Wednesday, June 22, 2016

X Whoa Man

I like the X-Men. I have for as long as I've known they existed, which was, admittedly, long after they began existing. It was one of my favorite comics when I was really hard into comics and many of the characters and storylines stick with me.

I absolutely saw the movie on opening day. And the same X-2. And X-3. And... that was it.

Because, here's my secret, I don't like the Dark Phoenix storyline. I never have. I don't even like Jean Grey. Or Cyclops. Both of those characters always sort of rubbed me the wrong way. They were so perfect and tragic and completely boring. And X-3 was objectively not awesome. Like, not a single one of my friends came out of that movie happy.

So, I didn't go see First Class. It seemed like a lame attempt to get away from the travesty of X-3. Double that for Days of Future Past.

But then someone pointed out that Quicksilver was in Days. Played by Evan Peters. I love Evan Peters. And Quicksilver. So, for my birthday this year, I sat down and watched (most of) both those movies.

I didn't love them. Mystique, who is a strong, complex character in the comics, was reduced to one, single, whiny character trait. Emma Frost was told to "go fetch some ice" and she fucking did it. Angel (not to be confused with Angel) was asked if she wanted a job where she could keep her clothes on and then, as the stripper, she was the fist to go turncoat. The black guy who's one power was adapting to survive frakking died. It was just... really disappointing in so many ways.

So, I was one thousand percent not interested in seeing Apocalypse. Except... Quicksilver. I did love him. And the rumor was he'd be in it more. Then I saw a trailer. Nightcrawler was in it too.

Dammit.

So, I saw the movie.

Guys.

Guys...

It's really good.

I mean, okay, maybe that's a exaggeration. It's not perfect. There are so many characters being introduced that several of them get no development. Like, at all.

I think, of all of the superhero franchises currently doing movie things, X-Men is the most... about the characters. Like, there's a nearly infinite roster for them to pull from. I get really excited when I hear that one of my favorites is getting pulled into the spotlight. I mean, there are the usuals, the ones who's names are synonymous with the title. But the side characters are always a treat. So, let's talk about them some, yeah?

Spoilers ahead, probably.

Angel gets at least two makeovers, but we really don't get to know him beyond his love for breaking bottles and Metallica. Made me sad because I've always loved him. But, honestly, he doesn't really make much sense in this movie. I mean, Apocalypse is supposed to pick the best mutants to be his horsemen, right? Storm makes sense. Psylocke... that's fine, I guess. Magneto, fuck yeah, get that guy. But Angel? I mean, even in the comics his main powers are having wings, being pretty, and wealth. In this movie, he seems to be lacking the latter. Though he does make up for it with fighting skills, we're told. And, I mean, I guess that's true. But the pacifist beats him both times they fight.

Psylocke... well, she's hot and makes energy weapons that cut things. Unless the weapon is a whip and around the neck of a main character, then it doesn't cut. It just pulls. And that's the end of her. I don't know even know if Apocalypse's magical make-over powers worked on her.

Storm was pretty great. I was surprised that she started out as a bad guy, but it made sense. And her turn at the end was perfect. I've always loved Storm's design. I really liked that they went with the Ultimate version (which is based on a version from the 80s?). Alexandra Shipp really pulled of the character, IMO.

Magneto is, I think, better in the movies than he was in any of the comics I read. I'm not saying he was never that good in comics, just my small little segment of the comics. I love the tragedy in him. Michael Fassbender plays him so well. My main issue is his turn in the beginning. This is totally personal, but I am 1000% done with watching terrible things happen to dark-haired, blue-eyed little girls. Also, Apocalypse didn't really change Magneto's look. Just gave him a new version of the armor he's had before. Everyone else got new hair-dos and stuff. So, I dunno what's up with that.

Jean Grey, as I mentioned before, has never been my favorite. For a long time it seemed like her only real powers were being pretty and dying. But Sophie Turner is so good. She brings a lot Sansa Stark to the role and makes me actually believe that she's afraid of her powers. But she doesn't come across as totally fearful. Throughout it all she has an underlying strength. Even if some of her lines are really terribly written. I don't know who was in charge of her dialogue. It wasn't great.

