MicroHorror is a new ezine featuring horror stories in various subgenres — traditional, modern, gothic, dark fantasy. The requirement? They have to be well written and be 666 words or shorter–talk about a clever gimmick for a horror magazine! Here to talk about MicroHorror and how it came about is editor Nathan Rosen. Rosen shares his formula for a great horror story and discusses the most common mistakes he encounters in submissions, among other things.
Tell us a bit about MicroHorror. When and how did it get started?
MicroHorror launched in May of 2006, and it's a classic "If you build it, they will come" story. I love short horror, as you might guess, and I was sitting in my office one day wishing I could read some horror microfiction, so I started searching. I found plenty of sites featuring horror of all lengths, and I found sites featuring microfiction in all genres, but nothing hit the sweet spot I was looking for. I decided that if nobody else was going to do it, I'd build the site myself. I came up with a catchy name and a good gimmick for the word count, and the rest is history.
What type of horror fiction do you consider?
I'll take horror in any category or subgenre you care to name. Traditional, modern, gothic, dark fantasy—the sky's the limit. I'll even take poetry if it's excellent, and believe me, it's real easy to write terrible horror poetry. Reprints and simultaneous submissions
are fine. The only unbreakable rules are that it has to be horror, it has to be 666 words or shorter, and it has to be your own original work. Read the FAQ and submission guidelines right here.
If you could narrow down to three the elements that make a great horror
story, what would those be?
I believe that a great horror story is made of the same three elements that make a great joke: the setup, the escalation and the payoff. When these three elements all work in harmony and lead you to an ending that's both unpredictable and fair to the story that came before it, a story succeeds. Give me a good twist at the end, but don't cheat. That's what I really like to see.
What are the most common flaws you encounter when reading submissions?
Failure to proofread. Please, for my sake, clean up the typos and grammatical errors before you submit a story. I know that nobody's perfect and mistakes slip in all the time, but I've received submissions that I doubt the author even read once after writing it.
It doesn't reflect well on the writer, to say the least.
Do you review horror books?
Not at the moment, no; I really haven't branched into any content beyond the stories themselves. I do have plans for the future, though, and I'm always looking for a good short story collection, so by all means send some recommendations my way.
There are so many horror sub-genres-cutting edge, dark fantasy, extreme, supernatural, traditional, psychological, etc.. Do you think some have higher literary value than others? Which one do you think is more popular at the moment?
This is something of a silly question, isn't it? I think there's value to be found in all types of horror. Take any approach you want, from subtly psychological to all-out splatterfest, and it can still be used to teach us something about the world and ourselves.
Do you think the horror fiction market has declined, reached a plateau, or is still climbing?
Who's to say? Everything changes so fast. But whether or not an author is able to make a living from writing horror, I guarantee that he or she will be able to find an audience somewhere in the world.
How hard is it to promote a small horror publication like MicroHorror when faced with the competition?
I don't worry about it. It's a labor of love, and it's not a zero-sum game. We can all succeed.
Could you tell us about the advertising and promotional opportunities MicroHorror offers authors?
I offer exposure for any talent willing to put his or her work out there. That might not be a whole lot, and there's no money in it, but who knows what can happen if the right
person happens to come along?
What is the scariest book you've ever read?
Have you ever read the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections? They were kids' books published in the 1980s. The stories themselves, in the harsh light of adulthood, are fairly tame, but Stephen Gammell's illustrations are downright terrifying. They gave me
nightmares as a kid, and they're still some of the best horror art I've ever seen.
Which authors, in your opinion, will be remembered as the best horror writers of the 20th Century?
Who knows? Stephen King will be a perennial, of course. Some of Clive Barker's works are timeless. I'd like to see more attention given to Joe R. Lansdale myself; he's gotten acclaim but hasn't quite broken through with the name recognition, and he's a reliable source of a great story.
How does one subscribe to your magazine?
Just visit Microhorror and you'll be there.