When the first issue of Seize The Press launched in February 2022, it didn’t occur to me to have any expectations that people would read it. My only goal was to carve out a little space for dark, unsettling, and specifically uncomfortable stories in a short fiction landscape that tends towards the aspirational, the edifying and the comforting. Thankfully, I discovered there was a large, writhing, hungry mass of readers ready to devour these kinds of stories and no shortage of incredible writers willing to sate their appetite.
Many of the stories we’ve published this year have focussed on everyday working class people struggling to get by in a world set up to grind them down; Lindsay King-Miler’s ‘Some Seeds Only Bloom After Burning’, about a working single mother trying to raise and protect her daughter in a world that is burning down around them; in the hyper-capitalism of ‘Reno Walled City’ by Naim Kabir, about finding connection amidst the atomisation and insecurity of a gig economy on steroids; and ‘Housekeeping’ by Sally Parlier, a quiet story with a twist on the vampire as a lonely and impoverished creature on the outskirts of modern society, struggling to find a place in it with her on-again-off-again girlfriend who works nights at a petrol station.
We’ve ran stories confronting the lingering and ongoing effects of genocide (‘What the Ghouleh Said on Thursday of the Dead’ by Sonia Sulaiman); the self-hatred that can accompany living with an eating disorder (‘Homunculus’ by Rebecca E. Treasure); and the suicidal thoughts and self-harm that many trans people struggle with on a day-to-day basis (‘What It’s Like’ by Riley Tao). Many of these stories do not have happy endings. While there is a place for stories that depict people overcoming these kinds of struggles, it’s vitally important we allow writers and readers to engage meaningfully with fiction that is not idealistically aspirational. Sometimes the world and our lives can be bad and upsetting. Often it’s not easy or possible to simply bootstrap our way out of the problems we face. Art that grapples with these difficult conditions is necessary and valuable.
In many ways, our first year has been spent finding our niche, and along the way we’ve leaned more and more into the Weird. Indeed, Issue #1 ran with the surreally unsettling ‘Eating Bees from the Ass of God’ by Joe Koch, and the jauntily upsetting ‘Shoe Leather’ by Edmund Schluessel. Issue #4 included (in my opinion) one of the most ur-Weird stories we’ve ran yet, ‘Clarinet’ by NM Whitley. Among the stories we’ve published are four award nominees and one selected for the best weird horror of 2022 – ‘Low Tide Jenny’ by Bitter Karella – soon to be featured in the Brave New Weird anthology from Tenebrous Press.
I’m incredibly proud of how far we’ve come in less than a year. I want to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our writers, contributors and artists who’ve made Seize The Press such a wonderful magazine to run in 2022. And, of course, my utmost thanks to you, our readers, without whom this would all be for nought. I hope you continue to enjoy the magazine for years to come.
Jonny Pickering is a sporadic writer, bird enthusiast and editor of dark fiction magazine Seize The Press. He lives in the UK with his partner, where he spends his spare time watching pro wrestling and listening to synthwave playlists on YouTube.