Friday, July 3, 2020

Six Questions for Jacob Robinowitz, Editor-in-Chief, 96th of October

96th of October publishes speculative fiction (1,000 to 10,000 words), poetry that can be read in five minutes or less, art, and music and videos. “And before you send your work, please ask yourself, is it weird enough?” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Jacob Robinowitz: I couldn't find a speculative fiction magazine that made literary writing its main focus. 

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

JR: A polished literary style, which shows the author's acquaintance with good writing. Weirdness is something I also prize: unexpected ideas, quirkiness. Humor will find a welcome with me. But there are no hard and fast rules: if the writing is good and it's  the SF/Fantasy/Horror genres, I am glad to be surprised.

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

JR: Misuse of words, faulty syntax and plot contradictions. 

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

JR: An elegantly turned phrase, a poetic image, a sign that the writer has literary skill. I don't really care how soon things "happen" in a story. Chekhov's short stories are exemplary: not much happens, and I'm reading them in what is probably a not so great English translation, yet I'm enthralled. How does he do it? Chekhov has a great deal to teach anyone who wants to write short stories in any genre. 

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

JR: There are none. If you can really write, there are no limits as to content. If sex or violence are being used for a serious narrative purpose, I'll listen. If shocking material is there to cover for a lack of ideas, that is rapidly apparent, and my interest will wane.

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

JR: How long does it take you to respond to submissions? What kind of attention do you give them?

96th of October is a start-up, so we are eager to hear new voices, we are not bored, we have not "seen it all." We give all submissions a careful read, and get back within a few days. It's like a new restaurant where the staff is knocking itself out to make everyone feel particularly welcome and valued.

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

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