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Category: Interviews

Lit Mag Spotlight: Ecotone

by Treehouse Editors

Our free Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose, now closed to submissions, will award a sweet prize supplied by a collaboration of literary magazines, journals, and indie presses:
A Strange Object   •   Barrelhouse   •   Booth   •   Carolina Quarterly   •   Dzanc Books   •   Ecotone   •   Gigantic   •   Gulf Coast   •   Mud Luscious Press   •   PANK Magazine   •   REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

Our genre-bender editor Caleb Andrew Ward interviewed Sally Johnson, managing editor of Ecotone Journal:

Q: Ecotone Journal was founded in 2005 and is in its fourteenth issue. What are some of the differences you see in the current issue from its original inception?

A: If you look at the very first issue of Ecotone and our most recent (the “Abnormal Issue”) I think the main difference is really visible in the design. For one, it’s a different trim size. Also, the general growth in aesthetics over the years is very clear. That’s due to a lot of factors: a major one being time and the advancement of not only our general aesthetic, but also the cultural or societal style and taste changes over the years. Another thing to remember is that a staff of graduate students mainly runs Ecotone. While Emily Smith (designer, poet, publisher extraordinaire) has been with Ecotone since its beginning, an MFA student designer has been a rotating under-her-wing figure. Currently it’s the wonderfully talented Ana Alvarez. Just like the shift (be it large or small) in content when a new editor takes over, so does the vision for the journal physically.

Speaking of content, I think through the years we’ve held a delicate balance in taking our theme of “reimagining place” to new places and holding it closer and farther away from us. Some issues, like this upcoming one, really hone in on place and environment. While others, like, say, the “Abnormal Issue” are less focused on that. To me, rather than indicating an unstable or unhinged goal, it shows our range and our ability to keep our purpose the same no matter how different each issue is: produce great art.

Q: The current issue is “The Abnormal Issue,” so can you share with us what the next theme is and when it will be released?

A: Ecotone is a biannual journal, published in the spring and fall. Each year, our fall issue is themed and our spring issue is not: we like to keep things interesting. Our “Abnormal Issue” was from Fall 2012. This spring we’ll be releasing our Spring 2013 issue, number 15! It isn’t themed but as we’ve been assembling it, a clear undercurrent of “home” has been very present: what home is, where it is, do we have just one? As a journal, Ecotone embraces the subversion just as much as the embrace of a theme or idea, so if we find a piece that turns an idea on its head and one that attacks it head-on, we’re happy.

Our next themed issue will come out this fall and is the “Migration Issue.”

A fitting theme considering our new editor will be in transition then: both from their home to Wilmington and from their previous gig to being EIC of Ecotone.

Q: On the topic of Ecotone’s latest issue, what have the editors considered as “abnormal” fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc?

A: Well, at the time we announced it we had a general sense of “let’s get a lot of great, weird stuff” but mostly we were pretty excited to see what would roll in. Putting a theme on an issue each year we run the risk of limiting writers, something we’d hate to do. Keeping that risk in mind, we usually like to do themes that can focus in on an issue but explode and expand on the page. We kept thinking of all the different ways an essayist or poet or short story writer could have run with the idea of being “not normal.” Maybe it’s in the form or expectation like the selections we featured from Marvin Bell and Christopher Merrill’s collaboration Everything at Once. Or perhaps it’s just a strange concept or plot, more like Andrew Tonkovich’s Falling in which an enormous hole opens up in a religious commune, gobbling a man whole. Then there’s Jen Percy’s essay, Wildman in which she visits Kennesaw, Georgia, and enters a neighborhood store stocked with sinister relics of the South and meets the reincarnation of Stonewall Jackson. We were thrilled at the variety of submissions and truly in love with how abnormal everything turned out to be without having to compromise Ecotone’s standard for literary excellence.

Q: When did you first join Ecotone, and have you noticed a decline in purchases due to E-readers since you began as the Managing Editor?