Cyclops is another long time unliked character of mine. It always seemed, in all the comics, cartoons, and movies, that the writers wanted me to believe there was more substance than they showed. Or that he was cool enough to not need it. Or something. I dunno. He was just the typical flat, vanilla leader character. But this time, I like him. I'm not sure exactly what changed, maybe it was him being actually unsure and following Jean's lead. He backed her up and was supportive and that was really great.

Jubilee what do we have to do to get her to actually be in a movie as more than a cameo? Because I'll do it.

Nightcralwer is perfect and adorable. I love everything about him. Kodi Smit-McPhee is so incredible. I love the moment when he's in the ring with Angel and Angel tells him they have to fight or die. Nightcrawler goes into entertainer mode, getting all showy with his attacks until he realizes he's actually hurt Angel. It's perfect. And when he fights Angel the second time and, rather than hurt him, he ports him into a trap. They just did a really great job with his characterization. Side note, for some reason, Google thinks Kodi also played Jubilee. But, for real, he voiced Norman in ParaNorman, so I think I love this kid.

Quicksilver is so good. "It seems, no matter how fast I am, I'm always late." And his whole spiel about being a loser in the jet. This is a huge departure from any version I've seen before, but I love it so much.

Xavier is my favorite version of him. Like Quicksilver, it's so different from what I'm used to, but I love it. James McAvoy is such a sarcastic, awkward, borderline asshole and it's fantastic.

Mystique, oh Mystique. She was so disappointing in the other movies, but in this one, she shines. She's brave and heroic. And also awkward and clearly undersocialized. But she was such an active participant in every part of the movie. She drove it.

Anyway.

I really like this movie. I'm not sure I'd really recommend it, especially not to someone who isn't really into superheroes. But I've seen it twice now. I might see it again. I'm gonna buy the blu-ray. I think it's probably the best one since X-2.

But that could also just be Nightcrawler.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fight Like a Girl

My daughter has thunder thighs. She has a double chin and a pot-belly. Her cheeks jiggle when she laughs. Her shins are covered in bruises and her knees are a cross-hatch of scratches and scrapes.
She doesn’t know that, someday, she will be told all of those things are bad.

Right now—today— she is two and beautiful. She smiles with complete abandon. When she laughs, she does it with her entire body.

And she laughs a lot. She thinks burps are funny and farts are hilarious. But it won’t be long before someone—someone well-meaning and with her best interests at heart—informs her that good little girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. Burps and farts belong to the realm of snips and snails.

Other things in that boy realm include primary colors. Green, blue, black, and grey. Jewel tones, earth tones, stark contrasts. Everything but pink— because that is a girl’s color— lives there. In that realm, there will be shirts with robots and dinosaurs. Astronauts, planets, outer space. Math jokes. Science puns. Superheroes. Monsters.

In the Pepto Bismol colored parts of the world, she’ll find pastels. There will be princesses and t-shirts that extol the virtues of shopping. There will be ribbons and lace. The sleeves will all be capped, ruched, and ruffled. Buttons will be rhinestones because diamonds are a girl’s best friend. The graphics will be lipstick tubes, compacts, jewelry. Whether or not she likes these things, they will be her main choices.

For no apparent reason, all of the superhero logos will have turned pink.

Yes, even Batman.

A fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle will have appeared. One with a pink bandanna and no weapons or initial on her belt. She’ll have a bow on her head. In an office building, there is a person patting themselves on the back for being so very inclusive over that one.

Straight-faced and with no animosity, a good person will tell my beautiful daughter that she could be so pretty if she’d only… if she’d just grow out her hair. If she’d just smile. Wear a dress. Be less aggressive. Be less bossy. Be quieter. Sit still. Just be less.

Before commenting on her intelligence, people will tell her how pretty she is. Because it will be more important for her to be pretty than smart. Or athletic. Or creative. Or loyal. Or generous. Or strong. Other adjectives will be bonuses, but ultimately unnecessary.

