Friday, August 22, 2014

Six Questions for Robert James Russell and Elizabeth Schmuhl, Editors, Cheap Pop

Cheap Pop publishes micro fiction of no more than 500 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Elizabeth Schmuhl: Pop-i-ness, originality, and clarity.

Robert James Russell: Quality, resonation, unforgettable-ness

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

ES: I'm not excited by clichés, furthering hetero-normative behavior or stereotypes, or clunky language.

RJR: 500 words isn’t a lot of room. We want to see a story that pops—that, in a small amount of room, elicits some sort of reaction. It’s entirely possible to do this, to write a story in a small amount of space, so for me, the number one thing that turns me off is not taking a chance. Hell, your story could be about your grandpa sitting on a comfy chair musing about the world, but I want to see you taking a chance with it—unique dialog or an interesting approach. Make us not be able to stop thinking about your piece after we read it.

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

ES: We are interested in submissions that have not been published before, whether on a personal blog or other personally managed site.

RJR: Not much more to say! We want to see only original work at this time.

SQF: What is it that makes a story pop?

ES: For me, a strong, clear voice makes a story pop. I enjoy work that takes me immediately into the world of a story. I want to be transported. I also like texts that offer new ways of seeing. The marginalized, the bizarre, the unthinkable, all of these catch my attention.

RJR: Hate to just agree, but I’m going to: No matter what your story is about, I want to be immediately taken into it. I want to be able to picture it in my mind and feel it. Make me not be able to forget you or your story. And this doesn’t mean every piece has to be experimental or “weird” or anything like that—I just want it to stick with me, no matter what it’s about. That, to me, is what “pop” is all about.

SQF: What magazines do you read?

ES: A hell of a lot of literary magazines and Sports Illustrated, especially issues with Kate Upton on the cover.

RJR: Right now I’m obsessed with Lucky Peach. Also: there are so many fantastic journals out there in the world (print and online) that I can hardly keep them straight. It’s a good time for journals.

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

ES: Authors whose short fiction you enjoy because it pops? Etgar Keret, Aimee Bender, and Haruki Murakami.

RJR: Best literary-themed cocktail? Tequila Mockingbird.

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

NEXT POST: 8/29—Six Questions for Sherri Ellerman, Flash Fiction Editor, Liquid Imagination

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