Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview: Mark Lord

In my next interview installment I bring you Mark Lord, editor of the Alt Hist magazine.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am in my late thirties, I live in the UK and I'm a fan of historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy, as well as an aspiring author with a couple of short story publication credits to my name. I have messed around with fiction writing for a long time, but got serious about six years ago. I studied Medieval Studies at University and have a Masters in Medieval Literature, and I once wanted to work as an editor, but gave that up until taking on the idea of setting up Alt Hist.

What got you interested in alternate history?

I have always been interested in history, but when I was a teenager I also got into RPGs and war games and I think that gave me the natural urge to experiment with what-ifs and to speculate on what life was really like in the past. I really like the creative process and I'm also a bit of a control freak I think so wanting to understand and rewrite history probably comes naturally.

How did Alt Hist magazine get started?

I was frustrated that there were so few markets for historical fiction short stories. There was Paradox, which I submitted a couple of stories to, but then that closed and since then there's been very little - there are about two other markets for historical fiction that I know of. I thought there was a gap in the market, and also an opportunity to bring the speculative end of historical fiction - alternate history and historical fantasy together with the "mainstream" end, something which I believe Paradox did very well.

If someone wanted to contribute to the magazine, how would they go about doing that?

It's really simple - go to our submissions page, read our guidelines and then register using the online submission tool Submishmash. This allows me to track your submission and you'll get an automated response to acknowledge receipt.

Who designs the covers for the issues?

I do. I have used Photoshop a bit in my work, so know enough to put them together. I hope people like them. If not please send me your artwork and I would be happy to use it if it's good enough!

When can we expect the next issue?

We have five stories accepted so far and I would like to get a couple more before we close the issue. So far we have another amazing story from Ian Sales who provided a story for the first issue. And also another one from Arlan Andrews. In particular, American readers might be interested to know that there are two stories set in the American Civil War.

What does the future hold for Alt Hist?

Hopefully more good quality short stories! I would like to get the publication a bit more regular - perhaps even on a quarterly basis. I would also like Alt Hist to be publishing some more book reviews if possible and to make this a regular feature of the magazine. My aim is for the stories published to get the attention and readership that they deserve. The ultimate goal would be to have a readership that allowed the magazine to pay professional rates to authors.

What do you do when you are not the editor of Alt Hist?

Too much! I am a writer too, so most mornings before work I am trying to get 250-1000 words written of my novel. I'm currently on 79,000 words so it's not going too badly, but there's still a lot to cover, and after that the rewriting and the critiquing etc. It feels like a never-ending process. Other than that I have a full time job and a family that takes up a lot of my time. I tend to waste time by playing computer games, reading (not a waste of time of course) and following Fulham FC.

What is your novel about?

The novel currently has the title Hell has its Demons. It is set in 1376 in England, a few years before the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381. England is ruled by a fading king, while sinister forces are jockeying for positions of power. Meanwhile an eccentric Oxford academic and his servant travel to the monastic town of St. Brett’s to investigate a spate of demonic possessions. There's a bit more about it here.

Who do you think is going to take the Sidewise Awards this year?

I would love to say that I have read them all, but I haven't. I really respect the work of Ken MacLeod and Jay Lake, so if I was betting that's who I would put my money on.

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