They will innocuously ask her if she really needs another piece of birthday cake.

They will tell her not to wear makeup because it is vain. It attracts the wrong kind of attention. She’s beautiful without it. It is deceitful. They will tell her she should wear makeup. To cover up those flaws. To find a man. To show that she cares about her appearance. They will tell her not to wear so much. To not wear that color. Only a certain kind of girl wears blue eye-shadow.

They’ll tell her that she doesn’t want people to think she’s that kind of girl, right? It won’t really be a question.

A boy, sitting next to her in class, cross-legged and watching a movie near the end of the school year, in the summer heat, will look down and notice the peach fuzz on her legs. He will say it’s gross that she hasn’t shaved her legs. Even though he hasn’t shaved his legs. Even though he probably never will. He’ll shave his face someday, or maybe he won’t. And either option will be okay with most people.

My beautiful daughter will someday menstruate. She will learn to be embarrassed about buying tampons. She will compulsively check between her legs every chance she gets because of that time she bled through her pad and everyone saw. A person, doing what they think is best, will try to calm her down by suggesting that maybe she’s only upset because Aunt Flo is visiting. That whatever is bothering her, it really isn’t so bad. It's just hormones, not real emotions.

She will learn to speak in code. Doublespeak to keep from making people uncomfortable, including herself, about her body. She will be a magician—watch her left hand while she palms the sanitary napkin in her right.

Her breasts will be small and, her classmates and friends will make fun of her, and she will feel insecure. Or her breasts will be big, and people will stare, and she will feel insecure.

She will have girlfriends and boyfriends, and some of them will be romantic and some of them won’t. Some will wish they were. A boy, who doesn’t know any better, who has been taught his whole life that a girl who says no is just playing hard to get, will get angry that she told him no. Someone will ask her what she did to lead him on. They’ll wonder what she was wearing. What color was her eye-shadow? What was she doing alone with him?

She will discover that girls can’t be funny because good little girls don’t make fart jokes. They don’t tie their skirts up around their waists so they can climb trees and dirt piles. They don’t wear revealing clothing. They don’t kiss anyone they don’t intend to marry and they certainly don’t go any further.

Those are rights held for boys.

Boys, who can laugh about burps and bodily functions. Who don’t have to worry about things like who can see up their skirts or if their belly is showing and, if so, is it flat enough. Boys, who can post pictures of themselves shirtless on social media. Who are encouraged to have sex. Lots of it. No matter the cost to themselves or others.

She’ll start to understand what it means when characters in movies say, “You were beaten by a girl.” She’ll get the jokes about women drivers. The silly, capricious emotions of girls. You throw like a girl. You hit like a girl. She’ll learn that what they’re actually saying is that she will never be as good as a boy. She’ll understand because, no matter how pretty or polite she is, she also has other adjectives. She is smart.

Someday, my brave/intelligent/curious/artistic/happy daughter will wish there was more space between her thighs. She’ll want a Photoshop figure and magazine-perfect skin. She’ll forget how to laugh with abandon.

She will learn that, even though she has to do it every day, fighting like a girl isn’t a compliment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Announcing Psychopomp and Circumstance


"A blend of gritty realism and dark supernatural, Psychopomp and Circumstance is Heathers meets It Follows, with a sprinkling of The Twilight Zone, all told with black humor, nihilist teen angst, and a buried need to be loved and accepted."—Richard Thomas, author of Tribulations
It starts on Facebook—an update that Nell doesn’t remember making. It’s bad enough that she’s dying and none of her friends know. Now, she’s pretty sure she’s going crazy. She sees the Sewercide Man everywhere she goes.
The bright, safe little town of Bandon is descending into darkness, dragging the inhabitants along for the ride. Death follows madness for those bound to the Sewercide Man’s will.
But the Sewercide Man is more than just a ghost or a monster. He is death without justice. He is destruction without remorse. He doesn’t have a plan.
He just wants to bring everyone home.
It's finally happening. Psychopomp and Circumstance will be released May 1st through A Murder of Storytellers. It'll be available in all of the usual places. At this exact moment, you can pre-order it through Smashwords.

