The New England Speculative Writers is putting together its first anthology. The theme, “The Final Summons.” Submissions by members are due January 31st. More details about the submission can be found here. Three curators will be reading through the slush and putting together the best stories. We thought it’d be good to interview each of the curators and give a little background about who they are and what they’re looking for in this anthology. Jeremy Flagg is one of the co-founders of NESW and he’s on the hunt for diverse authors and equally diverse characters.
What is your background in literature?
I’ve been writing since 2006 and in 2009 I self-published my first novel. In 2015 I landed my first publisher for my sci-fi superhero series. I’ve published two non-fiction, six fiction books, and been part of five anthologies. My own writing ranges from young adult to superhero science fiction depending on my mood at the time. For my short stories, I find myself compelled to write horror, a genre I’ve always loved. In 2011 I became the Municipal Liaison for the Massachusetts Metrowest region of National Novel Writing Month and started the Metrowest Writers with some other excellent authors.
What are some of your favorite fantasy & sci-fi novels?
I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. In fantasy, I always found myself moved by Lynn Flewelling’s “Luck in the Shadows.” Her attention to Seregil and Alec’s emotional and social turmoil, brought them to life. She also created a realistic romantic relationship between the male leads that took center stage for one character but not the other. This struggle resonated with my own experience in the LGBT+ community.
I also find myself fascinated by R.A. Salvatore’s “Demon Wars Saga,” which focuses on Jilseponie, an amazing female lead. Salvatore’s departure from traditional magic systems is paired beautifully with a lead character who is thrust into an impossible position when all she wants is to survive in peace. Her determination in the face of world gone mad tugged at my heart-strings. I enjoyed the emotional rollercoaster.
Nightwatch and Daywatch wetted my love of dark fantasy. Not quite horror, but always with dark air about it, Kuyanenko Sergei knows how to set a tone. Introducing me to the wonders of Russian story telling, he captivated me by reinventing the noir detective as a misguided do-gooder vampire. Sergei strips away the pop culture associated with vampires and witches and creates a fresh modern tale woven with classic themes.
My favorite science fiction book is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. His ability to take technologies just beyond our current grasp and infuse them with religion had me reeling. I also appreciated the fantastical element of the metaverse with sword wielding hackers. There is something amazing about this idea of being able to jack into another world and be another version of yourself. I wanted to be Hiro Protagonist growing up.
What excites you most for the upcoming anthology?
I’m thrilled to see the many interpretations of “The Final Summons.” But more than that, I’m excited to step into another character’s world. I have no idea where each story will take me. I am looking forward to feeling, seeing, and doing as this character does. I also wants to see what amazing scenarios and worlds each author can develop in a short space. I don’t know if I’ll be an elf, a teen wizard, or a rogue fighter pilot in outerspace. The mystery has me eager to read.
I’m also interested to see how the idea of “summons” works into the plot. I don’t know where it’ll take me as a reader, but I want to immersed in a unique world and without chapter after chapter to give this information, I’m excited to see how the author will weave it into their story.
Is there anything you’re specifically looking for?
Diversity. I want characters unlike myself. I want to see the rainbow of gender expressions that avoid clichés. I want people of color who bring their culture into the character’s history and experiences. I want ethnicities I’ve never encountered and have a chance to step outside my own experiences. I want characters who have more than one emotional setting. I like them to be strong and weak, brave and fearful. I love the flaws in our humanity and believe these make for memorable characters.