“Making The Magazine,” By Brian White


So, here’s the deal. There’s this magazine, right? It’s called Fireside Magazine, and it’s put together by this guy, Brian White, who I sometimes kidnap and keep in my cellar, ostensibly to edit my work but most times just to watch marathons of bad cartoons and throw cans at his head.

Right now, Fireside Magazine is on a Kickstarter campaign for its third issue.

I’ll give you two reasons — well, two and a half, anyway — to consider taking a look at the page and pledging a little something-something to the cause.

First, Brian has pulled together some crazy-go-nuts talent across all three issues. Elizabeth Bear. Stephen Blackmoore. Mary Robinette Kowal. Ken Liu. That’s just the tippy-top of a really shiny, really lovely iceberg. I’ve heard his plans for other authors hopping on board and — well, all I’ll say is it’s in our best interests to have this magazine keep living on.

Second: Brian is committed to paying writers really well. Well above the norms, by the way — you’ll find very few (if any) markets paying what Fireside is paying. So, if you’re a fan of authors: help him pay them.

Second-and-a-half: I know this because Fireside published me in their first issue. Brian let a little Atlanta Burns short story called “Emerald Lakes” slip through the gates and, oh, that’s right — you can now read that story for free online thanks to him.

Now, time to bring Brian over here so he can talk a little about the subject of putting together a magazine and what that means for the stories, authors, and readers of said magazine. Say hello to him.

And don’t mind that he smells like my root cellar.

* * *

Storytelling is the blood that flows through the veins of Fireside. When the idea for starting a fiction and comics magazine bubbled out of a brain stew of ideas about writing and publishing, I knew I wanted to break the convention of a genre-focused magazine. The inspiration was what Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio did with their 2010 anthology, Stories, which was to find fiction that, as Gaiman wrote in his introduction, keeps readers asking “and then what happened?”

When it comes down to it, I don’t think genre matters. I used to. I used to think I was a sci-fi and fantasy guy. It defined me as a reader. But other genres kept pecking in around the edges. And then Twitter happened, and I started seeing people talking about all kinds of great books, and great writers, and I started buying other things. And you know what? I like it all. Crime, comics (not a genre per se but let’s lump it in for this discussion), horror, non-genre, clowns, just give me a good story and I will read it. All genre defines is how a story is told, not whether it is somehow “worthy” of your attention. Same goes with prose versus comics.

When I started asking writers – people like Chuck who I knew a bit from Twitter – if they’d be interested in taking a chance on me and our first Kickstarter, most everyone asked, “OK, what are your guidelines. What genre do you want? Theme?” And I told them to write whatever they wanted. Just write a good story. And they did. And some of those stories weren’t anything like what I’d have gotten if I’d asked for something specific based on what the writer was “known” for. Ken Liu, one of the best short speculative fiction writers emerging now, wrote a beautiful non-genre story. Stephen Blackmoore – whose first book, City of the Lost, a violent pulpy zombie novel that nearly made me puke in my Cheerios – wrote a sweet, optimistic science-fiction story.

In our first two issues, we’ve also had fantasy, horror, crime, near-future sci-fi, and ninjas. And I love that. I love that each issue has a different mix of lenses to peer through. I love not knowing exactly what that mix will look like until the stories come in after the Kickstarter is successful. The writers I’ve worked with have really embraced the idea, and I think we’re producing something that isn’t quite like anything else. Our readers don’t quite know what they’re getting from issue to issue, except that the stories will keep them turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Fireside started as a stew of ideas in my brain, and now we are making a stew of stories for each issue. And I think it’s pretty damn tasty.


  • Fireside is so very worth supporting. I missed the first kickstarter but subscribed through weightless books and I loved it so much I supported the kickstarter for issue 2 and now issue 3 as well even though I’m already going to get e-copies of it through the subscription.

    I urge anyone/everyone to go check out the free stories going up on Fireside’s site from issue #1. Chuck’s is good, it made me want to read more of his Atlanta Burns’ stories and I hadn’t previously planned on checking out that particular one of Chuck’s properties. Ken Liu’s is one of my favorite things I’ve read all year, definitely my favorite short story so far.

  • Kickstarter unfortunately holds ideas for ransom. I’d rather donate directly to the cause than give Kickstarter a cut. A recommendation from Chuck Wendig holds a lot more water, and I bet Chuck won’t be sipping from the cup.

  • Sweet enthusiasm, love the passion. Really cool for us editors of other start-up magazines to see how successful they can be. Congrats on what you’ve done so far and good luck in the future!

  • How convenient, my good Chuck from the House of Wendig!

    I have just finished writing my first short story originally set to be in a set of anthologies solely written by yours truly, but I have discovered the Anthology/Magazine market, so I have decided to sell it to other publications when it’s all spick and polished, and presentable for the common people to gaze upon.

    *Disengage Midebal mode*

    It’s a fantasy short called “The Silver Pond Of Injustices”, and as you can see, I get quite into it. I’ve had my eye on a couple of magazines/anthologies, but I don’t see a reason why I should not keep my eye on this one. This’ll be my first officual published work, so I’m sure to polish and smooth off the edges of my wee little babe before I thrust it into the critical world.

    My thanks is to you, Charles, of the Wendig tree. Thank you, good sir. I shall be off! I have Giants to slay and civilizations to drive to their knees. The blood-red moon is upon us!

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