Wants: Power-punch stories (1500 words or less); Short Fiction (1,000 words – 7,000 words)
Preferred Genre: Any
Pay Rate: Power-punch stories: $100; Short Fiction: $200
Deadline: 20th October, 2014
The first issue of The Canary Press hit shelves back in May of 2013, a debut effort that attracted our attention here at AWM with a combination of quirky fiction, eye-catching design, and the kind of certainty about their mission statement that immediately made us trust in the editors.
With four issues under their belt, The Canary Press team have more than lived up to that initial promise. They’ve recently put out a call for stories for an upcoming Formerly Known As The Genre Issue, and we caught up with Robert Skinner, founder and editor behind the The Canary Press, to discuss the journal and why they came up with the Genre Issue concept.
Canary Press is a relative new-comer as a literary journal, with your fourth issue released back in May. What first got you excited about launching a new magazine into Australia’s literary landscape?
Mostly we did it for the money. And the women. Except the women, who did it for the men.
We wanted to make a story magazine for those of our friends who had never been short story readers before. Which is most of them.
We hear a lot about how important literature is, but we wanted to show people what a goddamn pleasure it can be.
Like Playboy magazine in its short-story heyday, we wanted to publish stories so damn good you want to read them even though there are boobs on the next page.
There’s a really strong visual aesthetic that unifies your first four issues that seems very in-synch with your writer’s guidelines request for stories “too funny; too outrageous; too moving, soulful, exciting or ridiculous for our more prestigious journals.” If you had to describe the kind of fiction you publish in five adjectives or less, what would they be?
Powerful flanks, shining mane, glistening hide, strong finisher, no older than seven.
That’s what we’re looking for in a horse, anyway. The things we’re particularly fond of in stories, that we don’t see enough of, are humour and genuinely compelling narratives. Also, totally off-the-wall imaginations.
But seriously, we are in the market for a racehorse and would appreciate any leads.
You’ve recently put out the call for stories to feature in a special genre issue, but between stories about Darth Vader’s relationship with bees and a recent appearance by award-winning Australian fantasist Margo Lanagan, you seem to be pretty open to genre work already. What sort of stories are you hoping the Genre issue will attract that don’t ordinarily appear in your slush pile?
We’ve had others, as well: ‘The Train’, in our latest issue (which is, I suppose, a post-apocalyptic Western), and Hoax Mermaid from our first issue.
You don’t see many plot-driven / idea-driven stories in respectable society these days.
The fashion of the last 20 years has been for character-driven stories, that rely on a moment of epiphany/revelation. And that’s mostly what we think of now, when we think of the Short Story. Of course, there are people who write this type of story and do so exquisitely. But all those other types of stories are being neglected.
There’s this guy called John Collier, who’s rarely talked about in literary circles. He writes these 6 or 7 page stories that are funny, diabolical and just a fucking joy ride. But you couldn’t imagine one of his stories appearing in The New Yorker. Reading them in a creative writing class you might think, “Oh, the characters weren’t very well-developed” But that’s never what the stories were about, or what they were trying to do. They’re totally brilliant, but on different terms. We wanted to dedicate an issue to stories like that, which succeed on different terms than we’re used to seeing.
Who are some of your favourite authors, and what makes them so appealing to you as a reader?
To avoid the tediousness of an exhaustive list, here is a list of my favourite dead writers called Raymond. Is that OK?
- Raymond Chandler
- Ray Bradbury
- Raymond Carver
- My Great Uncle Ray who wrote “Good Riddance” in his will.
- Raymond Louise Skinner – my Great-Uncle Ray’s unfortunately-named daughter.
Imagine your story being read, not by someone in your writing group, or that person hanging around at all the Writers’ Festivals, imagine it being read by someone who doesn’t know you from Adam, who knows nothing of the literary scene, who has an Iphone burning in their pocket and a TV on in the next room. Make it so they don’t want to put you down.
Make readers of your friends. The world needs more readers. Buy them a subscription to our magazine! Consider it an investment. Australian short story writers need more readers. This shit used to be a stadium sport. It doesn’t matter how nice the paper is you’re printed on if you’re writing for an empty house.
Good luck and GodSpeed. We’d love to hear from you.
P.S don’t describe someone’s hair as a “river” of anything.