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 clich├ęs, 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?