Friday, January 10, 2014

Six Questions for Benjamin Russell Perry, Editor-in-Chief, Blank Fiction Magazine

Blank Fiction Magazine aims to provide our readers with entertaining, intelligent and thought-provoking genre literature. We publish a quarterly collection of four short stories to 15,000 words. BFM pays $50.00 per story. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

BFM: Blank Fiction was created with the goal of redirecting the attitude toward amateur writing.  For too long beginning writers (and many established) have been working tirelessly in the hopes of being published in journals that pay in notoriety, which I have yet to see accepted as a world currency of any value.  To set a new tone in the community, our authors are awarded with generous honorariums, which will grow along with our success.   

SQF: Your home page describes Blank Fiction as “a new and independent literary magazine.” The themes of your next two issues are noir and science fiction. Some readers may be confused by this juxtaposition, wondering what the difference is between noir/science fiction and literary noir/literary science fiction, or perhaps I’m reading too much into this. Can you provide a little insight for us on this topic?

BFM: Great observation.  While some people might not see a distinct difference between noir, science, fantasy or any other genre-fiction as opposed to their literary counterpart, I find an important divergence.  I would like to stress that we are looking for genre-fiction with literary value.  Straightforward genre-fiction, while entertaining, can suffer from being consumed and forgotten, and might not contain the elevated writing strategies advanced readers enjoy.  Blank Fiction looks for stories that are genre-based yet still supply an intriguing and intellectually stimulating read for a practiced audience.  

SQF: This is a new journal. Up to this point, what mistakes have you encountered that turned you off to a submission?

BFM: We value writing over reputation, and for that reason we read blind.  For writers new to the scene, that means we ask submitters to remove all identifying characteristics (names, addresses, phone numbers, blog links, etc) from their piece before it reaches us to be considered.  When we open a submission and find the standard name/address/email boiler staring at us, we know the reader doesn’t value us enough as a publication to read our guidelines, and, more importantly, doesn’t value their own work enough to give it the best possible chance at publication.  

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

BFM: The amount of submissions we received for our first issue caught us by surprise, and we were only able to provide personalized responses for our final round of cuts – maybe 5% of total submissions.  This is something we have identified as a weakness and have taken steps to improve for our upcoming reading periods.  We won’t be able to personalize all of our responses, but it will definitely be more than 5%. 

SQF: What magazines (both print and online) do you read most often?

BFM: In order to find inspiration and ideas for our upcoming Apple Newsstand launch, I’ve been reading a lot of magazines/journals already published in the venue.  CUTTINGS has skillfully laid out interactive elements – which I have been dissecting for replication in later issues of Blank Fiction – as well as interesting approaches to themed issues.  In print, I read Ploughshares to set a goal and DASH to remember my roots.  The Paris Review and McSweeney’s are also popular with our editors.  

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

BFM: How can people find and support Blank Fiction Magazine?

Glad you asked.  Authors and readers can visit to find information about submitting their work or procuring a copy of the magazine.  There is a donation button directly below the link to the PDF issue, so please think of it as a “Pay-What-You-Like” transaction.  The honorariums mentioned earlier will grow with our success, so anyone who would like to help us achieve our goal of placing more value on writing as a craft is encouraged to contribute.  The first 50 donations will also receive a Blank Fiction Magazine bookmark*.  

*Bookmark is a physical entity and thus not compatible with digital publications.

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

NEXT POST: 1/14--Six Questions for Caleb Puckett, Editor, Futures Trading

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