by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we have the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Raab, the Creative Director of Suspense Magazine. We chatted about the magazine, their book publishing, and podcasting.
KRL: When did Suspense Magazine begin and how did it start?
SR: Suspense Magazine was started in 2007 because we wanted to give lesser known authors opportunities for coverage that they might not have had otherwise. We wanted to give them a chance to be side-by-side in the pages of Suspense Magazine with the Jeffery Deavers and Heather Grahams and Rhys Bowens of the world, and I think over the years, we’ve had some success.
KRL: Where are you based?
SR: Los Angeles, CA.
KRL: What kind of content goes into each issue of the magazine?
SR: Each issue features book reviews, book excerpts, short stories, author articles, and interviews with well-known, bestselling authors and authors we think readers will want to meet. And we have an annual ‘Best Of’ issue where fans vote for their favorite titles of the year in different genres. We also award our Crimson Scribe award for the best book of the year.
KRL: Why did you feel there was a need for such a magazine?
SR: I was the weird kid in the sixth grade walking around with a copy of Clan of the Cave Bear and have always been an avid reader and buyer of books. At the time, my husband (John Raab) and I worked near a busy Barnes & Noble. We would go in and I complained that they always promoted the same books. It was difficult to find someone new to read because they only promoted the bestsellers. We had no idea how the business actually worked—that the publishing houses paid for priority placement. John took the idea of building a place for readers and moved forward with it. I told him I had ZERO interest—I was pretty firm on that—in participating in this venture. That lasted until the first review copies arrived.
KRL: What makes your magazine unique?
SR: Since the inception, we’ve had a hard rule that we won’t publish anything negative in the pages of Suspense Magazine. Like everything in life, book reviews are subjective and are colored by our personal experiences. We do our best to handpick titles for our reviewers by their preferred genre, but we keep in mind that every book is not for every reader. And, there’s an audience out there somewhere—it just may not have been the particular person assigned for Suspense Magazine. I’d hate to damage someone’s career because their book wasn’t for me. As the Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
KRL: KRL has the same policy. How often do issues come out?
SR: Quarterly, though the pandemic has made the schedule more fluid.
KRL: Are they print and online?
SR: Online only.
KRL: How much is a subscription?
KRL: Why and when did you decide to branch out into podcasting?
SR: I believe around 2008. Readers get their information in so many different ways that it was a natural progression to move into podcasting. And John loves to talk. LOL. Sometimes this format is much more comfortable for authors, and fans can casually listen as they have time.
KRL: Can you tell us more about your podcasts?
SR: Suspense Radio Beyond the Cover is the flagship show and is hosted by John Raab and Jeff Ayers. With well over 200 episodes, there are a lot of great podcasts to choose from. Listeners will find links to interviews with authors from an array of bestsellers like John Connolly, Laurell K. Hamilton, Ruth Ware, and Brad Parks, to name a few. Fans of Suspense Radio will also find links to previous Crime and Science Radio podcasts with award-winning authors D. P. Lyle and Jan Burke, and The Story Blender by Steven James.
KRL: Why and when did you decide to branch out into book publishing and who are some of your authors?
SR: While attending ThrillerFest years ago, an exceptionally talented author friend, Shane Gericke, said we should consider publishing. Several small publishing houses had been successfully popping up and I thought it was another crazy idea. I’m clearly cautious, [and I don’t like] to start anything without more information, and after lots of discussion, about what our friends liked and didn’t about their own publishing contracts. But we decided to dip a toe in the water and we’ve grown from there.
We’ve been incredibly lucky to work with amazing award-winning talent like #1 New York Times bestselling author Paul Kemprecos; award-winner Joseph Badal; New York Times bestselling author M. William Phelps; award-winner D. P. Lyle, USA Today bestselling authors Alan Jacobson, Susan Santangelo, Connie di Marco, David Corbett, and Shannon Kirk, to name a few. Last November, we also published our first short story anthology, Nothing Good Happens After Midnight, edited by Jeffery Deaver (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review). Readers’ favorites came together to explore the mystery of midnight including, Joseph Badal, Linwood Barclay, Rhys Bowen, Heather Graham, Alan Jacobson, Paul Kemprecos, Shannon Kirk, Jon Land, John Lescroart, D. P. Lyle, Kevin O’Brien, and Hank Phillippi Ryan. A special treat, for me, is the inclusion of three series characters in the offerings from Paul Kemprecos, Alan Jacobson, and Joseph Badal.
KRL: How does someone go about submitting content for your magazine, or for your publishing company?
SR: Our submission guidelines are listed on our website (www.suspensemagazine.com) for both the magazine and publishing house. We ask that short stories be limited to 5,000 words or less and they’re a quick email submission. For manuscript queries, we do take unsolicited and agented submissions and the details are online. We also participate in the ITW’s annual PitchFest. It’s a great way to meet aspiring authors and have a chance to sit down with them early on.
KRL: Where can people find you on social media?
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
SR: We’re already hard at work on the next all-female 2021 Suspense Magazine anthology, titled Infinity, edited by Catherine Coulter and including short stories from Kelley Armstrong, Allison Brennan, Wendy Corsi Staub, J. T. Ellison, Jamie Freveletti, Kay Hooper, K. J. Howe, Darynda Jones, Tosca Lee, Sheila Lowe, Gayle Lynds, Isabella Maldonado, and Susan Wingate.
And we’re always looking for reviewers or authors with an article in mind. If you’re interested and have something interesting to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.