FIRESIDE - Interview

This is a week of posts related to various Kickstarter projects I’ve backed and hope you will too. None of them are my own (currently, I’ve got nothing I think I should be doing a Kickstarter for), but all of these are important to me for one reason or another. Some of them are projects of friends. Some of them are just projects I think are cool. Most of them are both.

Today’s focus is on the recently-successfully-concluded Kickstarter for issue # 2 of FIRESIDE magazine. I backed the first issue, and ended up as a main character in Christie Yant’s story “Temperance,” which opens with my character concluding the worst bender of his life by puking into an open grave … during a funeral.  For issue #2 I chose the reward to be a main character in Damien W. Grintalis’ story, still unnamed, and I can’t wait to see what horrible things she’s going to do to “me.”

Here’s Fireside editor/publisher Brian White, talking about plans for #2 and beyond:

ANTHONY: What is the main concept for Fireside?

 BRIAN: Fireside has two goals: to publish great storytelling regardless of genre and to pay our writers and artists well.

The idea for Fireside grew out of a stew of information and ideas that had been simmering in the back of my brain for about a year, mostly coming out of conversations and ideas I’d been seeing on Twitter and blogs that I follow: about pay for writers, about new business models for publishing, and about the health of short fiction. I’d been starting to see a lot of talk about crowdfunding, especially Kickstarter, and one day I realized: I can publish a magazine. Funding even the first issue of Fireside wasn’t something I could have done out of my own pocket. But crowdfunding allowed me to do two things: eliminate a financial risk for myself, and gauge if there was genuine interest in what I wanted to do. I didn’t have the money, but I could invest my time, sweat, and enthusiasm in the magazine.

So once I realized I could do this, I quickly decided I wanted to do something like what Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio did with the anthology “Stories”: find good story-driven fiction, but not focused on a particular genre. I also knew I wanted to try publishing a comic in each issue along with short stories, because I’ve just started reading comics in the past few years, and I love them and wanted to experiment with that.

In the introduction to “Stories,” Gaiman writes of his response to a question about what quote he would want inscribed on the wall of the kids’ section in a public library. He captured the reason why we love good stories in his response:

“I’m not sure I’d put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface. I think I’d just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I’d put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show it’s working, and that pages will be turned:

“… and then what happened?” “

ANTHONY: What can readers expect in your first issue and beyond?
BRIAN: Each issue will have four short stories of between 2,000 and 4,000 words and one comic. I’m hoping that each issue will be very different in terms of the mix of genres, and therefore each will be a little surprising.

ANTHONY: What is Fireside’s policy on open submissions from authors?
BRIAN: Because of the nature of Kickstarter and because I was starting from scratch, the first two issues of Fireside were invitation-only. By having writers and artists lined up, I was able to offer a lot of rewards tied to each contributor.

However, we do want to start taking submissions. Starting with Issue Three, at least one slot will be held for submitted short stories. I’m not sure what form this will take, but it will probably be a limited window of some kind, both because I am totally new at dealing with submissions, and because we are quarterly and will have only the one slot per issue for now, I don’t think rolling submissions make a lot of sense.

ANTHONY: What made you choose Kickstarter for your fundraising efforts, as opposed to IndieGoGo or any of the other tools out there?
BRIAN: Mainly it was because Kickstarter is the most recognizable of the options, and because more people have heard of it, I thought they’d be more comfortable giving it their credit card information.

ANTHONY: Looking back, is there anything you’d change about your campaign?
BRIAN: The only thing that is apparent right away is that I think we overpriced a couple rewards that didn’t really have any takers, but other than that, I think things went really well. For Issue Two we experimented with a three-week campaign instead of the traditional 30 days, and it worked out great, and cut out one of the slow middle weeks, which are kind of nerve-racking anyway because it seems like interest has died out.

ANTHONY: How can people who missed out on the Kickstarter subscribe/become supporters of Fireside?
BRIAN: Fireside is for sale in several places, and we have subscriptions through Weightless Books. Links to all of those options are available at

JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS - Editor Interview

This week’s guest is editor John Joseph Adams, whose latest book is UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS, new short stories celebrating the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic hero John Carter of Mars.

John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams  is the bestselling editor of Wastelands, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), The Living Dead 2By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Brave New Worlds, The Way of the Wizard, and Lightspeed: Year One. Forthcoming anthologies include The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination (Tor Books) and Armored (Baen Books). In 2011, he was nominated for two Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. He has been called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes &, and his books have been lauded as some of the best anthologies of all time. He is also the editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and is the co-host of The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxypodcast.