A: I’ve only been Managing Editor for Ecotone since August of 2012, but I’ve been involved in the class as a reader since August of 2011. Since I joined? No, not particularly. However, there is a definite shift in other ways due to advancing technology and thus decreasing dependence on the printed form. For instance, our library subscription has dropped, but our subscriptions through Project Muse have skyrocketed. As readers, we’re becoming more and more willing to forgo the physical, I think. That’s terrible news for us, technically, but as Ecotone has always been about finding opportunity in risk, we know that with the changing of how people read or who reads there’s a chance to stake out new territory. This year we’re planning on launching a blog and totally redesigning our website. Bottom line: we want to reach out to our readers, wherever they are and however they are reading. While we’ll always do that through our beautiful, meticulously-made printed journals, if there’s a chance to find more Ecotone fans behind a screen, we’ll be there, too.

Q: What is your job as the Managing Editor?

A: I think the best way to answer that question is by saying I don’t have a single job as Managing Editor but a lot of jobs. I also can’t exactly give you an “average” day in the life since it depends on the time of year, where we are in the production schedule, if a grant is due, etc. But, my biggest job as I see it is making sure Ecotone gets printed on time and is the best magazine it possibly can be.

I’m in charge of things like making sure the galleys get to authors, getting authors their contracts (and getting them paid!), making sure we have the final version of a piece before it goes in for threading. Also, since Ecotone is run as a class, it’s my job to make sure the class is learning as well as corresponding with genre editors and students about what’s on deck for the next week. There’s also a lot of boring stuff like getting the mail, answering emails, writing grants, and things of that nature. I also man Ecotone social media. A ton of what I do is correspondence, making sure everyone is on the same page and connecting the dots. But, with the genre editors behind me: Carson Vaughan (NF), Nicola DeRobertis-Theye (F) and Regina DiPerna (P)? It’s easy and fun.

Q: Who are some of the bigger names that Ecotone has had the privilege of publishing in the past?

A: Ecotone has been home to so many talented and fantastic writers. As far as name-recognition goes we have a pretty impressive list that includes Ron Rash, David Shields, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Philip Levine, Rick Bass, Ben Fountain, Mary Ruefle, Joy Williams and Ander Monson. I could go on and on. Obviously, all of these folk are mega-talented, hence the name recognition. But, I think it’s important to recognize writers who aren’t yet “big” since everything we publish in Ecotone is outstanding work that we fell in love with. When we publish an author’s first publication it’s so exciting, and I’m usually always thinking, big name or not (yet), “I can’t believe we got this piece. I can’t believe we get to show it to people.” That’s a great feeling.

Q: In the past eight years since Ecotone’s start it has been nominated for numerous awards and has had some of its more recent work re-published in Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, and Best American Poetry. What is up Ecotone’s sleeve for the future?

A: Whenever we get news about those nominations and awards we’re just thrilled because that means someone (or a lot of someones) was just as head-over-heels about a piece as we were, and it usually means more people will get to read it, and that’s the whole point. The plan for future issues is to keep trying to out-do ourselves, keep pushing ourselves more, especially with our new website. Hopefully that means more awards!

Q: What kind of work does Ecotone do in accordance with Lookout Books (another publication from UNCW)?

A: Lookout Books is our sister imprint. It’s a teaching press at UNCW head up by the truly and fantastically talented Emily Louise Smith. Lookout Books (and there are four of them now!) are all written by an author who was first an Ecotone contributor. Since Lookout is a teaching press it is run, in large part, by graduate students who take a practicum and work in the Publishing Laboratory on UNCW’s campus. What’s most exciting about this partnership we have with them is watching an author we first loved in our pages get the spotlight they deserve for a whole book. Our relationships with those authors are invaluable and unique.

Q: If you could make any bug talk which one would it be and why?