The completely amazing Daniele Serra did the cover. I cannot get over how incredible it is.

I don't even know what to say about this. I'm just so excited that it's finally happening.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Improving the Quality of Our Suffering: Poetry

I originally presented this as a sort of crash course for my writing group over Hangouts. So, a lot of the examples were chosen because I knew members of Nevermore would dig them.

Robert Frost said a poem "begins in delight and ends in wisdom". Now, don't misunderstand and think that means poetry should be, like, delightfully happy. That is definitely not what I'm saying.

But I am saying it should satisfying. That's the delight. I mean, let's look at Poe. He is, IMO, the master of poetic devices. He's all about the meter and the rhyme and... everything, really. Look at this excerpt from Annabel Lee. Read it. Read it out loud. Feel how these words feel as they fall off your tongue.

Oh, and spoiler alert, I guess, for a century-and-half old poem.
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
 It just feels good to read, right?

Pretty frequently, I see people treating poetry like it's some kind of magic. It's not. I promise. No matter how arcane or wonderful something is, you can learn how to do it. Even poetry. It's all about the bass. I mean literary devices.

Let's start with my favorite.

Alliteration and Assonance


Both of these things deal with the phonetic sounds of words. Alliteration is, basically, when the consonants in a word sound the same, assonance is the vowels.

Let's take a look at Mean by Taylor Swift.
You, with your switching sides
and your wildfire lies
and your humiliation
Alliteration! We've got it with the Ss in switching, sides, and lies. We also have the L in wildfire, lies, and humiliation. And for assonance, we've got the long I in sides, wildfire, and lies.

Let's do some more. Pretend like we're in high school and see if you can guess them before I tell you. Here's a bit from Contagious by Night Riots.
Don't be, don't be so cold
Bones rust, decay, and mold
Head first, it is what it is
Youth lost, kicks us to live
We've clearly got some rhymes here. That's technically a different thing, but we're going to ignore it for now.

We have an alliterative D in don't, decay, mold, and head. There's also the T in don't, rust, first, it, and lost, but it's not as noticeable.

The assonance is pretty strong with the long O of don't, cold, bones, and mold. There's also the short I in kicks, it, is, and live.

Make sense? Sorry, I can't hear you if the answer was no. So, I'm going to assume it was yes and move on. Feel free to ask questions, though. I'll answer them as best I can.

Rhyme


There are two main kinds of rhyme-- true and slant.

Looking at the Night Riots example, "cold" and "mold" are true rhymes while "is" and "lives" is slant. So, true means it's the exact same ending sound and slant is... close.

Check out Partition by Beyonce. She's all about the slant rhyme in there.
Every girl in here got to look me up and down
All on Instagram, cake by the pound
Circulate the image every time I come around
"Pound" and "around" are true while "down" is slant.

Everyone still with me?

Imagery


Okay. This one is pretty big and easy to miss. My best friend likes to harp on this one a lot. The imagery is how you're going to convey the theme and mood of your poem to the reader. Not all poems, and certainly not all songs have much concrete imagery, but if you can work it in, you'll make the piece at least 20% cooler.

Take another gander at Contagious up there. It's all entropy and death, culminating in the line, "Youth lost, kicks us to live". The next few lines are, "I am contagious, I am breaking down. Flesh of the fathers, I am no one's fault." Literally speaking, I have no idea what they're talking about. But the picture they're painting with those descriptions evokes depression and desperation.

If they'd just said, "We're sad and it's not your fault", the song might still be musically cool, but lyrically pretty basic and boring. It's all about making the reader see something that will then make them feel something. 

Blue October pretty regularly kills it in the imagery department, so check out this verse from Come in Closer:
Come dancing with devils
need not know their names
and we'll waltz like an army
for the fear of our pain
Our souls become useless
as the day they were born
in the rusted arm rocking chair
away from your storm
Again, if you look at the words literally, it's basically nonsense. Like, okay, these people are going to waltz with some random devils because if they don't someone will hurt them? And it renders their souls useless? But they're sitting in an old rocking chair (or maybe the souls are) while a storm rages somewhere in the distance.

