John in mid-2016 for fourth The Digest Enthusiast and asked him about the origins of Grift.

“I started Grift because at the time there were few print venues for crime fiction. Plenty of online outlets, but the opportunities to publish in print were lacking, I thought. At the same time, the sensibilities of the publications that did exist—both in print and online—seemed at odds with what I and others I knew liked to read and write. While it seemed as if other publications leaned toward the ultra-violent, I wanted something more cerebral. No less hard-hitting, but just with less gore. I also wanted to offer a forum for nonfiction work, independent scholarship that would help to expand readers’ understanding of the genre.”

The first two editions of Grift Magazine are outstanding. While we’re waiting for the third, the originals are available thanks to the magic of POD at Lulu.com.

The origins of Pulp Literature magazine

Pulp Literature #10

Why start a magazine? I asked Jennifer Landels, one of the founders of Pulp Literature, what she and her co-editors set out to accomplish:

“We felt there was a gap in the market for well-written multi-genre stories. Literary magazines tend to ignore genre fiction, and other fiction platforms tend to be narrowly genre-specific. We wanted to create a smorgasbord where all genres are welcome, and the only criteria are good writing and good storytelling.”

Pulp Literature #14 is coming soon.

The above excerpt, from “Digital Digest Magazines” interviews with the editors, appears in TDE4.

Art Taylor’s first story for EQMM

EQMM Dec. 1995

“My first paid publication, however, was my first story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine—“Murder on the Orient Express” (December 1995)—a story that wasn’t originally intended as a mystery at all. Instead, it focusses on a couple honeymooning aboard the Orient Express and fumbling along a little from mishap to mishap, while the husband builds stories in his mind about the other passengers—all of it imaginary, fueled by the spirit of Christie’s novel of the same name. The story is about that imagination and how imagination suddenly helps the new marriage click, and— spoiler alert—ultimately there’s no real crime in the story at all.”

Excerpt from the 14-page interview with Art Taylor in The Digest Enthusiast book four.

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Producing Big Fiction

bf_4Editor Heather Jacobs talks about her production processes for Big Fiction with D. Blake Werts in their interview in TDE3. Here’s an excerpt:

“I had a great designer, DoubleM-Ranch Design, do the original layout for the interior text of Big Fiction. I still follow their design, though I actually do the layout myself (cutting and pasting) in InDesign. Lots of proofreading, etc., etc. I have had some excellent volunteer proofreaders over the years, and I thank you all—you know who you are!

“The cover art and design is one of my favorite aspects of producing Big Fiction. There isn’t a submission process for the artwork like there is for the writing. I need to work with people locally, so I just work with who I know. My letterpress printer, Lynda Sherman, at Bremelo Press, has connections with a lot of wonderful artists who understand the printing process, and that’s really important. I usually meet with the printer and artist a couple of times—once to get some basic directions for the design, and again to choose colors and do a press check. All of our covers have been done with original artwork, either linoleum cuts, or hand- or laser-cut wood. The cover layout and text design is all done by Lynda, by hand!”

Big Fiction magazine and their partner Dock Street Press

Big Fiction #3

Big Fiction #3

Big Fiction #3

Excerpt from D. Blake Werts’ interview (TDE3) with Heather Jacobs, editor of Big Fiction magazine:

DBW: . . . give us a quick run-through on how Big Fiction is put together.

HJ: My letterpress printer, Lynda Sherman, at Bremelo Press, has connections with a lot of wonderful artists who understand the printing process, and that’s really important. I usually meet with the printer and artist a couple of times—once to get some basic directions for the design, and again to choose colors and do a press check. All of our covers have been done with original artwork, either linoleum cuts, or hand- or laser-cut wood. The cover layout and text design is all done by Lynda, by hand!

Big Fiction magazine and their partner Dock Street Press

Big Fiction Origin

Big Fiction #2

Big Fiction #2

Excerpt from D. Blake Werts’ interview with Heather Jacobs, editor of Big Fiction digest from TDE3.:

DBW: When did you start Big Fiction magazine?

HJ: I worked at Sarabande [Books] as an intern, and then they were kind enough to employ me off and on as a contest reader and for some editorial consulting, all between 2008 and 2010. I was living in Louisville at the time for my husband’s job, and then we moved back to Seattle in 2010. Also in 2010, I had a baby, but I’d already started doing some of the groundwork for Big Fiction, and was able to launch the first issue in the fall of 2011, when my son was just about a year old.

Big Fiction magazine and their partner Dock Street Press

Big Fiction’s Heather Jacobs

Big Fiction #1

Big Fiction #1

Excerpt from D. Blake Werts’ interview with Heather Jacobs, editor of Big Fiction magazine:

HJ: I founded the magazine, with the hope of providing a venue for longer works. I publish fiction between 7,500 and 20,000 words, which is not what most magazines will do. I’ve always loved the richness and depth and possibility contained in the long story and novella forms. I wanted
 to help revive those forms, I guess, and give authors of longer works a satisfying experience by publishing them in an artful format.

Big Fiction magazine and their partner Dock Street Press

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Robert Lopresti, Mystery Writer and Digest Enthusiast

AHMM Jan/Feb 2014

AHMM Jan/Feb 2014

TDE: Most of your work has appeared in digest magazines. How long have you been reading them?

RL: “Probably around 1969, when I would have been fourteen, my family took a trip to Lake George, New York. The only reason I remember it was wandering into a newsstand and seeing an Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. I don’t think I had seen one of his movies yet but I had seen the TV show and read some of the children’s books of short stories (Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghostly Gallery, etc.).

“I bought the magazine and was hooked. The first issue I know I read was October 1969, because I remember the illustration that accompanied it—a dramatic drawing of a man falling out of a building—“Scream All The Way,” by Michael Collins.

“I subscribed and later added EQMM, but AHMM was always my first choice. I am sure that one reason I have sold 25 stories to AHMM and only two to EQMM is that the former helped shape my sensibilities (my, what a big word).”

Excerpt from the interview with Robert Lopresti in TDE2.

How an issue of Nostalgia Digest evolves.

Nostalgia Digest Spring 2015

Nostalgia Digest Spring 2015

We asked Steve Darnall, editor and publisher of the Nostalgia Digest, how an issue comes together. His response:

“The goal for every issue of the Digest has always been to cover as wide a variety of topics and genres as possible. I don’t think Chuck* or I ever wanted this publication to be exclusively about old-time radio—or exclusively about anything, for that matter. Typically, that approach means sitting down almost immediately after the last issue has come back from the printer, looking over the articles we have on hand and seeing which ones would complement one another. There’s no formal checklist, but you try to include a little something from each of several different media: something about radio, something about movies, something about music or early television, hopefully a personal recollection or two from someone who remembers being part of this era.”

Excerpt from the full interview in TDE2.

*Chuck Schaden, founder and former editor and publisher