The following market report on the anthology, Zombie Zak’s House of Pain, as well as the follow-up interview are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.
Anthology: Zombie Zak’s House of Pain
Editors: Zombie Zak and Bill Tucker
Pay Rate: 1 cent per word, and 1 contributor copy
Response Time: Varies, But not until after the reading period has ended
Reading Period: April 30, 2011
Description (from the editor): Seeking previously unpublished contemporary creative tales of dark horror/dark fiction to fill up the House of Pain.
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?
Edgar Allen Poe, HP Lovecraft and Dante Aligheri to name but a few. Why? Because their characters have breadth and scope and the intensity of the story carries through with passion and a desire to leave a mark upon the reader. Poe’s characters were narrow of landscape; they were people going through an ordinary life and hit with something much more so. Lovecraft painted on a skein of such proportions that one’s mind would either be boggled or forced to focus on the simple. And Dante, well, he visited Hell, and brought back a good story or two.
2. What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Personally I’m a big fan of horror, science fiction and fantasy, with comedy occasionally thrown in. However, this is a horror anthology for dark fiction and what we are looking for is good, creepy, dark stories meant to creep you out in any of a variety of fashions. We have no serious prejudices against any types of story content. As long as it’s dark, horror filled and tasty, we’ll probably like it. (Which will obviously make the final selection process that much more difficult to narrow down.)
3. What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
I really like the realm of the ordinary, as explored by the moment that something extra ordinary breaks out from its bounds. Life is ordinary, at the best of times, but when a story can completely smash through the boundaries of the drudgery and the drear and present you with something just past comprehension — then, then fun can begin.
4. Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the simple concept of the environment, the writing meets and matches the story. I like all kinds of things, and can be captivated by any of a variety of formats. Therefore, in simplest terms, if the pace fits the story, then the story I will enjoy. However, the biggest caveat will be, to be consistent with it. If it’s a slow build to spectacular climax, then awesome. If it’s a constant joy ride from the get go to the end, yo, then also awesome. If it creatively mixes it up and gives you the roller-coaster thrill ride, then extra awesome. If it tries real hard but can’t get past the occasional blast, then not so much.
5. What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Oh, I like all kinds of characters. Serial killers, cannibals (flesh-eating Grannies are a good start there), mad scientists, evil neighbors, demons, sad and angry angels, hungry spirits, garden gnomes that go on rampages, plants that devour living meat sacks, mercenaries with no heart, and kittens that do their part. Really, I like colorful characters, people who have a reason, a point, something that within the context of the story, have something worth giving a darn about; even if that means hoping that the good guy wins (yeeesh, and that’s a fate worse than…)
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?
No specific tone, per se. Just dark fiction; run wild with it. Let your horror muse out and play with story, character, plot and splattery parts. The idea behind this antho is variety, the spice of life and all that. Weird is good, as is the straight forward.
7. What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?
Keeping things in perspective, a certain level of vulgarity and violence is acceptable; if it fits the story and is not purely vulgar for the sake of vulgar, then it’s probably going to be ok. I am not inclined towards stories that focus excessively on violent sexual behavior and sexual content when it concerns young ‘uns. If you have to think too much about whether or not it’s an acceptable level of sexual content, then it’s probably too much. I have no issue with such violent sexual aberrance being referred to in context, but explicit detail of such will not be accepted. Ergo, no rape scenes; however a victim of rape, or the fear of rape, or the threat of rape, may fit well enough.
8. What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?
Mostly looking for stories that delve into the depth of human existence; darkness that dwells within not only the heart of Man, but also the beating, bloody, pulpy mass clenched in his clawed fist. Stuff like that. Good clean fun all round!
9. Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
Yes. Hehehee. Actually, I have no preference on endings. If it fits the story, then it is a good ending. I like downbeat endings that continue to stare down into the abyss waiting for the thing that never—but might—come out. Also, I like upbeat endings where the hero wins, gets the girl and dines with knife and fork — but, we all know how often that story really happens…
10. Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do’s or do not’s?
Think of the “man as the monster, rather than the monster as the man.” Stories should refrain from Zombie or Zombie themes — not because we don’t like them or anything, but because we want to focus on the heart of dark fiction. If you can pull it out, raw and wriggling, from some deep, dark, cavernous immensity of pain, suffering, sorrow, regret and doom, then it’s probably going to have a good spot, in the center of the room.
Write, for writing’s sake! Experience the darkness, enough to slake. And Welcome to Zombie Zak’s House of Pain. Can I interest you in some cookies?