Friday, May 23, 2014

Six Questions for Shweta Sharan, Founding Editor, The Affair

The Affair is a new, paying market that publishes short stories (1000 to 3000 words) in most genres. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Shweta Sharan: Most actors say that as kids, they put up plays in their backyards. I was putting together magazines ever since I was nine, in some form or the other. I enjoyed reading different kinds of stories, and I wanted to put them together and distribute them.

In short, I wanted to put different kinds of stories under the same roof. I enjoy different kinds of fiction, from Ian McEwan, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Saunders to Kelly Link, Michael Moorcock and Glen Hirshberg.

The other reason I started the magazine was to make fiction a career option and also to do something different with the short story, to really use it to impact reading choices.

This is something the magazine will do in a big way, once we launch -- we will engage with different reading communities on a one-to-one basis.

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

SS: We look for good writing, a story that has strength and momentum and holds the reader's interest, and to a reasonable extent, layered writing. We encourage inventive use of language and craft. Writing is, in many ways, an exploration. We look for that a great deal.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

SS: Many things. Poor writing, uninspired and forced storytelling, banalities, weak narratives.

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

SS: Yes. We try and workshop submissions, to whatever extent possible, and because of the sheer volume of submissions that we receive, it becomes difficult. We are in the process of finding more people to read and respond to submissions.

SQF: You are based in India. Are submissions open to writers from around the world?

SS: Yes! Our first issue has a famous writer from Philippines, Dean Francis Alfar. Our second issue has a writer from Australia. We get lots of submissions from America, the UK and even China. In fact, I am keen to publish writers from different places -- Colombia, Zimbabwe, etc. I don't know if what we pay is on par with what writers get paid in the US, UK and Australia. I suppose if we paid more, we would attract more talent from other countries. Hopefully, we will take off and achieve that.

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

SS: Maybe a question on where I see the magazine heading, a few years down the line. It is a small, independent little magazine and only time will tell about our future and what happens, but a few other magazines have been supportive of our existence. It is the same with some writers. I am a firm believer in establishing a system of support magazines like Pank, which has a tip jar for writers, and I think we need such innovative and interesting ways to sustain our business. Also, I have a four-year-old daughter who loves reading and all my friends who are moms who go out of their way to encourage reading with their kids. Some of them have storytelling and book clubs for kids and they come up with some great ideas, and I am inspired by that also, to keep the magazine new and interesting.

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

NEXT POST: 5/23--Six Questions for Tammy Ho Lai-Ming and Jeff Zroback, Co-Editors, Cha

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