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Genres: Speculative Fiction
Length: 1000-6000 words
Pay rate: $0.06 per word
Market report column usually features brand-new markets, but Waylines, which has been around for a year now, is in the midst of a crowdfundung campaign to help fund it’s second year, and I would like to take an opportunity to promote and support this fine market by featuring them here. To that end, I have interviewed editor-in-chief Darryl Knickrehm. In a funny bit of coincidence, I’m running this post on his birthday. Happy birthday, Darryl! #SFWAPro
You’re based in Japan. How does the Japanese SF/F fandom differ from the British and American communities?
In Japan, the sci-fi and fantasy communities are kind of rolled in with the anime community (or the general ‘otaku’). While there is an active SF fiction community here, my Japanese isn’t really good enough to read a whole novel, so I’m not familiar with that side of sci-fi in Japan. I think the more well-known sci-fi here comes from manga (Japanese comics). Visual stories, like comics, don’t have the stigma here that they do back in the States. Manga are stories for everyone, and practically everyone reads them. While series like Gantz and Attack on Titan are really popular here (being made into animation and feature films), those aren’t really my cup of tea. My personal favorite is Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo.
There are a number of English-language science fiction writers who are perhaps more popular in Russia than they are in their home countries (kind of like David Hasselhoff is more popular in Germany than he is in the US). Who are some of the most popular English-language SF/F writers in Japan? Any surprises on that list?
To the best of my knowledge there aren’t any David Hasselhoffs in the sci-fi fiction world here, but like I said, I’m not good enough at Japanese to really be considered a reader here. Translations of the sci-fi gods are easy to find in any book store, writers like Dick and Bradbury. And the larger bookstores often have a decent imported book section, usually carrying a healthy selection of the most current spec fiction authors. I have a feeling, however, a majority of the books being read are by Japanese authors. I rarely see someone reading a ‘western’ book unless they are studying English. The are the rare exceptions, like “The Da Vinci Code”, Harry Potter, and other international phenomenons.
What are some of the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned from running Waylines for the first year? Will you change anything for year two, and how?
There were a number of things that both David and I were unprepared for in the first Year of Waylines. One was the amount of submissions that we received. We both expected a large amount of submissions, as we had researched how other online magazines were run. But we didn’t quite expect the amount that we ended up getting — well over 2000. And since one of the things we wanted to do with Waylines was to provide some feedback to readers, it made things a bit of a challenge to say the least. For Year Two, we’re preparing ahead. We’ll be making the submission windows smaller, so that we can better deal the deluge of stories. Also, Dawn Bonnano, Waylines’ new Managing Editor, has proven to be very organized, ahead of the curve, and has been creatively coming up with solutions the last few months. We’re ready for all those wonderful subs!
The one thing that was most difficult for me, was the amount of artwork I had to do. I guess I just never thought about it before we started, but I had to draw 6 covers, illustrate 14 stories, and arrange 18 film page designs. And I’m just learning how to do this! It’s been a great experience though. I’ve been studying art in my free time since I was a kid, but doing the magazine has forced me to advance rapidly, which is great. For Year Two, I was originally hoping to open submissions for cover illustrations (and I still may), but nixed the idea as it would make the budget even larger than it is. I’ve also been trying to get ahead of the game and have done a number of illustrations in the past 6 months which I may be able to use for covers.
How would you describe a “Waylines” short story? What do you feel differentiates what you publish from stories that can be found in other magazines?
Our stories seem to diverge in two directions: really dark, or really light. I guess that is a direct influence of the material that has had a huge influence on me (things like the original Twilight Zone and the original Heavy Metal Magazine). And I think that is what makes our choices slightly different from other magazines out there — Waylines is the baby of US, European, Japanese and British Sci-fi in every format, from novels to films to comics. So it’s a bit of a strange place. It’s a bit of a walk on the weird side. There’s only one place like the Waylines.
It’s taken a while to get the Waylines vibe down for stories, however. When we started, David and I knew what we wanted but just couldn’t put it into words. But there have been a number of things I’ve always looked for in stories. First, and most important, is a good story. The story needs to be structured in a creative way, yet needs to keep the plot moving. Equally important is the concept. It needs something that is intriguing, entertaining, or moving. Lastly, and certainly not least, is a certain depth to what’s being said with the story. If it has some kind of insight in to the human condition, society or greater issues, then, well, it’s going to be right up our alley.
