Richard Thomas is the author of seven books—Disintegration and The Breaker , Transubstantiate , and three short story collections, Herniated Roots, Staring Into the Abyss and Tribulations (TBA), as well as one novella of The Soul Standard. He has won contests at ChiZine, One Buck Horror, and Jotspeak and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of three anthologies out in 2014: The New Black, The Lineup and Burnt Tongues. In his spare time he is a book critic at The Nervous Breakdown, a columnist at LitReactor, and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. Richard was kind enough to speak with me today about his new project Gamut Magazine. Thank you for joining me today Richard, let’s get right to the Q&A.
The Scary Reviews: Hi Richard, for those you haven’t heard can you tell us what GAMUT is and where the idea came from.
Richard Thomas: It will be an online magazine of neo-noir, speculative fiction with a literary bent. We’re launching a Kickstarter to raise the funds, about $52,000, which will primarily come from subscriptions of $30 a year (only $2.50 a month). This special rate will never go up, as long as you renew. The regular rate will be $60 a year ($5 a month). We’ll have fiction (new and reprint) on a weekly basis, as well as columns, non-fiction, poetry—and depending on the stretch goals—a Flash Fiction Friday, Saturday Night Special (kicking off with the serialization of Stripped: A Memoir), and original art with every story. This came out of my desire to start a magazine, but the print, design and postage costs making it difficult to work, online a formula I think can succeed. I’ve wanted to do this for years. Gamut simply means a wide range, which can be applied to emotions, or in this case to fiction (especially dark fiction). We’ll pay ten cents a word for original fiction, double the current pro rate.
TSR: What was the inspiration and why publish the magazine online instead of in a print version.
RT: I think it comes out of the four anthologies I’ve edited (The New Black and Exigencies at Dark House Press; Burnt Tongues with Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer at Medallion; and The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers at Black Lawrence Press). It also comes from my own desire to write and publish, what I’ve ben penning the past eight years, and the work I’ve published as Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. You could look to Cemetery Dance, Tor, Shock Totem, Nightmare, Clakesworld, F&SF, Black Static, and many other places, to see the kind of publications that inspire what we want to do, as well as literary journals such as Tin House, Hobart, Juked, and The Missouri Review.
TSR: Cemetery Dance recently launched their own online magazine. Do think this will continue to be the trend with fewer magazines existing in print form.
RT: It might. We all have different models, different aesthetics—and what I love, another editor might not enjoy. We aren’t “classic” anything, whether that’s fantasy, science fiction, or horror—that’s the “neo” part of neo-noir (which just means “new-black”). There must be something fresh, new, and innovative with the fiction we take—the voice, the format, the monsters, the setting, and/or the emotion.
TSR: Can you explain how the subscription will work and what if any options will be available.
RT: Basically for $30 a year you’ll get access to the website. New content will go up on a regular basis, ideally, every day. We’ve already solicited work from 40 authors, so I’m confident we’ll have the content we need, excellent stories, and then we’ll open up to submissions later in 2016.
TSR: What kind of content will you have, ie, articles, interviews, etc. and what will the layout look like.
RT: The design has not been set yet, we’ll work on that once we get our funding, but I like the look of places like Tor and Nightmare, as well as LitReactor.com where I teach and have a column. The columnists will write everything from reviews and interviews, to essays on related topics, to humor pieces on life and employment. The memoir is a touching, dark, alluring story of survival and expression. We will also seek out freelance articles, and utilize illustrators and photographers, by some very talented people already on board.
TSR: I’ve read your anthology The New Black and Exigencies and I will be reviewing The Lineup for my Women in Horror feature this year. Can you tell us if these kind of stories are what we can look forward to in GAMUT.
RT: These are exactly the kind of stories we’ll be looking for—dark, edgy fiction that finds the sweet spot between genre and lit. I want people to finish a story and feel spent, exhilarated, to say, “Damn, that was intense.” This won’t be graphic horror, or standard speculative fiction—we’ll embrace the weird, the surreal, transgressive, and magical realism.
TSR: I see many familiar faces on the initial list of authors. How did you choose this initial group and will others be added over time.
RT: These are the authors working today that inspire me, that move me, that get me excited to sit down and write my own fiction. Many I’ve known for years, have read a great deal of their work and were easy decisions to invite into Gamut. Others are more recent voices, to me at least, but voices that floored me, that I wanted to make sure were involved—I guess you’d call them emerging authors. So many are blowing up so quickly that they barely reside in that category, and not for long.
TSR: I recognize some of the staff, artists and columnists, are these people who you’ve worked with in the past.
RT: Yes, for sure. Mercedes Yardley is a voice I’ve been reading for some time, big fan. Dino Parenti I’ve known for years, edited a collection of his fiction, which blew me away. And Casey Frechette and I go back to The Cult, where we both met over Palahniuk’s work. All three know my aesthetic, and have their own strong opinions as well. They’ll be my fiction editors, and first readers. Heather Foster will head up the poetry section, and she was in my MFA with me, a very talented poet and author, who I trust to make that part of the magazine shine. Our columnists offer a range of voices (of course) with Keith Rawson handling reviews and interview, as well as other essays, Max Booth providing a bit of dark humor with his hotel adventures, and RK Arceneaux also giving us some insight and laughter as a new mother with a unique perspective on life. And not to mention the talented illustrators—Luke Spooner, George C. Cotronis, and Daniele Serra—who have all been involved with Dark House Press, as well as Bob Crum, with the website design, who I met last year here in Chicago, and then Jennifer Moore helping with photography (she did the cover shot for The Lineup). These are some very talented artists, and they will add a lot of atmosphere to Gamut. Everyone involved is extremely important—I can’t do this alone.