A: Oh, tough question. But, maybe I’ll give a corny poet answer and say: I wouldn’t need to make any bug speak; they do a ton of communicating as it is. I think the reason I like researching arthropods so much (I’m writing a collection of poems that involve bugs and their sex lives) is because they lead very interesting existences, evolutionarily and physically, and that means I can put a whole ton of metaphor on top of them and they hold that weight really beautifully. Though, maybe I’d just ask a house spider to give a PSA about how not okay it is to kill house spiders. You’re just worsening your bug problem, right there.

visit Ecotone’s website

Lit Mag Spotlight: A Strange Object

by Treehouse Editors

Our free Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose, now closed to submissions, will award a sweet prize supplied by a collaboration of literary magazines, journals, and indie presses:
A Strange Object   •   Barrelhouse   •   Booth   •   Carolina Quarterly   •   Dzanc Books   •   Ecotone   •   Gigantic   •   Gulf Coast   •   Mud Luscious Press   •   PANK Magazine   •   REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

Treehouse coordinator Johannes Lichtman interviewed Jill Meyers, co-director of A Strange Object:

Q: You and Callie Collins started A Strange Object shortly after it was announced that American Short Fiction was closing its doors. What was the impetus to start publishing books instead of moving to another journal or publishing house?

A: At the magazine, we loved collaborating with writers and publishing some of the best fiction in America. That was great work—some of the most rewarding work I know—and so we aimed to continue doing it.

But we were looking for a way to deepen our relationship to the work and the writers (and give ourselves some new challenges as well). And books—in print or digital form—require that sustained attention and effort.

Besides, Austin has many fine magazines already (Unstuck and Foxing Quarterly among them). It’s a little underrepresented in the press category.

Q: Have you picked the debut release(s) for ASO yet? Can you share any info about your fall catalog?

A: Yes! Our first book is Kelly Luce’s debut collection Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail, which will be published October 1. The stories examine the power of memory and often swivel into the fantastical. They’re set in Japan, and they’re playful and enigmatic (Haruki Murakami comes to mind).

Our second book is photographer Nicholas Grider’s Misadventure, out in January. It’s a darker, more bracing book. His stories wrestle with the complexities of obsession and control; they play with form and structure and challenge the typical queer narrative.

Those two will be published in print and ebook formats; we’re also preparing some digital-only projects for a fall launch.

Q: Usually editors tend to say “the best way to get an idea of our aesthetic is to read the work we’ve published.” But since your debut release is still pending, how would you describe ASO’s aesthetic?

A: Callie and I are looking for fiction that is risky and heartfelt and engaged with doing something new. Something that forges a circuit between your heart and your brain. Personally, I’m deeply interested in the uncanny: novels and collections that can “make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.”

Q: You edited American Short Fiction, first as a managing editor under Stacey Swann, then as editor-in-chief, with Callie Collins at your side, for several years. I know it’s not fair to ask you to pick your favorite story you published, but what were one or two of the stories that you were proudest to share with the world and why?

A: They were all my favorites.


OK, then. The opening of Ethan Rutherford’s “Peripatetic Coffin” gave me the biggest rush. It’s such an incredible, bold, incantatory opening—to a nuanced story about war. But it’s the Civil War and there are death-trap submarines! (Please go pick up his collection. It’s out May 7.)

Paul Yoon’s stories work on you like a delicious, slow-descending spell. Lucy Corin’s “Madmen” was absolutely revelatory. (You can read it here.) Josh Weil’s “The First Bad Thing”—well, it’s a sexy road-trip narrative that’s set in a dystopian future, what’s not to love there?

Oh, there are too many.

Q: What’s the best thing about being an editor (besides all the money and coke)?

A: It’s really two things; they are twinned. Or cousinned, maybe.

First: the moment of falling in love with a great new voice—that shiver of discovery, or hearing “the click of a well-made box.”

Then: the conversation with the writer, the exchange, about details and vision—the effort to bring the work to its best-yet incarnation.

Big publishing houses obviously hold the monetary and distributing advantages over indie houses, but what advantages do the indies hold over the mainstream?

Indies can make riskier choices and commit to their authors in a bigger way. They also know where the dive bars are.

Q: I heard you and Callie were recently on the cover of the Austin Chronicle smashing an e-reader. That’s not really  a question—it just sounds awesome.

A: It was awesome, until the Kindle started leaking some strange fluid.