If you listen to the whole song, there's a distorted voice near the end that says, "You cheated on me with another woman". I think, with that knowledge, it's pretty easy to read those lines to be more like temptation, ruin, and impeding consequences.

But you know what? Here's the part where poetry is kind of magic. With the imagery, maybe, for you, it isn't about the temptation of adultery. Maybe it's about running away, addiction, dealing with a difficult decision... the possibilities are endless. And what's even cooler is that it can change.

When I first listened to Come in Closer, I was playing a character in a World of Darkness game that prophesied to blah blah blah, whatever. The song felt like it was about him. Later, when life was kicking me in the shins, the song started to feel like it was telling me to just get out already.

There are so many examples of wonderful, evocative imagery that I could talk about this for hours. Sometimes I do, much to the chagrin of everyone I know who doesn't care about the deeper meaning of pop music. But whatevs.

If we don't want to be stuck on this for days, we should probably move on to...

Meter


A lot of the examples I've used so far have been songs. In a song, a singer can manipulate the words and warp the meter to be whatever they want it to be. But there are still some great meterists out there.

Like The Barenaked Ladies on Who Needs Sleep?.
My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing, filled with lists
of things to do and things I've done
Another sleepless night's begun
Okay, so now you might wondering wtf meter is. The easiest way I can think to explain it is this: meter is the rhythm of the words, formed by the stressed and unstressed syllables. When you look up words in the dictionary, you see something like this: an·oth·er - əˈnəT͟Hər. That not only shows you how to pronounce each letter, but also where the stress on the word is.


I'll admit, I didn't look up each of these in the dictionary to find out exactly where the accented syllable is. I just read it out loud and marked where it felt right. If you're completely new at meter, you might want to check, get a little comfortable with it. This should be about right, though.
My HANDS are LOCKed up TIGHT in FISTS
My MIND is RACing, FILLed with LISTS
of THINGS to DO and THINGS I've DONE
anOTHer SLEEPless NIGHT'S beGUN
What we have in Who Needs Sleep? is called iambic. That means it is one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed. Iambic is the most common. It's how most people tend to speak naturally. It's easy to get into and easy to identify. There is a name for pretty much every combination of stressed and unstressed you can imagine. I'm not going to get into that because I want to do other things with my life and no one is paying me for this.

Not all poetry has meter. Those pieces are called Free Verse. However, meter is kind of like salt. Not everything needs it, but it's almost never a bad idea to add it. Even most cake and cookie recipes call for salt.

Robert Frost was kind of a master of this.
The WOODS are LOVEly DARK and DEEP
but I have PROMisES to KEEP
and MILES to GO beFORE I SLEEP
Poe also killed it.
ONCE uPON a MIDnight DREARy while I PONdered WEAK and WEARy
OVer MAny a QUAINT and CURious VOLume of FORgotten LORE
And, even One Direction can be pretty good at it...
WE're ONly GETting OLDer BABy
and I'VE been THINKing aBOUT you LATEly
DOES it EVer DRIVE you CRAZy
JUST how FAST the NIGHT CHANges
There's actually a pretty cool dissection of Night Changes by 1D on this podcast I really dig called Switched on Pop. I'd love to talk about the fact that there are no rhymes and what that means, but they already said a lot of it and I feel like this post is already running long. Which might be okay, except that my brain is starting to vibrate and I can't really tell where I should end sentences anymore and we still need to talk about the fact that...

Everything You Do is a Deliberate Choice


So, this is always true in writing, but especially so in poetry. One of my professors once said that poetry is telling a story in the least amount of space possible. Every word, line break, and piece of punctuation means something.

There's this Emily Dickinson poem called Wild Nights. I got into a pretty heated discussion with a classmate about it. I read it and immediately thought, "Oh, well, this is clearly about sex". But my classmate, she was of the opinion that Dickinson would never write about that.
Wild nights - Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!
Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee!
Okay, sure. Whatever. Maybe it's a poem about reckless abandon on a little boat called Eden and then mooring... in... uh, thee. Which is clearly the dick--I mean dock. Right?