ANTHONY:   John, thanks for taking a few moments to chat with me about UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS. How did the project come about?

JOHN:  I’d heard that Disney was going to be adapting A Princess of Mars into a movie, and it sounded like–at LAST–the adaptation was finally going to happen. There had been a number of false-starts over the years, but it seemed like this one was finally going to happen, thanks in no small part to the success of (and SFX technological advancement provided by) Avatar. Being a fan of the original books, I was quite excited, and the idea of doing the “new adventures” of John Carter sprang to mind. It seemed like a good, marketable idea, and a book that would be a hell of a lot of fun, so I started putting together a proposal and recruiting authors for it. Once I started reaching out to people, the number of folks who were excited about it really reinforced my thought that it would be a great project, and luckily Simon & Schuster agreed and published the anthology.

ANTHONY:  The book features a fantastic line-up. Was there an open submission process or was it invitation only? Are there any authors you’d hoped would take part who weren’t able to?

JOHN:  The book was invitation-only; unfortunately, I had to keep it that way because I was under orders to keep the project secret basically until it was done being assembled; the publisher wanted to wait to announce it until we had a table of contents to show off. Also, I had recruited a pretty large number of authors for the book in the proposal stage, and I knew it would be unlikely that I’d have much extra room for anything beyond that. Plus, for a book like this one, which is a VERY specific topic, I knew if I did an open call for submissions, a lot of writers would end up with stories that they probably wouldn’t be able to sell anywhere else. Although the Barsoom stories are public domain, most short fiction venues are unlikely to run a story set in another author’s milieu.

Neil Gaiman and Michael Moorcock were both initially interested but ultimately couldn’t contribute due to their schedules, so that was disappointing. And there were a number of authors I would have loved to have on board who said no at the proposal stage for one reason or another. One contributing factor to this was that the anthology had to be put together on a pretty short timeline if we were going to have the book ready to publish to coincide with the release of the John Carter film.

Under The Moon of Mars

Under The Moon of Mars

ANTHONY:  The preview for the book on Amazon mentions a number of great artists, like Charles Vess and Mike Kaluta, contributing story illustrations. How did you decide which artist to pair with which stories for the illustrations?

That was mostly decided by Lizzy Bromley & Tom Daly at Simon & Schuster and my agent, Joe Monti. I was consulted, and I could have taken a more active role in those decisions, but I’m no art director, and I don’t really have a lot of connections to many artists, so I was happy to have someone else take the lead. I was pleased to see Mike Cavallaro participate, as I’m a huge fan of the graphic novel he did with Jane Yolen called Foiled. Likewise John Picacio, who I’ve been a fan of for years, and, of course, it’s an honor and a privilege to have work by Charles Vess. And it was also really cool, of course, to be exposed to artists I wasn’t as familiar with previously.

You can actually view all of the illustrations on the anthology’s website,

ANTHONY:  John Carter is easily Edgar Rice Burroughs’ second most popular creation after Tarzan, even though Burroughs didn’t write anywhere near as many books about Carter and in fact half of the Barsoom novels focus on other characters. What do you think is the enduring appeal of John Carter in particular and Barsoom in general?
JOHN:  On the most basic level, the Barsoom stories are just great adventure stories, and so they’re sort of inherently appealing. But they also cross all kinds of genre boundaries. They’re obstensibly science fiction, but they feel a lot like fantasy, and there are elements from other genres as well, certainly romance and western fiction to name a few.

I think that as kids, we all wanted to be able to travel to Mars, and wouldn’t it be great if we could and it turned out to be the fantastical place with strange and interesting aliens and beautiful princesses? And a lot of us still have such dreams–so I think that’s a large part of what makes it so appealing–and enduring.

ANTHONY:  2012 is also Tarzan’s 100th anniversary, and Burroughs’ Pellucidar series hits 100 in 2014. Are you involved at all in anniversary anthologies for those books?

JOHN:  I’m not–at least not at the moment! For Tarzan, it would be too late to do anything to celebrate the anniversary, obviously, but Pellucidar…who knows!

ANTHONY:  What other books do you have coming our way this year?

JOHN:  As we’ve discussed, Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom just came out.

Coming up in April, I have Armored, an anthology of stories about mecha and power armor, from Baen. It includes stories by Jack Campbell, Brandon Sanderson, Tanya Huff, Daniel H. Wilson, Alastair Reynolds, Carrie Vaughn, and others.

