Interview with Gordon Linzner

Gordon Linzner

Gordon Linzner is well known in literary circles as a champion of edgy speculative fiction and as the publisher of Space and Time magazine. He has written novels of his own—The Troupe, The Oni and The Spy Who Drank Blood are a few available in print today—but he is perhaps best known for his decades long work as the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Space and Time.

He began the magazine in 1966. The magazine was copyrighted on June 3, and is the day we can celebrate S&T’s anniversary. He was a high school student. With a few friends and a mimeograph machine, he began the legacy that today is known as the longest continually published semi-pro magazine today. You can find out more about Space and Time magazine here.

He still serves on the S&T staff in the distinguished role of editor emeritus along with former publisher Hildy Silverman. Their continued guidance, wisdom and editorial skills are appreciated.

Today I am happy to have an interview with Gordon about the history of the magazine, as well as the stories behind it.

AYS—Many know you as the founder of Space and Time magazine, but you are also a respected author. Can you tell me what drew you to pursue writing as a profession?

Gordon Linzner—I began writing in grade school; fortunately for the world none of those stories seem to have survived (I remember one was actually published in an annual school publication, so I became jaded early on). It helped that I was the only kid in my kindergarten class who could read. It was just something that felt right. I wouldn’t say I actually pursued it as a profession, since I never made a living at it, though of course I certainly do my best to be professional.

AYS—I just ordered a copy of one of your novels, The Spy Who Drank Blood. While I wait for it to arrive, can you tell me what inspired that story? A vampire would have a lot of advantages as a secret agent…

Gordon Linzner—I wrote my first Blood story for S&T #2, back in 1967, under the name Irene Anfleming (didn’t fool anyone!). Mostly because it was just a few of us involved in the magazine and I needed more material. Obvious inspirations of course were the James Bond movies and a love of genre mash-ups.

I recently copied all the Blood stories (which only appeared in S&T) with the idea of putting out a collection, but every time I look at that first tale I cringe. Only in the follow-up tales did I begin developing a proper mythos for the character.

AYS—How did you balance your personal writing with the demands of publishing Space and Time magazine for so many years?

Gordon Linzner—Not very well, although the real villain was having to make a living by the late 80s/early 90s. Possibly if I’d abandoned the magazine I’d have written more, but I found the editing process helped satisfy the writing urge to an extent; knowing I was involved in something would actually see print because I was publishing it myself. I actually was prepared to retire the magazine about that time when I was approached by someone offering to fund it; the additional money allowed me to give the magazine a more professional appearance, and although that connection only lasted a few years, I was hooked again.

AYS—How did your writing schedule change after you retired from the magazine?

Gordon Linzner—It’s taken longer than I’d hoped, but I’ve gradually been producing more short stories over the past few years, and more importantly keeping better track of their status, though I still have mix of better-paying  work, both related (copyediting) and unrelated (tour guiding, sound work, etc.) that satisfy some of my creative urges.

AYS—You began the magazine with a few buddies in high school and a mimeograph machine. Can you tell me what made you decide to launch a magazine in high school?

First issue in 1966

Gordon Linzner—Who knows why teenagers do what they do? Looking back, we were all outliers to some degree; it gave us something to do in place of ‘normal’ activities such as dating. I bought the mimeo for some ridiculously low price, maybe $20, so had to do something with it.

Originally the plan was to put out a comic book (a couple of the friends were artists), but while figuring out how to draw on stencils (I realize this sounds like alien technology to most of your readers) I decided it was easier to type on them.

Don’t think I had any idea of it becoming a regular thing, let alone lasting 50+ years, even though I numbered it and actually copyrighted the issue as well. The others dropped out after a few years, but by that time I was hooked.

AYS—Many great names showed up in the pages of S&T early in their careers. Who were some of the more memorable writers you published?

Gordon Linzner—There should be a list of everything we’ve published somewhere – George Morgan is our unofficial archivist, at this point the only person I know who has every issue, and I don’t think even he has put together a bibliography. I’ll inevitably forget so many contributors (I’ve been approached at cons by people who had to remind me I published their first story, and once by someone who thanked me for all the rejections!).

Putting aside the handful of writers who generously contributed after already having established themselves, I’ll toss out a few names in no particular order: Charles de Lint, A. K. Morlan, Kevin J. Anderson, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Bentley Little, Charles Saunders, Darrell Schweitzer, Josepha Sherman, Robert Weinberg, Ardath Mayhar, Lois Tilton, Chet Gottfriend, Scott Edelman, Jeffrey Ford…

AYS—What are you up to now, and more important, where can fans find you and your books?

Gordon Linzner—I assume you’re asking in terms of my writing, no? I’ve been working on more short stories again, as well as digging out some older unsold tales to see if they’re worth a rewrite/update. I’m getting invited to anthologies again, so I try to give those requests priority.

Over the past year I’ve had stories in such anthologies as Corporate Cthulhu; Baker Street Irregulars II; and Release the Virgins! with another coming up in The Mountains of Madness Revealed.

My next big project (which I keep putting off) will be digging out the manuscripts of some quarter-century old unsold novels buried in my storage space (some of them exist only as typewritten carbon copies!), to give them a once-over and find them homes. In the meantime, both The Troupe and The Oni are available from Crossroads Press, and they will be adding The Spy Who Drank Blood shortly (I still have some 80 copies of that one for sale myself).

You can find Gordon Linzner’s books available on Crossroad Press here.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. Currently, she publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit SpaceandTimeMagazine.com or AngelaYSmith.com.
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