08 June 2007

"More than ..." Heliotrope Magazine & Jay Tomio, pinned

If you haven't yet read Heliotrope Magazine (co-founders: Jay Tomio, Dave Comery, and Damon Caporaso) you are at one with the majority of people on this planet, and that would be reason enough to change your status quo. This ambitious Speculative Fiction E-Zine is sure to provide not just reading pleasure, but the controversy that is the lifeblood of the living creature that is a story worth telling or an observation worth having been made.

The Rise and Autumn of Rome
Issue #3 of this international magazine (though you wouldn't know it from the Fall 2007. It's winter 2007 here already, you Northern Hemisphere slowpokes!) will be out in a few months, and a gobstopper of delights it will be.
How's Gabe Chouinard, Jeffrey Ford, and Theodora Goss for a chewy centre?

Issues #1 and #2:

Issue #1: Short Fiction by Samantha Henderson, Edward Morris, Michael Colangelo, Articles by Jeff VanderMeer, R. Scott Bakker, and Heidi Wessman Kneale, Poetry by Catherynne M. Valente, Reviews by Robert Bee, John Turing, Scott Andrews, Victoria Hoyle, and Kimberly Fujioka, Artwork by Liezl A. Buenaventura

Issue #2: Short Fiction by Gerard Houarner, Vylar Kaftan, January Mortimer, Poetry by Sonya Taaffe, Artwork by Liz Clarke

At a future time:
Since Jay Tomio surprised me by asking me for a poem which will appear (if the End of Days doesn't intervene) in Issue #4, this posting is to perform the awkward job of announcing this stirring news, and now that that awkward moment has passed, I wasn't going to let Jay get away unscathed. I pinned him down and forced him to answer some questions. I'm happy to report that he squirmed.

Jay Tomio, editor-in-chief of Heliotrope Magazine answers some Questions

Q: Why the name 'Heliotrope'?

JT: The title of the publication was actually the subject of some pretty lengthy discussion between the three owners of Fantasybookspot.com – Dave, Damon and myself. To say we weren't on the same page would be an understatement. That shouldn't be viewed as a statement reflecting angst as we keep each other honest in not only this but all our dealings and it's the strength of this triumvirate. I see so many projects initiated by like-minded partners and after awhile a flatness is achieved that is a product of 'No' – and forgive the sixth grade Government/Eco class term – checks and balances, too much bathing in each other's shared glory. The discussion itself went on all kinds of tangents, from us commenting on other SF/F site administrators we think are lame, to poker, to finances. I was really throwing out some strange combinations because I had just read Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, and Dave was clearly influenced by reading the Hal Duncan interview we did trying to fit 'Vellum' and Damon was approaching it from an alchemical angle. I don't even want to admit how much of a last minute decision it was, but I want to say it was Dave who finally came up with Heliotrope.

I think if you ask each of us why we went with or liked it we would each give a different answer. It hit home for me for a couple of reasons – and not because it was simply kewl as some random illiterate on a random board mentioned. For myself, it worked on so many levels and as even as recent as last week as we have been discussing ideas for the design of our site I always took the idea of Heliotropism and envisioned marching flowers leaving some tranquil state and diving into a sun, or the individual eyes of a flowers being scorched able to resist and look away. I always envisioned a real Fantasia type trippiness; a room made of windows that leads your mind no where via every where, vivid, startling, strangely horrific – but always present, whether drawn to, enveloped by, or retreating from – is beauty.

Why the magazine?
JT: The idea was brought up by me but took life as plausible reality by the talents and enthusiasm of Dave and Damon. Fantasybookspot.com is a step in-progress to a bigger plan and Heliotrope is the second step to that goal. I want to get this out of the way: we do have a rather self-serving plan and goals with our projects. What it came down to is a desire to be a part of the Speculative Fiction culture, not just on the outside looking in – sometimes sheering, sometimes jeering, but otherwise nothing more than leeches; random webmasters getting much fatter off of google ads and other sources of revenue than I think some would imagine. In some form you could call it guilt. Fantasybookspot.com has enjoyed unbelievable support form the community, be it writers, publishers or fans and this just seemed like obvious next step both from the stand point of what we wanted to accomplish to get to our end game. When I was younger, me and my friends always made the comment (regarding another hobby) that everyone who has a Civic wants an Accord, everyone who has an Accord wants an Integra, everyone who has an Integra wants a BMW. We have a site, we have an E-zine, we are starting to accumulate stories to print with issue#4 – now we are looking for a Beamer.

I started reading short fiction heavily in the last couple of years, and as I made my rounds I began to think it quite absurd that people could publish stories from such talented writers for basically nothing. One could literally make dozens of anthologies out of stories that were bought for $25-$50 a piece that content-wise would be vastly superior to the last crazy successful anthology I remember – Legends. I think some of the best writers in these fields write short fiction. I'll take Ligotti, Link, and Chiang against any novelists you want to bring. We are on that not always fun path trying to transcend our personal hobby into something more.

The fun part is finding out exactly what that is.

In the end I simply miss a hell of a lot my old haunts. I miss Ellen Datlow's SciFiction, I miss Cheryl Morgan's Emerald City, I miss
Gabriel Chouinard's Dislocated Fictions column, I miss Fantastic Metropolis. If the locales are gone it's time to bring the old ghosts a new place to rattle chains.

What question would you wish I would ask you?
JT: I would never intrude on your interview in such a fashion. I promise I'm quite uninteresting.

What question are you really glad I didn't ask?
JT: About my high point regarding this hobby of ours or some question like it. It's rather fanboyish.

Now answer that question, please.
JT: To be pointed out – among other online fans – by R. Scott Bakker in his The Thousandfold Thought. I think he's one of the great voices in Fantasy, and from a person who just goes bonkers when an author's book comes in the mail that I'm dying to read – and to flip a page and see mention – well it was kind of like being in middle school and finding out a note the teacher caught in transit from the hot blond to (circumventing the competing busty brunette) her tag-along best friend was about you. I wish he would write a mediocre book so I can prove I'm not swayed by sentiment in offering opinion of his work, but I'm not really convinced he is capable of it. I think whenever his Neuropath hits stands he will blow enough people away to give his Fantasy a well deserved look. I thought it was rather refreshing. We often see authors thanking their family their dog, their gardener, editor, publicist, their second grade teacher etc – but this dude took the time to point out fans. That's awesome and better than being the source of any blurb which is purely merc decision. I'd like to think I'm beyond blushing, but yet quite pleased I'm not. Bakker wrote a rather kickass essay for our first issue – and that's how I'm making my reply on topic! Aside from that how many people we owe for supporting Heliotrope and FBS – that would take a rather long time.

Jay's blog: The Bodhisattva

The interviewer predicts:
Jay Tomio will break his promise.

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