This post is part of the subscription drive for my all-time favourite science fiction and fantasy magazine, Apex Magazine. Lesley Conner is one of the editors who works there, and she was kind enough to stop by here today and answer a few questions. I hope you’ll check out the other interviews in this drive as well!
Ooo, great question! I would love to see more sci-fi stories in the slush. We get some, but I seem to read a lot more magical realism or fantasy stories than I do science fiction. And we’re not looking for straight up sci-fi, something-is-wrong-with-the-ship, oh-no-we’re-going-down! stories. I read a LOT of those. Give me something more than that, more than man/woman in space in peril. I’d love see more stories like “The Laura Ingalls Experience” by Andrew Neil Gray, “Soursop” by Chikodili Emelumadu, or “1957” by Stephen Cox.
Well, I’m a big fan of all three stories I mentioned in the first question. In addition to those, I absolutely love “She Gave Her Heart, He Took Her Marrow” by Sam Fleming, “The Gentleman of Chaos” by A. Merc Rustad, and “Next Station, Shibuya” by Iori Kusano. Each of those moved me as a reader and excited me as an editor.
Oh, and “Blood on Beacon Hill” by Russell Nichols! That story is so much fun to read!
Little bit of a sneak peek: we have a story coming out in the May issue by Evan Dicken called “How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Things.” Read it! You do not want to miss that story! It is amazing!
I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream about any of the stories submitted to us. If I have, I’m not remembering them now, but a lot of the stories have realities that would be make interesting—if not terrifying—dreamscapes. Immediately “Screaming Without a Mouth” by Travis Heermann and “Aishiteru Means I Love You” by Troy Tang come to mind. *shudders* Both of those stories stuck with me long after I finished reading them and I could see them causing a few nightmares.
By the way, Troy Tang wrote this absolutely horrifying story about abuse and self-loathing that questions whether or not doing horrific things to an artificial intelligence is it still wrong and loathsome—after all, they aren’t living—and he is one of the sweetest individuals I have ever worked with. Working with him was a lovely experience and I’m so glad we were able to bring his story to the world, even if it does continue to haunt me to this day. Just goes to show that stories a person writes do not reflect who they are.
Honestly, Jason and I don’t disagree on stories very often. I think that’s one of the things that makes us a good editing team—we have the same vision for what types of stories we want to see in Apex Magazine, so we don’t spend a lot of time arguing over one story or another. We do discuss a lot of stories before deciding one way or the other on it, but that’s usually to talk through one or more aspects that may not be sitting quite right with us. Jason passes on stories that I like all the time, but most of the time if I’m absolutely in love with a story, he likes it too, and you end up reading it in a future issue of Apex Magazine. If he doesn’t, well then, Jason will pass on it. He’s the editor-in-chief, so when it comes right down to it, he makes the final call.
Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.