Friday, December 10, 2021

Six Questions for Amanda Marrero, Editor-in-Chief, Honeyguide Literary Magazine

Honeyguide Magazine is a bi-annual magazine that features fiction, poetry, nonfiction, art, and blog posts about animals and their human neighbors.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Amanda Marrero: The idea for this magazine started while I was researching literary homes for my short fiction. I noticed that many of the magazines had stories about animals, even though they didn’t specifically focus on that theme. I’ve loved animals since childhood, and I wondered if there was a magazine that published short fiction about animals and people. The ones I found are amazing and I love reading them, but they didn’t quite fit my writing style. 

During this time, a family of foxes moved into our backyard. Our neighbors all had different opinions about them (mostly on how to remove them), and I was one of the few who admired the animals. I felt blessed to have them in our yard, to watch the kits grow and explore the neighborhood, and to hear them outside when I woke to care for my son at night. I only saw the mother fox over our Ring video footage, but I noticed similarities between her and me as mothers. 

I found commonality with her in the risk we took for our children. It’s a long story, but when my husband and I found out we were having a baby, we received a lot of ridicule and I hid my pregnancy for the first few months. This mother, though, didn’t hide her home, her kits, or her intent to care for them (by trying to hunt our neighbor’s chickens). Her boldness called me out of the shame of my past and helped me start towards a brighter future. 

I wanted our neighbors to see this mother fox as I did rather than talk about how to remove her and her family from our lives. The desire to help people see animals differently and have a space for animal-themed writing and art started Honeyguide Literary Magazine

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

AM: The first thing I look for is how much the contributor connected with his/her work. I love reading the blurbs people send with their submissions, especially when they say what inspired their piece(s) and how they relate to our magazine. When I see similarities between the email and the submission, I actually enjoy and remember the piece more. 

I also favor submissions that present animals as more than companions. Discovering how animals reflect ourselves, the connections between humans and animals, and how we affect each other’s lives are the inspiration behind this magazine, and I appreciate everyone who represents these ideas in their work. 

Lastly, I look for contributors who took the time to know our magazine and follow our guidelines. I love seeing emails addressed to the other editors and me, third person bios and pieces sent as we requested because I get the sense these contributors actually want to be in our magazine. I tend to give these submissions more attention. 

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

AM: Preachy themes and single-solution narratives. We publish pieces that help us think more deeply about a subject. When we see one that lacks complexity and seems more focused on teaching a singular lesson rather than exploring a topic or theme, it usually won’t rank high on our list. 

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

AM: I gravitate towards submissions that begin by “setting the stage.” Vivid details and description at the very start of a piece grounds me in the story or poem. There is a special way to use dramatic starts (ie: beginning with dialogue or action), but as a reflective, artistic person, my favorite written pieces always begin with beautiful, descriptive language that sets the tone for the entire work. 

SQF: Is there a particular type of submission that you’d like to see more of?

AM: I would like to see a wider variety of animals in our magazine. We see a plethora of submissions about dogs, cats, birds, spiders and ants, and although these are the animals most people encounter, I’m on the lookout for pieces about other creatures that are uncommon in mainstream literature and art, like microscopic organisms, prehistoric creatures, and amphibians. We had a couple of submissions for our third issue about imaginary animals, and I jumped for joy when I saw them. I also look forward to the day we can publish work about foxes and honeyguides. 

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I’d asked and how would you answer it?

AM: What do you hope for your magazine in the future?

I certainly hope we can continue publishing wonderful animal-themed work for a long time! I had never considered running a magazine before Honeyguide, and I absolutely love this work. I also look forward to supporting more animal caretakers with higher donations and publishing more Honeyguide issues throughout the year. The editors and I have a few plans to grow the magazine to help more people (ie: offer more feedback services and host writing and art workshops) once we have the finances in place and more team members. We’ve already started to see one of our goals become reality (starting a children’s magazine), and I’m eager to see Honeyguide grow more as we move forward.

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

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