Friday, August 19, 2016

Six Questions for A. A. Robinson, Editor, Spirit’s Tincture

Spirit’s Tincture publishes poetry, micro fiction and flash fiction in the speculative fiction genre, with a particular interest in classic fantasy. All submissions should include some element of fantasy. myth, fairy tale, or folklore. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

A. A. Robinson: Spirit's was started to provide a specific sort of content to our readers and to open another path to publication for our contributing writers.

There are relatively few paying markets for very short fiction.  Flash fiction is gaining popularity but micro fiction is still a hard sale. When your extra short fiction is also genre specific the places willing to consider it are even more limited. Fantasy and Science Fiction, in particular, are known for epic sagas but Spirit's Tincture was created to give readers the themes they love in the most concise form possible.

Lit mags have a long tradition of being a place where new and independent writers could find an audience; Increasingly  we see long standing markets moving away from unagented submissions. There is nothing inherently wrong with that but if unrepresented and fledgling authors are to continue having a voice new publications will have to step up and give them one.

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

AAR: The most important thing we look for is plot. It is difficult to tell a complete story in a limited number of words and it is tempting for writers to send us novel excerpts or short pieces that are all description or dialogue that goes nowhere. Something of significance needs to happen.

The second thing we do is judge whether or not the submission is thematically appropriate for our publication. Our submissions guidelines state that all work submitted should have some element of fantasy, fairy tale, myth, or folklore. Slipstream and genre crossing is welcome, but something that is strictly horror or strictly science fiction will be rejected.

The third thing we look for is innovation. Does the submission offer something other than the usual genre specific cliches? If it does really on things we see far too much of (vampires, werewolves, zombies) does it feature them in a new and unexpected way?

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

AAR: Racial prejudice, misogyny, and homophobia. This is the beautiful woman whose only purpose is to be a beautiful companion (and who may or may not even have a name). This is the villain whose dark skin tone are described as hideous or an indicator of evil. This is when male characters who deviate from hyper-masculinity are denigrated with homophobic slurs.

We have no issue with writers addressing these serious topics but when they are glorified in the text, or treated as admirable, they will result in an automatic rejection.

Submissions that, no matter how well written, indicate that the author has not read our submissions guidelines. Even the best literary realism would not be a good fit for our publication.

SQF: Will you publish a story previously published on an author’s website/blog?

AAR: Yes but we would consider it a reprint and not as previously unpublished.

SQF: Who are some of your favorite fantasy authors?

AAR: Personal favorites include Nnedi Okorafor, Yoon Ha Lee, Cat Rambo, and Tanith Lee. Tolkien, Rowling, Gaiman and the like go without saying.

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

AAR: What is so special about very short fiction?

A few things come to mind. You need only look to the popularity of vine videos and memes to see that many people are requiring their entertainment to be brief and easily accessible. Short forms such as micro fiction, drabbles, and twitter fiction are ways  to satisfy that desire while staying  attached to the written word. Popular entertainment is increasingly visual. Novels are often treated as screenplays yet to be converted. This disregards the fact that certain stories are best told, or can only be told, in text. Short fiction allows writers to experiment with a broad variety of ideas without the commitment of a longer form. This translates to more innovation, more risk taking, and ultimately more varied content for our readers. Short fiction is a win-win scenario for writers and readers. Writers can easily test ideas, experiment, and get feedback. Readers benefit from exciting new content that can fit easily into their schedule.

Ultimately, Spirit's Tincture promotes very short fiction because we would like to see people sharing short stories as readily as they would viral videos.

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

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