The following market report on the anthology, Box of Delights, as well as the follow-up interview are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.
Anthology: Box of Delights
Publisher: Aeon Press
Editor: John Kenny
Pay Rate: €10 advance against royalties, plus a copy of the book
Response Time: 7-28 days
Reading Period: Up until 31 May, unless filled before then
Description (from the editor): Original horror short stories, no specific theme
Complete Guidelines: Writer’s 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 why does their writing captivate you?
In the horror/dark fantasy genre, I like the usual suspects: Stephen King, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. Of the old stuff, Stoker, Wilde, Lovecraft, Smith (Clarke Ashton), Dunsany, Leiber, Hodgeson, etc. I’m also keen on Jeff VanderMeer’s work, Jeffrey Ford, China Mieville, Chirstopher Fowler, Graham Joyce, Joe R. Lansdale, Steve Rasnic Tem, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, Kim Newman and others. Styles and approaches of all these guys vary considerably, so it’s hard to say exactly what captivates me. With some of them, it’s the commonplace situations they develop, into which they inject the supernatural or psychological horror; with others, it’s the sheer bizarreness of the exotic locales and characters.
2. What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
My favorite genres are SF and horror/dark fantasy. Sticking with horror/dark fantasy for this particular anthology, I’d like to see unusual stories that feature convincing characters placed in bizarre situations. I’m open to New Weird too. I don’t want to see Lovecraft, Clarke Ashton Smith pastiches, though.
3. What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
All of the above. I like stories set in ordinary locales but with an exotic flavour to the language and situation. I also like stories that are almost mainstream literary works with just the barest hint of the fantastic. Anything set in the past needs to have a convincing verisimilitude to give the piece real weight. Generally, once the characters, situation and setting really grab me, the author is home free.
4. Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
While I do like stories that start near to the end, I also like stories that spend time with the setting and situation; once a slow build up is done effectively, with the right amount of foreshadowing and interesting enough characters, I’m onboard.
5. What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Well I certainly don’t like drab, average type characters with no convincing inner life. Once they have a credible inner complexity and emotional life, they can gyrate off the page with bizarre fixations and peculiar personality disorders as far as I’m concerned. In fact, the stranger and more bizarre the character, the better. But they’ve got to be believable.
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?
I’m quite open to a variety of tone for the anthology. What I tend to shy away from is the very traditional approach to setting up a story: ‘It all started on the night I failed my exams.’, ‘Are you sure you’re reading that map correctly, Murgatroid?’, ‘Matthew came from a long line of eccentric florists.’, followed by a full description of all his ancestors before we get to the story itself.
The stories I’ve accepted so far are quite subtle in tone, even when bizarre, with convincing characters convincingly introduced through either believable dialogue or a quirky or witty narrative.
7. What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?
No taboos as such, but gratuitous gore, violence or sexual content where the writer is just reveling in it, and all of the above being used beyond and above the needs of the actual story itself leave me cold.
8. What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?
No themes. However, most of the stories I’ve accepted so far do have a serious psychological component existing alongside the more obvious elements of the plot, etc. The reason I’m going for this kind of story is they establish characters that are vulnerable, have a lot to lose, and that you can care for.
9. Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
Interesting question. I guess downbeat stories appeal to me more. Very hard to do upbeat in horror or dark fantasy unless it’s a novel where you have the room to bring the characters way down and then back up again at the end.
10. Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do’s or do not’s?
Don’t send me science fiction stories. Don’t send me high fantasy or sword and sorcery. Might seem a ridiculous thing to say, considering this is plainly a horror anthology, but lots of people are doing this. Read the guidelines. An SF story with a horror-type ending doesn’t qualify; a fantasy story with a psychological element doesn’t qualify.
Other than that, if you can fashion stories that are in sync with what I’ve said above about character, tone and theme, I want to see them.