Home » Short Stories & Novel Extracts

Please send your submission to horlamagazine@hotmail.com

Note that with the exception of ‘news’, material should not have been published previously (either online or in print), meaning publication will be first to Horla. Exceptions may be made in the case of material whose publication in Horla would constitute first publication in English.

Short Stories: What We Are Looking For

Our mission is to publish the best contemporary fiction in the fields of horror and the supernatural. Our interest is in intelligent, well-crafted story-writing that will linger in the mind of the reader. Horla, derived from Guy de Maupassant’s famous tale of terror, has been taken to mean ‘That which is out there’. Our devotion is to stories of the ghostly and the strange. Importantly, our interest is in contemporary writing set in the contemporary world. Flashbacks are, of course, permissible, but if you’re thinking of writing about passengers alighting from trams, gentlemen in capes dining at clubs and patients detained in Bedlam-style asylums then that probably won’t be for us.

We like inventive writing: images that arrest, language that is felicitous, stories that compel. Although broad-minded we are not that interested in blood and gore. Horror to our minds is stronger when suggested, implied. We do not seek to bludgeon our readers. Writing delivered solely for shock value through the use, say, of extreme violence, cruelty or expletives, is unlikely to make our pages. While we are interested in life outside the mainstream, depictions of bizarre behaviour will still have to be within the realms of a story that is well-written.

Sorry, much as we admire some of it, we don’t take science fiction or poetry (which we love and respect, but this isn’t a site for that, thank you). In terms of some fashions, we are very unlikely to want zombie material. We will accept vampires, but only those with real bite. We have no interest in the cute variety. We are also not interested in stories about children who are possessed / psychic / have friends that no one else can see. Stories with figures at high windows and/or things in basements won’t be for us, either. Tales set in former asylums will likewise struggle to find space. Nor do we want stories that labour under a writer’s obvious agenda.

Comic horror, done well, is welcome. (We’re thinking here of the dark laughter to be found at times in some of Ira Levin’s lines in Rosemary’s Baby, parts of Nabokov, Kafka and the shockingly odd stories of Caradoc Evans).

Importantly, we are looking for stories where something happens. Open or hanging endings are fine, but what we don’t want is writing that is effectively a vignette or scene. We particularly don’t want writing that is introspective (glum narrators moping through rain-spotted windows aren’t our bag).

Up to 5,000 Words

For short stories we are open to submission of up to 5,000 words.

We aren’t at this time looking for flash fiction. Although we don’t disrespect it, work of, say, fewer than 750 words isn’t going to be a fit for us.

For guidance here are some writers some of whose work we have liked. Where they have written in multiple fields we’ve specified the odd title or two that we feel is pertinent to us. Since many of those listed beneath have passed on to the great hereafter we again make the point that the stories we are looking for should have a contemporary setting wherever that may be – urban, rural, nautical, small town, big town, mountain, moor, whatever… Just keep it in the now (flashbacks permitted) if you please.

Here Are Some We Like

Ray Bradbury, Angela Carter, John Cheever (‘The Enormous Radio’, ‘The Hartleys’, ‘The Swimmer’), Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad (‘Heart of Darkness’, 'The Secret Sharer'), Walter de la Mare, Guy de Maupassant, Daphne du Maurier (‘Not After Midnight and Other Stories’), Caradoc Evans, William Golding (‘Lord of The Flies’), Nikolai Gogol, Graham Greene (‘The Hint of An Explanation’), Thomas Hardy (‘The Withered Arm’), Henry James (‘The Turn of the Screw’, ‘The Jolly Corner’), Ernest Hemingway (‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’), Ted Hughes (‘The Rain Horse’), Shirley Jackson, M.R. James, Glyn Jones (‘Jordan’), Franz Kafka, Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling (‘They’), D.H. Lawrence (‘The Rocking-Horse Winner’), Sheridan Le Fanu, Jean Lorrain, Arthur Machen, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde (‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’).

There are others, of course, whose stories, which, while they would not normally be classed as horror have a quality to them that causes the reader to pull up and think. ‘Viewfinder’ by Raymond Carver might be one such.

Some authors who, for a variety of reasons, we also quite like:

Amis (Martin), Attwood, Austen, Ballard, Burgess, Calvino, Capote, Carver, Chandler, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Durrell, Eco, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Fowles, Gordimer, Lee, Leonard, Ross MacDonald, McEwan, Mansfield, Munro, Orwell, Proulx, Salinger, Thurber, Tolstoy, Vargas Llosa, Wolfe, Zoshchenko. We could go on…

Novel Extracts

We’ll consider these as long as they have a story-like sense of self-containment and fit with our outlook. (Maximum 3,500 words)

How to Submit

Your submission should be sent in William Shunn format using Times New Roman 12 pt with 1.5 spacing between each line. If you do not know what William Shunn format is then please visit this link: https://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

Please do not indent the beginnings of paragraphs. Please write from the margin, as with other lines. Please leave a line space between each paragraph. These requirements are important because of the way we format text.

Please ensure that your submission is spelt and punctuated properly. British English spellings are required not American i.e. centre not center, colour not color, etc.

We don’t want to sound officious, but work that is poorly presented in terms of spelling, punctuation, etc., is highly likely to be spiked.

Your biography

Please include in your covering email a biography of 75 words or so. Please try to make yourself sound interesting even if you are not.

What we’re looking for is "Robert Douglas / Rhiannon Walters once discovered a Celtic crown in a… / was bitten by a highly…" and then some credits or titles you’d like to mention followed by those lecturer / graduate / cat / dog / kids details… if you really must.

You may add a link to your own site if you have one. Please attach a head-and-shoulders photo. We tend to favour black-and-white. Of course, if you’re Stephen King you can just say, "Stephen King’s next book [insert title here] will be out in [insert date here]." That’ll be fine.

Terms

We regret that we are unable to pay for submissions. Rights post-publication will revert to the writer. We shall retain a right to digital publication and a right to print your submission in future print ventures (for example, anthologies).

We shall have the right to make small changes to your work, for example, adjustments to punctuation, grammar and spelling without consultation. While we hope that we shall not have to do so, any more substantial changes will be negotiated with the author, with both parties retaining the right to decline publication.

Your submission implies acceptance of these terms and all other requirements stated above. Your submission also implies that you have legal authority to its contents and to submit the same for publication.

Simultaneous submissions: although we sense your strong desire to be published first and foremost by Horla we're open to the receipt of submissions that you may have sent to other publications at the same time. We ask that if you decide to accept an offer of publication elsewhere, before we've had time to consider your work, that you inform us so that we can remove your piece from our list of things to look at.

Multiple submissions: while you're welcome to submit to more than one of our categories at the same time – perhaps fiction and The Neglected, for example – we ask that you limit your submissions to one in each category per month.

We will consider work from emerging as well as established writers.

If submitting elsewhere simultaneously, please let us know if your work has been accepted by another title if it should be the case that we haven’t been able to get to your submission yet.

Sorry, but we are unable to respond to every submission. If you haven’t heard from us within 12 weeks of submitting, it’s likely that, regrettably, we’ve been unable to accept your work this time. If you don’t succeed with us first time around, you’re welcome to try again for a subsequent issue.

Please leave 12 weeks before querying.