Sunday, September 21, 2008

Swill Magazine Reading For Issue 4

I'm the editor of Swill Magazine and I sent out my call-out today for fiction submissions. This will be our fourth issue and we're damned pleased with what we've done so far. Samples from the various issues are available at our website, . Submissions should be emailed to . It is strongly recommended that writers at least read excerpts from the website before submitting. It's only $4 an issue, but if you spent the cover cost on every magazine you're thinking of submitting to you'd be broke (if you aren't already) and the website should be sufficient for getting a feel for what we like. Hell, 4 bucks is a gallon of gas, you could be twenty miles down the road instead of sitting still with a fucking magazine (we have pictures, but not the kind you'd want to spend the night with).

If you haven't made it to the Swill site yet, I could give you a jumpstart on what passes for our heart with this excerpt from the back cover of our first issue:

"We like stories where things actually happen, stories where someone might die. We like stories with an edge, and we don’t like epiphanies. We also like it when the jokes are funny. We don’t like Literature with a capital L. We do like literary fiction: we happen to think it includes the work of James Ellroy and Harlan Ellison. Oh yes, we also like sex, sometimes even in stories; it’s just that most people write so damned poorly about it. Mainly what we like are stories. Not symbols and themes and extensive descriptive passages, not paint-by-numbers well-structured tripe that fails to excite. If you’re Faulkner reincarnated we’d be happy to publish you but frankly we don’t believe in you, and anyway you should be working for someone who can cover your drinking money. We prefer the Shakespeare approach to existentialism: question the meaning of life, then litter the stage with corpses."

I'm also one of the editors with Monday Night (, which is also reading right now) and when one of our editors put up a post about Swill on Zoetrope someone responded that Swill was probably the type of place that would publish necrophilia comedies. Which is highly unlikely, as that is a major portion of what my novel in progress is about.

So, I was minding my own business one night a couple weeks ago when I get an email from Ellen Datlow. Ellen is one of the best known editors in science fiction (she was fiction editor at Omni for several years) and she began her email with the phrase "Hi, Harlan Ellison recommended a story in your issue #3" at which point I nearly fucking keeled over. Ellen Datlow wanted a copy of Swill 3 because Harlan Ellison had recommended to her that one of the stories in it should be considered for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. I edit a magazine with high ideals but low circulation and Harlan Ellison is recommending us to one of the leading anthologies in the industry? Harlan Ellison knows we exist?

I didn't have any idea how this could have happened. I was ecstatic and agog. I forwarded Ellen's email to my co-editor Sean (whose blog is at ) and his response was similar to mine, with the exception that he said, "Didn't I tell you I was sending a copy to Harlan Ellison?" Which I'm sure was along the lines of something Sean said to me when we were talking about distribution for issue 3, except I heard it as "I can try to get copies to..." with Harlan Ellison's name somewhere on that list. It wasn't like Sean had a connection, unless author worship counts.

I of course sent the requested issues to Ellen Datlow and the other editors of that anthology. It's such great news for our little magazine that we're being considered, but it's also the point of our magazine: a lot of "literary" magazines are boring. Which is weird, because there are a lot of good writers but boring has become its own genre. I don't even know the standards, I just know I pick up a fiction magazine and one story after another does not have a fucking plot. Which I thought was what a story was, then its quality was determined by how well it was told, but there are a helluva lot of magazines out there that are going for how it' s told without considering that it's not telling anything.

I thought I wrote literary fiction. Then I read the magazines publishing "literary fiction" and realized I hate literary fiction. If these were the people in charge of science fiction I'd hate science fiction too. Great fiction has never been bound by categories but magazine fiction is shackled by it. That's why I started Swill. Too many fiction markets are controlled by "schools of thought," which is to say, a lack of thought altogether - educating the stupid gives them justification, not intelligence. But they aren't even educated, only indoctrinated, for actual education would leave them the ability to defy what they'd been taught.

Most lauded writers could be machine-gunned in a line without loss of a soul.


Sean Craven said...

"we have pictures, but not the kind you'd want to spend the night with"

Thanks. Now I'm convinced that someone, somewhere is beating off to one of my animal skull landscapes. It's just a matter of time before I start figuring out what they imagine they'd do with it...

Maybe I should start a paysite! It would be like one-stop shopping for all of your macro-necrobestiality needs.

robp said...

I negate something so of course you see the possibility of what I negated. Look, we know there are people who beat off to animal skulls, as there are people who beat off to anything else we can imagine: just think of yourself like you're Britney Spears' manager - you're not twisted, it's the people who buy what you're selling who are twisted.

Thought that would comfort you.