SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Kelly Kusumoto: I was inspired by the site, The Story Shack, which published my first short story, Tinderbox. It is edited by Martin Hooijmans who has done a fantastic job. I’ve always wanted to edit a site of my own but after being exposed to Martin’s site, it inspired me to do something similar but with my style, aesthetic, and literary taste.
Essentially, I find an artist and a writer and I pair them up, similar to a singer and a pianist. Whoever inspires the other is the way it goes. If an illustrator’s art inspires a writer to write something, so be it. If a writer inspires a photographer to go out and shoot, there you go. I just give an avenue for words and art to mingle and create something special.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- Quality. I don’t need big words. I actually don’t like them unless they are necessary. I look for timeless pieces immune to trends. Literary works, basically.
- Originality. I’ve seen a lot of things. So when I see something I haven’t before, I gravitate towards that.
- Irony. I love irony. I think it’s a great tool to have and use. Also sarcasm. And if a piece uses both, it’s like chocolate cake and ice cream, irresistible.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission and why?
KK: Vampires and werewolves. Dragons. Erotica. Campy, pulp, genre-based pop. I’ll take Coltrane over Sinatra, The Kinks over The Beatles, Aimee Man over Madonna.
It’s hard to describe but there’s something about a story without the need for distractions. I’d take a misspelled, grammatically incorrect piece of literary fiction over a perfectly technical wizards and warriors piece any time.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
KK: I try to. But it is hard, especially when I know the writer. I try to be as constructive as I can. I speak for the integrity of the magazine. I am a team player, and I do what’s best for the team. But I hate burning bridges so I try to give some type of reason. I really can’t stand some of these other sites where everything is automatic. I understand the need, especially when it comes to volume, still, give me a friggin' reason as to why you are rejecting my piece. It’s the least you can do.
SQF: If Cicatrix Publishing had a theme song, what would it be and why?
KK: That’s a great question! I imagine it would be something I would listen to while reading a submission. Or something I would score to one of the publications. Most likely it would be something without lyrics. Maybe Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, or Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in C, Op.53. But then after a while I’d feel too bourgeoisie, and I’d want to change it up.
Follow it with Seven Steps to Heaven by Miles Davis. But then I’d feel too hepcat, so I’d probably whittle it down to Superfreak by Rick James or Know Your Enemy by Rage Against the Machine.
If you can’t tell by now, I don’t take myself seriously, so my final answer is Keep Ya Head Up by 2Pac.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
KK: Hmm, how about: Would I like to do this full time, for a living?
I would answer, yes. Absolutely. I have a background in print and graphic design. I have been writing (albeit semi-professionally) for over 25 years. I love having the opportunity to showcase hidden talent.I love looking for and finding that special piece or that unheard voice. I also love the concept of joining art with literature. I feed off of the inspiration shared and created by two artists. If I could sit at home and search for great writers and artists and showcase their work, it would really be a dream come true.
Thank you, Kelly. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.