The fifth edition of the Australian Horror Writers Association’s fiction and poetry magazine, Midnight Echo, showcases the diversity of horror and should cement the publication’s reputation as a genre leader, according to editor and new AHWA president Leigh Blackmore.

Leigh Blackmore, widely-published author, poet and anthology editor has revealed details about his edition, which was released for sale today and offered a glimpse of its promising future.

“There is no overall theme for the issue – the stories range over a wide gamut of horror themes and approaches,” Blackmore said.

“For issue five I concentrated on stories of psychological and supernatural horror, a bit of Cthulhu Mythos, some post-apocalyptic scenarios and anything that was well written enough to rivet my attention as a reader who has been absorbing horror for well over 45 years. As to standouts, that will vary with individual reader’s tastes, so I won’t try and sway them.”

“I wanted to build on what has come before (in previous issues), in terms of presenting a range of quality writing in the genre. That said, I applied some of my own preferences to selecting the stories, although I endeavoured to be even-handed about presenting stories ranging from the supernatural to the visceral.

“Horror is in many ways such a diverse genre that I wanted issue five to represent this diversity.”

Readers will notice an abundance of darkly delicious poems in issue five as well.

“In the shake-up due to space limitations there are now a few less of each genre, but it was deliberate on my part to include numerous weird and darkly fantastic poems as well as stories,” Blackmore said.

“As a horror poet myself, who also writes stories, I’m aware of the fantastic talent poetry out there, and think the AHWA should be supporting this often-overlooked aspect of the genre.

“We also have a graphic story in the issue which helps us support our claim that we promote horror in all media and manifestations.”

Blackmore received 150 submissions from authors across the globe for issue five and while he couldn’t publish all of them, he was overwhelmed by the plethora of talented scribes coming out of the shadows.

“The talent out there is very promising. Lots of new and emerging writers who still need to hone their craft, but many writers who are publishing widely and producing material that expands the genre’s boundaries in terms of quality and entertainment value,” Blackmore said.

The first edition of Midnight Echo was released in October 2008 and Leigh believes the publication has well and truly earned its place among the world’s best speculative fiction magazines.

“The magazine is definitely cementing its reputation, which I believe is in large part due to the high benchmark set by the magazines founders and early editors,” he said.

“There are also some big changes afoot for Midnight Echo. With issue five we are bringing printing onshore to Australia, which will enable better quality printing and distribution in this country.

“We also have some new distribution and promotional ideas which should improve our visibility – so watch this space for announcements!

“Putting out two issues a year is a realistic goal for us at present. Everyone donates their labour out of love of the genre, and I have to say that without the fantastic art team we have, and their many hours of toil, the Echo would not be nearly as attractive and well-packaged as it is.”

“When Midnight Echo becomes more financially viable, we might look at producing more than two issues per year, but that is still some way off.”

But as President, Blackmore wanted to assure readers and AHWA members that the Echo still had plenty of room to grow.

“We are going to do some bookstore and newsagent testing on sales. I hope to push the magazine more at local conventions, and make it available in other venues, as well as continuing to run our online shop and have international copies available via lulu.com to save on international postage.

Midnight Echo is an important voice for new horror in Australia, and I believe the AHWA has the vision and commitment to seeing it continue for quite some time.

“It’s great that members of the Association can download copies of the PDF version absolutely free, and I hope that alone may encourage some people interested in horror to join the AHWA.

Midnight Echo #5 is on sale now at AU$S3.50 for PDF and AUS$11 (+$3 postage) for a printed copy. Log on to Australian Horror now to purchase your copy.

AHWA members receive a free PDF of the Echo or a print copy at a discounted price of $10 plus postage.

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