There are some awesome literary magazines on the market out there. They offer readers a chance to read pieces and styles they might not normally explore, from authors they are yet to discover and they are a great way for indie writers such as myself to get your writing out there. I love a good literary magazine, so when I discovered that a new Horror based literary magazine was coming out of Edinburgh (one of my favourite places in the world) called Blood Bath, I was beyond excited. And when I found out their first issue was based around the theme of Bodies and I saw that epic cover art by Jo Ruessmann, I knew I would have to buy a copy then and there. Read to the end for my full review of the first issue (spoilers- I loved it!). I was honoured to interview the Editor of the magazine about her love of Horror and why she decided the world needed a little more of it.
- Tell us a little about you, the person behind Blood Bath zine.
Hi!! My name’s Katy, I’m editrix of Blood Bath! I live in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m also a genre
fiction writer, mostly sci-fi, horror and weird fiction. I’ve been running BB since April
2. What Inspired you to start the magazine?
I wanted to start BB because I was struggling to find a local horror publication that I wanted to send my work to. I like sharing my work through local publishers, and I was constantly finding that most horror publications were American or Canadian. I thought with Edinburgh being Gothic, haunted and one of the weirdest cities in the world, it was strange that we didn’t really have a cool, genre specific, weird, spooky publisher. I also know loads of horror writers who are writing great stuff, but no-one wants to take it. So, I decided to make my own space for them.
I came into some money when my Dad passed away in January 2017, and he always encouraged my love of horror, so it seemed appropriate to use the money to start BB. When I was a teenager and just getting into weird stuff he would give me serial killer books, horror novels and movies and even (accidentally! He didn’t realise what it was, and neither did I until I got to a certain point!) a soft core porn novel about Elizabeth Báthory, the Bloody Countess who (legend has it) bathed in the blood of her victims. So the first issue is dedicated to him, and we’re also hosting the next issue’s launch party on his birthday! We’ll be announcing the date very soon.
3. Why Horror? What about the genre fascinates you?
I think everyone is into horror! Even if you say you can’t watch horror movies, everyone secretly wants to look. It reflects so much of what is inside us, the things we don’t like thinking about, but we’re frequently forced into looking at. Life is horrifying and awful, and horror has always shown that, unflinchingly, and made it beautiful or poignant or just illicit an emotion in you, which I think is cool. Horror and sci fi and fantasy occupy such a special place because we can look at ourselves stretched to the extreme, or in a different world. It lets us attack, deconstruct or challenge the world around us. Also I just think horror stories are about better things. Genre fiction as a whole is just more fun and exciting to read than regular fiction, for me at least.
4. What do you look for in the pieces you include?
I always look for something I haven’t seen before. So much of horror is the same, people
re-hash ideas all the time, which is not a problem! You can do something that’s been done before, but just twist something essential about it. You can do a werewolf story, but go and read and watch all the werewolf stories you can. See what’s out there. Find out what perspective or message or theme is being overlooked, and do your own version of it, or subvert the pieces that are already there. Originality weighs in much more than a perfectly polished and edited story I’ve read a million times before.
I think when someone knows the purpose of their piece, when they know what they want you to do as a reader, that just lets you enjoy the world or the cool ideas they have to show you! So knowing your piece and what you want it to do also helps. As I’ve already mentioned, being socially aware and subversive is important for me in choosing a piece. But being in this gatekeeper position is very subjective, and I will pick pieces that appeal to me specifically. That’s why it’s important to keep trying until you find a home for your writing.
5. Do you have any tips or advice for new writers out there, keen to be published?
First, the guidelines are not loose guidelines they are rules! Follow them! The publisher has written them for a reason.
Just be nice!
Keep trying! Just because you don’t get into one publication, doesn’t mean your work wouldn’t be perfect for another.
There’s no need to put on a show in your cover email, your work should speak for itself. Just list your top 3 or 4 publications if you have any, some people send a full list of every publication they’ve ever had. It just doesn’t really add anything to your submission, and it’s a little annoying to scroll through to get to the end of your email. Keep it concise.
Write a lot and edit more! Editing is less fun than writing for me, but it always improves my work when I do a lot of careful, considered editing.
