(Thanks, everyone, for your support and enthusiasm for my new interview project here. There'll be more interviews with writers and editors in our field in the weeks to come. Hope you enjoy! --Marshall Payne)
Adam Lowe is the Editor-in-Chief of Dog Horn Publishing and Polluto: The Anti-Pop Culture Journal. He lives in Leads, England, where he also runs a clubnight called Blasphemy and is the Features Editor for Bent. He currently resides in a squat located on the boundary between at least three universes, and lives with a mango tree, an Egyptian deity (Amaunet) and a fallen angel called Dave. He keeps six lovers, a time-travelling pet dodo from the past and a constantly inebriated brain.
Thanks, Adam, for being my first interview here at the SSF Clubhouse. So, tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I'm narky, overworked, lazy, hedonistic, promiscuous, substance-abusing, bonkers as conkers, impatient, tired, energetic, fickle and eager to please. But all of that is liable to change at a moment's notice. When my slaves finish ironing my gingham frock, I'll show you my Judy Garland impression.
How did Polluto come about? Was it something you always wanted to do or did you just wake up one morning with the idea of starting your own magazine?
Well I'd been looking online at other magazines for ages, and there were a few that appealed, but none of them felt 100% right for the kind of thing I'd like to see. I mean, don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic mags out there, but there are also some godawful ones and ones that just seem to kill off all imagination whatsoever with their very traditional, old-fashioned fiction. I wanted something corrosive, something frivolous, something riotously fun and energetic.
Then my friend Ellis France, who was proprietor of Dog Horn Publishing, wanted to go travelling and get married. I mentioned possibly starting up a magazine, and we struck a deal for me to take over the reins at Dog Horn to enable that.
Each issue of Polluto is a themed issue. How do you come up with these? Have an interesting tale about one of the themes?
They're usually the most random, disparate things I can pull out of my arse. There's a lot of drinking that goes on in my 'office' (living room). So when it comes to theme-time, I just think of two polar opposites that can form the axis of the issue at hand. Although the first issue, Post-Natal Depression & the Mysterons was taken from the name of a reggae-ska band my uncle, mother and aunt were all part of. I'd always wanted to use the name somewhere, and Issue 1 of Polluto seemed the best fit.
What has been the biggest problem keeping the magazine going? Money, I'm sure, but could you tell us a bit about your marketing plan.
Well at present I do most things all on my own, which means I'm severely overworked. That said, there are lots of helpful little souls all over the world who want to see us prosper and who therefore ask us to be interviewed or beat editors with copies till they agree to give us a review. Other than that, we have a good Facebook presence and a massive mailing list we can pester regularly. But as we have absolutely no money—none at all!—we're dependent upon gestures of good will. People have been really good to us, so I hope that continues.
People like Deb Hoag, Rhys Hughes, Jim Steel, Tim Bradley and Steve Redwood have tirelessly carried our banner across the four corners of the globe. I'm eternally indebted to them, yourself and all the other folks who've also helped us. It helped that we had Jeff Vandermeer and Vince Locke aboard for Issue 1, and that Matt Staggs gave us some great coverage too.
We're very big on the online thing, as that's all we can reasonably afford. We regularly change and evolve the website, to keep people interested. We also try to tweak our formula to keep things fresh. For instance, this issue is 206pp, and so we're putting all the art online instead.
When looking for stories, what catches your eye? Is there a definitive Polluto-type story?
Usually we can tell from the first paragraph of a story if it's right. Steampunk, bizarro, postmodern and pulp stories would all find a good home with us. That said, we want all the stories to be fun, or at least to have an interesting point to make. We're kind of political in a perverse sense. We don't really take sides, but we play Devil's advocate. We're all about questions. We love questions! And even if we don't find the answers, that's almost the point. It's the asking itself that's important, because it keeps us on our toes.
You're also a fiction writer. Tell us about that. Do you find it hard to find time to write with all the other hats your wear?
At the moment, yes. But I've just hired no less than four assistants. That means I can delegate more and more, giving me time to do my own writing. Victoria Hooper has also been upgraded from Acquisitions Editor at Polluto to Editor, effective from Issue 7 onwards. I'll still be Editor-in-Chief, but she'll do the day-to-day running and I'll just be more of an overseer.
That's definitely important for me at the moment, because I'm way too busy. I'm a freelance journalist for no less than four periodicals in here in the UK, and I write poetry too. But I love fiction.
My first novel, Troglodyte Rose, which is more of a novella really, is a multi-platform nightmare. It's partly online (at http://www.troglodyterose.com), partly illustrated, and somewhere between science fiction and film noir. It's about a girl called Rose, who lives in a world underground, where no one has ever seen the sun.
She's bored, living a life of petty crime, because she refuses to take part in this society that makes slaves of people and relies on designer-baby cannibalism as its main source of food. Then one day she thinks she's just getting high like all the others, but on a new drug, and finds it lets her punch holes through reality into other places. Places full of sexy dragons, floating casino hellholes and holy-fool princesses. From there, she gets hope. She becomes inspired and starts looking for ways out. Ways to get above ground, so she can finally see the sun.
But with a sprawling, monstrous underground empire to contend with, that's not easy.
What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
Hm, I don't think I'll answer this, in case it gets me arrested. Let's just say, I've been funding my authors' books with a pack of man-hoes working the street corners like pros. There's no money in the small press. How else can a guy stay afloat?
But seriously, I'm not sure. I've done abseiling, canoing, kayaking, rafting (with a raft I made myself), caving, 33-hour partying, dinner parties, bitch-fights, orgies, origami, creative writing workshops, acting, singing, dancing, rugby, football, swimming, painting, wall-climbing . . . I'm one of those irritating people who you only have to ask and I'll do something. I like to try new things.
What are your plans for the future? For Polluto?
Well I had a limited edition poetry collection, called Borrowed Time, released earlier in the year, and it sold out in a week or so. So I feel I've tested the waters and can probably release some more poetry. I have enough for at least two or three good collections, and I'm in talks with some UK publishers to get something released over here.
I'm also looking forward to the ebook release of my novelette 'Monster' by ISMs Press, which is owned by the wonderfully talented Rachel Kendall of Sein und Werden. I'm also hoping to get some decent time to sit down and edit a couple of other novels I've finished but just had sitting there. One's an elaborate mess called In the Garden of Gethsemane, which is kind of like The Golden Compass meets Akira. With vampires.
The second is a satire called Gormengasp! It's about this foppish libertine romping through space with a stolen book and his faithful robot man-servant; sleeping with statues, aliens, machines and even himself; en route to delivering the book to an outlaw publisher who might publish it to the masses against the wishes of the religious rulers of the galaxy.
I'm also hard at work on a Trog Rose midquel called Scrapheap Mary, and a big project with some likeminded publishers and magazines in my hometown, which will help us all combine resources in what we hope is a new and innovative manner.
Other than that, I'm hoping to get some sleep between now and 2012. Even an hour would do.