Q: This is the portion of the interview where we encourage you to talk shit about a person, place, or thing of your choosing. Go.

A: The Pulitzer board is just ridiculous. Not choosing a fiction winner, come on. Think of the missed opportunity there, and to suggest there’s something wrong with fiction—oh, what’s that? Adam Johnson? Oh.

Q: If you had your druthers, what would people be saying about A Strange Object three years from now?

A: That it’s one of the most innovative and consistent small presses around—and that we publish compulsively readable collections, novels, and odd, stirring, hard-to-characterize nonfiction. That our editing is impeccable. And that we look stunning in Google Glass.

Q: Who’s cuter: Your dachshund or a box full of kittens playing with mittens?

A: I can’t believe this is even up for debate. Please see Exhibit A. Emmet’s cuteness is undeniable.

Emmet the dachshund

Exhibit A

Lit Mag Spotlight: Barrelhouse

by Treehouse Editors

Our free Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose, now closed to submissions, will award a sweet prize supplied by a collaboration of literary magazines, journals, and indie presses:
A Strange Object   •   Barrelhouse   •   Booth   •   Carolina Quarterly   •   Dzanc Books   •   Ecotone   •   Gigantic   •   Gulf Coast   •   Mud Luscious Press   •   PANK Magazine   •   REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

Our fiction editor Rachel Bondurant interviewed Tom Mcallister of Barrelhouse:

Q. What motivated you to start Barrelhouse?

A: The Barrelhouse origin story is a pretty simple one. The founders (which, to be clear, does not include me; I became the NF editor in 2010) were in a writing group in DC together and became good friends. After many beers and many discussions about their dissatisfaction with the literary landscape, they decided there was a void they could fill: high-quality work that still had a sense of humor and embraced so-called “guilty pleasures.” Since then, we’ve worked hard to produce the best possible work but also to carve out a niche as a place where people can send their poems about Back to the Future, for example, or their essays about Magnum P.I. and pro wrestling. Not that people have to write poems about Ed Asner to end up in the magazine, but one of the fun things that has happened is we’ve become a place where serious writers can have a little fun.

A student of mine once sent an email to say he checked out Barrelhouse and really liked it because “it’s just really good writing for people who don’t have a stick up their ass.” That was basically the goal.

Q. When it comes to choosing a literary magazine to read these days, we have an outrageous number of options. Pretend for a minute that we don’t read yours, and tell us why we should.

A: Because we are producing writing that is not solely meant for writers. From day one, we’ve worked incredibly hard to publish a journal of great literary merit that can nonetheless be enjoyed by people who don’t care at all about MFAs, small press publishing. They just want good stories.

I know, I know. “We publish good stories.” Pretty flimsy sales pitch. What can I say? Read an issue, read the stuff we’re publishing online, check out annotated versions of the issue 11 materials on our site, and I’m confident you’ll want to read more.

Also, and I don’t think I can understate this: we pay writers. It’s been a long haul to reach this point, and we totally understand why a lot of other great journals can’t afford to pay their contributors. But still: a Barrelhouse subscription means you’re actually helping to financially support underpaid writers. Which is pretty cool.

Q. I recently read a piece in which Steve Almond called the literary pursuit “an incestuous contraction.” In other words, the majority of readers these days seem to also be writers. Barrelhouse offers writing workshops, major events for writers, and a podcast about books, as discussed by writers/editors. Do you think there’s some truth to what Almond says? And if so, in a sort of chicken/egg scenario, do you think lit mags created that contraction or have we maybe evolved in response to it?

A: The more active I’ve been on social media, I’ve become increasingly worried about the incestuous contraction of the lit world. Some days, it seems like everybody knows everybody else and the same roster of 300 writers are just publishing their stuff on a rotating basis in the same 30-40 magazines.

I know that’s not necessarily true, and even in the cases of a certain set of indie writers who are ubiquitous (for better or worse), I know there’s nothing malevolent about it. Those writers just know how to hustle, and they are working their asses off, and each individual editor happens to like their work.

Still, I get it, that concern. It’s easy to feel like you’re on the outside looking in, like you’re the only one at AWP who doesn’t know the secret handshake or the code word or whatever. But in the end, if you get to know the people involved in indie lit, the thing that becomes clear is that, with very very few exceptions, everyone who is doing this thing is doing it only because they love it and they want more people to love it like they do and it kills them that they can’t get their non-literary friends to share that passion.

Short answer: I think that sense of contraction is a safety thing. Writers and readers are marginalized, so it’s only natural that they would withdraw, surround themselves with like-minded people, and build up their defenses. That can lead to creating a vibrant subculture, but it can also be a problem: it can effectively make us disappear.

Q. Speaking of major events, Barrelhouse hosts Conversations and Connections, the Indie Lit City Summit, and Barrelhouse Presents in DC. What’s your favorite thing about being a part of these events? Have you thought about branching out to other cities for any of them?

A: These events actually make me feel a lot better about the concerns re: the “incestuous contraction” S. Almond is talking about. Obviously, these events support the indie lit community (our C & C conference pays about 50% of the money directly back to small presses and small press authors), but they are primarily designed to to address this exact problem of alienating people who aren’t already a part of the club. At the C & C conference, we get 150-225 attendees who are largely not part of the indie lit infrastructure and may not even have friends and family who write or want to talk about books. So we give them the opportunity to meet great writers, to talk to them during happy hour, to begin developing those relationships that help the community to grow.

In short, my favorite part is that we get to meet a lot of really cool, talented people who we otherwise might never meet.

As for branching out, we started running the conference in Philly last year, and it was such a success that we’re now viewing it as an annual Fall event at The University of the Arts (9/28 this year; all other details TBA). We do occasional reading events here in Philly too, especially with the Temple University Library.

Q. What have you read recently that just blew you away?

A: inscriptions for headstones by Matthew Vollmer. Best book I’ve read all year. So good it made me worry that I was doing everything wrong in my own writing.

I really liked The Antagonist by Lynn Coady, which I read recently, and I’ve already found myself re-reading passages.

Also, for a class I’m teaching, I just reread a portion of Donald Barthelme’s The Dead Father, specifically the inset book-within-a-book A Manual for Sons, and found it just as hilarious and heartbreaking as I did the first time around.

Q. Is there anything you want to tell us that I haven’t given you an opportunity to mention already?

A: Yes! There is something. Two things.

1)      We’ve just started publishing books. Our first book is called Bring the Noise. It’s an anthology of the best essays we’ve ever published, plus five new essays. I’m obviously biased, but I think this book is really great, and also if you’re trying to get a sense of what Barrelhouse is all about, this book will answer every question you could ever have. You can buy it here.

2)      You mentioned the podcast, but I want to mention it again. I’m the co-host of Book Fight! along with our fiction editor, Mike Ingram. Our mission is similar to the one that started Barrelhouse so long ago: we want to have serious discussions about books and writing without being so god damn serious. Think of it like going to the bar to meet your writer friends for some drinks, with all the tangents, occasional profanity, and unfiltered honesty that entails. Go to to listen.

Tom Mcallister is the Non-Fiction editor at Barrelhouse. His memoir “Bury Me in My Jersey” was published by Villard in 2010, and his shorter work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, elimae, FiveChapters, and some other places. He’s the co-host of the Book Fight! podcast and he’s on twitter @t_mcallister

visit Barrelhouse’s website

Lit Mag Spotlight: Gulf Coast

by Treehouse Editors

Our free Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose, now closed to submissions, will award a sweet prize supplied by a collaboration of literary magazines, journals, and indie presses:
A Strange Object   •   Barrelhouse   •   Booth   •   Carolina Quarterly   •   Dzanc Books   •   Ecotone   •   Gigantic   •   Gulf Coast   •   Mud Luscious Press   •   PANK Magazine   •   REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

Treehouse nonfiction editor Casey Mills interviewed Karyna McGlynn of Gulf Coast, a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.

Q: In a sentence or two, how would you best describe Gulf Coast’s aesthetic?

A: Describing Gulf Coast’s aesthetic is always tricky since we’re a whopping 250+ page journal with a rotating editorship that publishes poetry, nonfiction, fiction, hybrid work, art criticism, reviews, interviews, and visual art. That said, our founding fathers were Donald Barthelme and Phillip Lopate, and I think we’ve strived to keep their vision alive—both with the type of writing we publish and our commitment to visual art. We like work that is well crafted and considerate of the reader, of course, but we want that same work to unnerve us, to flirt with possible failure. Many of our favorite pieces end up being the ones that shouldn’t have worked, but did.

Q: That said, what is a piece in the current issue that encompasses that idea?

A: In our Winter/Spring 2013 Issue see “Marie Antoinette’s Husband Was a Total Baller” by Jess Novak, or “Approximately 36 Toilets” by Rebecca Evanhoe. In our Summer/Fall 2013 Issue see Craig Reinbold’s “Holding the Plank” or Simeon Berry’s series from Monograph.

Q: Your issue section includes “Nonfiction/Lyric Essay.” Beyond the lyric essay, what other types of nonfiction writing fit into the Gulf Coast world?

A: We publish a lot of lyric essays—and don’t get me wrong; we like them!—but that’s just what a lot of writers are shopping around these days. We’d love to get more travel writing, reportage, memoir, science writing, and food writing.

Q: Many online literary venues publish work under a category that defies “genre.” With so many lines blurred and so many hybrid forms (flash fiction, lyrics essay, prose poem), what do you believe constitutes genre-bending?

A: Gulf Coast has always appreciated and published hybrid forms. In fact, our annual Barthelme Prize for Short Prose is geared specifically toward flash fiction, micro-essays, and prose poems.  That said, we have a more conservative reputation than journals like Ninth Letter or DIAGRAM, so people don’t tend to send much truly genre-defiant work our way. The fact is, we have a dropdown menu on our submissions page where people have to choose a genre. That’s telling. But I think we all read between genres quite fluidly. We try to take people at their word—if they say it’s nonfiction, it’s nonfiction—but occasionally we’ll forward stuff around between genres. That’s when you know you’ve got a true hybrid on your hands—when you don’t know which editor to send it to!

Q: What distinguishes Gulf Coast from some other high-quality lit journals out there?

A: Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, a couple of new developments come to mind. First and foremost, I think our commitment to visual art sets us apart. It’s never an afterthought for us; rather, it’s an integral part of how we put an issue together. In fact, we’ve recently partnered with Art Lies to curate an ongoing expanded art section that will feature critical art writing, retrospectives, and textual/visual hybrids. Another development (which has been rather hush-hush until recently) is our increased contributors payments. We now pay a minimum of $50 per page in all genres, which makes us the highest paying student-run literary journal in the country.

Q: Beyond the world of online publishing, in your opinion, what was the best new book of 2013?

A: I think it’s still too early for Best of 2013 lists! But I can tell you what our favorite books of 2012 were: in fiction, Julian Barnes’ Sense of an Ending, and in poetry, S.E. Smith’s I Live in a Hut.

visit Gulf Coast’s website

Lit Mag Spotlight: Carolina Quarterly

by Treehouse Editors

Our free Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose is accepting entries right now, with a sweet prize supplied by a collaboration of literary magazines, journals, and indie presses:
A Strange Object   •   Barrelhouse   •   Booth   •   Carolina Quarterly   •   Dzanc Books   •   Ecotone   •   Gigantic   •   Gulf Coast   •   Mud Luscious Press   •   PANK Magazine   •   REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

Treehouse poetry editor M.G. Hammond interviewed fiction editor Lindsay Starck of Carolina Quarterly.

Q: The journal has been publishing as Carolina Quarterly for 65 years, but has a long history of several different incarnations since 1844. How does this history affect CQ’s aesthetic, and what aim or goals do you think the journal has preserved (if any) from its first inception?

A: We’re very proud of our journal’s long and illustrious history. Over the decades, we’ve published new work by authors who have gone on to become luminaries in American literature (consider A. R. Ammons, T.C. Boyle, Raymond Carver, Don DeLillo, Annie Dillard, Louise Erdrich, Ha Jin, Denis Johnson, Denise Levertov, Joyce Carol Oates, and Lee Smith, among others).

Today, we’re just as dedicated to the promotion and publication of new writers who, we hope, will continue to produce powerful, high-quality work. We look for fresh voices and innovative styles, but we also hope to find work that will stand the test of time; work that will influence and inspire another generation of writers the way that we’ve been inspired by the authors who have appeared in our pages across the decades.

Q: Clearly CQ has published a wide variety of works concerning all areas and walks of life, but what role might North Carolina and the South have as identifying or characterizing factors of the journal?

A: Interestingly, our current editorial team is composed entirely of transplanted Northerners. Although none of us are originally from the South, we believe that the rich tradition of Southern storytelling and oral history are a significant aspect of the work that we publish. In fiction, especially, we look for pieces that tell a great story. They need to be well-written, but even the most beautiful prose won’t be accepted if the narrative doesn’t move us in some way, if it doesn’t transport us to another world, another perspective, another experience.

North Carolina has a national reputation as a place that nurtures writers and artists. The state boasts a wonderful collection of literary festivals, independent bookstores, libraries, and universities that promote creative writing and offer authors and poets the opportunity to take part in one of the most stimulating artistic communities in the country. We hope that the work we do at the Quarterly provides writers both in-state and out-of-state the chance to participate in that community.

(For a great introduction to the literary life in North Carolina, check out North Carolina Literary Trails, written by Georgann Eubanks, at:

Q: Since your time with CQ, what has been one of your more memorable editing experiences?

A: The vast majority of the work we publish comes from our slush pile. The best part of being an editor is the experience of striking gold: stumbling across a gem, a story so good that you can’t believe your luck when you find out it hasn’t yet been snapped up by another journal. We love good writing. We love the feeling of “discovering” it in our inbox, and we love that it’s our job to share good writing with our readers.

Q: In what ways would you like to see CQ’s circulation grow in future years, and what would you consider is the journal’s ideal audience?

A: Right now, we’re working on increasing our online presence. In addition to publishing work in print, we feature particular pieces online and we’ve got the full text of past and current work available in electronic archives. Many of our ideal readers are also writers, so we hope they find our interviews with contributors and reviews of new work particularly helpful. We’ve been receiving record-high numbers of submissions in poetry and fiction, but we’re also looking to expand our non-fiction section. Essay-writers, submit to us!

Q: CQ boasts past contributors such as Denis Johnson and Joyce Carol Oates. During your time with the journal, what writers have you published that excited you and why?

A: My co-editor and I like to say that we look for fiction that is “original yet timeless,” “stylistically and structurally fresh,” “innovative and vibrant.” Over the past few years we’ve been very fortunate to find a lot of pieces that fit these descriptions. I have so many favorites! We were thrilled to publish Caitlin Horrocks’ “Start With This” in the first issue our current team ever sent to press, and also Woody Skinner’s “The Knife Salesman,” which was a fantastic find in the slush pile. We like to be surprised. We’re always especially thrilled to find pieces from new writers, as well as from writers whose dedication to their craft is evident in every careful sentence, in every conscious punctuation mark.

visit Carolina Quarterly’s website

Lit Mag Spotlight: Gigantic

by Treehouse Editors

Our free Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose is accepting entries right now, with a sweet prize supplied by a collaboration of literary magazines, journals, and indie presses:
A Strange Object   •   Barrelhouse   •   Booth   •   Carolina Quarterly   •   Dzanc Books   •   Ecotone   •   Gigantic   •   Gulf Coast   •   Mud Luscious Press   •   PANK Magazine   •   REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

Our nonfiction editor Casey Mills interviewed editors Lincoln Michel and James Yeh of Gigantic. In keeping with the nature of their magazine—“short prose, interviews, and art”—this is a flash interview; all answers are 15 words or less.

Q: I’ll give you fifteen words (and a pro bono colon) to answer the following. Gigantic’s aesthetic:

A: Unlovely, urgent, unexpected, explosive, elliptical, enigmatic… And that’s just the Us and Es.

Q: Name a piece that you guys recently published that fits the right side of the above colon.

A: Ideally, they all do.

Q: If Tolstoy wanted to submit War and Peace to Gigantic, what would you tell him about his obvious word count issue?

A: We’d Gordon Lish it down to a paragraph. (Or else 700-word excerpts for the next 100 years.)

Q: What sets Gigantic apart from other top-notch publications?

A: Aesthetic rigor, lax publishing schedule, fun parties, and unusually nice totes?

Q: How do you think the emergence of online publishing has influenced new forms of experimental writing?

A: More access for readers, less money for writers.

Q: What is the shortest story you have ever published?

A: Kenny Aquiles’s “People I Don’t Like”: four words—the title—and around twenty phone numbers.

Q: The best (or worst) thing about being an editor?

A: Worst: having to say no so many more times than yes.
Best: trade secret.

Q: If you stumbled upon Hemingway’s yard sale, would you buy the baby shoes?

A: Why not? Never worn, right?

visit Gigantic’s website

Lit Mag Spotlight: Booth

by Treehouse Editors

Our free Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose is accepting entries right now, with a sweet prize supplied by a collaboration of literary magazines, journals, and indie presses:
A Strange Object   •   Barrelhouse   •   Booth   •   Carolina Quarterly   •   Dzanc Books   •   Ecotone   •   Gigantic   •   Gulf Coast   •   Mud Luscious Press   •   PANK Magazine   •   REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

Booth LogoRobert Stapleton shares his favorite comic narrative and tells us a bit about Booth, a shape-shifting journal for the future that remains dedicated to classic and contemporary forms of writing since it began at Butler University in 2009.

Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your magazine to someone who might be interested in reading?

A: Booth embraces great storytelling, distinctive voices, both classic and inventive forms, gravity + comedy, grim reapers and grand weepers, monsters with or without mud-stained Wiffle bats, characters crossing state lines in plateless El Caminos, and anything carried by a rich sense of tension and heart.

Q: What do you think makes Booth distinct from other literary journals?

A: Booth pushes the boundaries of form. We love both classic and contemporary aesthetics. Both of our publishing platforms, print and online, are dynamic and unique. Online, we present one new piece every Friday, fifty weeks a year. Our print issues are consistently reinvented and refired with different sizes, templates, and tenors. Each is an homage, in its own funky way, to the history of literary publishing.

Q: What are some of your favorite journals to read?

A: The ones we look up to and try to emulate include Hobart, Salt Hill, PANK, The Normal School, Ghost Town, Fence, Midwestern Gothic, Gulf Coast. There’s so many more…

Q: What brought you into editing? How is it different from writing or has it changed your own writing?

A: I love literary magazines and consider them artifacts, offerings, paper sculptures. So when we started an MFA program at Butler, I was thrilled for the opportunity to create with our students a publishing project and curriculum.

Q: I noticed some pretty sweet artwork on your print issues. Where do you meet your artists? Any stories behind the graphics?

A: I harness no visual knowledge or skills. But I love graphic design and graphic novels. I curate the art by simply shopping in the right places online and contacting artists. Then I deliver everything to Katie Orlowski, a terrific artist and designer employed by the university. She makes everything happen. We’d be mud without her.

Q: On your site you have a submission category for comic narratives. Do you have a recent favorite? Will you link us to it?

A: One of my favorites, now and forever, is Nick St. John’s “How I Came to Work at the Wendy’s.” Read it and weep.

Q: How do you get the word out to readers about Booth and how has that changed since 2009?

A: Do great work, champion details, be kind to others, take nothing for granted. That hasn’t changed, nor will it.

Q: Where are the general locations of most of the writers that submit to Booth?

A: According to Google Analytics, Indiana, California, and New York. Outside of the US, England, Canada, and India.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of your literary journal?

A: Yes.

visit Booth’s website