The following market report, as well as the follow-up interview, are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.

Anthology: Dark Jesters
Editors: Nick Cato & L.L. Soares
Pay Rate: $40 + copy
Deadline: November 30, 2008
Description: Novello Publishers is seeking 10 hysterical stories to fill their first trade paperback humorous horror anthology.
Complete Submission Guidelines: Dark Jesters

The Scoop

1) What authors do you enjoy and what is it about their writing that captivates you?
Gary A. Braunbeck’s writing always digs deep inside me and resonates on levels I (usually) didn’t know I had. Tom Piccirilli never fails to satisfy, and his ability to write in nearly any genre fascinates me. And although at times his novels can become routine, Bentley Little’s macabre situations keep me coming back all the time. He’s been my favorite for quite a while now.

2) What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Horror, comedy, and bizarro. While Dark Jesters is a humorous horror anthology (which covers the first two genres), I also find that a surreal, strange tale told from a humorous angle can be great if done properly.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
I’m more into present-day stories, although I’m open to anything. One submission we received takes place in the Stone Age and it’s one of the best we’ve received so far.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
While I like a story that kicks into high gear from the first paragraph, I’m more concerned with Dark Jesters that the story maintains a consistent “aura” of humor throughout. That can be done in a subtle way as well as rocket-ship style.

5) What type of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
The average Joe. One of the things that make Jeff Strand’s Andrew Mayhem series so good is Andrew’s just an ordinary guy who manages to find himself in insane situations. Most of his stories use similar characters. Most of his stories work!

6) What is your policy for vulgarity and sexual content? (Question by Ralph Robert Moore)
I’m not a fan of profanity, especially when it’s overused. Swearing in every sentence weakens its effect, and in humor, makes the author sound like he’s still in junior high. While I understand most people don’t share this view, I find the writer is forced to be more creative with their humor by relying on situations and ideas rather than an abundance of vulgarity (I mean, Andrew Dice Clay is funny, but after 15 minutes his shtick gets played out).

For Dark Jesters, sex is fine depending on how it’s used: I don’t find rape funny, and if an author does I’d rather him/her not submit to this one. But a story with little to none of these two elements has a better shot (and remember, that’s MY view: my co-editor L.L. Soares is a fan of the extreme stuff, so I’m sure we’ll have to come to agreements on a couple of stories).

7) Horror and violence can be blatant or suggestive. Which one do you prefer and why?
I’ve always thought suggestive violence works wonders: I grew up in the late 70s/early 80s watching films like Dawn Of The Dead, Friday The 13th and all the euro rip-offs and slashers that came with (and before) them. Yet despite my love for gore (at the time), the scene in Al Pacino’s scarface – where his brother is chainsawed in half – freaked me out more than any horror film (such as Pieces) that actually showed the violence. That scene, to this day, is hard to watch, and you hardly see anything. I’ve read a few stories where implied violence blew my mind (such as Gary Braunbeck’s incredible short, “Need,” from the Corpse Blossoms anthology; by the midpoint of the tale, when I realized what the mother was up to, I actually felt my stomach drop. That’s powerful writing).

8) In fiction and in life, what do you find most horrific?
As a parent, I can say anything dealing with children. There’s been some great novels and novellas over the last several years that deal with missing children, abused children, etc., many of which were very well done. Other than that, I live in New York, and like most other New Yorkers I have a feeling that something (whether it’s a terrorist attack or a natural disaster) is inevitable. These scenarios usually keep my eyes glued to the pages, where I hope they stay.

9) What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?

  • 1. We’ve received a bunch of zombie stories the first four days of submissions, so we’re quickly becoming tired of them (although one was fantastic and will most likely make the final cut).
  • 2. Several submissions were WAY below the 1,500 minimum word count. We’re really looking for the 2K mark, but anything from 1,500 – 2K will give the submitter a better shot.
  • 3. About half of the subs were nowhere near being a humorous horror story: if someone sends in a humorous tale, but it’s not horror-oriented, it makes me wonder if the submitter even read the name of the anthology.

10) What commonalities are among the stories you’ve rejected? Is there a particular aspect authors seem to get wrong? (Question by Martel)
Besides the zombie thing mentioned above, most of the stories we’ve rejected felt like build-ups to bad punch lines. We’re not looking to publish an anthology of “jokes.” If anyone is interested in how humorous horror is done right, get your hands on some Joe Landsdale, Jeff Strand, or any of the authors that have been published by Novello Publishers. There are also other presses (such as Delirium and Skull Vines Press) who put out some good, funny horror.

11) If you reject a story, how open are you to a revised version, or do you only want revisions upon request? (Question by Martel)
We only want revisions if requested, but any rejected author is free to submit another story.

12) What trait are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
If you can make me and L.L. Soares laugh, you have talent (especially L.L., as he’s a part-time simian comedian). My dream is to (one day) release one of (if not the) funniest humorous horror anthologies – whether it be this one or a future edition (we plan on making Dark Jesters a series, possibly every two to three years). Make us laugh – make the story as funny as you can. And keep it in a horror-story setting.

13) Any last advice for submitters to this market?
Follow the guidelines. Sounds simple, but as most editors will tell you, few people take the time to do it.

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