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Musings from Maryland

May 3, 2022

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Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

Welcome to Apex Magazine issue 131.

This month is special to me because it marks my ten-year anniversary of working for Apex. My Apexiversary, if you will. When I first volunteered to help Jason with the Apex social media a decade ago, I had no idea I would be here ten years later. I had no idea that I would meet and work with some of the most amazing and talented people in the speculative fiction genre, that I would co-edit multiple anthologies with Jason, and that he and I would share editing responsibility for Apex Magazine and my name would be on the cover as co-editor. Ten years ago, I had no idea I would be where I am today, but I am so grateful that I took the leap anyway and threw myself into this magazine that I love.

We’re starting issue 131 with a clever story by Hannah Yang. “A Monster in the Shape of a Boy” is short—less than 2,000 words—but packs so much into those words! It’s a story that is open to the reader’s interpretation and one that begs to be read more than once. I don’t want to say more. Trust me. You want to read it!

“Shevitsa” by Koji A. Dae is an emotional story about an American woman trying to find her way through a different culture and difficult family dynamic after moving to another country to be with her husband. She begins the story knowing exactly who she is and what she wants, but as the story continues, things are twisted as her husband becomes someone she no longer recognizes and her choices seem to no longer matter. This is a painful story full of shame, hurt, and searching for belonging.

“Americana!” by Sam Asher rips through the fourth wall and spits in your face. America, as we know it, is gone. In its place is a violent dystopian world that runs on nostalgia. Old celebrity mags, baseball caps, and ridiculous bobbleheads have more worth than the food that fills your belly or even your life. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, the narrator of the story thinks so too, but this is the world we left him, so let’s join him on a road race across the country to retrieve some priceless memorabilia.

What if girls are grown on a tree in cages, with no experiences beyond the men who come to appraise them? They have no freedom, no choice, no alternative path beyond belonging to a man or rotting. This is the world that Sage Tyrtle explores in her story “The Fruit of the Princess Tree.” With the feel of a fairy tale with twist of feminist rage, this story is exquisite and powerful.

Tonya Liburd’s “Hoodie” mashes together Caribbean folklore with family drama. After being abandoned as a baby, Rose is searching for her parents. She wants to know who she is and where she came from, but the answers to these questions don’t come easily. Wrapped in the supernatural world, Rose may get more than she bargained for. Or she may find her true self.

Tim Waggoner is one of my favorite authors. I love his short fiction, novels, movie tie-in work—if Tim writes it, I’m onboard! So when he submitted a story to Apex Magazine, I was a little *cough* a lot *cough* excited, and “In the Monster’s Mouth” does not disappoint. Dealing with complex issues such a child abuse, adult child/parental relationships, and never living up to a parent’s expectations, this story can feel heavy, but Tim deals with these issues masterfully.

Our classic fiction this issue comes from Eugen Bacon and Jaym Gates. Our nonfiction is by Errick Nunnally and Jeffrey Ford. Andrea Johnson sits down with Hannah Yang and Sam Asher to discuss their stories in our author interviews, and Bradley Powers discusses the artistic process with our cover artist Reza Afshar.

A.C. Wise brings us a series of short fiction reviews in her Words for Thought column. Marie Croke reviews Wendy, Darling by A.C. Wise and Tracy Robinson reviews Inheriting Her Ghosts by S.H. Cooper.

As I am finishing up this editorial, we are in the midst of our Kickstarter campaign to fund the Apex Magazine 2021 compilation anthology. When issue 131 is released, we will have a few days remaining in the campaign. I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported this project so far, and encourage anyone who hasn’t had a chance yet to head over to Kickstarter to help us make this anthology a reality.

© Lesley Conner