Friday, July 8, 2016

Six Questions for Sarah A. O'Brien, Editor-in-Chief, Boston Accent Lit

Boston Accent Lit publishes fiction to 7,000 words, flash fiction, poetry in any style, form, or length, creative non-fiction to 7,000 words, photography, and art. Issues are published online six times per year. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Sarah O’Brien: It’s been a long-time goal of mine to start a literary publication; when I was young, I would “publish” a magazine called “Sarah’s Scoop” and distribute it to family members. Now that I’ve started to submit my own creative work to various journals, I have noticed that far too many have submission fees (Read about how this disables impoverished writers in “On Poverty” by Alison Stine), which prohibit many writers from submitting their work for consideration.

There’s also a great disparity in publishing, with the majority of published writers identifying as heterosexual white women (Read “’You Will Be Tokenized’”: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing” by Molly McArdle, in which those working in the publishing industry share their experiences). Within each issue of Boston Accent, we attempt to spotlight emerging artists who come from diverse backgrounds and who have had varied experiences. Our “The Accent Prize for Emerging Writers” rewards a self-identifying woman of color for her winning short story. In keeping with our mission, this contest will not have an entry fee.

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

1. Originality—we want to see an expression of you, and we want to publish work that feels both genuine and new. The stronger your voice in a piece, the more likely we’ll love it.

2. Intrigue—leave us guessing; sometimes a piece is best when it prompts more questions than answers, or when it leads to deeper thought or conversation.

3. Passion—if you worked and reworked the language, if you buried a part of your soul in a piece, if you are excited to have it shared with the world…we will be able to tell, and we will likely catch your excitement.

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

SO: If your work is misogynistic, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, or intolerant of others in such a way, then possibly shred it into a hundred pieces, and definitely do not submit it to us.

If you are writing about triggering subjects, let us know when you submit the piece. We are very unlikely to accept pieces that do not deal with triggering subjects in a way we feel is appropriate. Basically, if you already know that your piece will offend and upset people, it’s not for Boston Accent.

You can be funny without being offensive. I believe in you.

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

SO: Each of the Head Editors handles rejections uniquely, and I have been impressed by their efforts to not only offer kind notes of encouragement to artists, but also to give some a chance to revise their work and resubmit it for consideration.

SQF: If Boston Accent Lit had a theme song, what would it be and why?

SO: I’m going to have to go with some Boston pride songs here, and say either the Standells’ “Dirty Water,” Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” (a Boston Red Sox anthem), or Augustana’s “Boston.” Bostonians love their city harder than most, and this journal is happy to be based in a place with so much hometown pride.

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

SO: “Current favorite author quote?”
Virginia Woolf’s “Language is wine upon the lips.”

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

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