Friday Feature: Interview with David Ulnar-Slew

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with David Ulnar-Slew (also known as Edward Sullivan), an editor of Aphelion and Editor-in-Chief of Cheapjack Pulp.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

Answering that in a straight-forward manner would be like picking one ice cream flavor or one beer. I love to be entertained. Give me something the last person didn’t. You should make me feel something. If you can make me laugh that is great, but make me cry sometimes too. Scare me or offend me. Offending me is outstanding from an editorial point of view. You should make me feel something deeply. Of course crossing lines is still possible, don’t spread meaningless hate or perpetuate violence on the innocent. Beyond that tell a love story, create a hero, spin a tragic tale, hit someone with a cream pie, or write kinky, bisexual bizarro erotica. Just don’t bore me; I don’t have time to be bored, life is too short.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

I grew up reading Asimov’s and Analog. I also had a subscription to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I read anything I could get my hands on really. There are now so many good venues for the written word due to the internet. Ultimately I admire anyone who keeps the written word alive and allows new talent somewhere to craft their passion for literary creation. I started Cheapjack for that reason and to fill a need to entertain.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

Every editor will tell you should have some format which is at least a little neat when you submit. Use spellcheck at the very least — if you can’t be bothered to at least run a quick little program then why should I be bothered to read it? Other than that, open well. I know in the first paragraph whether I want to keep going or not. The decision to keep reading comes initially after a few hundred words, then is validated after a few thousand with anything longer than flash fiction. You need a good hook.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We only aspire to entertain. There is no deep sociopolitical or ideological agenda. I recruit writers to write content for one purpose and one purpose only: to pull the everyday person out of their life for a few moments and give them a little vacation of the mind. It is neatly packaged and easily consumable. There is a time and a place for deep literary meaning that will change the world — it is not at my magazine. We are here to titillate, humor, scare, excite, and console. The experience offered has no agenda other than to give you a story to amuse your mind for a little while.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

My kingdom for a romance writer! I know speculative fiction writers, and all around decent writers, who can cross genres quite well in every other genre. A good romance writer would be worth their weight in gold. It is an art form unto itself. They seem to be everywhere sometimes, but this is just not true — all the best don’t seem to want to write short stories for a reimagined pulp mag. They would rather write novels and I can’t blame them. They are some of the most prolific writers of any genre as a group.

What made you want to be an editor?

I didn’t. I fought it tooth and nail. After taking the leap late in life to start writing again, I was put in a position where if I wanted to have certain things I had grown to love at a publication I wrote for continue I had to do it myself. I thought I was going to be a train wreck. I soon found out that I wasn’t half bad — not good, mind you, just not half bad.

My developmental and substantive editing skills are pretty good. I am a hell of a big picture guy. I lean on others for copy edits quite a bit though, because as a reader stories often turn to almost film in my mind. I have to slow down my eye speed to catch many copy edit mistakes. I can do this if I have to, but I prefer not to because at heart I am an artist who is mostly petulant child inside. I just keep doing this because it keeps others producing and I get first peeks at great works, kind of like film critics getting sneak previews.

What kind of things do you write?

I write speculative fiction under my own name and use it for nonfiction as well. Increasingly I have leaned toward putting my horror, science fiction and fantasy under my pseudonym — the benefits should be obvious. If you search any arrangement of Ed Sullivan, you won’t get me anytime soon. If you search David Ulnar-Slew, well then it is all me!

I will write anything I guess. I had to write romance once recently to fill a deadline. It wasn’t awesome, but it was okay. It entertained sufficiently, others could have done better perhaps.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

I found it on the internet after searching for an antiquated term that had an interesting way of catching the eye. It also had to mean something common and entertaining that had no highfalutin connections. I knew I wanted to bring back the pulp aesthetic.

What inspired your aesthetic?

Pulps. Penny Dreadfuls. Bad movies. Soft core porn. Saturday morning monster movies. Any TV at 1am. All the things that are not full of themselves. The people who just wanted to create, so they took a chance and threw something out there. Some of them fail miserably, but some grab the brass ring even though they were not even supposed to be in the race.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I hope we keep going. I hope I build so much momentum that when I die someone else keeps doing it. I want people to come back over and over each time an issue is released to be entertained. They should laugh, cry, get angry, and even possibly get offended a bit. I want to be a place where stories that may not have been told otherwise find a place and an audience. I want to entertain and amuse and I want to give others the opportunity to do so as well.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

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