Monday, April 28, 2014

EDITOR INTERVIEW: George Cotronis of Kraken Press Talks New Publication, "Aghast", and Upcoming Novels

Better late than never, this month's editor interview is with George Cotronis, editor-in-chief and artists for Kraken Press. Though still a youth in the publishing world, Kraken Press has been making some big moves lately with a new magazine. Aghast, a dark fiction magazine, is paying semi-pro rates and features an artistic aesthetic that screams of quality. Using the Clarkesworld model, the magazine will be free to read online, or print copies will be available for purchase. With fiction lined up from Tim Waggoner, Jonathan Maberry, and Gemma Files, it's a magazine worth submitting to.

They will be open to submissions May 1st.

At the time of this writing, Aghast is at the end of its Kickstarter campaign. It's 145% funded. Check it out. Even if the campaign has ended. There's some great artwork, done by George, and further information on the publisher and what they plan to do.

Kraken also has experience publishing novels. In fact, Max Booth III's second novel, The Mind is a Razorblade, is being released through them later this year.

George was kind enough to give us some insights into the publication, what he looks for in fiction, and why Aghast is the magazine you should be reading (or submitting to).


What do you look for in a manuscript? Is the criteria for novels and short fiction the same?

That’s a big question. I look for different things at different times. Right now for Kraken Press, I’m interested in seeing some good urban fantasy, post-apoc, possibly a series. I’m always interested in genre-aware horror novels.

For short fiction, it gets even more fragmented. I like stories with a discernible plot, good characterization and a strong thematic axis.

Why will people want to read Aghast over other publishers of short fiction?

Because what they want to read and what we publish will gel together. That’s about it, really. I want to publish a specific kind of story and I’m taking a risk assuming there are readers out there who are looking for it. I’m aiming for consistency, not in terms of genre, but aesthetics and themes. It’s tough to explain what kind of stories Aghast is looking to publish, but I think after our first issue comes out, you will know if it’s the right magazine for you.

As a horror writer, I've gotten the "Where do you come up with these things?" question. (Complete with is-he-secretly-a-serial-killer glance.) Today's fiction and film is packed with horror, murder, darkness. Why do you think society is so drawn to dark fiction?

If anything, I wish there was more darkness in our media. Or at least higher quality. I tend to agree with academics who have posited that horror fiction is a way to deal with death. It works that way for me personally, because a horror novel rarely ends with death. It often starts with one.

They say "Don't judge a book by its cover", but, meh, I do it. If I didn't, I'd never make it beyond the new release section of the bookstore. So I'm a strong believer in aesthetics. A product with a good design indicates an investment has been made, and investments indicate faith in a product. Which is why I was first intrigued by Kraken Press. 'Cause you guys nailed it. How much time do you spend on the art? Are you more of a writer or artist at heart? Or are you some kind of writist hybrid?

I am. I am a jack of all trades, hopefully master of some. I don’t usually dwell too much on the art part. A few hours for each image, maybe around three or six if I do it over two days. I managed to develop a good sense for when something is done and I should stop working on it.

I’m not sure what I would choose if I could only do one. I probably draw more than I write, so I tend to identify as an artist more, but if I had to choose, I probably would have chosen writing. It’s harder for me to write, so it feels like the more important one.

You have some big-name authors lined up--Waggoner, Maberry, Files, Strand. But have you discovered any new talent yet? Who should we be watching out for?

I have only accepted two stories so far, so I don’t have much to give you, but I think Esther Saxey’s story is really great. I think she has a story appearing in Apex soon. Watch out for that.

The second story is a good approximation of the perfect Aghast story. Dark visuals, somewhat folkloric, maybe a tad sad. I’ve had the privilege of reading other stories by Leo Norman and he’s really good. Sticks and Bones was the second story he sent me and I would have accepted both if I could.

Favorite authors? Favorite artists?

Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Holly Black, Chuck Palahniuk, Norman Partridge, Jeff Strand.

It changes a lot, but I like these authors lately. Palahniuk always makes the list though, even if I don’t like his recent output.

Artists is tougher. I like Brom, Ben Templesmith, Tim Bradstreet.

What's in store for 2014?

The first issue of Aghast, an amazing horror/noir novel by Max Booth III (The Mind is a Razorblade), a post apocalyptic novel by Leah Erickson (The Gilded Lynx) which is our first non-horror, non-crime book.

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