U.K. Publisher Seeks Unique YA Stories

Wyvern Publications began in 2008 with the goal of championing “teen fiction that may have been rejected from popular publishing houses for being ‘too unique’.” With titles like The Faerie Conspiracies, Dragontales: Short Stories of Flame, Tooth, and Scale, The Voices of Ire, Mertales, and The Howling Moon, Wyvern has accomplished that goal. Their books promise stories infused with fantasy, mystery, horror, and romance. 

The publisher continues its mission to find unique voices with Wyvern Magazine, an ezine for teen fiction. In this interview, editor Holly Stacey talks about what she’s looking for, her favorite authors, and what’s new at Wyvern.

What do you look for in a story? Are there any specific types of stories or plots that you wish writers would send you?
I personally look for character led stories that fit the basic genre of what we have advertised for – teen!. For the magazine we get so many stories, it’s sometimes impossible to choose and of course, we don’t just have fiction. I always look for strong, well-rounded characters with an original storyline (or a new twist on an older tale) and well paced action. I want to feel what the main character is feeling and be taken through his or her story absolutely gripped and convinced that they are real. First person limited and third person limited are our preferred narrations, and all the editors on the Wyvern team will tell authors to not jump from one character’s point of view to another. The magazine usually has slots for two to three short stories, some flash fiction and maybe a poem or two.

As for particular stories or plots, we are generally open and like to be surprised! As long as it fits well within our readership, has a strong narration and original voice, we’re interested.

Why would you pass on a story?
If a story was good but had so many grammatical errors that I wanted to give up reading, I’d pass on the story. I’d also pass if it was boring, switched viewpoint mid paragraph, was unoriginal, or just poorly written. Excessive foul language, graphic sex, or violence are also a no for us. For the anthologies, the editors will sometimes find stories that they like but need improving on. When this happens, we contact the author and tell them what we’d like changed if the author is willing. For main submissions, however, there are just too many to give personal feedback on, which is a shame because there are some amazing stories that come our way (and some very poor ones, but there is a learning curve for all writers).

What do you enjoy the most about editing Wyvern Magazine?
That’s a tough one to answer. I think when it all comes together at the end is when I’m most enjoying it, but I love the point of sending out acceptance e-mails (the worst is having to reject, but it comes with the territory). Of course, there are times when things seem to go terribly wrong. These are usually technical hitches such as images not uploading on the website properly, or my PDF deciding to reformat.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why? Favorite short stories? Is there a story (or two) that was completely unforgettable… changed your life or outlook in some way?
I absolutely love Neil Gaiman! Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins (I do love turn of the century fiction), Holly Black, Tolkien, Poe, Crissida Cowell, Diana Wynne Jones, ah, I could go on forever. Derek Landy also is one of my favourites. Aubrie Dionne, who we are lucky enough to have as one of our authors also keeps me gripped when I read her tales. I think it’s the magic in the stories that keeps me wanting more; there is something almost bewitching about the way they write and I end up getting so emotionally involved with the plot and characters that they will creep into my dreams.

One of my favourite short stories is by Poe – where the lunatics in an asylum break out and pretend to be the doctors. It always makes me laugh, but also reminds me that life’s ‘rules’ are always dictated by those in power, no matter how insane they are. For teen fiction, my favourite short story is by Alice Godwin called Clearskin. It was the winner of the short story competition for Wyvern Publications last year and it left me in gooseflesh for days afterwards it was so beautiful.

Anything new coming to Wyvern Magazine this year?
We’ve got the ‘Assistant Editor’s Corner’ which is good fun as it allows our assistant editor to use some of his own fiction to highlight some do and don’t for writing. Other than that, it’s the usual articles, fiction and interviews.