Friday, February 25, 2011

Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire

  • Antho: Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire
  • Editor(s): Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder
  • Pay Rate: 5¢ per word
  • Response Time: 30-60 days 
  • Reading Period: April 1st through June 30th (2011)
  • Description: In this sequel to the Bram Stoker Award-winning anthology, editors Liaguno and Helder are exploring the dark underbelly of desire — whether contained and constricted or unleashed and unrestricted. They are looking for stories that stress the force of physical appetite or emotional need, tales that explore the strong, envious longing for the unattainable. This is a collection of queer horror — meaning that stories must contain a central gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender focus.
  • Submission Guidelines:

NOTE: 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 why does their writing captivate you?
Writers who take a literary approach to their horror…writers who use literary machinations to convey horror beyond basic blood and guts. Writers who aren't afraid to push some envelopes and who think outside the constraints of genre boxes. Think Dennis Cooper, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, Lee Thomas, Laird Barron…  

2) What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
We enjoy primarily horror and dark psychological suspense. For this second volume in the Unspeakable Horror series, we'd like to see well-written tales of dark fiction with a strong literary fiction aesthetic that explore the specified theme of desire gone awry from a GLBT perspective.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?

Fantasy settings don't really do it for us. We prefer stories told against realistic settings — ordinary or exotic. For us, as both readers and editors, horror is most effective when set against an ordinary backdrop. Fantasy settings tend to become characters in and of themselves; for us, it's a distraction. Past and present work equally well, future…not so much.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
While both hold equal appeal, what really blows us away are the subtler horrors that creep up and insinuate themselves into your consciousness as a reader. Then, before you know it, the writer pulls out the stops and leaves you punched in the gut, mouth agape. Stories that shock and/or provoke — but for the right reasons. We want that shock and provocation to sneak up on us versus clobbering us over the head. We want material that elicits an emotional response of some kind and leaves us with our jaws hanging open upon conclusion.

5) What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Complex characters facing extraordinary internal and/or external crises. Sympathetic or unsympathetic matters less than the author's ability to make us relate on some level to the character. Personally, I have a penchant for supporting characters that play integral roles in the story that may not at first be obvious. I also enjoy clever twists on stock characters. Read anything from Stephen King's recent Full Dark, No Stars collection for perfect examples of the kinds of the full-bodied, complex characters we crave.

6) Is there a specific tone you'd like to set in your publication? What kind of voices grab you and keep you enthralled? Any examples?
Again, we have a weakness when horror merges with a strong literary fiction aesthetic. Complex, evocative stories that whisper with the power of a scream. Potential contributors to this second volume have the unique leg-up in having a first volume to use for comparison. Read Jameson Currier's "The Bloomsbury Nudes" or Jan Van der Laenen's "The Epistle of the Sleeping Beauty" and you'll see precisely the kind of tone and voice that grabs us. 

7) What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?
A writer has one responsibility and one responsibility only: To tell the truth of their story. If vulgarity, violence, or sexual content is essential and germane to the truth of the story that they're trying to tell, then it will blend seamlessly. Conversely, if one or more of those elements are thrown in to merely titillate or as a cheap shock effect, then those will stand out like a sore thumb. Taboos? Hard to dissuade taboo subject matter when you're asking writers to push envelopes and to think outside genre boxes. That said, it takes a very skilled writer to successfully and artistically tackle taboo subject matter. Our advice: Unless you're one of those writers, don't attempt this at home, kids.

8) What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?

Again, we're exploring the concept of desire — the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state. What happens when human desire twists, bends, warps, mutates? What happens when desire is fed? Starved? Submissions should explore the answers to those questions.

9) Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
Makes no difference if the theme is met and the quality of the writing is strong.

10) Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do's or do not's?
We specifically list quite a few tips in our guidelines. Our biggest tip: Read them! Our two biggest pet peeves with the open reading period for the first volume were stories that somehow equated sexual orientation with pedophilia or bestiality and the sheer volume of psycho trannies or lesbian revenge tales in which someone’s unmentionables are chopped, eaten, or otherwise lopped off.

Those are the do not's. As far as what may give a potential contributor an advantage at this point in our readings for UH2…stories that feature lesbian or bisexual female characters, well-crafted stories featuring transgendered characters and themes. Other than that, push those envelopes, folks. Make our jaws drop. Haunt us with your words.

For more scoops
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D.L. Snell writes with Permuted Press. He edited Dr. Kim Paffenroth twice, John Dies at the End once, and provided a constructive critique to Joe McKinney on his next major novel after Dead City. You can shoot D.L. Snell in the head at

To reprint this article, please contact D.L. Snell.

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