Do you publish lighter, or outright humorous stories? What sort of humor works or doesn’t work for your tastes?
Humor is an important part of Waylines. From Jeremy Sim’s “Fleep” in Issue 1 to Andrew S. Williams’ “Best Regards” in our last issue, I love to have a little bit of humor in every issue. But I don’t think every type of humor is a right fit for Waylines. I’ve always thought timing is what makes things funny, so low-brow humor or obnoxious jokes probably won’t go over to well in our Slush Rooms. Things that are subdued, subtle, or dry-witted might be a good fit. Things that go to the limits of the opposite direct, things that are way over the top, but also jab at a certain topic, are perfect for us too.
Your editorial staff is spread all over the world. Who else is on the Waylines team? How do all of you collaborate to put the magazine together?
Technology is great. Because of it Waylines has a dedicated staff around the globe. From our headquarters here in Japan, to The States and all the way to England, we are everywhere (our ulterior motive is world domination, after all). And because of email and Facebook we can stay in touch, talk about stories, and do everything else we need to do to get Waylines out on time each issue. Ironically, I’ve not actually met any of the other staff! Man, I can’t wait for transporters to be invented.
For Year Two, our staff has expanded and decreased, shifted and stayed as is. For one, David has sadly left the magazine. So I’ll be handling the editor-in-chief position alone. Dawn Bonnano, has moved up from a first reader to the Managing Editor. She started out on Issue 6 and has done an amazing job so far. Year Two will be even better I’m sure. Also, Beth Cato has moved up from the first reader ranks to becoming our first Poetry Editor.
And last, and certainly not least, is Alisa Alering, in charge of The Writers Room. She’ll be back again, along with the rest of our first readers (plus 2 more, coming soon).
What’s your slush process, and what is your estimated response time?
Stories go to a First Reader. If the piece has something that we might be interested in, then it gets sent up to the 2nd Round. I then take a read through all the stories there and the ones that really pique my interest go up to the Final Round. From there, the 3 stories that go into an issue are chosen. Our goal is to read first round stories within 2 weeks and let the author know if we are interested in the story or not. If the story is bumped up to the next round, we let the author know and hold on to the story for a few more weeks. We like to have a decision on most stories within 30 days.
Is there anything you wish you saw more of among the submissions (Be specific — “more great stories” isn’t a valid answer! 🙂 )
I’d love to see more space-related stories. Not space operas as such but stories of exploration, either in science or in the soul. Something like The Message Between the Words by Grayson Bray Morris. I’d also love to see more unusual fantasy tales. Think Videodrome or Cronenberg-level weirdness.
Other than Waylines, what other projects are you working on currently?
I have big plans this year. First off, I’m releasing The Citizens of Oblivion series. TCoO is a series of dystopian novellas I’ve been working on for the past 5 years that chronicle the fall/rebirth of a utopian city in a distant future. The first novella, In Dreams, was released on Jan 14 to Amazon and other outlets. The next installment, Sympathy for the Devil, is coming out on March 3 and the other books in the series will be released in 3 month intervals after that. More details about the series can be found at http://citizensofoblivion.com.
In addition to TCoO, I’m working on various SF illustrations, hoping to build up my portfolio. I’m also trying to get back to the two novels I’m working on: one a Japanese horror tale about a haunted tunnel in an isolated country town; the other is the epic, novel length sequel/conclusion of The Citizens of Oblivion chronicle. And lastly, I’m planning on releasing The Adventures of Squid Sensei, a bizarre/humorous comic about a squid that travels to Japan to teach English.
Which, based on the “author photo” you provided for this post, must be an autobiography! Thanks for answering my questions, Darryl, and Happy Birthday again!
A filmmaker now exploring novel-writing and illustration, Darryl has 8 short films under his belt. In 2013, in addition to co-founding Waylines Magazine, Darryl was a finalist in The Illustrators of the Future. Twice. At the beginning of this year he released the first book in his dystopian series, The Citizens of Oblivion – In Dreams. For more information on his current projects, check out dariru.com or his blog.