Friday, June 15, 2018

Six Questions for Emma Wood, Editor, Stone Soup

Stone Soup publishes fiction, poetry, art, and book reviews created by children aged 13 and under. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Emma Wood: I didn't start it! I joined the team about a year ago, though, because I strongly believe that children's writing and art deserves its own magazine. Children are wildly creative in ways we often dismiss. We say our magazine is "for kids by kids," but I truly think it is for everyone. The kids who submit to us are producing some incredible work. 

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

1. Originality: What excites me most about children's writing and art is when it's clearly the product of a young and unfettered imagination that's still uninfluenced by what it thinks literature or art "should" be. I look for the unconventional, the weird thing that doesn't seem like it's trying to be a traditional short story or poem.

2. Thoughtfulness: Reading a lot of work by kids, I do often find that writing or art can feel dashed off. This doesn't have to do with spelling or grammar in writing or "neatness" in art—I don't care about that—but with the amount of time and thought that appears to have gone into realizing the piece.

3. Not another horse story: This is related to originality, but I do find there are certain "types" of stories that crop up a lot. If it's done really well, I definitely will accept it, but when I see "horse" or "ballet," among other frequent topics, I start reading with skepticism—though I try not to!

SQF: What should writers/artists keep in mind when creating a piece to send to Stone Soup?

Re: writing

Length doesn't matter. Sometimes our best stories are really really short.

Dialogue is difficult! Really scrutinize your dialogue before submitting, or think about how you can get the same information across with less speaking. 

Re: visual art

We're excited to publish art of all mediums--photography, collage, painting as well as video and music on our website. 

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

EW: No, I don't. I would love to but it's too time-consuming. Maybe if Stone Soup were my full-time job, I could, but alas.

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph/stanza of a submission?

EW: Unusual language that demands my attention. 

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

SS: Can you tell me more about being an editor?

EW: I'm not sure anyone's "qualified" to be an editor in the sense that everyone has bad days and good days as well as personal biases that affect how you read submissions, and whether you accept them. I strive to be aware of my personal preferences and to give work that is definitely outside of my wheelhouse (science fiction, for example) the benefit of the doubt whenever I can—whether that means saving it to reread or asking colleague for their opinion.

In general, it's exhilarating and an honor to be able to discover the strange, exciting artistic work kids are doing.

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

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