I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a number of Apex Publications books lately, and I’m thrilled to have Managing Editor and the owner of Apex Publications, Jason Sizemore, visiting today! He’s going to tell us all a bit more about Apex and his roles in the company.
Welcome to Books, Bones & Buffy, Jason! I’m so pleased to have you here. I’ve enjoyed so many titles from Apex Books, and it’s a pleasure to be able to ask you some questions. Tell us about your role at Apex Publications. Do you wear more than one hat?
Apex has three primary villains (me, senior editor Janet Harriett, and marketing/social media editor Lesley Conner) and a whole army of beloved minions. Typically, when I share this information, I’m met with surprise that we’re such a small company. And I take such surprise as a great compliment!
Being a small (dare I say…tiny?) business, this necessitates all of us wearing different hats. I edit. I design books (not the covers…those I have done professionally). I run our websites. So on and so forth.
Your co-editor is Eugene Johnson. Can you explain your roles and how co-editors work together to create a story anthology?
In our case, we agreed on the anthology theme and came up with a list of writers we would like to see tackle the theme. Both editors had to thumbs up any story that went into the book. From the artwork to the editing, it was a very collaborative process.
How did the idea of Appalachian Undead and Mountain Dead come about?
Eugene and I are both Appalachian boys (he’s from West Virginia, I’m from eastern Kentucky). We both love zombie fiction. It felt like a good combination for us to present to readers.
What is the most challenging part of editing a story collection?
I would say finding the right tone for the story collection as a whole. For any anthology, you’re going to have a set of stories good enough to make it into the book, but for various reasons won’t. In the case of Appalachian Undead, we wanted this to be a serious horror anthology, but not dark. So we needed a balance of occasional humor mixed in with the gore and scares.
These collections contain stories by both new and seasoned authors. Was it difficult to find a balance between the two?
We went into the project knowing we wanted a mix of seasoned pros and new blood. We also wanted to attain an equal balance of male/female (though this is hard to dictate as we’re at the mercy of the quality of the stories submitted). Finally, even though the theme was Appalachia, we did want writers with different perspectives to be represented.
It is much easier attaining a balance of new versus established.
You are also the publisher and executive editor at Apex Magazine. Can you give us some background on this online magazine and tell us how the two companies fit together?
Apex Magazine is a short fiction zine of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Much of what we publish leans toward magic realism, new weird, and darker SF and fantasy. We’ve had the honor of being nominated for the Hugo Award the past two years! You can read the zine for free at http://www.apex-magazine.com.
The magazine is a separate entity from the book side of the company. Although we do run ads for Apex Publications in Apex Magazine and sometimes reprint authors from our book line, the zine is not a platform to promote the books. It is a separate piece of genre tastiness all its own.
Do you have any advice for writers who may want to submit stories or novels to Apex?
Apex Magazine is generally open to submissions nine months of every year. Our guidelines page is: http://www.apex-magazine.com/submission-guidelines/.
Our book line won’t be open to submissions for the next six months. We have a backlist of inventory that we need to publish before we take on anything new. Sorry!
Can you give us an idea of what’s next at Apex Books?
Coming soon is The Book of Apex: Volume 4 of Apex Magazine. This is an anthology that collects all the original fiction published in issues 30 through 44 of Apex Magazine into one print book.
After that, we have a novel from J.M. McDermott titled Maze…it is a hard one to categorize…certainly weird, dark, and spec-fic.
My readers would like to get to know you better. Please tell us three things about you that can’t be found on the website.
- I was once featured in the Wall Street Journal for my love of pumpkin spice latte. Being the hipster that I am, I’m starting to stick my nose up at the spice and am considering other coffee options. Maybe your readers will have some suggestions?
- I was kicked out of high school English class because I answered “Dr. Seuss” when the teacher asked me who my least favorite writer was. I learned a hard lesson that day—don’t disrespect Dr. Seuss!
- George Romero said to me “You would make a great zombie, you know that?” Sometimes it is difficult being so fair-skinned.
Born the son of an unemployed coal miner in a tiny Kentucky Appalachian villa named Big Creek (population 400), Jason fought his way out of the hills to the big city of Lexington. He attended Transylvania University (real school with its own vampire) and received a degree in computer science. Since 2004, he has owned and operated Apex Publications. He is the editor of five anthologies, a Stoker Award loser, an occasional writer, and usually can be found wandering the halls of hotel conventions seeking friends and free food.
Awesome interview, Jason! Thank you so much for stopping by!