I just finished reading our Hold File for the next issue. Whew! Some good stories in there.
Why did they make the cut?
1. Creativity. We're willing to overlook some mechanics issues and fixable stuff in lieu of unadulterated creativity.
2. Touch. They spoke to us, touched something inside one of us, at least. That's a hit or miss thing, sorry.
3. Urban Fantasy. Lots and lots of urban fantasy. I don't know if you were that geek in HS who wished magic lurked around corners. I certainly was. UF sells for this reason: angels and demons, disappearing storefronts, a sort of deus ex machina why that answers scary questions, laughing at our own foibles and fantasies. All of it and more. The world is a big scary place. We like it scarier.
4. Writing. Just some brilliant, stimulating prose in there. A turn of phrase can't carry a bad story, but it sure can make an above-average one shine.
5. Darkness. This was a dark lot, not so much horror, but some bad stuff goes down. Watching how interesting characters deal with it intrigues us.
6. Details. They make us walk next to the protag in their world.
Our production meeting is on Sunday. It's one of my favorite parts of this job. Then the craziness starts as we contact authors, handle the necessary contractual obligations, polish those stories until you can see your reflection in them, and gather other odds and ends. I'll be interviewing Stuart Neville, who debuted in this magazine a couple of years ago and designed our website, about writing and his new novel THE TWELVE.