Interview with Midnight Screaming Magazine Editor Kara Ferguson
Kara Ferguson was born and raised in Memphis, TN. In late 2008 she obtained a BLS from The University of Memphis in Art History and English, and then thought it might be a good idea to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. Since then Kara’s spent most of her time writing short stories, poetry, and novels in various stages of completeness. She’s picked up a few publishing credits along the way. In addition to her writing, Kara is the founder and editor of a quarterly dark fiction magazine, Midnight Screaming, which published its first issue in 2009. Kara has served as a Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month and is a member of the Memphis based writers’ group, Word Catchers, and is currently the programming manager for MidSouthCon. With what little time she has left, Kara reads everything, watches zombie movies, and scours the web for new flavors of pocky.
URLs (facebook, twitter, ect…): twitter:@KaraFerguson FB: http://www.facebook.com/midnightscreaming
EWR: Why was your publication started? What was the original idea behind the magazine?
Ferguson: I started Midnight Screaming because I knew a lot of wonderfully talented authors who couldn’t get their work published. The idea wasn’t to publish them specifically, but as a writer myself I knew we weren’t alone. We were originally a multi-genre publication because as a reader I didn’t read just one type of fiction and knew very few readers who did. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to market something like that.
EWR: Who are some authors you are particularly proud have been published in your magazine?
Ferguson: Jackie Gamber, not only is she a good friend but she’s an exceptional writer and a great editor. Sally Houtman, her story Predictable was the first thing I read that I JUST KNEW had to be in Midnight Screaming. Holly Day and Kimberly Richardson, I’ve published these ladies a few times and their work creeps me out.
EWR: What advice would you give your writers trying to publish with your magazine?
Ferguson: Read the submission guidelines. Half of the submissions I say no to, are rejected because someone couldn’t follow directions. Read an issue before submitting. I know people always think we say that because we want to sell stuff, and we do, but really we want you to know what kind of work we like so you’re not wasting our time, and we’re not wasting yours.
EWR: What important changes do you see happening in writing right now?
Ferguson: Not so much in writing, but in publishing things are changing. The world, and the publishing world is going digital. As publishers, if we’re not willing to adapt, we’re setting ourselves up to fail.
EWR: As the editor can you describe the role you play at your magazine?
Ferguson: Ha! We’re small press, so I pretty much do everything, except the website. I read the slush, send the rejections and acceptances, keep the books, mail the orders, do the interviews. My husband handles the website, and I pay him in oreos, dinner, and clean clothes.
EWR: What upcoming projects would you like to tell our readers about?
Ferguson: I devour books and when I got a nook a few months ago and fell in love with it. So, I’m excited to say that we’re moving towards producing some of our future issues in ebook formats! Also, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing an anniversary anthology for our fifth year, but that’s not anytime soon, we’ll see how it goes.
EWR: What personal projects would you like to share with our readers?
Ferguson: I’m pretty busy. I’ve always got a writing project of my own going. But, I also volunteer for my local scifi/fantasy convention, MidSouthCon. They’ve given me the honor of serving as the head of the programming department for MidSouthCon 30.
EWR: Is there anything that has surprised you about editing a literary magazine?
Ferguson: Everything was a surprise, really. There’s not exactly a handbook for this kind of thing. It’s mostly a good kind of surprise though.
EWR: What advice can you give to editors who would like to start their own literary publication?
Ferguson: The first thing I would do is ask that they’re checked out by a mental health professional. Then, I’d tell them the facts: Don’t do this thinking you’re going to make money. For most magazines, it’s a for-the-love venture. Familiarize yourself with your local business laws, like do you need a license, who do you pay taxes to, etc. Learn small business accounting and buy some good software to go along with it. Talk to your family and friends, any business is a huge undertaking and will suck your time and life from you. Have a a hobby you enjoy that you can escape to. Do it because you love it and it’ll be rewarding even if you never make a dime.
EWR: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Upcoming from you or your magazine?
Ferguson: Keep writing and keep submitting. Don’t take rejections personally. Never send all your work to one market. Be patient and be professional. Never send a first draft. Never give up!