What I hear from them when they read my stories is a kind of silence, and a "why are all of your stories so sad?"
Sad? Sad? I think. Well, sure, Arrow is sad. It's meant to be a gut-punch. But aside from that, I thought they were kind of... affirming. Pythia has sad elements in it, but it's essentially about a young woman who discovers a god living inside her and manages to assimilate it into herself. "Bookbound" is about a girl discovering an alternate reality and diving into it... and losing touch with her own reality and family, true, but, isn't that what you do when you grow up anyway?
Sad? Well, unfair things happen, and people die, and there's pain...
....but... Life IS unfairness, and loss, and death, and pain, because it's also triumph and success, and rewards, and joy.
I guess I think my stories are about growing. Up, or out, or into the world. Shedding a skin is painful, but necessary, and that's what life's about, isn't it?
Well, OK. This is not sad: Halfway through November now, and I guess it's time I pointed people to that story I was talking about back in February. The one that turned into my first pro sale, and then turned into my first interview as an author.
But is it sad as well? The protagonists are people with special obsessions, people who are other-than-normal. But they find each other, in a way, and isn't that romantic? Isn't that cause for celebration?
I'm looking over the pile that hasn't been published. They're some odd ones. A society of women trying to live with parthenogenisis, an immortal Viking who is damned by the means of his immortality, and the magnum opus where a pair of girls take on the juggernaut of holy history without really intending to (Sisters of the Sundering).
Maybe the issue is that these are stories that don't fit well into formulae, and maybe it's because they move to the alchemical centre of life, which doesn't really have a "good" and a "bad" side to it, but it does have all those elements that make us human. And I think a sense of humour is an essential part of being human.
If you haven't been following Crossed Genres, I'd recommend it. It has a lot of that kind of story. I think they're one of a handful of magazines that are bringing this human stuff out of the slush pile. I think they have a lot of taste, and a sense of the unusual, and, yes, a sense of humour about it. I know that after years and years of working with human-rights and humanitarian organizations, I'm a little tired of hand-wringeryness. I want to hear about people overcoming their limitations, inborn or imposed. Crossed Genres is one of a few that are doing that.
So, read some. And then consider subscribing. Seriously. SFF is a more serious world now that the Starship Trooper types are shuffling off their mortal coils. We're tired of formula, we have long since washed the ashes of the Motherhood statement from our clothes. It's time that the big pubs were joined by the odd ones, and Crossed Genres is one of a handful bringing the real stuff to the community. They could use some support.
I don't find their stuff very sad at all, either.