I haven’t given much writing advice, but I think it’s better to just develop your work in your own way, only you can figure out what kind of writer you are and what kind of work you want to create.
Lastly, look after yourself. It’s easy to be overcome by rejections or writing that’s not working. It’s a tough and highly emotional job, make sure you make time for self care, whatever that looks like.
6. How does someone submit their writing to you?
They can submit via email, email@example.com. But read the guidelines on our website first!
7. What does the future hold for the magazine?
I’m not quite sure! And that’s exciting! I’m working with some people I really admire to create the second issue, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out! DEMONS will be launching in early May, with an incredible launch party in Edinburgh. I wish I could share more details with you, but it’s going to be a great night! It will definitely be demonic and debaucherous.
We’re going to a few more small press fairs and zine fests, as well as publishing conferences and literary events. I want BB to just keep growing, as there’s so much writing and art I want to share with the world. I do want to expand to publishing books, short story collections, and some weirder stuff. I’m very excited to see what the future holds!
My Review of Issue 1: Bodies.
The human body can bring about a mix of emotions, everything from lust to fear. They fascinate and disgust us and they are discussed and picked over constantly, whether by our own harsh assessments of how our own body measures up to modern beauty standards, to the constant media attention they receive. I have read countless horror novels and seen dozens of movies where human bodies are subverted and twisted into something which haunts us, hence why they make the perfect theme for the debut of Blood Bath. The Magazine contains 13 pieces of writing, all with this common thread and all with a dark and macabre edge to them.
We start with Miss West’s Requisitions by Ever Dundas, a depiction of a truly disgruntled employee and perhaps, if we are honest with ourselves, a version of those horrible little dark thoughts we have in the back of our mind when someone irritates or upsets us at work. It’s a great story, with a humorous side and a fab start to the magazine. Petrified by Felicity Anderson-Nathan depicts someone’s hand, then arm, becoming petrified. It’s short but impactful and leaves you feeling very sorry for its protagonist. Feed Them by Mary Crosbie is one of my favourites featured in the magazine, depicting a woman who is willing to go to incredible lengths in order to stay thin. It’s a chilling indictment of the pressures put on women to conform to modern beauty standards and to maintain a skinny, size zero body….is it weird that reading it made me hungry? Probably says more about me than I would care to admit. Next up, we have The Sea Witch by Angie Spoto, is a much darker version of that classic mermaid with a human lover trope. It’s gory and gross, in a good way. Family Pool by Scott Clark is my favourite of the contributions and tells the tale of a family and their very hungry, utterly terrifying swimming pool. This one really stayed with me and even sent a little shudder up my spine. Maleficae by Tiffany Morris is a vampiric poem, short but beautifully written. Ghosted by Kristy Falconer describes one Hell of a bad break up. I liked this story. It was filled with melancholy and Falconer has a particularly beautiful way with words. A Terrible Meat Eating God by Holly Lyn Walrath, a piece of flash fiction, is all about consumption and is again, beautifully written and very poetic. The Unrecalled by Rita Hynes, depicts a teenage girl and her morbid fascination with the things happening to her body. This one made me feel a little nauseous! If any story manages to have a physical affect on you, you know it’s a good one. The Eye that Offends you by Alys Earl is a dark and haunting twist on the traditional fairy tales we loved as a child. I really loved this one, it was just perfect. Cleaver by Jelle Cauwenberghs features a girl haunted by the ghosts of the past as well as a future threat she must be ready to face. This is another of the stories with wonderful language and I loved the snippets of past memories dusted throughout. Witch Ridden by Katie Bootland, is based on the tale of the blacksmith’s wife of Yarrowford and is short but beautiful. Finally, Enclosed in clothes by Laura Dehaan, the final contribution and the third of the poems is a wonderful end to the collection of tales.
Overall, I loved this magazine. The stories and poems are all so unusual and well written and perfectly chosen for the issue’s theme. I love the cover art so much and I look forward to issue 2: Demons, coming soon. Definitely a 5 stars out of 5 from me!!
Katy is accepting submissions for the Demons issue until February 14th, head to their website
to find out what she is looking for. You can also buy prints of the fantastic cover art by Jo Ruessman
on the Blood Bath website, but hurry because there is a limited amount and they’re selling fast.