More thrilling adventures are here in the Summer 2021 issue of Cirsova Magazine. Cirsova features short tales (and longer fiction) like audiences used to be able to find in the pulp magazines that were popular in the mid-twentieth century. And modern readers are enjoying it. So I did a Q&A with Cirsova founder and Editor P. “Alex” Alexander about it.
As a side note, I advertised my latest work of fiction, the short story “Thor vs. the Valkyries,” in the Summer 2021 issue. It’s a great read and you should buy it now.
Paul Hair: Summer 2021 is your 7th issue so obviously you’ve experienced some success. Is Cirsova growing with each new issue? What feedback are your receiving?
P. Alexander: Actually, the Summer issue is our 20th issue. (Maybe we should have done something special for it?) We had 10 issues in the first volume, which was titled “Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.” When we landed an Edgar Rice Burroughs story, the Young Tarzan fragment completed by Michael Tierney, it seemed like a good opportunity to relaunch and rebrand as “Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense.” So, including the three “specials” we published (two Summer and one Fall), we’ve published another 10 issues since the relaunch.
We’ve received a lot of glowing feedback over the years, with many people proclaiming us to be a second coming of Weird Tale or Planet Stories. Which is really cool! I don’t know if we quite merit those accolades, because those were truly legendary publications (during their original incarnations, anyway, not the more recent skin-suits), but we’re thrilled that the people who are reading us appreciate what we’ve been aiming for.
PH: The Summer 2021 issue features part 2 of a 3-part serialized novel by Michael Tierney and a novelette by Caroline Furlong. And it also features a bunch of short stories. Is this going to be the format going forward? One serialized novel, one novelette, and then the short stories?
PA: Originally, we’d avoided doing serializations, with the exception of James Hutchings’ “My Name is John Carter” long-form poetic adaptation of A Princess of Mars, and “Littermates,” a two-parter from JD Brink where each part still stood alone. However beginning in 2019, we became the publisher for Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars®, a science fiction series with roots going back to the 70s. After publishing the third installment, Time Warmageddon, as a standalone “special,” we put together a standardized 35th Anniversary Edition consisting of the first two installments, The Book of Circles and Force Majeure, an updated second edition of the third installment, the fourth installment, Wild Star Rising, and a 700+ page coffee table omnibus.
One of the things we wanted to do was grow the readerships of Michael’s series, so we elected to serialize The Artomique Paradigm across three issues in 2021. We’ve already acquired the rights to Wild Stars VI: Orphan of the Shadowy Moon to serialize in four parts in 2022.
Now that he’s retired from running his comic book stores in Central Arkansas, Michael has had time to refocus on writing and, having finished four Wild Stars books in the last ~3 years, has felt confident enough to announce the overall plans for the series, which will include another six installments. So, we’re going to be giving those a home as he’s able to get them to us.
We also are planning to continue our long-running Mongoose and Meerkat series from author Jim Breyfogle, who’s been in the pages of Cirsova since Volume 1, Issue 3 back in 2016. We’d run a couple of these a year until we put out a collection of the first 5 stories, but following its success, we went ahead and bought the rights to the entire series. We have been running a new adventure of Kat and Mangos every issue, now with interior illustrations from DarkFilly, who illustrated the first collection.
So, it looks like, for the most part, yes, each issue will be featuring a serial installment of Wild Stars (so long as Michael keeps turning in novels to us), a short adventure of Mongoose and Meerkat (at least through 2023), and whatever else we’ve bought for the issue.
The Winter issue this year will feature three novelettes (The Artomique Paradigm is wrapping up in the Fall issue), including a cover story by Mark Pellegrini, who is probably best known as writer for the smash hit Kamen America comics.
2022? It’ll depend on what we get during our submission window this August. We’ll be open from August 1st through August 7th, paying $0.0125 per word on original fiction. Our guidelines can be found here.
PH: One of the things fiction authors and publishers have learned is that sometimes you can attract more attention for a work of fiction by crowdfunding for it instead of writing and publishing it without any support. Are crowdfunds now an integral part of publishing Cirsova?
PA: To be honest, I hate it. Cirsova Publishing has always been ready to deliver a product that’s finished, soup-to-nuts, to readers. Everything done and paid for. The best thing in the world to us would be that we could put out a finished product, available for retail, and people would buy it.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things work. Crowdfunding has become big because it turns releases into events that buyers are emotionally invested in. We could’ve just put The Cosmic Courtship on Amazon and called it a day, but that would not have gotten us the same results that flogging a Kickstarter for two months did.
Cirsova Magazine’s release schedule is too rapid for us to crowdfund effectively, and the last time we tried to crowdfund for the magazine itself, it failed [because we set the goal for what it would actually cost to put it out]. Plus, if I was having to do fulfillment myself for every issue of the magazine, I probably wouldn’t have time for anything else.
So, for now, the magazine is a loss-leader, while projects like Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer, Jim Breyfogle’s Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat, Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars, and the new Cirsova Classics line actually makes us a little money. And yes, we’ve used crowdfunds for these books which have actually turned a profit for us and our authors.
I wish we didn’t have to do Kickstarters. I wish we could just put out books, tell people we put out books, and have people buy them. Not having to box and mail things myself would be fantastic, but that’s just not where the buying market is today.
PH: What other works has Cirsova put out (such as The Cosmic Courtship) and what other ones are you working on that you want people to know about and support?
Our first really big project, which kind of paved the way for The Cosmic Courtship and Cirsova Classics, was the 70th Anniversary Illustrated Stark. We reprinted the three Eric John Stark novellas that Leigh Brackett wrote for Planet Stories magazine, fully illustrated by StarTwo, with 33 interior illos plus a ton of bonus content in the hardback collection.
The Cosmic Courtship is one of our biggest projects at the moment. It’s the first in our new line of Cirsova Classics, where we’ve teamed up with Michael Tierney and Robert Lupton to find near-lost public domain pulp stories that have never been reprinted or collected and restore them, publishing them in a modern format. The Kickstarter just fulfilled mid-July, and retailers will have them in September. By then, or earlier, we’ll be ready to announce our second Cirsova Classics project, which is to collect the rest of Julian Hawthorne’s All-Story Weekly stories.
We don’t want this to overshadow Jim Breyfogle’s The Paths of Cormanor, which we’re taking pre-orders for now on Kickstarter. In between volumes of Mongoose and Meerkat, we’re releasing this novel which is a spin on the classic Swan Princess fairytale, mixing in other Eastern European folktales and Scandinavian mythology. People who have read it have been comparing the feel and setting to Jack Vance’s Lyonesse but with the action of an Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure.
We also have a couple anthologies from Misha Burnett out now.
PH: Where can people find you online and where is the best place to follow all that Cirsova is publishing and producing?
PA: The best place to follow Cirsova is on our WordPress blog, cirsova.wordpress.com. Here, you’ll find news, links to all of our releases, and much, much more!
Pick up the Summer 2021 issue of Cirsova Magazine today!