The following market report on the anthology, Harvest Hill, as well as the follow-up interview are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.
Anthology: Harvest Hill
Publisher: Graveside Tales
Editors: Douglas Hutcheson & Mike Hultquist
Pay Rate: $.01 per word and a contributor’s copy
Response Time: 4-6 weeks
Description (from the editors): We are seeking stories from 4,000 to 6,000 words. Harvest Hill, a little town in East Tennessee, seems like an idyllic place most of the year. But it is not always so, and especially not on Halloween – every Halloween. From just after midnight of Oct. 30 until midnight Oct. 31, horrors break loose both big and small. And this has been happening as far back as the 1500s. Place your story in Harvest Hill, TN. You can set it on any Halloween of any year from 1550 CE until the end of the 20th century.
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 what is it about their writing that captivates you?
Douglas Hutcheson: Cormac McCarthy, Harry Crews, Larry Brown, Tom Franklin and William Gay leap to mind. Theirs is a very human-based horror – lots of down-and-out scenarios shot through with blood and grit. In particular McCarthy and Gay spin sentences that boggle the mind and break the heart with terrible beauty.
Joe R. Lansdale and Nancy A. Collins have written some rough stories with twisted humor that smack me around and make me holler. Christopher Moore’s novels are joyrides because of his blending of wacky comedy and oddball monstrousness; that blending also reminds me of Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez. Neil Gaiman is awe-inspiring in all media; his work is a wonderful mix of holistic mythology and dark fantasy amidst ordinary-world action and deep emotional turmoil.
Mike Hultquist: My list is pretty large and not genre specific. Some of the authors I’m most drawn to are Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, Flannery O’Connor, Poppy Z. Brite, Charles Grant, Joyce Carol Oates, Chuck Palahniuk, and Stephen King. I love short fiction. These authors not only command language in ways that fascinate me, but they also make you forget you are reading a story. Their styles and subjects may differ, but each compares in one way: phenomenal storytelling.
2. What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
DH: I read something of everything, but Southern Gothic and horror are my favorites. I enjoy stories that occasionally take circumstances over the top, though they should always return to their grounding in the foibles and triumphs of the human condition.
I generally like to discover more horror writers who are not afraid to exhibit a sense of humor. Stories with a little crime and/or dark fantasy should be interesting for this anthology also. Even stories involving some sci-fi elements might fit. Never be afraid to ignore the so-called boundaries.
MH: I love dark fiction and speculative fiction, especially horror and dark fantasy. I’d love to include dark, brooding tales that seep into your bones, atmospheric stories with powerful characters in compelling situations, big or small.
Harvest Hill has a rich and dark history of the bizarre that goes back a long way. Those who have lived and died there have experienced its horrors, and we’re only now hearing their tales. I’m eager to read these stories, whether they involve some terrible bang that struck the town center in 1812, or something quieter yet no less horrible occurring behind closed doors closer to our present day.
3. What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
DH: I am especially enthralled by ordinary settings in which extraordinary things occur. It seems to me that this accentuates both horrific and comedic elements in a story. Writers can accomplish something similar by taking an exotic setting and littering it with troubled characters and their mundane debris.
With Harvest Hill as a setting, writers can explore nearby woods, mountains, mines, valleys, rivers and more, as well as the town itself. Stories may delve into modern malevolence or historical horror. I am often thirsty for some blood- and whiskey-soaked tales in the “Western” milieu. Although our anthology takes place in East Tennessee, a writer can still develop a horses-and-revolvers period piece for us. All one has to do is read Tom Franklin’s Hell at the Breech or Smonk to witness a gut-wrenching “Southern” in action. Of course writers can also pluck their stories from the Revolutionary War, the Trail of Tears, the War Between the States or World War II, as just a few examples.
MH: I love it all, as long as the writer can make it real. Some of Zelazny’s stories take place on other planets or mythological realms, but they are so detailed, so easy to visualize. King’s Dark Tower universe encompasses numerous realms, yet each is as believable as the next. Much of Brite’s stuff happens in New Orleans, not quite so exotic, yet very vivid.
That said, there is a specific challenge with Harvest Hill, but we’re leaving things open to writers to explore and build.
4. Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
DH: Something that grabs you by the goozle, chunks you over its shoulder and hightails it down the road from the beginning is exciting, but a story does not always need to explode into a sprint to garner attention. The main question is whether the pacing suits the story that the writer is working to tell. Sometimes that calls for a gentler gait. In either case, a good opening line is like a certain golden apple – it should jumpstart all the drama of the party.
MH: I like a slow build, but not glacial. I enjoy taking a bit of time to slip into a story. I like a good setup that suddenly flings me into the thick of things. A story doesn’t need to be a fast-paced thriller to keep my interest, as long the characters are compelling and unique, people I care about or want to learn more about or identify with. Sometimes, an ominous tone is enough to keep me going.
