SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Amanda Faye: You can read a rambling version of how Alyss came to be in the Letter from the Editor of Issue One. Basically, I was very unhappy with my MFA experience and being pummeled with works that just didn’t connect with me but everyone swore were perfect examples of “How to Write a Story” or “How to Write A Poem”. My general dissatisfaction turned to defiance after one of my professors professed during workshop that there was no place for politics in poetry. I strongly believe that Art is Political and that we have a responsibility with each piece we create to make it mean something. For me the best work challenges you to think, feel and maybe even take action. I also grew up in the Riot Grrrl and East Bay Punk Rock scenes which are all about DIY ethics. Therefore, starting an online literary zine and filling it with the types of stories, poems, essays and art work I think needs a wider audience just made sense.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
AF: The most important thing is for a piece to make me feel something. It doesn’t matter if it’s anger, shock, giddiness, discomfort or jealousy over the fact that I didn’t write it myself. I just want to feel something real as a result of reading your work. Secondly, it’s important that the piece isn’t relying on shock tactics. I want it to feel authentic and that whatever is written/presented is done because it’s vital to making the piece work. Thirdly, a killer opening. Every submission is read all the way through but the ones that start off with a great first line or paragraph are more likely to progress to the next stage.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
AF: If you put a bird in it I’ll probably hate it. Unless the bird is dead. Also, no –isms. Sadly, I’ve had a few works come through that had really problematic portrayals of POV characters. While Alyss is not a feminist or punk zine per se it’s best to approach it as such so any piece with components such as slut shaming or bigotry are not going to find a home here.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
AF: Only to pieces we feel are a good fit for Alyss but have one or more issues that preclude us from publishing it. In that case I like to give the writer a heads up about what is and isn’t working for us and hope they take up our offer to resubmit.
SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?
AF: JK Rowling as she is a huge inspiration for me. The way she’s taken her story about a boy wizard and spawned an entire universe that has touched the lives of millions and provided a platform for her to do very meaningful work on social justice issues is incredible. Malcolm Gladwell because basically I have the hugest crush on him and have enjoyed all his books. And finally, Anne Rice whose Vampire Chronicles got me through junior high, high school and undergrad. The hero of that series Lestat was the first literary character I fell in actual love with. Having read interviews with her over the years I’m sure she’d be an amazing dinner guest.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
AF: What motivates you to continue the whole online lit journal thing? I’d say it’s the writers who put their trust and faith in Alyss by allowing us to publish their work and all the writers who show their support for our lil journal by submitting and telling their friends about it. We’ve been incredibly lucky to read and publish some really great work by amazing up and coming writers.
Thank you, Amanda. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.