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Celebrating Our Elders: Interview with Paula Guran


Editor, anthologist, and reviewer Paula Guran has edited more than fifty science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and more than fifty novels and collections featuring the same. She was senior editor for Prime Books for seven years. Previously, she edited the Juno fantasy imprint from its small press inception through its incarnation as an imprint of Pocket Books. Guran edits the annual Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror series (first ten volumes with Prime; now published by Pyr). In an earlier life, she produced the weekly email newsletter DarkEcho (winning two Stokers, an IHG award, and a World Fantasy Award nomination), edited Horror Garage (earning another IHG and a second World Fantasy nomination), and has contributed reviews, interviews, and articles to numerous professional publications. The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Volume 2 was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2022. Guran currently reviews for Locus Magazine. She lives in Akron, Ohio, near enough to her grandchildren to frequently be indulgent.

Did you start out working in the horror field, and if so why? If not, what were you writing initially and what compelled you to move into horror?

I came to editing by a unique route. I had a background in journalism/editing as a teenager, but my first career was in technical theatre. My second career was as a full-time mom (and consequently, school/community volunteer). Although I was a science fiction and fantasy reader, with some exceptions, I wasn’t a big horror fan until I started discovering a lot of great writers/fiction around 1994. I wanted to spread the word and help writers and just sort of fell into it via the internet.

Who were your influences as an editor when you started out and who, if anyone, continues to influence you? 

Ellen Datlow, of course. Also, Gardner Dozois, Ann VanderMeer, David Hartwell, Kathryn Cranmer, Gordon Van Gelder, Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison, and more.

How have the changes in horror publishing over the past decades affected you?

More the changes to publishing as a whole rather than just horror. The internet provided me with a way to make myself a niche in the field. Print-on-demand provided me entry to professional-level work that led to other things. Borders book chain wanting more genre fiction from independent presses gave me a full-time job. Lots of other things, of course, including the rise of fantasy and urban fantasy, played parts.

Do you think you’ve encountered ageism? If so, how do you counteract or deal with it?

Not really, at least no more than society in general. At first, I think people assumed I was younger than I am. And since I entered the field at a relatively late age, I never particularly advertised my age. 

What are some of your favorite portrayals of older characters?

Not really in horror, but the orcamancer in Sam J. Miller’s Blackfish City. Not really horror, but dark SF. Also not horror: Essun in The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin is middle-aged. Terry Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax  

Do you have anything you’d like to add that we haven’t asked?

Only that age doesn’t really matter, especially since so much business is done these days without ever meeting folks in person. What matters is what you do and who you are.

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