Ty Schwamberger

An Interview with Publisher Jason Sizemore

Jason Sizemore is a very busy guy. For one thing, he runs Apex Publications in those tiny cracks of time between working a day-job, his own writing, not to even get started on his exhaustive plans for world domination. He has nurtured Apex Publications from its roots as an SF/Horror market under the heading of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, to pro-level e-zine Apex Magazine, all the while building up Apex Book Company and publishing the best of dark science fiction, horror, and dark fantasy. Needless to say, it was great that he took the time to answer a few questions about the evolutionary changes readers have been witnessing in this small press for the past few months.

Maggie Jamison: Apex Publications has been going through some big changes in the past few months, particularly in regards to bringing on a new fiction editor for Apex Magazine and reopening to submissions. Since Apex began in 2005 as the magazine, first as the print-form of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, and then evolving into the pro e-zine Apex Magazine, you’ve carried this publication for five long years and helped it through a lot of growing pains. Was it hard giving up the fiction editing reigns? What motivated these changes?

Jason Sizemore: As they say, you always have a fondness for your first.

I wavered on the decision to hand over the reins for months and months. I love being an editor, getting my hands on a story and working with the author to bring their work to the masses. It’s a fun but time-consuming process. With the book publishing branch of the company showing continual revenue growth month after month, the stress of doing both the magazine and the books became too much. Eventually, I had to choose – lop off an arm of the company or direct my attention to one and delegate the other. Thus, I turned my full attention to the books and searched for someone I trusted to run the ‘zine.

Fortunately, my top choice accepted the job.

MJ: With the addition of the talented and award-decorated Catherynne M. Valente becoming the new fiction editor of Apex Magazine, and the opening of the guidelines to encompass all “dark speculative fiction,” how do you think this will change the tone (or the feel) of the magazine? What do you suspect readers will see in Apex Magazine come August 1, 2010, which marks the release of the first issue under Ms. Valente?

JS: Cat, as an author, brings a particular aesthetic to Apex Magazine that I never could capture as an editor – the ability to leverage the use (or styles) of language in order to evoke a greater sense of emotion. She’s a master of the craft, and I have no doubt this will translate to her editorial work.

When August rolls around, I’d suspect you’ll see our short fiction edge closer to magic realism, interstitial work, and perhaps, even darker than the material we published before. Think “Pop Art” by Joe Hill, “Stone Animals” by Kelly Link. “Spar” by Kij Johnson. “The Situation” by Jeff Vandermeer.

MJ: As an e-zine, web design and development is key. What technological advancements and new features are you exploring for inclusion on the Apex site? Apex also runs a popular daily blog that touches on writing, reading, gaming, SF art, and a ton of other subjects. How do you keep up with all the mechanical demands of maintaining such an active site?

JS: Apex tries to stay bleeding edge, but that’s a tough way to live with the rapid pace that technology expands and the limitations of my personal time (and intelligence!). Unfortunately, this means we’re often playing catch up. Currently, we’re working to produce a monthly podcast that will be available via iTunes. I also want to build an Apex app that will receive push notifications whenever new content and fiction is published.

I’d never accomplish all this without assistance. I now have a dedicated web site editor who maintains the blog. Deb Taber manages the book editing work. Gill Ainsworth manages the copy edits for Apex Magazine. It’s the work of many that makes Apex a success.

MJ: With you now focusing your energies on the book side, what can we look forward to seeing from Apex Book Company in the coming months?

JS: Books by Gary A. Braunbeck, Dru Pagliassotti, J.M. McDermott, Lavie Tidhar, Nick Mamatas … a second book of World SF, possibly another volume of Dark Faith … it’s an exciting time to be an alien head.

MJ: Readers may tend to think of Apex Publications as a fiction publisher, but you publish non-fiction from time to time as well, such as the upcoming To Each Their Darkness by Gary A. Braunbeck. What can readers expect from this upcoming release?

JS: Gary Braunbeck has been through the grinder, as a teacher, as an author, as a person. To Each Their Darkness takes some of these combined experiences and offers them up for fans of Gary Braunbeck and the horror genre in particular. It’s two parts King’s On Writing and one part Gary Braunbeck unfiltered. If you’ve ever taken one of Gary’s writing classes or heard him read from his work, you know exactly what I mean by ‘Braunbeck unfiltered.’

MS: What can readers do to support Apex and spread the word about all the great stuff you’ve got coming out, whether in the magazine or the book line?

JS: One aspect I’ve been focusing on this year is creating more grassroots excitement via the fan convention circuit. If you’re on a panel, casually toss in a positive mention of Apex. Or help us leave some bookmarks or fliers on the freebie tables. Talk to other genre readers about stuff you’ve read from Apex. Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful thing. Be sure to check out our website for our latest promotion … we are always recruiting new web minions!

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