Hard-workin’ Futurismic fiction editor Christopher East doesn’t post here very often; not only does he spend hours combing through the slush pile for this very organ, a lot of his time is taken up by, y’know, having a life, and a job and a family. That sort of stuff. Not that I’m jealous or anything. Ahem.
So, if you want to know a bit more about him (and you should, because he’s not only one of the sharpest unpaid fiction eds in the business, but also a jolly decent chap, as we Brits might say), Chris has been interviewed recently by Andrew Porter of writer/reader blog The Science Of Fiction. Here he is talking about how he knows when a story is the right one, and on how he writes rejections:
Chris East: Of course, now that I’ve been at it for a while, I understand why most editors don’t [write personal rejections]. It’s not always possible (crush of time, number of submissions), it’s not always warranted (sometimes there’s not much to say – the story just doesn’t do it for me), and really, the effort rarely pays off (I mean, except for personal satisfaction, there isn’t much incentive). It’s also not really an edtior’s job to teach writers — it’s the editor’s job to find stories. But as a writer I always appreciate it when the editor says something helpful, so I do still try to provide some feedback. I’m also proud that I’ve never resorted to using a form rejection. I can see how people might think I do, of course – you do tend to repeat yourself once you’ve written a few thousand responses! But take my word for it, I write every rejection from scratch.
Andrew Porter: As a zine that only publishes one story a month I would imagine that you are often sitting with several stories that you would like to publish but can’t. How do you make final determinations between near equals (i.e. topical relevance, good title, etc.)
Chris East: This has never been a real problem for us, actually. In fact, our inventory tends to run on the thin side most of the time. I suspect this is a combination of high standards and a fairly specific focus on near-term future SF – I guess there aren’t that many available stories that fall perfectly into our wheelhouse. So I honestly don’t recall having the kind of one-or-the-other decisions you describe. The exception might be when we’ve received a story very similar to something that we’ve already published. If we’ve recently featured a story about brain implants, for example, we might hesitate to publish another brain implant story close on the first one’s heels. (Which, since we publish so infrequently, equates to “the past several months.”) But mostly, it’s kind of a know-it-when-I-see-it situation. In other words, “Yep, this is a Futurismic story!” Or, “Nope, it isn’t!”
Lots more after that… some of it quite surreal, in fact. Enjoy!