Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grim Interview: Adrian Collins

Our first interview!  Grimdark is on the rise, and nothing could be cooler than a new e-zine chalk full of gritty goodness to satisfy our unending thirst.  Grimdark Magazine, online at, is slated to hit the interwebs in October, and I the chance to chat with Adrian Collins, the editor and founder.

The first guest for the Grimdark Fiction Interview is none other than Adrian Collins, founder and editor in chief of the forthcoming quarterly e-zine, “Grimdark Magazine”.  Adrian, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us.

No worries.

Tell us a bit about yourself.  Where are you from?  Family, kids, career, secret identity?  How did you get involved in writing and publishing?

I live and work in Sydney, Australia, working as a tender/proposal writer for a tax company. I live with my very supportive girlfriend. She's backed me from writing my first short story to kicking off this magazine.

My background is in business processes, project management, as well as business and creative writing.

I got involved in writing a long time ago, in my teens. I'd read and written since I can remember being alive. Unfortunately, where I grew up, anything creative that wasn't music was generally frowned upon and I allowed myself to be shamed out of writing and really loving the sci-fi and fantasy genres openly by my peers.

When I finally picked it back up again I was in uni. That first novel disappeared in a haze of drinking, rugby, and more drinking (pretty sure I turned up to a class or two as well at some point). Eventually I woke up one morning with an absolutely fucking belting new year's day hangover and realized I'd thrown away almost six years without writing. I set myself a goal of writing my first novel by the end of the year and delivered on that promise to myself.

Grimdark Magazine was born out of a few bits of feedback I got that my short fiction magazine submission were too grim in their endings and the frustration of not being able to place those works. It also came from a want to experience the other side of the publishing industry coin. We only get to live once. We might as well try everything. I know how to develop businesses, have some pretty solid contacts, passion for the industry and the genre, and have been very fortunate to gather like minds around me to contribute and collaborate.

Weapon of choice?  (Sword, ax, mace, or bow and arrow?)

I have a really nice 14th C Lord Marshall sword (made by Hanwei). So I'll pick a mace, or a flail, or maybe a Norseman's axe... Can I take a few? What about a shield?

There have been some gentlemanly disagreements over what the sub-genre of grimdark is defined as.  How would you define grimdark?

This is an easy, yet really difficult question. Easy, because I know what I believe it is. Hard, because everyone has a different perspective on it. Therefore I'll preface this opinion by saying the opinion is mine and I'm always happy to be challenged.

Grimdark is a grim story in a dark world. Authors challenge readers. They challenge readers to love unlovable characters. They challenge you to read through unspeakable acts and keep believing that there is a way out or back for the protagonist or antagonist. Authors use perspective to keep readers reading like a surgeon uses a scalpel to keep you breathing. 

Finally, black humor. Without it the sub-genre loses its flavor to dreariness.

The first issue of Grimdark Magazine is scheduled to drop October 1st of this year (I can’t hardly wait), can you tell us the process of how the magazine came to fruition?

A great deal more hard work than I'd originally thought, actually! It started as a business plan I wrote with a mate over a few beers and grew from there. My background is in business, so setting up processes, working with change, website design, etc are all pretty easy for me. 

I chipped away at the setup over about 4 months before it was ready to bring people on board and asking for submissions. It's just sky-rocketed from there.

The magazine is a work in progress, and always will be, so long as I or the subscribers can fund it. I'm pretty open with the guys volunteering with the mag, so we're always coming up with new ideas to implement in order to further the publication. For example, you can expect to see Cheresse Burke out at Worldcon in a GdM shirt handing out our cards and posting on our page in August this year. 

You’re stranded on an abandoned habitable undead alien infested moon-base, what three books do you take along?

You mean, I have time to read in between wantonly slaying them with bolter and chainsword? I think I'd have to take Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes, Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns, and probably an Australian war history book like Peter Fitzsimmon's Kokoda.

You're currently taking submissions for short fiction and for artwork, have you been seeing some quality work come across your desk?

There's been some amazing stuff. I've actually had some pieces from some big names in the genre that we're really keen on. There have been some pieces that we've agonized over but had to pass on, and a couple we're holding on to, to see if we're going to be able to find a spot for. There are plenty more that either just aren't a fit or aren't quite there. Plenty of amazing stories and slices of imagination in this first bit.  Reading these has been the most fun I've had with the magazine.

On the flip side of this are the buggers that clearly haven't even bothered to read the submission guidelines or are trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. If I've ever accidentally done this to a magazine, then those first readers and editors have my sincerest apologies.

We're a but lacking in the artwork department, though we've had a submission from Luke Spooner, whose done some good work for other markets. If you know any good artists, send them our way.

Why choose grimdark?  Why not alt history supernatural romance or middle grade literary cyberpunk?

It's my personal favorite to read and write. I also researched the current paying markets and found a lack of a pro-paying market for the sub-genre. 

No doubt that dark and gritty fantasy is on the rise, do you have an idea as to what factors have contributed to the popularity of grimdark fiction?

I think people like it because it's more real. We can relate to character's fallacies because we all have some - or many - of our own. I know I certainly do.

We're realizing that there is no such thing as a golden hero or pure evil. People are a million shades of grey between absolute good or evil, and there are six billion perspectives around the world to appreciate it. 

On a grander scale, I think we as a society, especially in the west, are beginning to question the world more. We've had it pretty good for a long time and now we've started really asking if our governments and banks have our best interests at heart and we're doing it with a never before seen level of cynicism (mostly due to social media allowing us to connect opinions and research like never before). 

Besides being the maliciously evil genius masterminding the precise construction on this awesome new e-zine, do you have any other works in progress we can look forward to?

I have two self-published books on amazon that nobody should buy. They are the two novels that every writer should put in the drawer and never allow to see the light of day. I wouldn't hand back the experience of writing and publishing them for anything, though!

Other than that I've got my third novel 90% done. I'm chasing an agent on this one. You might see some of my shorter stuff in magazines in the next year as well. Grimdark stuff, of course. Keep an eye out for me. I might just get lucky.

What direction do you see the grimdark genre going from here?

I see it branching out into other genres and taking over. Medieval fantasy and futuristic sci-fi have taking a right beating at its hands.  Who’s to say when somebody will grab another sub-genre by the balls and grimdark the hell out of it?

What wisdom or advice could you offer to aspiring authors when it comes to writing and submitting grimdark short fiction?

Learn to write well. You'd be surprised how many absolutely cracking stories get lost beneath prose that is either sub-par or gets tied up in the author's own cleverness. Look at Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind. The prose is simple, beautiful. It's almost like you forget you're reading.

Take my money already!  October 1st is when we can expect the first issue of Grimdark Magazine to infest e-readers across the globe with it’s blood soaked pages of literary malignance.  Where can folks go to drop some gold pieces in your satchel? 

Amazon, iBooks, iPhone/android app, bloody hell, wherever I can get the thing up it's going up! Each electronic issue will probably set you back at about $2.99, individual stories (from the apps) about $1.50 each. Hard copies will come in a bit dearer, depending on the page count.

I'll make sure the website has links to every method the magazine is available. Jump on our Facebook page for updates,

Again, Adrian, thanks so much for hanging out with us here at Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers.  It’s much appreciated, and best of luck with the new e-zine.


My thanks to Adrian for jumping in and taking his time to talk to us.  I encourage you all to keep an eye out for the new magazine in October, be sure to buy a copy, and spread the word.  The more noise we can make, the more grimdark goodness to come our way. 

1 comment:

  1. Didn't realize there was a name for the sub-genre I love. I always say dark fantasy. I love a good anti-hero :) Who coined the term Grimdark?