Friday, January 15, 2016

Six Questions for Christopher James, Editor, Jellyfish Review

Jellyfish Review publishes flash fiction to 1000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Christopher James: There’s an island about two hours from me which used to be shaped like a C.  Something happened, the island shifted, and it turned into an O, a circle of land around a trapped lake. Inside this lake were hundreds of jellyfish, but no jellyfish predators. As a result, in the thousands of years since C became O, the jellyfish have lost their sting. They’ve become harmless.

I think flash fiction needs challenge and change as much as jellyfish do, or the genre will end up safe and toothless. Already there are great venues closing down. Submitting is becoming more expensive. Great stories are still being published, but many more are not. It’s important to have new venues with new perspectives and new audiences. Otherwise, flash fiction will also lose its sting. In truth, that’s probably just one of about a million reasons why I started the magazine.


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

CJ: None of these are necessary or sufficient, but
  1. BEAUTY
  2. STING, and
  3. INTELLIGENCE
There have been some great images in the stories we’ve accepted so far which, I think, have all of these things. Swans strangled and left for dead by drunken sailors on pristine lawns. Plants and flowers growing between shards of broken glass. A mother, holding her child, jumping from a darkened boat into the night-time sea. If you can capture something like that in a story, we’ll probably fall in love with it.


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

CJ: This is easy. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, pogonophobia, trypophobia… so on, so on. I don’t mind if a story is mean and nasty, but it must have something to justify it. Otherwise we don’t want it.


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

CJ: Often, yes, though even when rejecting we focus on what we liked, not on why we passed.


SQF: Who are some of your favorite flash fiction authors?

CJ: There are so many!

I love Kuzhali Manickavel and everything she writes.

One of my favourite writers right now is Elaine Chiew. She won the Bridport Prize a few years back and has recently edited a collection of short stories called Cooked Up. In fact, I enjoy Elaine’s writing so much I asked her if she could submit a piece, and was lucky enough to have her send us a really wonderful piece.

Randall Brown often gets mentioned in these lists – not just because of his writing but because of the passion for flash fiction he has and inspires. And, to keep this list to just four names, I don’t know that much about Rolli—but everything I read by him is great. Funny, smart, and devastating.


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

CJ: No other questions; I’d just like to say thank you for having us at Six Questions For.., and to invite everyone to read the magazine. Here’s the website again: https://jellyfishreview.wordpress.com/.

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


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