But seriously, for my classmate, this really was just a poem about a boat. And that's fine. That's what she saw. For me, though, this poem is bubbling with excitement. The exclamation points and the em dashes make it feel breathless and urgent. Sure, maybe that's because the narrator really loves rowing. Maybe the em dashes are meant to show the exertion of that very family friendly activity. But there are twice as many as exclamation points as there are stanzas.

When you're working with something as compact as poetry, everything must serve a purpose. Which sounds hard, but it's really just the same as writing. When you're doing prose and you want to describe the setting, you're also setting the mood for the scene. If you can write a scene, you can write a poem.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Another Kind of Ride



I was not particularly sheltered as a child. I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time when I was five. Aside from my mom and her friends, I didn't know anyone else who even knew that movie existed.

So, there I was. Fourteen, living in a trailer park, and pretty accustomed to being the strange kid. My cousin was over and we were taking turns playing on the internet at 2am because it was the only time the phone line was free for it. It was her turn, so I was watching MTV, back when they still played music videos. Though it was near the end of that era.

It was all pop and alternative until suddenly, The Cure. I'm sure I'd heard them before, but it wasn't until that night that I really noticed them. It was The Thirteenth and it changed everything. There were these people, men in dresses and makeup, and they were on TV, not being the butt of a joke. I mean, sure, at least one of them was an implied murderer (at least in the extended video), but they were both treated as beautiful and desirable. Robert Smith was just there, with black shit all around his eyes and the messiest lipstick in the world. All of them, just being in this weird video, without apologies or explanation.

I was entranced. My cousin thought the song and the video were bizarre and, in no uncertain terms, informed that I was a freak for the millionth time.

But it didn't matter. This wasn't like RHPS, something I'd only ever watched on tape in my house with my mom. This was on MTV. Actual, real people my age watched this.

When I was eighteen, Xian and I got tickets to see them on their Dream tour. My boss forgot I'd requested that weekend off. He told me that if I didn't come in on Saturday, I would be fired. I told him I quit and never went back.

That was a good show.

I think Robert Smith is entirely to blame for my obsession with boys with messy hair, makeup, and no idea how to dress themselves.

There's no real point to this post. I was just in a bad mood and wanted to write about something I love.

*I'd like to apologize for the quality of that video. Google only gave me three results and this was the best of the lot. I'm pretty disappointed with the universe right now. I mean, what's the point of living in the future if I can't watch music videos from the nineties?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Running the Gamut: Kickstarter

My first ever interview, and it's with Richard Thomas. Not a bad start, I'd say.

In case you don't know, he's got a Kickstarter going for a new magazine called Gamut. You should definitely click on that link, but in case you need more incentive, how's this: He's being endorsed by folks like Chuck Palahnuik, Irvine Welsh, Rose O'Keefe, K. Allen Wood, and more.


I know you're answering this a lot lately, but let's start with the basics. Who are you and what is Gamut?
My name is Richard Thomas, and I’ve been writing for about eight years now. I have written three novels, the last two, Disintegration and Breaker at Random House Alibi. I have three collections of short stories, the latest, Tribulations, out with Crystal Lake in March. I’ve also published over 100 stories in such places as Cemetery Dance, storySouth, PANK, Arcadia, Shivers VI, Chiral Mad 2 (and 3) and Gutted. I’ve edited four anthologies—The New Black and Exigencies at Dark House Press, Burnt Tongues with Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer at Medallion Press, and The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers at Black Lawrence Press. As the Editor-in-Chief of Dark House Press we’ve put out six books to date, including After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones, which was nominated for both a Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award. I just found out that one of the stories in Exigencies just got into the Best Horror of the Year! 
Gamut is a new online magazine that I’m Kickstarting on 2/1/16, and it will focus on the kind of neo-noir, speculative fiction with a literary bent that I write, edit and publish. It’s contemporary dark fiction, often genre-bending stories, that are both entertaining and thoughtful. We will publish new and reprint fiction weekly, as well as columns and poetry. If we can hit a few stretch goals, we’ll also publish Stripped: A Memoir as our Saturday Night Special, Flash Fiction Friday, and additional non-fiction. Two scholarships are the first stretch goal. The main reward of the Kickstarter is an annual subscription for $30/year. That’s only $2.50 a month. This rate will go up to $60/year after this event is over. Here’s the good news—if you get involved NOW, your rate will never go up. NEVER. As long as you renew, it will stay at $30 a year. I wanted to reward the early adopters, the people that show their support now.

