Thursday, January 27, 2011

Six Questions for Eva Barrows, Editor, Imitation Fruit Literary Journal

Imitation Fruit Literary Journal publishes "fun and upbeat short stories, creative non-fiction, poetry and artwork." Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

EB: Imitation Fruit is a journal that wants to look on the bright side of life without ignoring the dark side. With that in mind, I look for stories and poems that are fresh and present tough or unpleasant situations from a survivor's point of view. I also look for plain old fun and upbeat writing that has more gritty content than sappy.

As an editor I am always looking for content that is creative. Creativity will hold my attention as a reader because I will feel like I am reading something that is offering a new way of looking at things. I have published stories that are based on fairy tales that everyone knows; but the stories themselves offer something new, such as an attitude for the main character and that makes the story new all over again. If there are interesting characters propelling a surprising plot line, then I am going to read the story; and I am going to want to save it from the "no" file.

I admire a writer who can turn a mundane topic into something extraordinary. Imitation Fruit is about the life we know reflected in a slightly different way.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?

EB: One of the most important things a story must be is complete. Who wants to read a story with gaps in logic or gaps in structure? If a story is not complete with a beginning, middle and end then that story has a problem. I remember reading a story that had an interesting build up then it fizzled out in the end. I was rooting for the story and really wanted to see how it would end, but the characters literally walked away from each other and never resolved what the story had set out to do.

When I am reading a story, I need to be introduced to the characters and the world that they are living in. If an author does not provide description for the scene and the characters and writes the story like I should already know what is going on, then I am going to feel lost. If I feel lost in the story, then I am not going to care about what happens to the characters; and I am not going to want to read the story.

On the other hand, if a story only provides description of what characters do on a daily basis and does not bring the reader to what is happening--right now--with the character, then there is no core to the story; and I lose interest in reading it.

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

EB: I am turned off by a story that:
  • needs a lot of editing
  • uses a pretentious point of view
  • uses an underdeveloped plot, structure or characters

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

EB: I do not provide comments when a story is rejected.

SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I'm sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

EB: Imitation Fruit uses an auto responder that is emailed to authors when they submit a story. It states that if you do not hear back from the editors after a period of time after the submission deadline, then your content has not been chosen for the journal. Writers are welcomed to send status check emails, but the editorial staff at Imitation Fruit does not have time to provide comments on rejected stories.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

EB: What do you want writers to know about the stories you do accept to the journal?

As an editor, I look for the strongest pieces to publish in Imitation Fruit. Over the time that I have been selecting stories for the journal, I have found that the maximum number for stories that can be accepted to each issue should be about 10. The number can fluctuate a little less to a little more. I never want to turn away a story that has all of the items I have outlined in this interview as desirable in a story. If I find a story that is complete in every way, creative and fresh, then it will be accepted to the journal.

Thank you, Eva. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 1/31--Six Questions for Michelle E. Crouch, Editor, APIARY

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