Magic is described as science we don’t understand and illusions as tricks of controlling audience perspective. Black hat or white hat, good or evil, witches, hackers, and robots work types of magic a little beyond our day-to-day comprehension. And what’s more exciting than the inexplicable? DARK MAGIC is all around us. Join us for a thrilling ride.
Kayla Bashe, Derrick Boden, George Brewington, Daniel Carpenter, David Castlewitz, Dantzel Cherry, Sara Codair, Preston Dennett, Sharon Frame Gay, Peter Hagelslag, G. Lloyd Helm, Russell Hemmell, Tom Howard, Pascal Inard, Rachel Morris, Molly N. Moss, Andrew Nelson, Colleen Quinn, Lawrence Salani, J.J. Smith, Leigh Statham, Jeff C. Stevenson, Samuel Van Pelt, Rachel Watts, Lorna Wood, Dany G. Zuwen
Hannah has a BA in History, has worked for several years as a freelance editor, and is an educator. She spends all her spare time escaping between the pages of a book, and a foray into editing seemed like the best way to channel that energy.
She lives in rural Virginia with her husband and her four rambunctious children. As Acquisitions Editor, Hannah discovers new talent and acquires manuscripts for OHP. She is also the co-editor of their yearly anthology series.
Witches, Hackers, and Robots, OH MY! If it sounds a little creepy…it should, because today’s interview is all about Dark Magic. With us today is Hannah Smith, Acquisitions Editor at Owl Hollow Press, one of the editorial geniuses behind the Dark Magic: Witches, Hackers, & Robots anthology. We’ll discuss the stories hiding inside Dark Magic, the publishing process, and the company that made it happen.
These are a few of Hannah’s favorite things…
(Hannah: Do I have to pick just one thing for my favorites list? I’ll pick two just to be difficult.)
Author: It’s a tie between Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson.
Book: I love WWII fiction, which means that my honest to goodness favorite novel is The Book Thief.
Song: My favorite band is The Fratelli’s and my two favorite songs by them are Seven Nights, Seven Days and Whistle for the Choir.
Show: Other than Stranger Things, my two favorite shows right now are The Kittering Incident and Poldark. (Do you like how I snuck three answers into that question?)
Movie: My favorite movie since 9 years of age is The Empire of the Sun. That gets a solo answer.
Fairytale: I read a lot of fairy tales to my kids from cultures all over the world, but I’m most familiar with our Western versions. I’ve always had a fondness for Jack in the Beanstalk and the many versions of Cinderella.
Superhero: The Iron Giant and Percy Jackson
Super villain: Loki and Lex Luther
Superpower: flight and speed
Okay. We officially need to have a super villain party, y’all! And now that we know the inner workings of your heart, let’s talk about the newest Owl Hollow Press release, Dark Magic: Witches, Hackers, and Robots. Tell us readers what we can expect when we dive in.
From the very first sentence, this anthology will surprise and titillate. There are scary stories that will make you afraid of the shadows in your living room, psychological thrillers that will mess with your mind, and lines that might even break your heart.
The diverse approach to the three topics is the most intriguing part, and each story is vastly different from the next. Each writer has a unique voice and storytelling method that will appeal to a wide variety of interests. It’s quite possible that every person that reads it will have a different favorite story. So, I am super excited to announce that coming soon, we will be having a contest to pick the story that resonates with you the most. You’ll vote for your favorite! The winning authors will get a prize, plus fame and glory.
Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Dark Magic? What kind of stories can readers expect to find, and what makes Dark Magic unique from other anthologies out now?
Magic is found all around us every day, whether it is life bursting forth from a tiny seed or the complexity of sand granules. Anything mysterious can be seen through the lens of magic, and all of us seek to find answers for those extraordinary events in life.
We wanted to find the unexplainable things in today’s world and mix them with a little old school magic. After that, we dipped the whole idea in a dark approach full of sinister motivations and unexplained horrors. We wanted to put out a fascinating group of stories that would scare the pants off of you one second, and then be whimsical and fun the next. Together, the collection will give you a taste of the dark magic of imagination.
