Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on someone who works in a publishing capacity other than author. I’d like to introduce science fiction, fantasy and horror editor Ellen Datlow. Ellen, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself?
I’ve been editing sf, fantasy, and horror short fiction for over forty years. I was fiction editor of OMNI Magazine for seventeen years, and edited SCIFICTION, the fiction section of the SCIFI.COM website for six years. I currently acquire short stories for Tor.com and novellas for Tor.com and Nightfire (the Tor horror imprint). I’ve also edited a lot of anthologies. I live in NY, and co-host the Fantastic Fiction at KGB (bar) reading series. (which has been virtual since the pandemic began) but hopes to be live once more by the fall.
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
Bookstores; If not in brick and mortar bookstores, definitely online and as eBooks and audio books (sometimes). Stories I’ve acquired and edited are on the Tor.com website (the fiction there is free);
How can we follow your work, and share your awesomeness?
I’m on twitter and facebook all the time. I have a website that’s not kept up to date.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do?
I’m an editor and anthologist. I’m one of several consulting editors for Tor.com
As an editor for Tor.com I acquire and edit short stories and novellas for Tor and novellas for the new horror imprint Nightfire.
As an anthologist, I come up with anthology ideas (reprint or original), my agent pitches the proposal to publishers, and when sold I solicit, acquire, and edit (the latter, only if I’m working on an original anthology) the stories and put together the anthology.
What was the latest release you worked on? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial copy to the finished book?
The most recent book I’ve got out is Tool Tales, a collaborative project with my friend Kaaron Warren, from Australia. It’s a chapbook of photos I’ve taken of some items from my tool collection plus Microfictions written by Kaaron in response to the photos. It was started as a fun thing to do on facebook a few years ago when we each had some free time. I’d post a photo, Kaaron would write a teeny tiny story (without me informing her what the tool was for- I sometimes did not know what it was for). After we posted each tool/story-either I posted a note about what the tool was or asked my facebook followers to identify the tool.
We thought that maybe we could get a small publisher interested in creating a more formal/permanent presentation than just having our project live on facebook. Gerry Huntman of IFWG in Australia stepped up and offered to publish it as a chapbook.
What is your favorite part of being an editor? Of the whole editing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I love working with writers to help them to create/communicate exactly what they intend to communicate in a story. I love discovering new writers during my annual reading for the Best Horror of the Year. When I discover a writer whose work I consistently love, I might approach them to write a new story for me-for tor.com or an original anthology.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that I’m still learning how to edit with each story I work on.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I’ve got three books coming out this fall
When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson from Titan, an all original anthology with stories by Kelly Link, Laird Barron, Carmen Maria Machado, Joyce Carol Oates, Benjamin Percy, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Elizabeth Hand, Stephen Graham Jones, and others. Out in Sept
Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror (Tachyon) an all reprint anthology. October
The Best Horror of the Year Volume Thirteen (Night Shade) all reprints November
What does your editing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
A mess. I’ve been using a large, low cocktail table/display case for decades, seated on the sofa -until I moved in December. I’m still using the cocktail table and my antique rocking chair-until I get a new desk that I’ve ordered. But I’m surrounded (right now) by books and magazines I’m still reading/skimming writing up for my Best Horror #13 summary of the year. A glass of seltzer/thermos of water, cup of tea or coffee on the table next to me. I recently bought a very large 27 inch screen computer, which I love. A pen/pencil holder near me. My editing file folders on the floor next to me.
Papers/bills/my favorite pen. A lot of “stuff” that I hope I’ll be keeping in drawers when I get my new desk.
While you’re editing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I always listen to music when I’m home. I prefer the jazz radio station WBGO (out of Newark) but if they’re not playing anything I like I listen to my pandora stations which include jazz, folk, world, soft rock.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day editing to answer our questions, Ellen!