The editors at BBT Magazine were kind enough to offer a review copy of their magazine, as well as an interview with yours truly.
SciFiChick: Tell us a little about BBT.
BBT: BBT Magazine (or Blood, Blade, and Thruster Magazine to the neophyte) is a print magazine that blends speculative fiction & satire.
Think Realms of Fantasy meets The Onion.
Think Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine meets Mad Magazine.
Think Thomas Paine meets The Wolfman.
I’m not sure about that last one, I just like the way it sounded.
SciFiChick: Why speculative fiction and satire?
BBT: Well, mainly because I like both, and there was no place that I could go on a regular basis to find this unusual combination. Many Spec-Fic publications (meaning fantasy, sci-fi, and horror mostly) are so afraid of being marginalized in the eyes of the “literary world” that they take great pains to ensure that they are taken seriously, and many genre writers are too serious to begin with. Do you mean to tell me that we can’t take a moment and see the inherent humor in the kind of escapism that we fancy, and the extremes to which we will go for it? I find that a lot of fanboys/girls are far too sensitive too. I think a lot of ’em have never gotten over being pushed around in high school. I say f*** it, raise The Geek Flag high, and if any one gives you a hard time, bop ’em over the head with your bag of 20-sided dice.
That’s what we are doing. We’re bopping the literary world over the head with a bag of D20s.
SciFiChick: How did you go about starting the magazine? Who all was involved in the process?
BBT: I started by pestering every editor I could get my virtual little hands on and asking them very tactless questions – How much money do you make? How many do you sell? How do you find artists? How do you get distribution? I was surprised when almost all of them answered in the most forthright way possible. So basically I used people who had been in the business a lot longer than I had for advice. People like Jason Sizemore at Apex Digest, John O’Neil at Black Gate, and all the folks at Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, were of tremendous help.
In the beginning it was just my best friend Kennedy-Smith and I doing most of the work, along with Earl B Morris, a fellow who defies all description who works from his great aunt’s home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (A long story.)
Kennedy mostly does interviews now because he’s a new dad, but hopefully he’ll come on board again for more in the future.
The answer to the How much money do you make question by the way, is not much, for those of you foolish enough to be considering this sort of endeavor.
SciFiChick: Tell us about your staff. Do you accept submissions from outside sources?
BBT: We have lots of contributors, but our current core editorial staff is Pete Tzinski a great young writer in Minnesota, Gregory Adams, a local Boston another very talented writer and satirist, Jon James and old friend from my days of working in film, a super talented and funny artist from Sweden named Christoffer Saar, and myself.
We have an open submission policy, but won’t open again to submissions until May, while we catch up on our enormous slushpile.
SciFiChick: How do you choose the books to review, people to interview, and stories to include in your issues?
BBT: Reviewing books is something that we are doing bit and parcel right now, but I think eventually it will be a regular feature of our site. As it stands now, we’re all readers, so if it comes up in discussion one of us may say “Well, what are you waiting for knuckle-head? Write a review!”
As for our interviews, we’ve been very very lucky so far, and I think that the unusual nature of our magazine opens some doors to us that wouldn’t ordinarily be opened to small press. For instance, in our first issue, Earl did an interview with Neil Gaiman that started out as a bit of a joke and wound up being the only interview with Neil ever done in a dead language. The Q&A was done in Meroitic a Nubian language from around 300 BC complete with Cuneiform. We also did an interview with a man named Riley Martin, who is in communication with a small group of aliens called the Biivians, apparently.
In our current issue we have an interview with the strange and wonderful Piers Anthony (in which he hardly talks at all about the Xanth series), and for upcoming issues and the blog we have got some stuff I’m really proud of: we had a long sit-down with Joe Hill (author of the terrifying and darkly funny Heart Shaped Box and, I suppose I can say it now, Stephen Kings son), a great interview with John Landis (director of, among other things, Animal House, The Blues Brothers, The Three Amigos, and American Werewolf In London, and current contributor of Showtime’s Masters of Horror series), one of my personal favorite authors George R R Martin (author of the Song of Fire and Ice series, and described by Time Magazine ‘The New Tolkien’), and another one of my favs, F. Paul Wilson (author of the cult favorite Repairman Jack series of books).
As far as stories go we line our birdcages with the submissions and the ones that we can still read after a month or so make it into the mag.
SciFiChick: What are some favorites?
BBT: Some of my personal favorite stories haven’t even made it into the magazine yet. Our content gets better with every issue, as our contributors/readers understand more and more what we are all about. As far as the stories that have been published so far, one of my personal favorites is a story called Some Units Like It Heated, by Blake Hutchins, a fellow who won first place in the Writers of The Future contest in 2005 (a very prestigious award for fantasy/fantasy writers). It’s about a tiny alien that comes to Earth in the guise of Marilyn Monroe, because his species thinks that is the standard of beauty that will best assure the ability to collect data about sexual reproduction in humans…
Another one of my favorites isn’t a satirical story at all, but a truly charming short called Making Up For Lost Time by James Harris, a British writer who’s normally very grim. In this story though, a little Swiss watchmaker named Gottfried has to create the most important mechanism of his life, for himself and his wife. It’s a great story.
SciFiChick: Where do you get your great cover art and illustrations?
BBT: Our first cover was done by an incredible digital fantasy artist named Henning Ludvigsen from Norway. Our second was done by a British fellow named Simon Dominoc Brewer another digital guy. Lot’s of our interior art is done by an artist who mostly works traditionally named Christoffer Saar, who has become a friend of BBT and myself, but we have a whole ever growing pool of artists that we are proud to use.
So I guess the answer to where we get them is Europe, mostly.
SciFiChick: What advice would you give to someone whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to get into magazine publishing?
BBT: Ask everyone you can that’s in the business all the questions you can think of.
Network as much as you can.
Have your pitch always at the ready for whomever you run across that’s of interest to your endeavor.
Be prepared to never sleep again.
Be willing to read all day long.
In lieu of actually starting a print magazine you might consider telling your friends and family you may never see them again, pulling every bit of money out of your bank account, closing all the blinds in your house and burning all of the funds you just withdrew in a trashcan in the middle of your living room floor, while you drink a gallon of coffee and read a stack of manuscripts as high as your knees of which there are about three worthy of reading. This should be followed by a three day drunk, followed by waking up in Canadian wheat field with a sheep, and no shoes.
It’s essentially the same experience as starting a magazine.
SciFiChick: Can you tell us what you have planned for upcoming issues?
BBT: The magazine format is going to be perfect bound (like a graphic novel) in future issues, and will go from being 50 to around 100 pages long. The next one will be available in June.
We are also In the process of a total website overhaul, in order to provide ever-changing content on the web. We are going to expand our blog universe, add webcomics and contests, and go to a much better user environment.
We want the web site to do more than just sit there. We want it to be a place that a Geek with a sense of humor would want to call home. This should be happening over the course of the coming months, so it’s worth check back frequently to see what kind of progress we’ve made.
SciFiChick: Where can people find BBT or subscribe?
BBT: At our webpage www.bbtmagazine.com, at various online bookstores like Genremall or Shocklines, and a select bookstores in New England and throughout the Mid-West.
SciFiChick: Thanks for your time! Anything else you would like to add?
BBT: Just c’mon by and say hi, and don’t forget to checkout our ever-expanding line of Latin Geekwear from BBTshirts.