Monday, May 17, 2010

Ellen Datlow (Interviewed by Charles Tan)

ELLEN DATLOW

Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. Last year, you edited anthologies based on the works of two famous writers. The tricky aspect of such tribute anthologies is that the fiction might simply be homages and pastiches. How did you avoid this trap?

They weren’t exactly tribute anthologies, although Poe’s was published in honor of his Bicentennial. Each anthology was meant to be comprised of stories inspired by Edgar Allan Poe or H. P. Lovecraft. I tried to make it very clear in my guidelines that I did not want pastiches, that I wanted the writers to push the envelope by not using the sometimes overblown language of these two iconic writers but instead create something new using Poe and Lovecraft’s tone, thematic concerns, and especially obsessions.

Poe and Lovecraft are respected writers. What aspect of their writing particularly stands out for you, especially when it comes to the horror aspect?

Poe’s obsession with death and sometimes his language (particularly in his poetry). Lovecraft’s language and his obsession and dread of the unknown.

Both writers, in my opinion, flourished in the short story format. As an editor, what do you look for in a short story?

There are so many things I look for but most of them are subconscious. As I read, I either react positively to a story or not. And I’m excited by different things in science fiction, fantasy, or horror (although always, writing that either doesn’t impinge on the story or that creates the story).

But as we’re discussing my two horror anthologies, for me the best horror stories are those that embed themselves in my conscious (and possibly subconscious). Stories that won’t let go –whether they’re light or serious. Stories sharply told with a memorable character.

1 comment:

Danel said...

Here's to those "stories that won’t let go," and to the lovely lady who has been drawing us to them for the last thirty years.

Cheers and a good luck wish to Ellen Datlow for the Shirley Jackson Awards.