At the recent World Fantasy convention here in Toronto (ok, Richmond Hill), I was on a panel about the late, much-missed Twilght Zone magazine. I was fortunate enough to make my first professional sale to TZ, after having entered their annual short story contest and finished as a runner-up for my story “The Party Over There”. The editor, Tappan King, returned the story with the comments that “perhaps I should rethink the ending” and “it needs to be deeper”. Since the ending was what the story was about and I had no idea what “deeper” meant, I didn’t do anything. Then one day he called me at work. After I stopped gibbering, I admitted that I hadn’t sent the story back because I didn’t want to change it. He said “so send it back as it was and tell me I’m full of shit”. I made some minor modifications and did just that (well, minus the shit reference). He bought it and my next story “Exodus 22:18” as well.
At the convention, the panel included Elizabeth Hand (to whom I lost the first TZ First Publication contest – and the best story definitely won), Scott Edelman, Darrel Schweitzer and Lawrence Connelly. We shared stories about our experiences and what the magazine and its staff had meant to us. I was a subscriber for a year or two before I entered the contest and I found the magazine to be an incredible resource for book reviews, introducing me to new writers as well as classics, and a place to find the kind of dark fantasy fiction I loved by the best writers around.
Thanks to the convention team and my fellow panelists for a great hour of memories.
For more information, check the article on Lawrence’s site.