Q&A with Apex Magazine Editors Jason Sizemore and Leslie Conner

October 24, 2016

In a change from the norm, what  we have today is a double feature Q&A with the tippity-top rungs of Apex Magazine!
Q: What is your role at Apex Magazine?
JS: I am the editor-in-chief, the big cheese, He Who Walks Behind the Rows, keeper of the gate.
LC: I’m Apex Magazine’s managing editor. The term managing editor can mean different things for different publications, but for Apex it means I’m editor-in-chief Jason Sizemore’s right hand man … er, woman.
Q: Who are some of the exciting names you have on the horizon?
JS: I’m especially excited to have Nisi Shawl appearing in the zine. I love her work.
Q: Who are some of the exciting names you’ve featured in the past?
LC: How much room do I have answer? Hehe!
We’ve have published so many amazing authors! Ursula Vernon, Seanan McGuire, Fran Wilde, Ferrett Steinmetz, Tade Thompson, Ken Liu, so many more.
Two authors that I’m particularly proud to have published are Sarah Pinsker and Damien Angelica Walters. Both are amazing writers who live here in Maryland. Apex is based out of Kentucky, but I live in Maryland and I love being able to highlight authors who call the same state as I do home. Plus, they’re both incredibly nice and so, so talented. They should be on everyone’s must-read list!
Q: Who is your favorite author that you haven’t published in the magazine?
JS: William Gibson. His style of fiction is a major influence on the original direction of the zine.
Q: Is there a story you’ve read that you’d love to reprint and haven’t?
LC: This is a fantastic question and the answer is yes! I absolutely fell in love with the story “Pop Art” in Joe Hill’s collection . It’s a magical, surreal kind of story and I think it would be the perfect selection for an Apex Magazine reprint. I’ve even gone so far as haunting Joe’s website, looking for contact information or an agent to query, but alas, I have had no luck.
So, Mr. Hill, if you’re reading this and you’d be interested in talking about reprint rights, shoot me an email. I’d love to talk!
Q: Who is your 80s pop music spirit animal?
JS: A gerbil. Fun but, alas, forgettable.
Q: Who is your 90s rapper spirit animal?
LC: Hm … I was never really into 90s rap so I don’t know. If I had choose a musical group – not a rapper – I say Queen. I try to always stay positive and be everyone’s (my kids, the girls in my Girl Scout troop, my friends, Jason) personal cheerleader. Between “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions,” Queen seems like a good fit! Not too pop/cutesy and it really gets you pumped and motivated. Plus, I can really belt out the Queen lyrics! It may not be pretty, but I know every word!
Q: Have you ever had a dream about an author you’ve never met and if so, what happened?
JS: Oddly, no.
I have had a few dreams of authors I’ve rejected harassing me in public. Not that it’s ever happened, or that I worry much about it.
LC: If I have, I’m not remembering them right now. I do on occasion have dreams about J.F. Gonzalez. J.F. was my writing mentor and a good friend. He passed away a couple of years ago after a battle with cancer. Losing him has had an enormous impact on my life. I found out the day after he passed away that Sinister Grin Press wanted to publish my debut novel . It was simultaneously the best and worst moment because the dream of publishing my book – something I had worked on for years – was finally coming true, but I couldn’t share it with the one person who was so integral to making that happen. When I dream about him the situation is usually very mundane – we’ll be chatting about writing or grabbing a bite of lunch. Waking up and realizing we’ll never do those things again is very sad.
Q: Who would win in a Thunderdome fight between E.T. and Mac from Mac and Me?
JS: Nobody is a winner in that scenario.
Q: Who would win in a Coliseum battle between the Xena Warrior
LC: Princess and Selene of the Underworld series?I have to go with Selene from Underworld. And I am only saying that because she totally kicks ass and I kinda want to be her.
Q: If you had to have a body transplant and you had only the bodies of The Garbage Pail Kids to choose from, which vessel would you choose?
JS: Starin’ Darren.” Nothing is creepier than eyes, and if I have to be a Garbage Pail Kid, then I want to be the creepiest of them all.
Q: If you woke up one morning and were an all-new villain from the 60s TV version of Batman, what would you name, style and skills be and how would you foil the caped crusader?
LC: Obviously I’d be the Copy Editor, complete with horn-rimmed glasses and a red ink pen. I’d have the power to edit dialogue and sound effects. In a battle against Batman, I’d mark out all of his “Bam!”, “Crash”, and “Kapows!” and it would leave him powerless! Everyone knows that without the appropriate sound effect, Batman’s moves are all for show! *laughs evilly*
Q: If you were impregnated by Alien and somehow survived birthing its spawn, what are some lessons you’d try to instil in your Alien baby?
