Here's a Mystery: Which Magazines Publish Crime Writing?
By Chris Wiewiora
I remember my grandfather, a retired doctor, drinking back-to-back mugs of percolated black coffee at his kitchen table, while flipping page-after-page of the most recent Dick Francis novel and using his diagnostician skills along with the detective’s sleuthing at a horse track; my mother on our porch with her cup of Diet Coke sweating along with her reading through the last pages of another Lilian Jackson Braun Cat Who… book; and my brother still awake in the AM hours with his door cracked for our family’s cats to go in and out of his room without disturbing him as he read Agatha Christie’s Poirot reveal the perpetrator of a crime. My boyhood curiosity led me to investigate my family member’s favorite series. I started reading their books. And so, I discovered the thrill of mysteries.
I’ve come back to reading mysteries since visiting my parents’ home in Florida this past summer. Instead of novels though, this time I’m reading stories. From my mother’s bookshelf, I picked up the Best American Mystery Stories 2007 guest edited by the hilarious, ecological-mind, Miami-based mystery novelist Carl Hiaasen. (After browsing one of my aunt’s bookshelves, led by my same boyhood curiosity, I read Hiaasen’s Striptease.)
In his forward to the Best American Mystery Stories 2007, the series editor Otto Penzler notes that since the paperback book replaced the pulp magazines nowadays beyond Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and the occasional commissioned anthologies there aren’t too many places for mystery writers to publish short work anymore. Of course, he wrote that five years ago, so I didn’t know if the meager availability of venues still held true. My curiosity led me to seek out current mystery magazines that publish Penzler’s definition of the genre: “any short work of fiction in which a crime, or the threat of a crime, is central to the theme or the plot.”
My search led me to discover many mystery magazines. These publications weren’t just produced because of Penzler’s statement. Rather, some had been around for a while already, and there’s even more mystery magazines today.
Here’s a start with five magazines that offer mystery writers a place to publish shorter work:
Founded in 2004, Crimespree is a print magazine that publishes more than just fiction. They include all sorts of entertainment, including DVDs, comics, and interviews. The staff of the magazine swells with two fans that became spouses, a teen librarian, the noir poet laureate, a former high school English teacher, a British writer and mystery book shopkeeper, a thorough enigmatic fiction reader, a former radio DJ and jewelry repairman, a multi-magazine editor, writer, and crime / thriller / private eye association member, a novelist-columnist, a grad student, an Ohioan, a UK judicial court worker, and a poet-reviewer. All of them bring together a deep love of mystery.
Shotgun Honey has the strangest name of the bunch. Their moniker comes from One Eye, Frigga a character from the 1974 Swedish movie THRILLER: THEY CALL HER ONE EYE. Like a shotgun’s blast, these crime fictions wallop the reader. All stories are under 700 words.
The Crime Factory has changed from an international print magazine to an online magazine, restarted by a former contributor. However, the magazine kept its focus on hard-boiled mystery. Beyond just crime fiction, the magazine includes a “deposition” category of publication for crime memoir that the editors categorize as more than just the “tower of trash” known as true crime writing. More than just true stories, they want true experiences of crime.
Mixer blends several genres together. They avidly showcase noir. The editors welcome writing that plays with a formula, while not being formulaic. Go ahead, mix art and entertainment, and send them stories that use language, subtext, symbol, point-of-view, as well as a hook-in-the-cheek plot. Not only do they publish short stories, they also publish longer work (i.e. novellas, and even novel-length), and they also pay $25 to $100.
Speaking of mixed genres, how about a buffet with that? The quarterly online and print magazine Big Pulp severs up castles and pirate ships, laser and swords, shirtless ab-revealing hunks and bosomy ladies, and monsters and gumshoes. The magazine lines up all the genres shoulder-to-shoulder: fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, romance, horror, and—of course—mystery.
Chris Wiewiora is a MFA student at Iowa State University’s Creative Writing and Environment program where he is the managing editor of Flyway. He mostly writes nonfiction, which has been published in Under the Gum Tree, nerve, MAKE, Swink, and more than a dozen other magazines. He is a regular contributor to the Good Men Project. Read more at www.chriswiewiora.comPhoto credit: Jim Barker / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA