In the summer of 2012, about a year before Taylor joined us and we concocted the version of Midnight Breakfast you’ll find here, Nevan and I were sitting around, having a conversation about the content of the magazine. We were killing time on opening night of The Dark Knight Rises, in a Panera in Queens, and the ideas we were volleying around had to do with whether or not our issues should be themed. At first we said yes. Then we said no. Then we said, to switch things up and keep everyone on their toes, that each issue should have no less than three disparate themes which our potential writers could tie together. It would be a grand effort to distinguish ourselves, to keep things fun and exciting and, yeah, a little crazy. What would happen, we proposed, if we asked for work that combined something like “first love” with “family dysfunction” and, just for shits and giggles (and quite possibly because of my summer berry salad), “gardening and/or sustainability”? (The answer to that might be some bizarre Franzen-type riff on Little Shop of Horrors—which I’d be jazzed to read, by the way, so writers: take note.)
As enticing as this plan was, we eventually axed it. During a meeting a year later, with Taylor weighing in, we decided to go theme free. It isn’t that we’re anti-theme; we just didn’t want to launch a magazine with too many constraints right out of the gate. But then, shortly after Midnight Breakfast submissions opened, Karen Munro sent us her brilliant story “The Cure.” I’m not going to spoil anything here, but when I read it, two things happened: the narrative voice hit me with a fierce double-punch, something I’m always hoping for when I read fiction; and I thought, We have to take this, but I don’t want to drop it into an issue willy-nilly, what with its monstrous thematic potency. So that’s when Nevan and Taylor and I returned to the drawing board, and that’s when we decided to run a themed issue for Halloween.
Issue Five is all about “breaking down the barriers between the real and unreal.” There are ghosts, yes, and other supernatural phenomena. But there are also the horrors of the everyday, the monsters that live under our beds as adults: the loss of the ones we love, the inexplicable wrath of those who are meant to care for us, the ways political systems fail and ignore their people. And, for the first time since Issue Zero, we have an essay that combines pop culture criticism with personal narrative, a piece that questions how we’re meant to read the science in science-fiction if film and television tend to favor one element over the other—and especially if one happens to come from a family of scientists.
As always, I hope you’ll find something in this issue that moves you, and makes you think, and draws out your laughter. And if you find something that scares you a little, all the better. Fear, after all, is what helps us know we’re still alive.