Today, I’m joined in the studio by Scot Noel, the publisher of DreamForge magazine, to discuss half a decade of publishing with this magazine that has become well-known for its positive and hopeful antidote to the current prevalent nihilism.
Interview with Scot Noel, Publisher of DreamForge Magazine
AYS: You’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy fiction since you were young. What is it about these genres that draws you in, and how has your writing style evolved over the years?
SN: I was a super-shy kid and of course I turned to reading as an escape from the stress of life. I actually read a lot of different things, from classics like Moby Dick and Don Quixote to sciency stuff with Michio Kaku and Chris Impey, Carl Sagan and the like. I’ll read histories of Rome and essays on Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould. Kon Tiki by Thor Hyerdahl is a favorite. As to SF and Fantasy, it’s speculative fiction, new worlds, new adventures… what’s not to love? Especially taken with Star Trek and the idea of essentially a community of dedicated individuals going boldly. That’s how I see the best of what we are.
AYS: You’ve had a successful career in computer game development, as well as writing for publications like Pandora and Tomorrow Magazine. How did those experiences inform your approach to founding DreamForge Magazine?
SN: As to writing, my life never went down the path of being a dedicated fiction writer. Like many English Majors I guess, I wrote stuff in my younger days and submitted it and got lots of rejections, but I never saw that as a practical path to a career, so I went off into tourism and public transportation, and then one day I was reading L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth, and I saw an ad in there for the Writers of the Future Contest. I think I submitted at least a couple times and was really surprised when I won a second place prize and got to go out to Las Vegas for a workshop and awards ceremony. That didn’t lead me to a writing career, but to getting noticed by a startup computer gaming company – called Event Horizon at the time, later DreamForge Intertainment. I loved computers, and games, so I took a pay cut to jump ship and have fun! (and met my future wife Jane Yeager Noel)
AYS: DreamForge Magazine has a unique approach to science fiction and fantasy fiction, focusing on positive and hopeful stories rather than dark and grim perspectives. What inspired this approach, and how do you find stories that fit with this vision?
SN: These days my wife and I own a web development company – Chroma Studios. In 2018, it looked like we might sell the business (didn’t happen), but it started us thinking about next adventures. I’d noticed how grim and apocalyptic all the fiction I was reading was, and I saw a Black Mirror episode called “MetalHead” with killer robot dogs destroying the last of the human race. I said “let’s start a magazine with the kind of fiction we like to read.”
As to finding stories, we just open for reading periods like everyone else and we get more than enough hopeful stuff – it’s just a question of finding the best we can.
AYS: In addition to DreamForge Magazine, you also founded DreamForge Anvil. What are your goals for the Anvil, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
SN: The relationship between DreamForge Magazine and DreamForge Anvil is a response to COVID. COVID nearly shut our business down, nearly shut DreamForge down, etc. DreamForge and our business both downscaled as a result. For DreamForge, that meant going digital only for a year – that became DreamForge Anvil. Now, DreamForge Anvil is quarterly, and then twice a year, we compile the stories into an issue of DreamForge Magazine. DreamForge Anvil has more features: articles on science, articles on writing, line edit examples for writers, and DreamForge Anvil is about building a community of writers we call DreamCasters, who support us on Patreon and join us in monthly ZOOM meetings to talk about writing, learn from guests, and enjoy writing challenges. Last October, we even had Mary Robinnette Kowal visit with us.
AYS: As someone with experience in both writing and publishing, what advice would you give to aspiring writers who are looking to break into the industry?
SN: That there is no magic key to success in writing. Work at your craft, read extensively, join a community of writers, find a mentor, get out to cons and network. Do your best and don’t be an ass. If you’re one step up the ladder, help anyone coming up behind you.
AYS: Thank you so much for joining me here on the blog, Scot. I look forward to seeing you in the studio soon!
You’ll also hear me announce this week’s spotlighted poet and share a big announcement about National Poetry Month 2023 plans, as well as tease who will be joining us in the studio next. You can watch today’s show here or find us on YouTube.