Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Magus Press

  • Magazine: Magus Press
  • Editor(s): David G Montoya
  • Pay rate: 3-5¢/word
  • Description (from the editors): We are looking for stories that are unique, well-written, and dark. Stories don't have to be traditional horror but should inspire horror. Submissions should be between 1,000 and 4,000 words.
  • Submission Guidelines:

NOTE: Horror author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.


1) What authors do you enjoy and what is it about their writing that intrigues you?
I love reading Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and Yukio Mishima. Still, my first love was horror and I fall in love with it over and over again.

Douglas Clegg constantly impresses me with powerful characters and creative plots. Kealan Patrick Burke is an amazing short story writer; it’s amazing just how much he can accomplish in a short work. Brian Keene knows how to throw compelling characters into hell and keep the reader’s heart racing.

One of my favorite recent reads is Blood Covenant (Dead Letter Press) by Angeline Hawkes and Christopher Fulbright. It revamps subjects I thought were doomed for mediocrity and brings to life the streets of White Chapel. It’s a very impressive story.

2) What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Horror, dark science fiction, dark fantasy, or dark literature.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
Stories can take place just about anywhere. The most important thing is to bring the settings to life. I prefer realistic settings, whether they are in the past, present, or future. Fantasy settings are sometimes a tough sell, but if the setting is solid, I’m more than happy to read it.

I like stories in places ranging from small towns to spaceships, from the diamond mines of Africa to the city streets of New York.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
Due to the medium of the publication, I feel it is best if the story quickly grabs the reader’s attention. I like tightly constructed short stories. Action doesn’t need to start immediately, but something should be happening.

5) What type of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Spider Jerusalem from the Transmetropolitan Comics, but not many writers can put that sort of bad ass-ness to page.

I like meeting new people and I like meeting new characters.

6) Horror and violence can be blatant a la Romero, or suggestive a la Hitchcock. Which one do you prefer and why?
When a kid is troubled, sometimes they will hit someone to get attention. Sometimes people use gore to get attention. When blood and gore is implemented wisely it can be a spectacular thing. It all depends on the story. Dario Argento’s early movies seem to blend Hitchcock and Romero styles nicely.

Some stories don’t need gore. An expert at suggesting horror and violence is always impressive to read. Suggestion can be botched as easily as gore.

Jack Ketchum is an example of a versatile writer schooled in implementing gore. Paraphrasing his advice to writers, he says, “Never look away.” And he doesn’t. He can show you just how brutal and disgusting something is. On the other hand, some of his stories are much more subtle. He has an excellent story in Midnight Premier (edited by Tom Picirrilli) called “Elusive.” It is subtle and shows he is a versatile writer who knows when and how to implement varying techniques.

I prefer hands that know what they are doing.

7) In fiction and in life, what do you find most horrific?
The way people treat each other horrifies me. In fiction, the most effective horrific scenes, in my opinion, are those with a protagonist or character in a situation you wish you could rescue them from. Since I care about people and their treatment, a strong character in a horrific situation makes my nerves tingle.

8) What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
If there’s a zombie anthology, as soon as the editors start rejecting stories I get a heap of zombie stories. If there’s a werewolf anthology, when they start rejecting stories I get a heap of werewolf stories. I’m not likely to accept anything that isn’t unique. So, if you’ve got a story that doesn’t stand out from the fifty others like it, it’s not likely to sell. Originality is key.

Serial killers are psychologically complex. A bland recounting of violent events makes a boring story. Seeing basic facts screwed up in fiction irk a lot of people. Since a lot of my schooling has dealt with criminology, terribly crafted serial killers annoy me, especially when they are written in the first person. For the average human being, killing is tough and carries a heavy toll. The true horror of the serial killer is lost when a writer doesn’t understand the psychological elements that drive them. If you’re tackling a subject that is often misrepresented, do your research. The same thing goes with fiction involving voodoo and magick.

Poorly edited and sloppily formatted manuscripts make my eyes bleed. I try to read them--I really do--but I can’t always get through them. A lot of poorly edited manuscripts are filled with redundant phrases. It’s annoying.

9) What are your top three pet peeves as an editor?
My first one is poorly constructed characters and cliche characters. I touched on this subject a little when I was talking about dull serial killer stories. A character needs to exist; first they exist in the writer’s mind but it is then the writer’s task to accurately portray them on the page.

My second is seeing the same plots over and over again. I think it’s important for a writer to read. If they’ve seen the plot used, they probably shouldn’t use it. If they can make it more original, take it further, I’m all for it.

My third is redundant phrases and poor attempts at flowery prose.

10) What quality are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
I look for originality and strongly written pieces. For a good example of what I look for, writers should read The Sound of Horror and the September issue of The MagusZine.

11) Any last advice for submitters to this market?
Read. I cannot stress the importance of it. I also recommend reading books and articles about the craft. Sites like D.L. Snell’s Market Scoops are a great resource to writers, new and otherwise. It’s important to remain updated. Keep reading and keep current.

D.L. Snell is an Affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, a graduate of Pacific University's Creative Writing program, and an editor for Permuted Press. Snell's first novel, ROSES OF BLOOD ON BARBWIRE VINES, pits vampires against mutating zombies in a post-apocalyptic setting. David Moody, author of the Autumn series, calls it "violent and visceral...beautiful and erotic," and Jonathan Maberry, author of Ghost Road Blues, says, "[I]t has all the ingredients needed to satisfy even the most jaded fan of horror fiction." For more information and to read sample chapters, visit

This article may be freely reprinted in any e-zine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as all links and this message remain intact, as well as Snell's byline and bio. The formatting may be adjusted to fit the venue, but the content of the article must not be altered without written permission from D.L. Snell.

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