Today I am interviewing Wendy S. Delmater, Editor of the new science-fiction and fantasy anthology, The Best of Abyss & Apex, Volume 3.
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DJ: Hi Wendy! Thanks for agreeing to do an interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Wendy S. Delmater: Well, I’ve been editor Abyss & Apex since 2006. I love editing–I edit novels and short stories professionally–and recently debuted a book called Writing the Entertaining Story to help new writers. Besides editing the three Best of Abyss & Apex anthologies I’m also the author of Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer,which is all about my days as a heavy construction safety manager in NYC, plus I’ve published a lot of genre short stories and poetry. But mostly, I love to edit!
DJ: What is The Best of Abyss & Apex Volume 3 about?
WSD: Abyss & Apex Magazine publishes “everything SF & F can be.” These stories, and a few framing poems, were the cream of the crop from the last few years. Reader favorites. I strove to give Best of A&A 3 the same balance as the magazine: 50 percent science fiction and 50 percent fantasy. I gave it a balance of humor and seriousness, light and dark. But mostly, the stories have heart.
DJ: What were some of the inspirations behind the stories selected in The Best of Abyss & Apex Volume 3?
WSD: My staff and I just pick ‘em out of the slush pile. The inspiration comes from our wonderful authors. By the way, a quarter of our authors sell their first stories anywhere to Abyss & Apex. We’re very new-writer friendly.
When I say some of the stories were popular, understand we keep track of which get more clicks or go viral. BY that metric “Roadmaster,” for example, was our readers’ fave of 2018. But of course, I put in some of my favorites: A piece of Islamic science fiction that did not fit into Best of A&A 2 comes to mind: “Mind Diver” by Vylar Kaftan.
DJ: What kinds of stories can readers expect in the anthology?
WSD: Well, there is hard sci fi like “Leaping Dragon, Sleeping Eagle” by George S. Walker, sword and sorcery like “The Last Trap” by Simon Kewin, there’s a superhero origin story called “All the Grace Was in the Fire” by Ryan Row, sci fi/humor like “Urgent: Lost Bekip” by Nicole Lungerhausen… there are lyrical, literary stories like “Barleycorn” by Cae Hawksmoor and even a dark, dark fantasy called “One Soul, Parchment Thin” by Calder Hutchinson. There are bards and legends and even an enhanced retired military canine who works as a private detective. There’s a tale about a magical bookstore, the choices of an old starship’s AI liberating a planet, and another one about a strong Viking woman vying with her cousins and brothers for the chance to serve one of their gods. So. Many. Good. Stories! And not all of them are available in our archives any longer.
DJ: Being an editor, what do you believe makes a “good” story?
WSD: Ah – what makes an A&A story? Bear in mind, we don’t just publish good stories, we publish exceptional stories–tales that linger in the mind and heart. Good characters, good conflict, excellent plotting, and touching the emotions are all a part of it. However, like finding another person attractive, the stories we publish have a certain je ne c’est quoi. Editor taste dictates the mood of the magazine. I, personally, love stories that pull on the heartstrings, and not always to play a cheerful tune.
DJ: This may… this will be a difficult question to answer, but what are some of your favorite stories in The Best of Abyss & Apex Volume 3? I don’t mean what you believe is the best, but perhaps some stories has a particular setting, theme, message, or character that you stood out to you?
WSD: I have to say I am very fond of “The Truth About Unicorns” by Jennifer Hykes. It’s about wanting to give your child the world, and not being able to, and about the glory and mystery of having a true artistic gift. It makes me cry every time I read it. I also just had to include “Mrs. Peak and the Dragon,” a clever little tale of a woman who runs a penny candy store where things are not as they seem. It’s so satisfying!
DJ: What was your favorite part about editing The Best of Abyss & Apex Volume 3?
WSD: I love finding that perfect balance, reaching people with story. Putting together an anthology is like building a set of music for a concert. Open and close with your best numbers, vary the tone and key, keep ‘em entertained, weave a spell. Back in my 20’s I was in a folk band. We did a concert at dusk where the audience was so into our music they almost forgot to turn on the lights when it got dark. That’s the effect I am aiming for in an antho.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
WSD: That the stories in The Best of Abyss & Apex 3 took them somewhere. I’m a firm believer that readers enjoy fiction as a break from their real world, and should feel like reading is a mini-vacation from their everyday lives. They should be so involved with the characters, so into their emotions, so into the setting and tension that they have to blink when they realize they are back in their normal, everyday world. Hopefully, when they come back to themselves they are changed for the better, entertained, perhaps challenged and thoughtful. The stories will linger in their hearts. That’s what good fiction is supposed to do.
DJ: When it comes to getting stories for these anthologies, how do you select the “best” stories from the Abyss & Apex vault?
WSD: I usually start with a backbone of stories that I realize, right when I buy them, will eventually go into a Best of A&A volume. When it’s time for a new anthology, I have a list of those, and then look for other wonderful stories that will flesh out the balance. They jump out at me, line themselves up and I just know they’ll fit.
DJ: Now that The Best of Abyss & Apex Volume 3 is released, what is next for you?
WSD: We’re considering so many things: an electronic version of the magazine to distribute to libraries, tax exempt status, raising money to increase our pay rate, training staff to take over in case I get hit by a truck… you know, the usual. But mainly, we just want to keep finding new talent!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01C0Y19F8
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Best of Abyss & Apex Volume 3 that we haven’t talked about yet?
WSD: We have some new author success stories to tell about the authors in the anthology! Keep an eye on Jeremy Szal, editor of Starship Sofa, who’s story A&A “The Galaxy’s Cube” opens our book and started a meteoric career. And an A&A success story, Alan Smale, was kind enough to come back and give us a piece of fiction not found anywhere online. We published him several times when he was starting out. You should take a look at his award-winning Clash of Eagles series, an alternative history where Amerind mound-builder culture clashes with the Roman Empire.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
WSD: My pleasure.
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***The Best of Abyss & Apex Volume 3 is published by Abyss & Apex and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Enter the worlds of Abyss & Apex, where a planet’s inhabitants can shed their subjugation with the help of an ancient AI, where superheroes burn through evil, where assassins climb through castle windows to find magical surprises, and Viking women battle ghosts and the dead to serve the ruler of their underworld. Discover a spaceship in the desert, a time-traveling classic car, and an enhanced military canine turned detective. Meet an old woman who calls down avalanches, a high-tech Moslem mind gardener, and a magician who does origami… with souls. Be part of a joint Chinese/American rescue of an astronaut, and visit a library that can read your mind. Oh, and discover a shape-shifting dragon.
These stories are the most recent crop of the best short science fiction and fantasy we have to offer at A&A, and not all of them are available online. Abyss & Apex is known for finding new talent; enjoy them here.
About the Author:
Wendy S. Delmater has been editor of the Hugo-nominated online magazine, Abyss & Apex, since 2006. She is also the editor of the three Best of Abyss & Apex anthologies and is the author of Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer, and the Better Dating Through Engineering series. Wendy’s recent publication credits include short stories and poetry in the Fantasy for the Throne anthology, Quantum Muse, Manawanker podcast, Little Blue Marble, Stranger Fictions, and Altered Reality. You can visit her Amazon Author page, or follow her on Facebook–or Twitter where she’s known as @safewrite.