I’m also currently wrapping up work on two reprint anthologies. One is an anthology of epic/high fantasy fiction to be called Epic, which will be coming out from Tachyon Publications this fall. And due out this summer from Night Shade Books is Other Worlds Than These, an anthology of portal fantasies and parallel worlds stories. And, as usual, I’ve got a couple of other things in the works that I can’t officially talk about yet, but I hope to be able to announce soon.

Then, in February 2013, I’ll have The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, from Tor. That one features stories by Carrie Vaughn, Alan Dean Foster, Daniel H. Wilson, David Farland, Seanan McGuire, and Naomi Novik, among others, plus an original short novel by Diana Gabaldon.

ANTHONY:  And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

JOHN:  The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. When I read that book, it BLEW MY MIND. After reading it, my reading life became all about finding other books like that one. Up to that point, I’d read a number of sf novels that I liked a great deal, and still to this day remember fondly, but it wasn’t until The Stars My Destination that I realized the heights that science fiction was capable of attaining, and it wasn’t until then that I narrowed my reading focus almost exclusively to sf in my efforts to find more books that effected me in that same way.

There’s a paragraph in the book from the early part of chapter one that describes “common man” protagonist Gully Foyle’s state of mind. He’s been stuck, as the lone survivor, on a spaceship for 170 days, and watches as another ship approaches his, ignores his distress call, and leaves him to die:

He had reached a dead end. He had been content to drift from moment to moment of existence for thirty years like some heavily armored creature […] but now he was adrift in space for one hundred and seventy days, and the key to his awakening was in the lock. Presently it would turn and open the door to holocaust.

So that’s the key to Gully’s awakening. I think of The Stars My Destination as mine.

ANTHONY: Thanks again, John! Always a pleasure!

You can follow John Joseph Adams on Twitter as @JohnJosephAdams and you can see more about all of his books by visiting his website.

BART LEIB, Editor - Interview

This week, I chat with editor/publisher Bart Lieb about Crossed Genres.

Bart Leib

Bart Leib

Bart R. Leib is co-publisher and founder of Crossed Genre Publications. Bart’s fiction has been published in M-Brane SF Magazine and the anthology Beauty Has Her Way from Dark Quest Books (2011). His nonfiction has been published by Fantasy Magazine. He is a regular article contributor to Science in My Fiction.

Bart lives in Somerville, MA with his wife Kay and their son Bastian. When he’s not writing, editing or playing with his son, Bart is… sleeping. That’s all he has time for.

ANTHONY:  Bart, thanks for taking the time to chat! Let’s start out with a quick description of Crossed Genres for my readers. What is the imprint’s goal? What sets it apart from other genre anthology publishers?

BART:  Crossed Genres started out as a magazine; each issue crossed science fiction & fantasy with another genre or theme. Our first issue was published in December 2008. We retired the magazine in December after the 36th issue.

We retired the magazine so that we could focus on the publication of novels and anthologies. We’ve released two novels in the past 14 months (A Festival of Skeletons by RJ Astruc, and Broken Slate by Kelly Jennings), as well as anthologies and quarterlies of stories from the magazine. Our schedule now includes 4-6 novels/anthologies per year.

From the very beginning Crossed Genres has worked to support and promote underrepresented people in our publications. The magazine had issues dedicated to LGBTQ characters, characters of color, and the big final issue’s theme was DIFFERENT. Our upcoming anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land has fat women as the protagonists, something almost never seen in literature. Giving voice to underrepresented authors and characters is a trend that will continue in CG’s future.

ANTHONY:  After several years of magazine publishing, Crossed Genre’s first anthology is Subversion, which became available in December. I’ve included a description of the book at the top of the post. What was the submission process like? Was it invite-only, open submission, or both? Were there any authors you specifically pursued?

Subversion by Bart Leib

Subversion by Bart Leib

BART: Subversion was our first invitation-only anthology. After a couple of years of publishing, we had worked with a number of very talented authors, and I felt comfortable that we could get an excellent body of work from invitations. 44 authors were invited to submit, and I received 36 submissions, from which I chose the 16 in the antho.

I will say that, while I was extremely pleased with the submissions I got – I had to turn down some good stories because the anthology was too full – I did miss the process of open submissions somewhat. We’ve always loved getting submissions from unknown authors, & getting to publish talented people for the first time – it’s been one of the best things about being a publisher! In the future I think most if not all of our publications will be at least partly filled with open submissions. (Our upcoming anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land was open submissions.)

