I think I’ve always been drawn to the macabre. I remember liking scary stories as soon as I was old enough to discover them. I spent a lot of time at the local library where I would typically check out things like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. They wouldn’t yet let me check out Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or the books on the occult that I found endlessly fascinating (maybe you’ve read some—black hardback covers with metallic, silver ink on the cover and in photos). These were considered adult books and I would have to wait until I turned 12 and got a new library card to check them out, so instead I sat and read them in the aisles between stacks of books. I spent many afternoon hours that way, returning daily to find my place and finish reading the “illicit” material.
I didn’t spend all my days engulfed in horror and darkness. I found refuge in sci-fi and fantasy worlds as well. One of my favorites was Xanth, a world of magic and puns created by Piers Anthony. I spent my young teen years in Xanth following a lineage of powerful wizards through over two dozen novels. All of this is to say, I’m a huge fan of genre fiction, and have been always enchanted by the bizarre and unconventional.
Many years ago, when I started pursuing a BFA in creative writing, I took an introductory course in fiction writing. The professor on the first day handed out the syllabus and gave us our first assignments. She told us to write a short story with all the aliens, sex, gore, unicorns, time travel, and vampires that we wanted—She wanted to get it all out of the way. She said that was not what fiction was about, and we were there to learn to write real literature. I resented that statement. She just waved off all of my favorite genres in a single assignment.
It felt like I was being told that anything fantastic and out of this world wasn’t literature, and it had no place in an academic environment. I found it striking that this community college teacher had the audacity to besmirch the likes of Edgar Alan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Washington Irving, Stephen King, J. R. R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, and H. G. Wells. This snobbish attitude toward genre fiction persisted though many of my courses, and it always bothered me. I believe that any genre can be literary, it’s just a matter of practicing the craft. Any kind of story can be well written and moving. I wanted to create a space for the type of writing I enjoyed to be fostered and encouraged, so here we are.
Putting together this issue has been something of an adventure. This magazine started as an idea. More accurately, a random late night thought. I’ve interned with a literary journal before, so felt like I knew the basics, and I was already familiar with creating websites. I made a few mistakes, mostly due to lack of planning and organization. Mismanagement of the slush pile and drifting deadlines. But, I’m happy with what we’ve created. A new little bit of awesome weirdness has been added to the world and I’m happy to share it with you now.
C. M. Costa
Editor: Voice from the Void