Friday, May 2, 2014

Six Questions for Alisa Golden, Editor, Star 82 Review

Star 82 Review is a full-color online and print-on-demand art and literary magazine that highlights words and images in gemlike forms, and is interested in the displaced person and the oddness of everyday life. Each issue features literary fiction and creative nonfiction to 1000 words, poetry and art. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Alisa Golden: I wanted to provide a forum and opportunity for people who are writers and artists and to create a bridge between the literary and art worlds. I hope to encourage new ways of seeing and making, that’s why I include categories such as erasure text and postcard lit: they are visual and verbal. I see the creative process as universal and want to share that vision.

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

AG: I’m going to make that four. Humanity, humility, humor, and facility with language. I’m looking for characters who interact with others and are faced with moral dilemmas, I’m looking for gentle humor in a situation, and I want to feel secure that the writer loves language and knows how to use it. 

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

AG: Attitude from either the writer or the character. If I sense either is smug, self-satisfied, violent, or hateful I won’t read any further. On a lighter note: I’m not happy about a lot of adjectives.

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

AG: Not very often. My reasons for rejection are usually too complicated, and I don’t have time to write an essay. Also, I don’t want to discourage someone, particularly if I think the work has a very good chance of being accepted elsewhere. But when the use of language is clearly nice or the topic of the work is fresh, I’ll try to say so and encourage the writer to submit again. So, I try to say something good when that something is simple or obvious.

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

AG: There are many clichéd subjects that I didn’t realize were overdone until I’d read hundreds of stories. Two examples are:  “The Unobtainable Woman/Man” and the “Thinking about Thinking”  story. I wrote a blog post listing the ones I see most often called “Common Tropes to Avoid." A universal story can be told in a fresh way; the trick is finding that unique and resonant angle. For myself, I have found that I need to stretch more: for the subject, the metaphors, the dialogue, the interactions. And to base the story on a strong emotional core. Just pulling imaginative stuff out of my head and lining it up in a pleasing or amusing form isn’t enough.

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

AG: What doesn’t bother you that might bother other editors?

I don’t really need a cover letter other than, “Thank you for considering my work [insert title here] for Star 82 Review.” I do want a third person bio that is 50-100 words, publication ready, so I don’t have to go hounding them for it later if I accept the work. I don’t care if they write to me personally, but if they do they should spell my name correctly. I generally ignore the cover letter until I’m done reading the work. I’m most interested in the work. The work should speak without explanation. I wrote two blog posts about these issues: Formatting Magazine Submissions & Cover Letters and Insecurity and the Third-Person Bio.

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

You are welcome! Thank you for asking a writer to write…

NEXT POST: 5/6--Six Questions for Leslie LaChance, Editor and Publisher, Mixitini Matrix: A Journal of Creative Collaboration

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