Friday, March 22, 2019

Six Questions For Kevin Brennan, Editor, The Disappointed Housewife

The Disappointed Housewife seeks fiction, essays, and poetry – along with unclassifiable writings, photos, and drawings – that stretch genre definitions, break the rules, challenge readers, and bend their brains, all while maintaining the highest levels of style and substance.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Kevin Brennan: I noticed over the years that much of the material coming out in literary journals sticks to pretty traditional genres, forms, and structures and doesn’t take chances in a way that art probably should. To my mind, especially with the freedom that comes from all the technology we have now, writers might be encouraged to try something different instead of reinventing the wheel. I started The Disappointed Housewife as a way to invite writers to stretch their wings and expand their boundaries.

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

1) A different approach. Whether in fiction, poetry, or essays, I’m looking for a different slant or technique, a different sound, or even mashups that play with form and offer readers something unexpected.

2) Creative and/or playful use of language. English is dope!

3) Humor. It’s always surprising to me that writers don’t use a lot of humor in their work, and I’d like to see more of it. Not yuck-yuck comedy but instead more of a view of the world through a distorted lens. I publish a lot of stories with a humorous slant, but it’s not easy to find on a regular basis.

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

KB: I don’t often accept a piece when it’s obvious that the writer didn’t consult the submission guidelines. Usually it involves length. I get a lot of stories that are over 3000 words, but our top limit is 2000 and I prefer shorter than that. Frankly, I think online readers are interested in a short, efficient, effective story rather than more traditional, longer prose. The medium isn’t the greatest for long reads, in my opinion.

I also have to reject a lot of work because it’s not “offbeat” enough. There are plenty of outlets for traditional writing, so when someone sends us stories or poems that really belong somewhere else, I’ll have to pass. 

SQF: Is it really that important to read the submission guidelines? Many of them are long and boring.

KB: Extremely important. You learn a lot about a literary journal from the guidelines. I spell it all out in mine. Send me something different. Break the mold. Do something you haven’t seen in a hundred other places. Make it fresh.

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

KB: I don’t have a lot of predetermined hard sells, though genre writing of any kind will have a tough time with us if it doesn’t do something different with the form. In other words, I’ll consider erotica, crime, romance, sci-fi, or almost anything else if it blows up the usual conventions and does something unique.

I’m not interested in violence though. A lot of writers tend toward using violence as a way of dramatizing conflict or building tension, but it’s usually too easy and not well done. Humor trumps violence at The Disappointed Housewife.

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

KB: “Considering that you’re looking for unique, innovative, idiosyncratic writing, how much of it do you actually find and publish?”

Good question! And the answer is that I’m always surprised and delighted when something that really fills our bill comes in, and it comes in pretty frequently. It brings me huge pleasure when I see a piece that seems to say, “This sounds different, doesn’t play by the rules, and takes you someplace you can’t predict, but it’s art.”

I’m also happy to have learned, over the past year of editing The Disappointed Housewife, that there are a lot of writers out there trying to do something different and new—many more than I might have thought—and it’s rewarding to give them a place to publish where they don’t have to worry about the usual conventions.

When you browse The Disappointed Housewife, I’ll wager you’ll find stuff you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

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

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