That said, dropping me smack in the middle of a frenetic situation in paragraph one can be just as compelling, but I think a story can suffer if it doesn’t balance fast pacing with some slower, more reflective moments.
5. What type of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
DH: I sometimes enjoy seemingly stock figures popping up but with new variations. In any case multidimensional characters bristling with strengths and flaws are best, even when it comes to the “bad” guys. Joe Lon Mackey, a former high-school jock in Harry Crews’ A Feast of Snakes, is one of the most terrifying characters in literature. He is just this rather sad guy stuck in a messed-up little town, so you feel pity for him, yet you learn to be afraid of him by degrees as he discovers himself doing despicable things.
Joe Lon is frightening not only because of what he does, but also because of what he has never done and will never be able to do. The most terrifying experience of encountering this character is realizing that the circumstances of life and the choices you make could trigger your own devolution into someone akin to him – a person mired in lost dreams and fenced in by utter despair, choking on the bit of an impotent voice, who finally lashes out at everything he has ever known and everything he has become. That is the kind of real rounded character that is a horror show.
MH: I enjoy stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, or interesting anti-heroes forced to confront something darker than themselves. Characters absolutely must have dimension to them. No one is entirely good or entirely evil. The most interesting heroes have dark sides. The most interesting bad guys believe they are doing the right thing, which creates conflict.
Neville in I Am Legend is a great example of a flawed hero, or more recently Judas Coyne in Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box. Joyce Carol Oates writes haunting stories about young girls or vulnerable women in disturbing situations to powerful effect. Zelazny created one of my favorites, Hell Tanner.
For Harvest Hill, I see massive potential for character. What about the mayor of 1976? What about 8-year-old Suzie down the road? What about the high school, the shop owners, or the homeless bum who used to own that mansion?
I can’t wait to see who lives or has lived in Harvest Hill.
6. Horror and violence can be blatant or suggestive. Which one do you prefer and why?
DH: If we are talking about something like possible “supernatural” horror, then I am often a fan of the suggestive. I love stories that leave me wondering whether there was something bigger at work, or whether what happened was sheer human folly or malignity.
Regarding an act of violence though, I do not want any pussyfooting around it. Tell me exactly what is happening. Do not let me turn away. This does not mean writers should engage in torture porn, but if a guy has to take an ax to the head, for example, fill my senses with that. Because we tend to filter out the appalling nature of real violence, a writer’s portrayal of it should always serve as a stunning reminder of its offensiveness and terror.
MH: I prefer suggestive. I prefer atmosphere, tone, and mood, but not at the expense of plot. Stories need movement. I’m not a huge fan of gore for gore’s sake, but I’d choose a gory tale with a clear beginning, middle, and end over an atmospheric mood piece with a weak plot, regardless of how beautifully it is written. But give me a moody, well-plotted, emotional horror story with interesting characters, and you’re in.
7. In fiction and in life, what do you find most horrific?
DH: Tragedy, wherein the essence of the horror is a mistake in judgment, is powerful in both life and fiction. Anything revolving around beliefs that can be wrong becomes a catalyst for horror: the belief that a certain person will always love you and never betray you, the belief that you have some special purpose, and maybe most of all the belief that you think you know who you are. What if you encounter things that shatter your familiar paradigms? What can you do? What will you choose?
MH: The news. Have you scanned the headlines lately?
8. What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
DH: Aside from what we have stated in the guidelines, I hold that writers must remember to show, not tell, just like the teachers forever proclaim. Writers should endeavor to murder as many adverbs as they can and strive to conjure up stronger verbs instead. My number one pet peeve, though, is passive voice. I cannot stress enough how fiction writers in particular should beware of and weed out the evils of the insidious passive-voice sentence.
MH: I’m fairly tolerant in general, so will state the obvious:
1. Avoid bad storytelling – interpret this as you will
2. Avoid telling stories that don’t take place in Harvest Hill
3. Avoid telling stories that don’t take place on Halloween
9. What attribute are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
DH: Innovation is your key. We, too, love pumpkins and scarecrows and all of the traditional items, but if you insert those, torque them. The same goes for history. Do not just pick a particular period and then cram in standard plots and villains. Slip in something new, shiny and sharp – then make it click.
MH: I believe I want depth. Stories with texture. Harvest Hill is an idea, a template of a place with immense potential. The stories we choose for this anthology will set the tone for future writing endeavors. If we nail this, we put Harvest Hill on the map. I want to see where we go from there, looking forward.
19. Any last advice for submitters to this market?
DH: Try to have some fun with your story, even if it is black horror. Work in what fascinates and terrifies and enraptures you. Polish it until we can recognize something of our own hopes and fears in it, and then you will have a vision worth sharing.
MH: Dig deep. Be yourself. And the cliché is true: writing is rewriting