The Dark Sire, Bre Stephens (Interview)
Interviewed by Zachary Shiffman
The Dark Sire Literary Journal is an online and print literary journal that publishes “monthly serialized fiction, and twice yearly paperback issues (Fall and Spring).” It seeks gothic, horror, fantasy, and psychological realism submissions in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe, Fyordor Dostoevsky, Mary Shelley, and J.R.R. Tolkien. The magazine provides a steady stream of dark and eerie short fiction, poetry, art, and serializations for its readership’s consumption, as well as tremendous support and opportunity for its contributors. Bre Stephens is the magazine’s founder and Editor-in-Chief. For more information on The Dark Sire visit www.darksiremag.com.
What are some of the challenges of running a literary magazine?
Two of the biggest challenges are reading submissions and heading a team. The Dark Sire gets 100+ submissions a month and I am the only reader. This means I am inundated with reading material. It’s important to give each submission its due course, so I take my time reading to really understand the story and the writer. Doing this takes time, so sometimes I feel like I’m never going to get through my TBR pile. The other challenge is heading a team. Though I have help in managing the everyday tasks, like social media and the blog, I still have to manage all departments, which means I not only have to center on EIC duties - and reading - but I also have to follow up with my team, making sure they are on task and hit deadlines, and, if need be, jump in if they need help. I’ve honestly had to stop reading and laying out issues so that I could help my team, causing my work to back up. Juggling a team, reading, and being the EIC is not an easy job.
What prompted you to start two literary magazines?
The Dark Sire was a reaction to a question posed by one of my graduate professors: “What will you do to contribute to the writing community?” I didn’t know at first but then quickly decided to found a literary magazine when I saw a need for more traditional dark literature. Although gothic is part of the horror genre, work like Edgar Allan Poe doesn’t quite fit. And since I write traditional gothic, it only made sense to create a literary magazine that would give a “voice to the voiceless.” The second literary magazine was the sister to The Dark Sire, a stepping stone into building a catalog of small press publications.
What inspired the Dark Sire’s horror focus? What about Tallon Lake’s romance? Furthermore: what inspired the magazines’ respective names?
The Dark Sire was named after its genres: dark fiction that also bespoke epic fantasy. I imagined darkness, smoke, a black void as dragons and knights roamed the Earth. Thus, “The Dark” equaled the dark atmosphere of the stories and “Sire” spoke of the valiant sword and shield. “The Dark Sire” then became a skeleton figure that bore a crown, waiting to hear the dark cries of his people. TDS, as it’s called, isn’t as much about horror as it is about darkness and eeriness, the creepy and the twisted. Most of the material we print isn’t meant to scare readers, per se, but, instead, to creep them out - make them shiver. TDS is geared more toward Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley than modern-day horror. Poe’s work wasn’t merely to scare people but to make them think, to entangle their minds, to draw them into the twistedness that is macabre. TDS then is inspired by 18th-Century gothic literature, and my personal love of Poe, Shelly, Stephen King, and Anne Rice.
As for Tallon Lake, now an anthology, it was named for a TV series I wrote in 2010-2011. Tallon Lake (the TV series) was a drama about the inhabitants of a high-class apartment