ANTHONY:  I know I asked you this in the #sffwrtcht on Twitter when you were the featured guest, but I’m hoping you can elaborate a bit now that you have more than 140 characters: what differences are there in the submission and selection process for the anthologies you have coming out versus the magazine issues?

BART:    Well the magazine was always open submissions, which as I mentioned before wasn’t true for Subversion. The big difference was that the magazine had a much quicker turnaround time. We would accept submissions for an issue one month, then the following month we’d have to make our selections & edit the stories for release the first day of the following month. That breakneck pace made the process kind of harrowing from our perspective. By comparison, the same part of the process for an anthology is spread out over 6-8 months. How we select stories is basically the same: We pick what we feel are the best written stories that best represent the genre or theme.

There were a very few times during the magazine’s run where we rejected stories which we felt had enormous potential because they were too rough and needed a lot of rewriting – because of the magazine’s turnaround we simply didn’t have the time to wait for the author to do the rewrites. I’ve regretted that, and fortunately with anthologies and novels we can take the time to work with authors on improvements more. It was one of the reasons we decided to retire the magazine.

ANTHONY:  I think editors hate when I ask this question, but what is your procedure for determining story sequence (in a magazine issue and an anthology if the process differs from one format to another)?

BART: Haha, story sequence is hard to explain. Most importantly, you need a big hook in the first story, to grab the reader; a good follow-up second story to prove the first wasn’t a fluke; and a closing story that really represents the theme perfectly. It’s an extremely subjective process and it’s a bit different for each anthology or issue. Plus, if an issue only has 5 or 6 stories, that can be very different to put together than something like an anthology with 14-20 stories.

I highly recommend reading Jennifer Brozek’s blog about the subject.

ANTHONY:  Subversion is just the first anthology from Crossed Genres. What’s coming in the rest of 2012?



BART:  February 17, 2012, we release our next anthology, Fat Girl in a Strange Land. The release coincides with the Boston-area convention Boskone.

In mid-July, we’re releasing a collection of short stories by Brooklyn writer Daniel José Older. The release coincides with another Boston-area convention, ReaderCon.

(Crossed Genres will be represented at both conventions mentioned above.)

In early September, we’re releasing our next novel, INK by Sabrina Vourvoulias.

Our next release after that will be MENIAL: Skilled Labor in SF  in Jan/Feb 2013, which I’ll talk about in the next question…

ANTHONY:  How can writers submit for upcoming anthologies?

BART:  We’re currently only open for novel submissions. However, we’re now open to submissions for MENIAL: Skilled Labor in SFSubmission guidelines can be found HERE.

ANTHONY:  For novels, do you have an open slush pile policy or a specific reading period?

BART:  Novel submissions are generally open all the time. If we get too overwhelmed – if our publication schedule fills up too far out – we may close novel subs for a while, but at the moment that doesn’t look likely. Send us your novels!

ANTHONY:  And for my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?

If I had to pick one, I’d say Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. The gradual unfolding of the main character’s intellect, and the triumphs and pain the process brings, creates one of the finest and most sympathetic characters I’ve ever read.

You can follow Bart on Twitter as @MetaFrantic for the latest on Crossed Genre.


In this special weekend interview post, I’m chatting with Brian White, the founder of the soon-to-debut FIRESIDE fiction magazine. Brian is hosting a Kickstarter project to raise money to publish the first of what will hopefully be many issues.

Brian White

Brian White

ANTHONY: Hi Brian! Thanks for sitting down to ramble on for a few! What inspired you to start Fireside magazine?

BRIAN: A lot of the people who I follow on Twitter are creative types: writers, artists, journalists (yes many of us are creative), musicians. Which means that there is a lot of shop talk, which these days means thinking about all the different tools there are for creative people to promote and support their careers. Things like crowdfunding and self-publishing. A lot of this stuff was bubbling at a low simmer in a stew in the back of my brain, and one night I just thought, “Hey, I could publish a magazine. And with something like Kickstarter, I wouldn’t be taking a huge financial risk.”

As soon as I had that idea, I knew I wanted to do a fiction magazine. I am a big sci-fi reader, and I also like crime, fantasy, horror, and a lot of other genres. So when I was thinking about what shape I’d like the magazine to take, I thought of the anthology “Stories” edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio that came out last year. There is a great passage in the introduction, in which Gaiman writes of his response to a question about what quote he would want inscribed on the wall of the kids’ section in a public library. He captured the reason why we love good stories:

I’m not sure I’d put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface. I think I’d just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I’d put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show it’s working, and that pages will be turned:

“… and then what happened?”

