Friday, December 1, 2023

Six Questions For Naomi Simone Borwein and Chun Hyon Lee, Angry Gable Press

Angry Gable Press publishes speculative poetry to 100 lines, and short stories of 500-6,000 words.  Issues are themed. “Embracing experimentation in technique, form, perspective, and subject matter at the boundaries of the speculative, we welcome a spectrum of aesthetics.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this press?

Naomi and Chun: We conceived of the idea for Angry Gable Press to fill a niche at a time when many publishers and magazines were signaling their impending closure, including iconic ones like Fantasy Magazine. As an indie press, we have the opportunity to spotlight talented writers who might not otherwise be heard. We hope to showcase styles and approaches that are unusual.


This was by no means a sudden decision. We considered this undertaking for quite a while, and once we knew we were doing it, there was much deliberation on the character and name of the press. As two English literature PhDs, we settled on Angry Gable because gables have a long literary tradition—muliebral and macabre—enmeshed with writing, and angry was included to emphasize a preference for writing that straddles the passionate and the strange, the absurd, or the weird. 

We envisioned publishing a theme-based anthology series. This was borne out of a desire to allow for a variety of unusual manifestations, or representations, of speculative fiction and poetry: from innovative voices, to jarring styles, and unexpected exploratory perspectives. Such writing tends to experimentally push the boundaries of aesthetics and our own apprehension of the everyday in new, non-reductive, exciting ways.

The poetry anthology series, Katabatic Circus, has a literary mandate. The term Katabasis suggests katabatic arctic winds, as a geomorphic process with metaphysical concerns tied to the katabatic narrative and poetry form. It evokes a sojourn to the underworld. The aim of the anthology is to bring together thought-provoking, complex poetics that move beyond contemporary trends.

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

Naomi and Chun: The top three things we look for in a submission are as follows

Number 1. Overall signs of a well-crafted piece. A well-crafted piece has many parts, whether it is a story or a poem. We want to see writing that is carefully balanced, exuding originality in themes, voice, and/or style, and exhibiting dynamic tension and pacing.

Number 2. Good Bones. A piece should start with a great hook that follows through and is properly sustained, bookended by a compelling original conclusion with, if possible, a deeper overall meaning. This can be applied to poems as well. A good ending haunts readers and makes them return to the story. If we finish a story (or poem) and it ends the way we think it will end, we are sadly disappointed. Surprise us with the unexpected. Excluding flash, we also expect a turn or hint to the premise of the story within the first half. If we don’t know what the story is about by then, we wonder if the author has anything to say or if it is just filled with things. Not that things are bad. We love things, but we need more.

Number 3. Adherence to theme. We receive a lot of amazing work, but if it doesn’t conform to the theme of the anthology we cannot accept it—no matter how good it is. Sometimes writers submit non-speculative work, which can be brilliant, but we want speculative. That said, Angry Gable Press aims to push the aesthetics of speculative genres to the limits and muddy the line between what is traditionally thought of as pulp (the space of genre fiction and poetry) and literary. In this way, as editors, we aspire to create anthologies that subvert or help establish new trends, actively rupturing stylistic norms.

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

Naomi and Chun: While we remain open-minded when reading submissions, certain things do decrease the likelihood of an acceptance: unpolished, poorly conceived pieces; well-worn or unoriginal tropes, overused themes, or cliches; specifically for stories, a lack of balance between setting, dialog, and the overarching concept framework. Poetry must be powerful, and at a higher level should show signs that the poet has an awareness of craft and poetic tradition. Upsetting, gratuitous situations or messages just for the sake of being offensive are not particularly appreciated. Shock factor is not enough. It must be used as leverage to propel the story or poem to a conclusion. We have no problem with a political message, but heavy-handed political messaging or agendas are not nuanced enough to be accepted.

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

Naomi and Chun: Extending our earlier comments, we look for pacing that pulls you through the story, that makes you want to read on from the very first sentence. From the first sentence, a story, for instance, should grab the reader and draw them into the narrative and its landscape. The initial hook must occur quickly and be balanced by an overarching concept. It should be driven dynamically, and be in some way unique, inventive, or captivating. 

The first paragraph lets us know what kind of prose to expect, so it should be strong. It is easy to get caught up by great characters, plots, and interesting themes and elements, but clean purposeful prose is the first hint to the abilities of a writer.

Poems need to be both evocative (stylistically, aesthetically, or thematically) and focused from the first line: think about form, content, and meaning. The title should resonate with or build on the subject matter.

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

Naomi and Chun: Hard sells include graphic pointless violence, graphic depictions of sex that are not integral to the story, sexual violence or rape. Hard passes include animal cruelty; anything problematic in terms of bigotry, racism, sexism, and ableism; any attempt to mitigate the offense of child abuse; political or religious manifestos.

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

Naomi and Chun: What is weird to you?

We’ve said we like weird, absurd, or ‘strange’ stories above, but we really love them! A story that we did notSQF-Angry Gable Press expect is like a surprise gift. As editors, we talk excitedly with each other about the unusual ones for days. Give us the one story that is so bizarre that you weren’t sure anyone would like it, but you wrote it because you were so passionate about the material. Make it a great story. Then send it to us.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment