By Gabriella Zeller, Contributing Writer for The Underground
Halloween is just around the corner, or depending on when you read this, it could in fact be Halloween, or maybe it has passed already. Whatever the case, if you are looking for some creepy crawly stories to keep you up at night, you should check out these three horror literary magazines to get you in the spirit. Get it? Spirit? Okay, bad joke. Let’s get to the magazines.
Volume 1, Issue 1 September 2012
You may be asking yourself, why the heck did she review such an old issue? Well, I’ll answer that question. To keep costs down, I was able to get a download of this issue for FREE, yes, for FREE on the magazine’s website, lamplightmagazine.com. This online magazine of dark fiction publishes quarterly (September, December, March, and June) and collects all of the issues in a hardback collection at the end of the year, available for purchase on Amazon.
So what’s it all about? What does LampLight have to offer readers? Like I said, they are a dark fiction magazine. To me, dark fiction is what it sounds like: dark fiction. This can involve horror, crime, thriller, and supernatural genre stories, or basically anything that deals with extremely deep and troubling themes. LampLight does a really great job with keeping its stories diverse. For example, some of the stories in this issue involve a set of doctors who kill patients either on the operating table, or with painkillers because they do not feel that those patients contribute well to the human race. Other stories include a science experiment with kelp gone wrong during WWII, a woman listening to the voice in her garden that tells her to kill her man, and a man who must converse with hostile ghosts in order to find a murderer. In addition to stories, they also do occasional interviews and reviews, include writer bios and serial novellas. (This issue includes reviews of the best horror anthologies if that’s your thing.) They also accept submissions and the guidelines are on their website. Intrigued yet? If not, this issue is FREE. Check it out!
Issue#69 The End of the World Special Issue, April 2013
Unfortunately, I was not able to get my hands on the newest issue (September 2013) but bear with me. In the (almost) newest issue of Cemetery Dance many of the articles and stories cover post-apocalyptic themes. This magazine is very different from LampLight. If you want more of a traditional magazine format, you have come to the right place. Each issue has columns, plenty of reviews, and a few stories. They also include excerpts from novels, Stephen King news, and plenty of ads to strike your fancy. The genre they specialize in is horror and suspense, as the cover of each issue states. Submissions have been stopped for a while due to the overwhelming number of them, so for right now, many of the authors being covered are more experienced. On their website, cemetarydance.com, they list a few famous authors that have been included in the publication: Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Justin Cronin, and Lincoln Child, just to name a few.
I will warn you, I am a HUGE Stephen King fan, so I enjoy Cemetery Dance quite a bit because of their devotion to him. This specific issue talks about The Stand (my favorite book of all time) and even has a trivia page. You don’t have to like Stephen King to like this publication, but just be aware that he has a large presence within Cemetery Dance. If you are looking to get published, this is not the publication for you at the moment unless you are a well-established writer. Since it is the most famous of its kind, it is difficult for new horror writers to find their way onto the pages of this renowned literary journal. Still, it makes for a fascinating and fun read. You can subscribe to Cemetery Dance on their website and get the option of a hard copy or eBook (it is published three to four times a year). If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with newspaper ink and pick up an issue. If that’s not enough, they also publish books, too!
Issue #7 (July 2013)
Guess what readers? I actually have the latest issue of Shock Totem! Isn’t that just dandy? Anyway, Shock Totem generally publishes in July and January –much less than the other publications discussed here. That does not mean that Shock Totem cannot hold its own with horror literary magazines. Like LampLight, Shock Totem primarily deals with a wide variety of dark fiction. Believe it or not, they also have a few non-fiction pieces. For example, in this issue, a man believes that four men he saw in a parking lot could have been angels that saved his granddaughter’s life. Many of the stories in this issue specifically have happier endings, even though they are still considered dark fiction. The magazine does include ads, but lucky for us, they are all at the end of the issue. There is a section devoted to books, movies, and music that don’t even have to be new! If you or someone you know would like to have their work reviewed, you can just email them to show them that you are interested. Interviews, or “conversations” as Shock Totem describes them, are also included.
What I think really sets Shock Totem apart from the two other publications is that there is an area where the authors of the stories tell the “story behind the story.” You actually get to see where these crazy ideas come from! What more could a horror fiction reader ask for?
They also accept submissions. Their philosophy on their website states: “Shock Totem’s main goal is to promote and support new and established authors by focusing primarily on fiction, but also through editorials, essays and interviews (called “conversations”)”. Exciting!
As with Cemetery Dance, Shock Totem subscriptions are available for hard copy or eBook at shocktotem.com. Shock Totem also publishes books, so if you are craving even more awesomeness they’ve got you covered. Even if you are not interested in the magazine itself, please check out the website. The artwork that is used for the issues is amazing, and who knows? Maybe you might even buy an issue.
If you like dark fiction, I hope you delve into at least one of these macabre magazines. So happy Halloween, readers, and may these stories fill your nightmares.