We talk a lot at this blog about mystery/crime markets and which kinds of stores might fit which publications. I especially enjoyed Joseph D'Agnese's column the other day about using well-known figures from history in his mysteries, and I think it's cool that one of those stories of his is in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Also, I liked Barb Goffman's recent post about a story based on a favorite song of hers, for Josh Patchter's new anthology Only the Good Die Young: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Billy Joel. The truth is, knowing which magazines/anthologies to aim for with stories of certain content can be a task in itself.
That was one of the things that worried me a bit when I submitted a Western story, "The Donovan Gang," to AHMM eleven months ago. I'd read several Westerns published there over the years, but not many, so I remember thinking that I was taking a chance in sending them one. Be aware, this isn't a contemporary story set in the West, like Hud or No Country for Old Men or Hell or High Water. This is a story set in southeast Arizona in the spring of 1907, with bandits and saloons and stagecoaches and rattlesnakes and ambushes, much like the kind of 1870s story I published last month in the March/April 2021 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. But (also like the Post story) I had researched it quite a bit, and it included enough real people and towns and other locations that I thought it might be able to sneak its way into the more respectable category of historical fiction, which does seem to be acceptable at most mystery markets. You say tomayto, I say tomahto. Even so, I figured it was a long shot.
That's why I was all the more pleased to find out, a few days ago, that AHMM has accepted that story for publication. It probably won't be until 2022 that it finally sees the light of day, since I have three others queued up there also, in their accepted-but-awaiting-publication bin. Still, it's something to look forward to.
There's another short story I have out to AHMM at the moment that I'm concerned about also, because it's a crime story with a science fiction element. Like Westerns, that kind of cross-genre story seldom shows up in AH--although one of my fantasy stories did appear there several years ago. Once again, if you rely at all on Otto Penzler's oft-quoted definition of mystery fiction, any story that has a crime central to its plot can be considered a mystery regardless of what other genres might be stirred into the mix. At least in terms of qualifying for publication in mystery markets. So I couldn't resist giving it a try.
In case anyone's interested, the following is my fairly unimpressive track record, with regard to cross-genre stories at some of the current mystery publications:
AHMM: one fantasy and one Western (upcoming)
EQMM: no cross-genre stories
Strand Magazine: no cross-genre stories
Black Cat Mystery Magazine: two Westerns
Mystery Weekly: one Western, one SF, one fantasy
Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine: no cross-genre stories
And several others--Tough, Shotgun Honey, Mysterical-E, etc.--also have not accepted any cross-genre stories. At least from me.
Four things I should note, here:
1. The above unscientific study should not be taken as an indicator of what kinds of stories these magazines will publish. It's just an indicator of what they've published that I've written.
2. I haven't considered humor or romance in this market list or in the overall cross-genre discussion, only because regular mystery/crime stories often include humor and/or romance elements anyway. You know what I mean.
3. My two mystery/Westerns at BCMM were before Michael Bracken took over as editor. I'm not saying Michael wouldn't consider one--but I am saying the Westerns I published there were before his reign.
4. If ever in doubt about this kind of thing, it never hurts to ask the editor beforehand whether he/she would be receptive to cross-genre elements in a submission.
So far I haven't mentioned anthologies, but it's probably worth saying that mystery/crime anthologies are indeed sometimes open to cross-genre submissions. One of my stories chosen for Best American Mystery Stories a few years ago was a Western, about a private investigator in the Old West (which first appeared in Paul Marks' and Andy McAleer's anthology Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea).
What are your views on trying cross-genre stories at the usual mystery markets? Have any of you done that? Any successes? Which publications have you found to be most receptive to stories with Western/SF/fantasy/horror elements?
Okay, time to sign off. I see that Holmes has put on his cowboy boots and is strapping himself into his jetpack, so he'll need my help.
A writer's work is never done.
P.S. (or maybe BSP.S.): April was a good month, publicationwise. I had a story in Strand Magazine (Spring issue, #63), a story in Woman's World (May 3 issue, released on April 22), a story in Only the Good Die Young (Untreed Reads), a story in Jukes & Tonks (Down & Out Books), a story in Behind Closed Doors (Red Penguin Books), a story in Black Cat Mystery & SF Ebook Club (Wildside Press), two poems in the anthology Moving Images: Poetry Inspired by Film (Bowker Publishing), and six of my WW stories in the new Mini-Mysteries Digest (Bauer Media Group). All except the poems were mysteries.
P.P.S. I've not seen the list yet, but congratulations to all the 2021 Derringer winners!