fingers comma toes is a new online journal for children and young adults publishing essays, short stories, micro stories, poetry, photography, visual arts and music. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Lola Elvy: The idea of fingers comma toes had originally been a suggestion from family members, made almost in passing. It had been in the back of my mind for months, if not well over a year, before I actually started to consider doing it in sincerity. The idea was to create a journal for children and young adults which was edited and run by children and young adults themselves, to create a space meant for authors and artists before the point of expertise or training. It seemed like a fun project, something completely new for me, and something that would be creatively stimulating and challenging. When I approached Tristan with my proposition in September, 2015, I had in truth already been considering it for months, already thinking that it would be a fun project to work on with him, as he and I had corresponded by then for quite some time, including about our shared interest in writing and reading. Looking back on it, fingers comma toes has been indeed fun, stimulating, and, at times, challenging, and it has been made even more enjoyable by the shared experience with Tristan and me working together.
Tristan Deeley: I'm not entirely sure if I had a reason for starting fingers comma toes. Lola suggested the idea of an online children's journal, and I agreed, without thinking at all of what she meant or what it would require, relying on my faith in her to make a good decision. Thinking back on it, I like the idea of being able to make something like this, something that could someday become big and important, that any child or young adult could share their mind and writing through.
SQF: In general, when reading a story/poem/essay, what’s often the first thing that grabs your attention?
Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: Generally, when reading a piece, one of the first things to grab our attention is the formatting: the layout on the page; italics; paragraph breaks; depiction of dialogue; the use of punctuation. Another thing that stands out upon first reading is the voice, whether the piece is written in first, second, or third person narrative. Each, we find, has its own distinct feel and tone, and serves its own artistic purpose.
SQF: When reading a story/poem/essay, what turns you off?
Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: One of the things we tend to dislike is when the writing itself feels forced. We find that sometimes writing can feel unnatural; the author tries too hard to make it into something that it's not, and as a result, the reader can feel a disconnect between the author and the written text. This happens sometimes, for example, when an author tries too hard to follow one of our themes, and the story/poem/essay ends up feeling somewhat limited by what is otherwise meant to be a creative topic. Our themes are not so much instructions for what to write about, rather than overarching ideas to tie together the stories we select and publish. While we do prefer it when the author interprets and reflects the theme in his/her writing, we much prefer reading something that loosely and creatively ties to the theme, rather than something that feels limited and constricted by the theme. We encourage authors to interpret our themes and reflect them in their own work as they feel fits their writing, rather than trying to force something that doesn't need to be.
SQF: Are submissions open to authors of any age?
Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: We intentionally avoided specifying any age boundaries, because we did not want to limit ourselves or others, and, as such, there is no strict minimum or maximum age. So far, in each of our two issues, we have had a youngest submitter of four years of age, and an oldest of twenty-five years of age. While this does not go to set a strict boundary as to the age restrictions, the journal remains intended for children and young adults (though exceptions may be made).
SQF: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: Jack London, Sam Rasnake, and David Sedaris.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: We wish you'd asked us more about our preferences regarding submissions for fingers comma toes in the future.
One thing we would hope for is to receive more diversity in our submissions. At the moment, the majority of our submitters are from New Zealand; we hope in the future to be able to receive submissions from children and young adults all across the globe. We also hope to receive more submissions of a wider variety. In our second issue, published August, 2016, we had our first piece of music, as well as some interesting art pieces. We hope to widen our range of submissions even further, to include perhaps more music and an even more eclectic selection of visual art and writing, as well as other forms of creative work by children and young adults.
Thank you, Lola and Tristan. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.