The Horror, The Horror

I love Halloween. I love scarey things. I love scaring kids. I’ve spent the last several weeks producing lifesize zombies out of pvc pipe and styrofoam wig heads. They are glorious because, with even a slight breeze, they turn and seem to be watching you move. Hanging outside my front door is a full-size human cocoon. Just beyond it is the graveyard, complete w. fog, dead bodies that pop up from behind gravestones and ghosties who screech and laugh as they float from house to garage window. I’m fortunate to live in one of those areas where trick-or-treaters pore in. I’ll have at least a hundred princesses, superheroes, ghouls, witches, and zombies come by tonight. Possibly a lot more.

I also love a scarey read. With the release of Monsters and Mormons, I’m optimistic interest among Mormons in the horror genre will grow. So while I’m in this spooky mood, I thought I’d take a brief moment to fill you in a some lesser known horror magazines that have piqued my interest. Certainly I was surprised to discover how many deliciously gruesome publication avenues exist for minds twisted enough to try their hand at writing after the style of Stephen King or, my personal favorite, Shirley Jackson. So if this be you, read on. I’ve been looking at scores of these lately and selected three, largely because these issues offer samples of the kinds of fiction they aspire to publish.

Of couse, this being the blog for the Association for Mormon Letters, I need to put a disclaimer on this post. Just as there’s no counting for taste, there’s also no counting on “appropriateness.” Read at your own peril. (And please forgive the horribly cropped cover photos. I’m an amateur.)

Suspense Magazine (bills itself as an “insider’s source,” a sort of training tool for those who want to understand the industry and publish books in the thriller, mystery, suspense or horror categories. It runs updates on the publishing world and how-to-write articles, as well as interviews with top authors. Suspense even broadcasts its own web radio interviews. There is both an electronic and print version, but the best part is the editor will send you four free copies, just for the asking. Take a look before entering their 2012 Short Fiction Contest, which has a submission window of roughly March through December. ( )

Based in the UK, Dark Tales is another venue for horror and speculative fiction.  Presently, “The Summer Ghost” is offered as a “free story” so you can get a sense of what he publisher desires. (Simply locate and click on “free story” at top of home page.) Their short story contest, which is open to contestants worldwide, runs until March of 2012. They also run a Flash Fiction contest, but this year’s submission window ends today. Dark Tales also offers a fairly inexpensive critiques of stories. Five US dollars gets you a 10 point critique and $25 gives you a more thorough looking-over and edit. I haven’t tried these services and would be interested to hear from any one who has. Again, Dark Tales publishes print issue and, for those of us on this side of the pond, a readily accessible electronic issue. ( )

Apex Magazine runs “short form science fiction, fantasy and horror.” Subscriptions are available for both Kindle and Nook, or as a PDF download. Available on the homepage are examples of short fiction, poetry and an interview. ( )But the primary reason this magazine intriques me is this, written by the editor and posted on the submissions page:

We do not want hackneyed, cliched plots or neat, tidy stories that take no risks. We do not want Idea Stories without character development or prose style, nor do we want derivative fantasy with Tolkien’s serial numbers filed off.

What we want is sheer, unvarnished awesomeness. We want the stories it scared you to write. We want stories full of marrow and passion, stories that are twisted, strange, and beautiful. We want science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mash-ups of all three—the dark, weird stuff down at the bottom of your little literary heart. This magazine is not a publication credit, it is a place to put your secret places and dreams on display. Just so long as they have a dark speculative fiction element—we aren’t here for the quotidian.

Catherynne M. Valente, editor


I simply love that attitude because it taps into why so many of us are attracted to horror stories. Horror fiction allows us to face our deepest, weirdest, most twisted of fears. It leaves our knees trembling, sure; but it also awakens us to the obvious, needful thump of our own heartbeat.

For links to these and many other horror magazines (most of which work), visit Every Writer’s Resource at:   Also, if you have any experience with these or other horror magazines, feel emboldened to share them.






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3 Responses to The Horror, The Horror

  1. Wm Morris says:

    Thanks for the plug for Monsters & Mormons, Lisa. And even more — thanks for that quote from the editor of Apex. I have heard of the magazine, but had no idea that it had that kind of focus. That gives me something to think about.

  2. Lisa Torcasso Downing says:

    I believe I read that the Apex editor who made that statement is leaving the magazine, but if this has been their approach, it’s likely to continue to one degree or another. As I’ve sampled reading some of these magazines (see list on Every Writer’s Resource link), I’ve seen a wide fluctuation in preferred style. Some are more Mickey Spillane than Stephen King. There are a lot of options. Writer’s Digest has a Horror category in its contest corral. It’s deadline, btw, is today, Nov. 1st, if anyone happens to have a story ready to go.

  3. There is a person in my critique group who is a great storyteller, generally in the horror/suspense-supernatural categories. I’ll have to pass these along to him as possible places for submission :)

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