Friday, May 8, 2020

Six Questions for Nuala O'Connor, Editor, Splonk

Splonk publishes flash fiction to 500 words, microfiction to 100 words, and Irish language flash to 500 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Nuala O’Connor: I’m passionate about flash fiction. I saw a gap that needed to be filled, and I was able to fill it: Ireland had no dedicated flash fiction journal and there was also an opening for an outlet for flash written in Ireland’s first official language, Irish.

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

NO: We are a team at Splonk, with varying tastes, and we offer a fair rating system when choosing the pieces for each issue – each editor weighs their picks 1 to 10, then we weigh the finalists – so the range of published work tends to be broad.
  1. For myself, I want originality in language. Clichéd phrases as titles make me roll my eyes. Clichéd phrases in the body of the flash also irritate me. 
  2. I also want freshness in the spirit of the flash. I like unusual concepts, settings and situations. Few people write the mundane well. Those who do, do it knowingly and with skill and, often, humour.
  3. Lastly, I am not too hung up on plot – I enjoy flashes that are prose poem-like, or vignette style. As long as there is beauty and originality, that’s fine with me.

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

  • Clichés.
  • Bad, unimaginative titles.
  • Tracts of non-fictiony information.
  • Rants on any topic.
  • The author’s name on the manuscript.
  • Track changes, complete with editorial comments, visible on the manuscript.
  • People who have clearly never read flash.
  • People who have clearly never read Splonk to see what kind of work our team goes for.
  • Poems with line breaks. (Prose poem-like pieces are fine.)
  • Typos. One is forgivable, repeated typos are not.
  • Clipart on the manuscript.

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

  • Harsh sexism.
  • Homophobia.
  • Nasty sex.
  • Excessive violence.
  • Racism.
  • Mundanity in situation and/or language.

SQF: If you could have a meal with three authors—living or dead—who would they be and why?


  1. Flannery O’Connor – I love her dark humour, she was a genius. Her dialogue is a masterclass. I would just love to hear her hold forth about anything.
  2. James Joyce – if I could get him warmed up enough to speak, we might have a good natter about the colloquialisms of our hometown, Dublin.
  3. Emily Dickinson – she might be quiet at first but, again, if I could get her to speak, I hope we might talk about writing and baking, two things we both love.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

NO: What do we want to see at Splonk right now? (We welcome work from anywhere in the world.)

We’d like to see more microfiction, please.

We want all of the stories we read to have one or more of the following: emotional punch, humour, darkness, vivid language, an odd structure. We like experimental work, straight narratives, language-driven flash, historical, futuristic, post-apocalyptic, weird, quirky, ‘normal’, melancholic, and happy work. 

Send us whatever you’ve got, but please avoid clichés! See – and follow! – our submission guidelines.

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

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