Thursday, January 6, 2011

Six Questions for James Tadd Adcox, Editor, Artifice Magazine

From the website:

"Artifice is a nonprofit literary magazine, published twice annually, that aims, by content and context, to showcase creative work aware of its own artifice." Be sure to read the editors' wish list. Here you will find requests for stories written in musical notation, a narrative in the form of a maze, a flowchart, and others. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

JTA: We started Artifice because we were interested in a certain moment in American literature during the sixties and seventies, the so-called postmodernist moment, when writers like Robert Coover and William Gass and Donald Barthelme were doing strange & incredible things. We were interested in what the literary descendants of these writers were up to, in the aftermath of the conventional/Carver realism that dominated the eighties and nineties. We wanted to put together a magazine that explored how this sort of writing had changed or developed in the years since realism. We were interested, too, in how this sort of writing--writing that's self-aware, or writing that's aware of the text as a material thing--had interacted with and developed alongside other strains of non-realist writing.

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

JTA: Hm. Do I have to answer this question with exactly three things? The stories or poems we're most interested in are those that find some new form to tell a story in. We get a lot of pieces that have some formal structure--stories or poems in the form of a series of receipts, say, or a tax return, or pages from a mail-order catalog--but it seems like the writer is just filling in the form with a story that could have worked much better as a straightforward narrative. The best pieces we receive embrace their form, whatever it is, and do something that could not have been done in any other form.

On the other hand, I don't want to give the impression that all we publish is formalist in some sense. We have a strong fabulist/irrealist streak. We try to, in some sense, use the magazine to advance an argument about what non-conventional aesthetics can be.

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

JTA: We get a lot of beautifully-written realist stories. I usually try to send a note saying that it was, in fact, a beautifully-written story, but we don't publish conventional realism.

We get a lot of what I'd call humor pieces, too--sometimes it's stuff that might work quite well in a forum like McSweeney's Internet Tendency or something like that. Well-written, but basically a joke or series of jokes. Again, not bad, just not what we publish.

And of course we get our share of stuff that just isn't particularly polished or working or interesting or whatnot, although we seem to get less of that than other journals I've read for. Overall, I'd say our submissions tend to be quite strong. I think it helps that we're able to tell writers what it is we're interested in.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

JTA: I'm a little hesitant to answer this question, because we're not really looking for traditional, character-driven fiction, psychological realism, or that sort of thing. Maybe I'll just say that I'm often interested in people who are willing to take risks with the concept of character.

SQF: Will you publish a story an author posted on a personal blog?

JTA: Sure, if it works for us.

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

JTA: What is your current favorite song by Rick Ross? Recently I have been enjoying "B.M.F.", but it's hard to say if that is my favorite.

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

NEXT POST: 1/10--Six Questions for Casey Quinn, Publisher & Editor, Short Story Library

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