Reality Skimming
4Mar/15Off

Interview with Colleen Anderson

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Colleen Anderson has published nearly 200 pieces of fiction and poetry in such places as Chilling Tales, Evolve, Horror Library and Cemetery Dance. She has been poetry editor for the Chizine, host of the Vancouver ChiSeries, co-editor for Tessearcts 17 and The Playground of Lost Toys, as well as a freelance copyeditor. She has been twice nominated for the Aurora Award, received honorable mentions in the Year’s Best anthologies and been reprinted in Imaginarium and Best of Horror Library (forthcoming). New works for 2015 will be in Nameless, Second Contact, Our World of Horror, OnSpec, Polu Texni and Exile Book of New Canadian Noir.

For more information about the anthology The Playground of Lost Toys visit: https://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/writing-the-playground-of-lost-toys/

Note: We’re already seeing a LOT of doll stories. The toys in this anthology need to be far ranging, both culturally and geographically. We won't be taking more than a couple of doll stories, if that many. And this doesn't mean start sending us a lot of toy truck stories. Think beyond the sandbox!

Interview by Christel Bodenbender

Toys are an interesting theme since it is universally relatable. Where did the idea for the theme come from?

I was at World Fantasy in Toronto a few years back and we (Halli Villegas, Ursula Pflug) were hanging out around the CZP book table. Somehow we got talking about some of our favourite childhood toys and how we lost, or found them. I mentioned I had this little metal fridge and I loved it. I was given a new one, complete with plastic fruit and veggies but it wasn't the same. Imagine having one of those cool silver airstream trailers and replacing it with a nondescript modern one. It may be newer but where’s the character. From this discussion the idea for the anthology was born.

How many individual stories are you planning to include in the anthology?

It will depend on how long the stories are. Minimum would be 16 but we're hoping to have around 20.

What audience and participants do you want to attract?

Audience? Everyone. Until we see the final stories it will be difficult to discern just how “adult” the anthology will be but it’s not aimed at children. I was reading Heinlein and Clarke by time I was 12 so probably the teenagers would enjoy it. Otherwise, we hope the stories are thought-provoking, entertaining and wide ranging. We aren't looking for stories about your favourite truck and how it was stolen by the kid next door. There may be wonder or dread but we want the tales to conjure up sense of otherness or a reality that isn’t as we see it in the light of day. What do toys mean? Some are symbols for other events and have a deeper meaning. Therefore allegorical and metaphorical stories may fit in as well.

There is a maximum story length indicated on your blog. Do you also have a minimum in mind? I am particularly thinking if you are also including flash fiction stories.

Writing a good story that has a beginning, middle and end is harder the more you limit the words. It’s a good exercise for cutting extraneous description though. While we wouldn't want a full anthology of 500-word stories, a few shorter pieces at 500 or 1000 words may balance the rest well. Which means we could possibly look at a story slightly longer than 5,000 words but it will have to be truly stellar the longer it is.

I interviewed Ursula Pflug, the co-editor of the anthology, recently on Reality Skimming Blog. Have you worked together on projects before?

Not really. We’ve both been authors in several anthologies and Ursula bought one of my poems Family Tree last year for the anthology They Have to Take You In. So she's edited me but this is our first time working together.

How are you going to split the editing tasks?

We've had the publisher at Exile set up a Submittable account. I use it for submitting to various magazines and anthologies so this will be the first time using it as an editor. But it has the functions set so that we can both read and vote on the stories. Two yeses will move the story into the strong possibility category (we can’t say yes to any until the deadline). One yes and one no means that if one person loves the story they can make a case to the other editor. Two nos means it’s rejected and if we do so before the deadline you're free to submit another.

Are you going to fundraise for the anthology? If so, what are your plans?

No we’re not. I might want to do this some day for another anthology, but Exile is paying the writers and us so we can concentrate just on editing. Exile is funded through various councils such as the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council.


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