What it is like working with multiple authors?
It was such a pleasure to work with so many great authors. There is absolutely nothing like the excitement that pours out of a group of awesome writers. Before long, we had a party of people to get excited with during every step of the way. These little geniuses thought of ways to spread the word and even helped market the book. So, it has been the best experience. We are so proud of everyone’s hard work and accomplishments. I wish the best for each of them in all they do from here on out.
From conception of idea to finished product, can you tell us what the process was like?
After announcing the topic, the word spread quickly. For just 6 weeks, we accepted submissions and we received hundreds of them. All of the stories had to be read carefully, which took a long time. A few stories stood out and were almost immediately accepted. Others were read multiple times and were discussed, voted on, and fought over. Sometimes to the death.
The stories that were accepted had to strengthen the whole collection, so we chose carefully. Our original maximum limit was set at an even twenty stories, but 5 more snuck in because we couldn’t live without them. After that, acceptance letters were sent and contracts were signed. Each person had to okay their minimal line edits.
While that was going on, the cover was designed and the story order was discussed and finalized. A lot of hard work was put into formatting the stories into book form. There were multiple final read-throughs before the book was okayed with the printing press. And then we got to meet the book in person, which was pure magic.
What’s the hardest thing about putting an anthology together?
Sending rejections for the stories that we loved and had grown attached to was the hardest part of the process. There were a lot of really great stories that just didn’t stick as close to the theme as we would have liked, and letting those go was sad. There were also a million details that went into the book that nobody will ever notice. A lot of those time consuming tidbits that made everything perfect in the long run. It was all worth it since we cranked out a masterpiece.
What about your favorite moment?
This whole process was like digging for buried treasure. Watching wave after wave of stories come to our inbox filled me with excitement. I jumped out of bed every day so I could race to see what was going on. When we found a story that just resonated with us, it was pure joy. And we are super proud of these stories as a result.
You edited Dark Magic alongside Emma Nelson. How was it collaborating with another editor? Did you have a process? Did you always agree on which stories to accept or reject?
For Emma and I, it was a pretty seamless process. There was a constant back and forth about what we were reading. We generally got excited about the same stories with the same level of enthusiasm. Emma would highlight something that I had overlooked, and then I was convinced that it needed to become ours. We were respectful of each other’s different opinions, since those can be subjective. Overall, each story felt like it had to be in the anthology.
Outside of the anthology, name one favorite witch.
My favorite witch is probably Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service. She uses her powers for good and gets to ride a broom. Both are qualities that I admire.
What about your favorite hacker?
Trinity from The Matrix is my favorite hacker because she mixes her brains with her brawn.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Wall-E. He can’t even speak but communicates his feelings so easily.
With that in mind, if you had to choose, would you be a witch, a hacker, or a…really intelligent robot? Why?
If I had to choose, I would most certainly choose to be an intelligent robot. Science fiction has always been a favorite genre of mine, so anything robotic resonates the most with my interests. Humanizing something that is so prevalent in our lives can be exciting or horrifying. I would love to meet a sentient robot someday, so it was a pleasure to pursue that idea in our anthology.
Love it! Hannah, the intelligent robot. It’s got a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? After all this Dark Magic fun, will Owl Hollow Press be producing any other anthologies in the future?
YES! We are already cooking up an idea for next year’s anthology. It’s going to be epic. More great authors and more great stories to introduce to the world.
Best piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Read every day or as much as possible. Don’t ever stop reading for fun.
Best piece of advice for life?
Thanks so much for sharing, Hannah! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Dark Magic, and we gnomies can’t wait to see what other amazing stories Owl Hollow Press has in store! Good luck, ladies! We’re rooting for you!
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your copy while it’s on sale through November 5th. And don’t forget to take part in their hacker giveaway. Details on their website.
Find more about Owl Hollow Press
Dark Magic: Witches, Hackers, & Robots