What’s the coolest place around? The Mall! Outrageous neon-drenched, air-conditioned corridors welcome us inside. It’s an oasis. From the food court pizza parlor to every hip store, you could totally find everything you ever wanted. It’s good times to the max!
But that’s not all you can find at the mall. Not even!
Pastel paint streaks the walls, flowing over the occasional gaps between shops. But if you stare at it, the colors shift and combine, and follow you.
The music store is rockin’, but don’t get the used cassettes. Debbie Gibson gives way to electric howls as something screams from the void.
And don’t even think about trying that weird game at the back of the arcade! The guys say it’s giving them nightmares and weird vans are following them. But I saw the van, and I know it was Bobby driving and trying to scare us. So don’t encourage them!
I love the Mall. But you wouldn’t want to be trapped here alone at night…
What We Want
Supernatural stories set in the 1980s. Not horror stories, necessarily, but stories that use the 1980s and its culture in an engaging way. Bring us supernatural adventures, supernatural mysteries, supernatural fantasy, or supernatural pulp.
First and foremost, aim to capture the spirit of the era. That’s something we feel both Speakeasies & Spiritualists succeeded in for the 1920s, and Sockhops & Séances succeeded in for the 1950s. If you’re looking to know exactly what we want, reading those books is the best place to start.
The Pizza Parties:
Historical accuracy is required. This extends beyond technology to attitudes, beliefs, and so on. See below for a full discussion of historical accuracy.
Creative, fresh preternatural elements are preferred. Think more The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.
While we’re not closed to submissions featuring traditional occult threats such as vampires, werewolves, etc., stories featuring these monsters will be a hard sell. Only the most outstanding stories will catch our eye. If you chose to use a monster—or someone pretending to be a monster—we’d prefer something wild.
The threat must be occult—or preternatural—in nature. This extends to stories taking advantage of the Satanic Panic.
What I’m Looking For
You want things other than horror? Yes. While we will happily accept horror, and our collection would be remiss without horror, we’re also looking for a wide-range of genres. Mystery, Fantasy, Pulp, and Adventure. Science fiction and Romance are harder sells, but we’ve been surprised by submissions in styles we’d never have thought to expect. When it doubt, submit.
We’re looking for supernatural fantasy stories, supernatural mystery stories, supernatural pulp stories, supernatural adventure stories, supernatural horror stories and any other kind of supernatural story so long as it makes use of the 1980s milieu.
Should my ghosts be real, or fake? I have no preference. Focus on telling a good story, whether your haunts are ectoplasm or petroleum jelly.
I am seeking a mix, however. You’re more likely to be accepted with a fake ghost, simply because of how few fake-ghost stories I receive.
May I set stories anywhere in the world? Yes, we welcome stories set outside of the United States.
May I use the Cthulhu Mythos? Yes, but I strongly encourage, and prefer, fresh takes. Show us something new. The more it feels like a copy/paste of Lovecraft, the less interested I’ll be. Jon Black’s stories and novels are an excellent example of how to do this.
What tone are you looking for? I’m looking for a mix of serious and fun stories. I often receive fewer fun stories than I’d like.
What about gore? Gore is part of the era’s style. However, please keep in mind we do not publish extreme horror. Don’t linger on the gore and horror for paragraphs on end. Stick to what is essential to your story.
Do you take reprints? Yes. Just let us know in the submission (this will not count against you).
What We Don’t Want
That’s the big one. Nothing will make us pass on a story faster than historical inaccuracy. We’re willing to work with authors on such things as culture, clothing, food, and general language. The background history of a story is easiest to fix, and we love talking about it.
But inaccurate attitudes are a sort of historical inaccuracy that will make us immediately pass on a story. This leaves stories unfixable.
Bigotry is not the default of history. While you are welcome to explore such things, keep in mind, this should be treated meaningfully rather than as extraneous, exploitative, or a given. Presenting all—or the majority of—your characters as stock racist, sexist, or the like is one of the fastest ways to the reject pile. We’re far more interested in nuanced portrayals of people than stock types.
People in the 1980s held a huge variety of opinions. Reflecting this, instead of repeating the same stock figures, massively increases your chance of acceptance.
Elements to Use Cautiously
The “Satanic Panic” as a theme. This extends to stories about the panic over Dungeons & Dragons. If you choose to use this theme, pitching is highly recommended.
The Cold War. If you have a great idea involving this, treating it with depth and historical accuracy, feel free to approach it. Keep in mind it will be a hard sell. We prefer to see the late Cold War used as a general theme instead of as the focus of the story. We aren’t likely to accept more than one or two stories directly focused on the Cold War.
Slashers. Do not make the villain the de facto protagonist. We’d be more interested in clever, character-focused reworkings of the concept along the lines of Predator (1987) or The Terminator (1984).
The following will be immediately rejected:
- World War 3/Nuclear Armageddon. While the threat of nuclear war was present, stories should remain in the real 1980s.
- Pizza Stories. Despite our title, we are not looking for pizza-based horror stories. Pizza parlors can be featured in your story, but please do not make pizza itself the subject of the horror.
- Animatronic Pizza Parlors. While we welcome stories with animatronics, please do not set it in an animatronic pizza parlor. We believe Scott Cawthon has the market cornered on 80s animatronic pizza parlor horror.
Payment: 5% of the gross profit will be paid for each accepted story. These payments will be issued to you at quarterly intervals. Stories under 1,500 words will only receive 4% of the gross profit.
Rights: First World Digital and Print.
Deadline: August 1st, 2020
Word Count: 4,000-20,000
How to Submit your Story:
- All stories should be sent, as an attachment, to the address email@example.com.
- The file must be formatted in .doc or .docx.
- The interior of the document must be in double spaced Times New Roman (12 point font).
- Indents must be placed through your system’s Paragraph function; do not set indents by pressing tab or space. If you already have tabbed or spaced indents, please remove them first. Please use full em dashes (—).
- At the top of your document, please include William Shunn’s submission header.
- Tell us a bit about yourself in the body of your email. Don’t stress this, it won’t make or break your submission.
- Place the collection you’re submitting to, your name, and your story title in the subject line of your email. For example, “Pizza Parties and Poltergeists / Author Name / Story Title”
Nicole Petit writes and edits because no other job lets her sleep until noon. Fantasy is her forte, a sliver of genre right between urban fantasy and fairy tales. She has curated the collections Sockhops & Séances, Silver Screen Sleuths, Speakeasies & Séances, Just So Stories, After Avalon, and From the Dragon Lord’s Library. Her anthologies have won numerous awards. The Preditors and Editors Readers’ Poll 2018 named her #1 Best Editor overall, and she has placed in the top three every year since 2016.
Original header vector created by pikisuperstar.