Friday, December 20, 2019

Six Questions for Emma Kalson, Editor, Fudoki Magazine

Fudoki Magazine is an online flash fiction publication for folklore, fairy tales, myths, fables, fantasy and legends and showcases new writers and seasoned authors alike. We want stories to engage and enthrall! Read our complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Emma Kalson: I’m a huge fan of storytelling and have fond memories of my grandmother’s fantastical tales at bedtime, or rainy lunchtimes at primary school when one of the lunch ladies entertained us with her stories. We tend to think of fairy stories as for children but add in ghost stories around a campfire or people gathering to lampoon the political chief of the day without getting themselves arrested and storytelling and those tales become much bigger than the words themselves. They’re about binding communities together, recognising ourselves and others and so much more. We don’t really tell tales so much now and I know some of my grandmother’s stories are lost forever because they weren’t written down—as adults it’s very easy to get wrapped up in every day life and forget these stories we’ve had passed on to us, so Fudoki Magazine is in large part about recording stories and letting us pass them around. The name comes from fudoki, which were reports to the monarchy in Japan in the eighth century and these reports included the oral tales told, as a form of preventing them from being lost to history.


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

EK: Fully formed stories—flash fiction is an artform and isn’t just a cut-off longer piece. Whilst it can’t fit in the same level of detail as a longer story, that’s down to the skill of the writer.

Something that grabs me and is original for Fudoki Magazine—whilst there’s some excellent writing out there, it doesn’t always excite me. As editor, I get to curate a body of work and if it doesn’t excite me or elicit emotion in the right way, I don’t feel that would fully represent what I’m trying to do with Fudoki Magazine. I’m also conscious of variety, so if I have very similar stories submitted in a single reading period, I will only choose one.

A polished piece—the occasional typo isn’t an issue, but if the pacing isn’t right or there’s word repetition I’ll pick up on it very quickly. If I think there’s something in the piece, I may send it back to the author and request they work on it, but that’s the exception as I only have so many hours in a day. I do have ‘tips for submission’ (https://fudokimagazine.com/tips/) on the website and the best piece of advice I can ever give is to read your story out loud or better still, get someone else to do it or your word processing software. When we read our own work back, particularly whilst it’s fresh, we’ll read what we think it says, not what it actually says. Reading it out loud is a great way to switch up the pacing and replace a few words, which can turn a good story great with very little effort.


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

EK: When you can tell the author doesn’t care—although that sounds hard to do with a set submission form, I do mostly pick up on it. An author bio is a chance to shine and I ask for social media accounts, so I can promote the author and hopefully find them a few new fans. If an author pastes all their details in the story box, when it specifically states not to, or puts all their social media in the bio box, rather than the right place or their bio hasn’t been well-crafted, I feel that they’re treating me as one more another venue for their story, rather than it being a mutually beneficial arrangement with another human being. And follow-up emails… nearly all authors I deal with are absolutely lovely but there’s an occasional one where I’ll make a mental note not to deal with them again, however good their story is. Fudoki Magazine is a project borne of passion and I guard that passion really carefully!


SQF: Is it really necessary to read the guidelines? They’re often long and boring.

EK: Yes! Read the guidelines. Always read the guidelines. Publishers have them for a reason. And with Fudoki Magazine, the guidelines form part of the author-publisher agreement, so it’s essential to know what you’re signing up to.

It’s a matter of scale, too. The workload for 100 submissions is very different for that of 10. I email every single author and with those who are successful, there can be a thread of communication. The easier an author makes my life, the more my sanity remains intact!


SQF: If Fudoki Magazine had a theme song, what would it be and why?

EK: Gosh, this is a hard question! I listen to a ridiculous amount of music and don’t think I could pick one thing. Something by Arcade Fire, The Waterboys or Wolf Alice, perhaps. As an anthology album, I’d pick UNKLE’s The Road. It’s in two parts and there’s a remixed work as well, so it’s an evolving piece of art.


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

EK: What does a rejection mean for an author? Story rejections are universally viewed as terrible events, but they’re not. The first thing is to consider that no one author has a 100% acceptance rate; your writing won’t appeal to every editor every time. The joy of different publications is their variety. Editors pick what’s right for them and whereas one editor may dislike your piece, it’s another publications gain… keep submitting.

More importantly, submitting your work means putting yourself out there—if you don’t submit your work, you won’t receive rejections, but you won’t receive acceptances either. So that ‘no’ is something to be congratulated: putting your work out into the world is a brave thing to do.

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

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