The following market report on the anthology, Mortis Operandi, as well as the follow-up interview are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.
Publisher: The Harrow Press
Editors: Kfir Luzzatto & Dru Pagliassotti
Pay Rate: $50/story
Response Time: Around 30 days
Reading Period: Jan. 1, 2011 until filled
Description: Criminal investigation stories with a supernatural twist
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?
Two of my long-time favorites have been Raymond Chandler, for his mastery of language and his dark, deadpan humor, and China Mieville, for his bizarre but beautiful weird-fantasy settings. Simon R. Greene’s novels make me grin and KJ Parker’s twisty political plots impress me. I’m eagerly awaiting the last book in Steven Erikson’s epic Malazan Book of the Fallen.
2. What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
We’re looking for crime-investigation stories, of course, and they must contain some kind of central supernatural element — as we say in the guidelines, “magic, monsters, or miracles.” However, we’ll take any subgenre of crime fiction and any sort of overall treatment (tragedy, comedy, horror, romance, parody, etc.).
3. What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
I can’t tell you how many submissions I’ve read over the years that have been set in contemporary middle-class white suburbia. It’s always a pleasant change to get a story about different cultures, subcultures, or historical periods. Of course we’ll accept stories set in generic suburbia if they’re well written, but exotic locales and different historical periods will stand out more. That said, authors must be familiar with the culture or time period they’re writing about — we don’t want stories full of stereotypes or errors. And for this particular anthology, we’re not interested in science fiction or stories set on other worlds, either — sorry!
4. Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
I tend to prefer stories that grab my attention in the first page and keep me hooked throughout, whether via action or suspense. However, Kfir and I both appreciate a gentle, slowly paced, atmospheric story; sometimes those are the works that linger with readers the longest.
5. What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
I like characters who have distinctive personalities. I have a weakness for male characters who are oddly charming social misfits like Sherlock Holmes, Gregory House, Stephen Maturin (the Aubrey-Maturin series), and L (Death Note). Similarly, I appreciate female characters who are confident, strong, and a bit dangerous, such as Ellen Ripley, Gretchen Lowell (the Beauty Killer novels), Sydney Bristow, O-Ren Ishii, and so many of Pam Grier’s characters.
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?
We don’t have any particular tone preferences, but we do appreciate a distinctive authorial voice. Most of the authors I mentioned above serve as good examples.
7. What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?
Vulgarity, violence and sex are OK if they further the plot. However, I personally find distasteful stories that feature graphic descriptions of violence against women or have protagonists who are woman-haters, so those will be much harder sells. Although sex crimes of any sort are fair game for Mortis Operandi, I’d prefer they occur off-stage; I’m not interested in publishing stories that might encourage someone’s violent sexual fantasies.
8. What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?
It’d be great to see stories that go beyond the simple search for “truth” and “justice” to address more nuanced themes; some of the best crime fiction is also thoughtful social commentary.
9. Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
For this anthology, either is appropriate. The investigator should solve the crime, because that’s the point of crime fiction, but whether the criminal is brought to justice is entirely up to the author — and whether that’s an upbeat or downbeat ending depends on which character happens to be the story’s protagonist.
10. Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do’s or do not’s?
We’re expecting to get about a dozen stories featuring a white, middle-class male vampire or werewolf investigating a murder somewhere in the contemporary UK or US, probably teamed up with a spunky female spell-caster who has a secret crush on the investigator. Please send us something different!