Welcome to the blog, Mark! Could you tell us a little bit about your magazine?
Hi Rachel, thanks for having me along today.
Voluted Tales comes out as a pdf ezine download. We publish anything in the broad definition of speculative fiction, shorts, poetry and artworks. 'Spec fic' is deliberately a bit of a nebulous term, as we don't look for any specific styles or genres. We'll give anything an airing that we think is simply 'good stuff'.
I do most of the work (editing, layouts, graphic design) on it myself in Australia, but we have staffers from the States and the Canaries (Teresa, out wonderful artist). One of the beautiful things about working on the net, is that geography doesn't matter any more; VT is intended to be fully trans-national.
What led you to create a magazine of your own?
I've been a staffer with Aurealis Magazine in Oz for a while now, and felt it was time I stepped up and gave my own 'zine a shot. I'll be 51 in August, not getting any younger, and felt that it was time, while I'm still fit enough for the hours and stress. Aurealis just celebrated their 20th anniversary issue, but they're presently in hiatus as they look for a new editor, so it was an ideal time for me to launch VT.
Why do you think sci-fi, fantasy, and all their sub-genres are so popular?
Short answer, 'coz it fun! Everyone loves a good scare or dose of the creeps from horror, the hopes and dreams of futures that may one-day be from sci fi, or the more human, or at least character-driven, tales filled with wondrous magic of fantasy. The sheer scope of ideas, and the escapism from our mundane lives, will always hold broad appeal for readers.
Spec fic has so many different genres, constantly evolving and developing new ones, because it's the one field of story-telling that is open to anything at all the writer can imagine.
Any other so-called mainstream genres have to conform to their rules. A western must observe the historical accuracy of a western for its period; clothing, weapons, characters' behaviours and actions. Even with a fictional story in that setting, the rules must be followed or readers will cry foul.
The same applies to any other historical fiction, regardless of the period or setting, and for contemporary fiction. They must all fit the setting and period. While there's certainly still plenty of room for talented writers to be creative with their story, they must still conform to the rules for its setting and period.
Specky writers are freed from these rules, free to be as creative in their settings and world-making as their imaginations can make them. Well, I should really qualify that. There are rules if a writer chooses to use a particular genre style, following the precedents set by past writers in that field. For instance, if you're doing space opera, there has to be space ships and aliens and other worlds. If it's horror, there has to be gore, violence, a monster of some type and a series of victims for a body-count. If it's high fantasy, there must be elves. (It's a rule; no elves, then not high fantasy, just fantasy. I didn't make it up (grin))
So, yes, if you ask the purists, they'll insist that spec fic genres do have rules, and the hard-liners will become quite upset when the rules in their personal favourite genres are broken. Essentially, they know what they like, and want more of the same.
But, and this is the big but, the rules of spec fic are all arbitrary inventions of past writers and story-tellers, not fixed in real history. Consequently, writers can, and happily do, ignore them and break them, go beyond them all the time. And their works are the cutting edge stuff, leading the way for spec fic's ongoing evolutions that began in caves round the fires, telling stories. (By golly, that sounds pretentious. True though (grin)).
It's that appeal to the sense of wonder, awe and imagination, the kid within us all, that keeps imaginative story-telling alive, why so many readers can't get enough of it, and why it'll be around till the end of time, as it was from the beginning. (See above, by golly... Plus, it's fun!)
What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating Voluted Tales? How did you overcome it?
I've only done editing before; dealing with page layouts and learning all the graphic design skills for doing the zine as a one-man show has been the biggest challenge, for sure. The first issue released this month is far from perfect in that regard, but I have surprised myself none-the-less in how it's turned out. There's still room for improvement, and for the next issue I'll look at a slightly different page layout with the text blocks, adding live links to the pdf, and generally tweaking it in smaller ways. I'm still learning about that side of things, but if it's taught me anything so far, it's simply to persevere. When we stop accepting new challenges, it's time to throw in the towel.
As an insider, what can you tell us about the world of literary magazines?
I'm not sure just how much of an 'insider' I really am. I suppose that VT could be called 'literary', but only in the sense that it a traditional layout and appearance and sub's are selected for their broad appeal to all ages. Pop culture 'zines are usually more focussed in their market appeal, and often a little less formal, more stylised, in their format.
So, fair call; now, what can I tell you? Well, lit' 'zines are as varied as the editors who run them. From the perspective of a writer wanting to get their work in a given magazine that they've set their heart on, the only way to achieve this is to write for the market. So, if you badly want to see your name, say, in Science Fiction & Fantasy, then you have to send them the same type of thing they've done before. An editor may take a chance with something a little different now and then, but if you want to play the odds and give yourself the best chance, then stick to their previously established format.
Publishing magazines is a business, not an art. Writing is an art, but if you want to be published in any volume, then you have to approach it as a business too. Which means, producing a product that suits a given market where it may sell. A lot of writers don't like hearing that, as they hold to the belief that this is 'selling out'. Yet, to be published in any volume and make a living as a writer, which is the dream of most writers 'out there', this is exactly what is needed. If you don't sell your work, you're out of work.
Think of the submissions process like actors' auditions. An aspiring actor, or even an established one, may do dozens or hundreds of auditions before getting a part and finally being paid to be an actor. A writer will need to approach their submissions with the same idea. Each one is an audition for a gig. Most of the time, you won't get the gig. But like an actor, you keep auditioning until you get one. Then you keep auditioning your work until you get another. After a while, your name gets known, and moving your product, that is selling your art, becomes a little easier. Whether you can ever make a living, or just a bit on the side, well, that lies in the laps of the Gods.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Mark!
Mark Turner can be found on Facebook, Twitter (as @volutedtales), and www.volutedtales.com.
Voluted Tales is available at www.volutedtales.com and Lulu. Coming soon to iBookstore and Amazon.
Become a fan of Voluted Tales on Facebook.
Issue #2 is due to begin it's reading period in a couple of weeks. It's release date will be about three months from now, fates willing.
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