Storyville: Editor Interviews—Shock Totem, Shimmer, and The Dark, December 2013

What one bit of advice would you give a new and emerging author—about craft, the process, submissions, the industry, etc.

Respect your work enough to disagree with editors and constructive criticism, but not so much that you don’t listen or try new things. Too much ego is an albatross, but so is too little. Find the right balance, accept criticism and take it to heart, but be confident enough to know when it’s wrong. Especially when working with critique groups, which are often comprised of other authors who can’t separate how they write with how you write.

And have fun. Always have fun.

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Three Questions, September 2011

What piece of writing advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you started writing?

Without a doubt, start sooner.

I’ve been writing since childhood. Unfortunately there was never anyone there to encourage me, to push me, so writing just kind of blended into the background of my life.

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Toasted Cheese, May 2011

In what ways has Shock Totem evolved away from your original expectation for the journal (for better or worse)?

We’re almost the complete opposite of what we first set out to be. We opened our doors as an e-zine paying 1 cent a word, and now we’re a print magazine that pays 5 cents a word. And despite the additional cost to us, we’re definitely better for it.

But as I mentioned at the beginning of Issue 1, our overall vision remains the same: Shock Totem is a magazine full of stories that we, as readers, enjoy the hell out of.

We’re also pissing fewer people off. Or I am, anyway. Haha.

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Decibel Magazine, October 2010

What empty niche in the world of small press horror does Shock Totem seek to fill?

From a reader’s standpoint, one of my biggest complaints about the small press, specifically with some magazines and webzines, is that the same authors are being published over and over again. At a certain point it becomes a bit of a drag, even if it’s an author I dig. I like variety. I want to read stuff from authors I’ve never read before. But names sell, you know. I get that; it’s good marketing. However, without intending to sound arrogant, I don’t think it’s honest publishing.

So with Shock Totem, our goal has always been to publish quality fiction, regardless of the name behind it. And I think readers have appreciated that.

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Guest Blog at Simon Marshall-Jones’s Ramblings of a Tattooed Head, July 2010

So, why do I write?

It’s a total cliche, but for the same reason I breathe—I have to. I’ve always written. I still have things I wrote in crayon! But it’s only been in the past few years that I truly realized how much writing meant to me.

I was under the impression that I wanted to be a musician when I grew up. Of course, at 32 years old, I’d already grown up—and my music career was about as active as a coma. My mind was into it, but my heart wasn’t. It took me a long time to realize that. Music was something I wanted to do. Writing was something I did, and I’ve been doing it for so long that I couldn’t step back and look at it objectively; it was so ingrained in me that I was blind to it. It had been there so long, I simply failed to see it.

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Duotrope Editor Interview, June 2010

What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

I think the main thing most writers get wrong is that they write for other people and not for themselves. It’s not the readers’ story until it’s in their hands. Before that, it’s your story. Too many authors write for the heart and not from it.” I gave that answer in a previous interview (D.L. Snell’s Market Scoops, October 2009), but I think it applies here. Basically, the standard answer is this: Read and follow our guidelines. The somewhat standard answer is this: Read our magazine. The most important answer is this: Be honest, write honest.

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D.L. Snell’s Market Scoops, October 2009

What authors do you enjoy and what is it about their writing that captivates you?

I am very much a new-school kind of reader. The style of early horror writers—and yes, this includes the likes of Poe and Blackwood and Lovecraft—often makes me cross-eyed. I appreciate the legacy of their work, of course, but it’s not often that I can truly immerse myself in their stories. And I’ve tried countless times.

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