Monday, January 31, 2011

Six Questions for Michelle E. Crouch, Editor, APIARY

APIARY publishes poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, two-dimensional art, reviews, and more on a twice yearly schedule. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

MC: We wanted to create a space where writers from different backgrounds, styles, and levels of fame could have work published side-by-side. We want to have polished, beautiful work from practiced writers as well as raw, joyful, new work from new voices of all ages, and to get this out in to the community in ways that reach a more diverse audience than most literary magazines.

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

MC: I would say the number one thing is energy. I have to be drawn in to the story and stay excited to keep reading to the end--and this can come from a variety of elements, even just a strong narrative voice that keeps me interested even if the plot is minimal. The next is creativity--if the story is going to address a fairly common topic or situation (like say a break-up, or an encounter with a person the narrator at first thinks is strange but comes to learn is wise), it needs to approach the theme in a way that is interesting. The third is how the story fits into the issue overall. We want the different pieces in the magazine to speak to each other, and that includes fiction and poetry. In some ways the fiction we choose tends to have an element of poetry to it--that attention to how the language flows and how the images work.

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

MC: I should clarify perhaps that we choose stories and poems by consensus, so all four editors have to agree that something ought to be accepted or not. Some reasons I have argued against including particular stories are clunky language, unnecessary length--not that we don't run longer pieces, but the story just can't be longer than it needs to be to do its job--or a general feeling that "I read this somewhere before but a better version."

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

MC: Even if I am given just a glimpse into a character's consciousness, that glimpse needs to hint at a larger worldview and inner life. Basically, no matter how long the story is, I need to feel that the author has a complete sense of who the character is, what their voice sounds like, what their thoughts sound like. It's all about small details, gestures, turns of phrase that reveal more than the character realizes about him or herself.

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

MC: We would, although it hasn't happened yet. We publish work both online and in print, so if we like a blog piece enough for the print issue we would publish it, but otherwise it already has a home online so we would probably not re-post it on our site unless it were also selected for print.

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

MC: What sort of stories have you published in the past? I think answering this shows what I mean about energy & creativity. In our first issue, we had one story about a talking bird and its effects on the residents of an apartment building, a modern-day retelling of a myth from Cote d'Ivoire, a recounting of a dream in which the narrator's father is hunting Jesus who is hunting Ronald Reagan, and one about bicycles and gospel music. And they all fit together beautifully.

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

NEXT POST: 2/2--Six Questions for David Duhr, Fiction Editor, Fringe

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