How will readers access Gamut? How will content be structured? 
We’ll have sections to the website, you know, fiction, non-fiction, columns, poetry, etc. You’ll have a login and password to get into the site. We’ll start out with 5-10 stories before we even launch, and then publish new material, over 400,000 words in the first year alone. And we’ll have excellent artwork by Luke Spooner, George Cotronis, Daniele Serra, and Bob Crum, as well as photography by Jennifer Moore. I want Gamut to be a destination; someplace you stop by not just weekly, but daily. The goal is to have new work every day.

What is it about the magazine format that appealed to you? How does it differ from the anthologies you edit? 
That’s a great question. Anthologies are a lot of fun, but they take a long time to put together, the submissions are often pretty intense (we got over 800 for Exigencies in just 30 days), and it’s hard to sell enough copies to pay the authors well, and make a profit. With the current model, we’ve set our base, our budget. And as long as people renew, we’ll be able to continue publishing great fiction. We also have some creative ideas in the works for other ways to raise funds, such as a screening of Blade Runner at The Music Box Theater and maybe even an A24 Retrospective (including such recent films as Enemy, Under the Skin, and Ex Machina). What I like about an online magazine is we spend less time and money on printing and postage, and more of our efforts on the actual fiction.

What kind of non-fiction columns can we expect to see? 
Right now we’ve got three columnists. Keith Rawson will continue to do what he does well—reviews, interviews and essays. Max Booth will expand his hotel misadventures. And RK Arceneaux will contribute her uniquely hilarious perspective on marriage, being a mother, and life in general. I think these three will provide an excellent palate cleanser to the wide range of dark fiction that we publish. We’ll also seek out freelance non-fiction, and may add a fourth columnist.

Will the fiction be centered on a particular genre or something else? 
When you look at neo-noir, what’s important to me is the “neo” part of it, which just means “new.” Add to that the atmosphere of noir and you have some contemporary dark fiction that isn’t the same old tropes and clichés, the same old monsters and plots, the same stories, perspectives, cultures and characters. Speculative fiction includes fantasy, science fiction, and horror—but again, nothing classic. We’re also looking at magical realism, transgressive fiction, the new weird, Southern gothic—you name it. If you’ve read my writing, or the anthologies I’ve published, or the books at Dark House Press, then you’ll have an idea of what I’m looking for. It’s that place between horror and noir, between genre and lit, between magic and gritty reality—all with the best aspects of literary fiction.

How do you want people to feel after reading Gamut? 
If I’ve done my job, you won’t be bored; hopefully you’ll be moved—the stories staying with you long after you’ve walked away from your computer. Chuck Palahniuk says you should, “Teach me something, make me laugh, and then break my heart.” And that’s pretty good. Gamut means “a wide range” so one story might make you laugh, and another may make you cry. I want to turn you on, scare you, make you sweat, have you check on the children, question everything that you know, turn to hug your significant other, and check the lock on your doors, twice. Three times, even. I want to show you that there is consequence in the universe, but that there is also hope. Sometimes the choice is between bad and worse, and that’s a tough call to make—who do you save, and what price are you willing to pay? The authors that are involved with Gamut, they know how to tell a story, inspiring tales that never cease to surprise and amaze me. I try to surround myself with talented people, and then get out of the way.

What is something you wish someone would ask you, but no one ever has? 
If I’d sign the film rights for Disintegration to David Fincher, help them cast it, adapt the script, and because I know Chicago, scout the locations—but only if six figures would be enough. Sigh. I can dream, right?

So, you ready to click that link now?