The following market report on the anthology, Unspeakable Horror 2, as well as the follow-up interview are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.
Editors: Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Pay Rate: 1¢ per word (CAD)
Response Time: Varies
Reading Period: Until February 15, 2012
Description (from the editor): Speculative fiction anthology with fungi as a central 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?
SMG: Oh, a whole lot of people. Nabokov, Tanith Lee. They have to have some flair. That certain style which pulls at you.
OG: Man, as Silvia says above, lots of people. I’m personally a huge fan of Mike Mignola, who’s known more for his art than his writing, though he’s amazing at both. I’m a fan of a lot of the turn-of-the-century guys and the #Weird Tales authors like Lovecraft, Leiber, Hodgson, etc. And of course I’m a really big fan of M.R. James and E.F. Benson and a lot of other guys with two first initials and then a last name.
2. What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
SMG: We are looking for all kinds of speculative fiction. Mushroom noir. Steamfungus. Whatever floats your mushroom. I’m actually very serious about mushroom noir. And there’s stuff that should just write itself, like some #Alice in Wonderland variation because of the whole mushroom consumption in that.
OG: Again, as Silvia says, there’s no one genre we’re looking for in Fungi, but I’m personally partial to weirder supernatural stories, something a little spooky, a little haunting. Hard sci-fi or high fantasy is going to be a harder sell for me than something that’s got a little creep to it.
3. What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
SMG: I wouldn’t call it exotic, but I want to see stuff that’s not set in the USA. The world is bigger than one country. If we don’t get a story set in China with Chinese characters, that would be unforgivable, for example. The country has over 200 species of mushrooms and they have been used in traditional medicine for many, many years.
OG: While I love a good story set in a decaying New England town (and we’ve gotten a few good ones already), I’d second the notion that we’d like to see stuff set all over the world.
4. Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
SMG: I’m for slow, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to bore me to tears. You’ve got to catch our attention somehow. It doesn’t have to be with a fistfight, but give me something.
OG: I love a good slow burn, though what works best varies from story to story. I think if you’re going to go with a slow start, though, then something like atmosphere or tone is absolutely imperative right up front.
5. What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
SMG: Ones who are not stupid? Seriously, I get to read many stories in which the protagonists seem to have been banged on the head with a big hammer.
OG: I remember the old guidelines for Weird Tales used to ask for “protagonists who protag,” and yeah, I’d like to see some of those. I prefer characters who’re taking an active role and at least trying to do something, rather than passive victims succumbing to their fate. (Not that the active characters can’t still fail, or be attempting something harmful, but I’d like them to be at least attempting something.)
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?
SMG: I like weird stuff. Stuff that isn’t afraid to play with form.
OG: Again, I like stuff that’s a little on the macabre or spooky side, so I’m going to gravitate toward that.
7. What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?
SMG: Whatever works for the story. However, violence for the sake of violence is bo-ring. Also, this is not an erotica anthology.
OG: I don’t think I have anything to add to that.
8. What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?
SMG: Body horror. Stories without plots. Stories that are not third-person POV. Hero’s journey? Not my cup of tea. Stories with good science.
With that said, I don’t want it to be all people turning into mushrooms. How about mushroom as a tool for murder? You know, poison. A society interested in the cultivation of mushrooms. A mushroom deity. One of the largest organisms on earth is a fungi. Or, think of penicillin.
OG: I’m a big believer in people turning into mushrooms, it’s true, but we’re going to get, and have already gotten, a lot of those stories. Also, we’re getting a lot of stories with overt Lovecraft references. I’m not averse to a good Lovecraftian fungus story, but I definitely don’t want this anthology to be all Lovecraft all the time.
9. Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
SMG: Whatever works for the story.
10. Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do’s or do not’s?
SMG: Please provide a cover letter with your most relevant credits. Do not summarize the story for me.
OG: And please, please put the word count in your cover letter!