JS: I’d say “Son, don’t go chasing Predators across the galaxy. You’ll only be stuck in shitty movies with Lance Henriksen and find your cache dropping faster than your saliva through levels of steel grating.”
Q: If you had a time machine, which first edition books would you stockpile?
LC: I’d go grab first editions of all my favorite books: by Daniel Keyes, by Frank L. Baum, by Jean M. Auel, by Stephen King, and by J.F. Gonzalez.Thinking about it, I may actually have a first edition of , but I’d still go back and grab a new copy, not one I stumbled across in a used bookstore.I’d like to say I’d stop there – leave the powers of time travel to someone who could use them to make the world a better place – but I know that isn’t so. I am a compulsive book buyer. If I could go back in time and scoop up first editions of all my favorite books, not just my top five, then I’d do it. I’d be all over history, haunting bookstores and standing in lines for book signings. A home library full of signed first editions would be a dream come true for me.
Q: What is the best way to scare Lesley Conner?
JS: Lesley Conner is a strange individual. Stuff that scares most people doesn’t make her blink. For example, the film It Follows. A majority of viewers found the move to have decent scares and an overall high quality horror film. Not Lesley Conner. It’s inexplicable.
Mundane things like missing a deadline frightens Lesley. Ticks, mysterious rashes, unusual hair, creepy clowns…none of those work on her.
Q: What is the best way to irritate Jason Sizemore?
LC: Haha! Well, while I don’t go out of my way to irritate Jason – he is my boss, so purposely being aggravating probably is a bad idea – I do have a habit of sending him long emails. We’re talking HUGE, with bullet points and numbered lists and loads of questions that I wait expectantly for answers to. Probably one of Jason’s least favorite habits of mine. It isn’t so much that he minds me sending him the emails, it’s the time he has to sink into responding to it. Running Apex is busy job and spare time isn’t something that either of us have lots of. For me writing the emails is a good way to make sure he and I are on the same page and that I know what I need to be doing. All my detailed oriented tendencies go into overdrive and I cover every aspect in great detail! I know Jason actually appreciates this about me, but he likes to grumble about all the time he has to sink into reading and responding to these monstrosities.
Q: Is there anything Lesley Conner thinks she is good at, but really is not?
JS: You’re trying to get me killed, aren’t you?
I can’t think of anything. I really can’t.
Q: Is there anything Jason Sizemore thinks he is good at, but really is not?
LC: Honestly, no. When I started working for Apex, I knew nothing about editing and running a publishing company. I’d had a couple of short stories published in anthologies that you’ve probably never heard of and that was pretty much the extent of my experience. Jason has taught me everything: from marketing, to copy editing, to how to handle contracts. So if there’s anything he’s really not good at, then I’m not seeing it because it works for us. Jason would tell you that he’s horrible at organizing – and I may be slightly better at him than he is only because I’m so detailed oriented – but the fact is he was running Apex long before I convinced him to give me a job as an editor, so he can’t really be all that bad at it.
Q: What accomplishment in regards to Apex Magazine are you most proud of?
JS: That we’ve been bringing quality, diverse and award-winning fiction to our readers for nearly ten years!
Oh, about that last question…Lesley thinks she’s great at hiking. Truth is, she goes into the woods, gets lost, comes out ten days later looking like a feral woman. Squirrel bones in her hair. Covered in mud from head to toe.
Somebody really needs to talk to her about it.
LC: This may sound silly because we haven’t won any awards or anything, but I’m incredibly proud at how well received our cover art is. I know, that sounds strange. I’m sure you thought I’d say winning a particular award or publishing a certain author – and I am proud of those things – but with most of those things I Jason bring his vision for the magazine together. With the art selection, I have almost complete control.
Finding the cover art for Apex Magazine is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Jason trusts my vision and my instincts. He lets me select pieces, contact the authors, and schedule the artwork for all the upcoming issues. So when we do cover reveals and people gush about how amazing they think the artwork is, I can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy.
Plus, Apex Magazine has featured artwork from artists from all over the world! I love feeling as if I’m helping artists reach beyond their normal sphere of visibility and introducing their art to a wider audience.
Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner were reached by email. We thank them for their time. Currently, the folks at Apex Magazine are running a subscription drive, visit APEX MAGAZINE to support and subscribe.
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Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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