Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine has been publishing mystery short stories for over fifty-five years – which is plenty of time for some curious misunderstandings to arise. When I go out to talk with readers and writers about the magazine, here are some of the most common misconceptions I encounter.
1. The magazine was founded and/or edited by Alfred Hitchcock himself.
Sadly, no. HSD Publications licensed the use of the great director’s name at a time when it was the fashion for magazines to carry such names in their titles. But Hitch’s daughter Pat, on the other hand, did appear on our masthead for years as an associate editor. The idea of using a famous name, of course, is to offer a shorthand clue as to the magazine’s contents, and even decades after his death, Hitchcock’s is a name that conjures mystery, suspense, and the uncanny. We’re proud to be associated with his legacy.
2. AHMM only publishes stories with a twist ending – you know, like those on the old Hitchcock television show.
Any such formulaic requirement would quickly make for pretty dull reading, and we don’t do dull. We sure receive a lot of submissions with twist endings, but the truth is, those are very hard to do well; almost inevitably, they come across as labored and contrived. Although there was never any formal connection between the magazine and the television show, a number of stories from our early issues were adapted for the show and we shared several writers, perhaps most famously Henry Slesar.
3. AHMM only publishes cozy mysteries.
In fact, we publish mystery stories of all kinds from cozies to noir (though we do have some limits on language and graphic details). The primary requirement is not subgenre, but a good story. In recent years, our stories have been honored with 40 nominations for the Shamus Award presented by the Private Eye Writers of America. And our most recent electronic anthology gathers “13 Tales of the New American Gothic.”
4. AHMM only publishes stories for young adults.
This is the misconception that most puzzled me when I first encountered it; after all, neither the Hitchcock films nor the television shows were geared to a younger audience, and AHMM has always published crime stories more suitable for adults. I believe the confusion arises from readers’ fond memories of a young adult, Hardy Boys-style book series called “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators,” which debuted in the early sixties. The series has apparently gone through several permutations over the years, and the Hitchcock association was dropped along the way, but the books had no connection with the magazine.
5. AHMM is a relic of a bygone era – a time when people read more short stories and bought more magazines than they do now.
In fact, the digital age has been a boon to AHMM. Subscriptions to our electronic editions are strong and growing, and the multiplying and diverse demands on the attention span of the reading public seem to have renewed its appreciation for the short story. Thanks to digital technologies, AHMM is more readily available to a wider range of readers than newsstands alone can achieve (though we still love newsstands, too!). The digital age has also opened up new opportunities for us, including our podcast series featuring authors reading their own stories; our new electronic anthologies, as noted above; and of course, this blog itself, and our website.
4 responses to “Five Myths About AHMM”
Great to have AHMM up and blogging. The one myth that surprised me was the YA one. I don’t think it is just because of the Three Investigator books (whixh I loved, by the way). At the same time there was a series for kids – Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghostly Gallery, Monster Museum, etc. i still remember some of those stories. And then there were the paperbacks, Stories Not For The Nervous, etc. I dont know if they were intended for young adults, but that is when I read them.
Most interesting. I had no idea some of these myths existed. One interesting bibliographic fact about AHMM that may save some hair-pulling by collectors: it never had a volume 1, number 1. The first issue was volume 1, number 12, because it was a December issue and the then-publisher’s policy was to key the issue number to the month of the year.
Speaking of the digital age opening up new opportunities, fans of Henry Slesar and AHMM can enjoy viewing what is essentially a newly discovered episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” I can scarcely believed it emerged from my own storage unit in Los Angeles, but here it is. Check out the 16 mm film short film from 1985: “A Choice of Witnesses” – based on a story by Henry Slesar.
This is one of Slesar’s best stories. I don’t know why it didn’t show up on “AHP.” Perhaps it was written later? Perhaps it was too gritty/violent for 1960’s TV?