That’s the spirit of Fireside magazine. Good stories, no matter what the genre.

ANTHONY: I love that quote from Neil, and really enjoyed the whole Stories anthology. When you say “all genres” are welcome — what can readers expect not just from the first issue, but from any issues that may come along after?

BRIAN: I have a feeling that the first issue will have a sci-fi slant, but I really don’t know, because I told the short story writers — Tobias Buckell, Ken Liu, Chuck Wendig, and Christie Yant — they could really do whatever they wanted. The same goes for the comic that D.J. Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave are working on.

As for art, Amy Houser will be doing the cover for issue one. Ahe has kind of a whimsical, colorful style that I think matches up really well with the spirit of stories that spark the imagination.

For the future, I’d love to mix things up as much as possible. Maybe one issue will be crime and fantasy and mystery. Or steampunk and noir. Or … well, anything. I’m truly trying to keep an open mind and look for good stories anywhere they might grow. I’m not much for romance novels, but if I found a really great romance story, I’d run with it.

And there will be a comic in every issue. I only have started reading comics in the past few years, but I am really in love with them now and want them to be a core part of Fireside.

ANTHONY: The fiction magazine market is a notoriously difficult one these days, especially in print form. So why start a magazine now? Why not just post stories to your personal website?

BRIAN: Hopeless optimism? I’m 28 and I work at a newspaper, which is facing a lot of the same problems that fiction magazines do, or at least the problems share some roots. But I love the paper, and I love short stories. I want them both to live and grow and thrive in one form or another, and I figure if I want that to happen, I have to do what I can to make it happen.

And part of that is paying the creative people, the writers and artists, fairly and in a way that helps them make a living being creative. To do that, I have to raise a lot of money on Kickstarter, and I didn’t think I’d be able to do that just with a website, since Kickstarter is all rewards-driven. By actually creating an electronic and print magazine, I’m able to offer a bunch of different rewards, especially with the print magazine, which opens up the option of paying a higher price to get an issue autographed by one of the writers or cover artist.

ANTHONY: Let’s talk Kickstarter for a moment. Tell my readers a bit about how Kickstarter works and what the rewards are for donating to Fireside magazine.

BRIAN: I’ve been explaining Kickstarter by saying that it is a lot like a PBS or NPR pledge drive. You ask people to contribute, and based on how much they give you, they can pick from any of the various rewards at that dollar level or lower. In Fireside’s case, this means electronic or print editions of the magazine, and at higher levels, autographs and even having a character in a story named after you or getting drawn into a special illustration.

But the big difference from PBS or NPR is that Kickstarter only turns over the money if the campaign reaches its stated goal, in Fireside’s case $6,500. And that is great because it really removes the risk for everyone. I only had to spend a relatively small amount out of pocket to lay the groundwork, so if it doesn’t succeed, I’m not out a lot of money. The backers’ credit cards don’t get charged unless the campaign is successful, so again, if it fails, they don’t lose their money. And the writers and artist for the Fireside don’t have to turn anything in until a month after the Kickstarter is funded, so they don’t lose all that time on something that ends up not paying.

ANTHONY: The Kickstarter is mostly based around getting that first issue out and into the public’s hands. What are your plans for funding future issues?

BRIAN: My Kickstarter goal, $6,500, covers pretty much to the penny just the costs of the first issue. I hope to raise more than that to sink into future issues. But if this succeeds, I do plan on Kickstarting the second issue as well. I will also be selling single copies, and hopefully that will generate some money to help it become a self-sustaining thing. And I also plan to offer subscriptions if we get beyond a first issue, which would help wean us from Kickstarter.

ANTHONY: The line-up for the first issue is already set. For future issues, will you be having open submitting and a slush pile, or will you will continue “invitation only?”

BRIAN: I definitely plan on holding at least one slot in future issues open for submissions, but having a lineup is important with the Kickstarter funding model because it means there is a group to collaborate with on the campaign, which has been a great help to me, and that group is committed to the success of the issue, which means a lot of promotion from both the creators and their networks, which is really key to a successful Kickstarter.

ANTHONY: Any other information you’d like to share about Fireside?

BRIAN: Just that I am really grateful for all the support we have already received and for all the people out there who seem to be as interested in finding good stories as I am.

Thanks so much, Anthony.

ANTHONY: You’re welcome, Brian! I hope the Kickstarter is successful. I already made my donation.

You can follow Brian’s progress on Twitter @FiresideMag, you can visit the magazine’s website and you can donate by visiting the Kickstarter page.