electricno2I found out about Electric Literature through some Canteen Magazine related email list. I was glad to have found out about them for a few reasons. First of all, they pay contributors 1,000 usa-grade-a-smackers per story. Secondly, they publish beautiful work. Michael Cunningham, who was the MFA Director over at the Brooklyn College MFA and handed the Directorship over to Amy Hempel, is a contributor and supporter and I think he is nice, he sort of glows. I started to like Electric Literature more when I sent a submission over. The email I got back was honestly one of the nicest, “we’re getting to it” emails I’ve ever seen. Particularly in a time when journals are receiving submissions by the thousands, the fact that they took the time to stop and think, “we should send back a nice note” just seemed like good things from good minds to me. Like writers, readers and editors who get it. You know what I mean? Like they’re trying to do something but staying in a mindset with the rest of us. Like we’re all trying to “do something.” I liked them best when they sent me a rejection letter. It was a really long email and one of the most heartfelt, “keep it up, kiddo” in a non-patronizing way letters I’ve ever received. Plus they hold some bar events in NYC which include heavy drinking, and I’m a sucker for a gin and tonic. Perhaps you saw their write-up in the New York Times this week, and perhaps it gave you hope, that if you are seeking support in your writing, your craft, in your journal, in whatever your endeavor, that in these trying times there is hope out there. I think hope can come in the way of smiles and this crew seems to have an endless supply of them. They’ve started a Fictionaut group and I thought asking Ms. Anna Pru to explain herself would be fun, and it was.

Q (Nicolle Elizabeth for Fictionaut): What is Electric Literature?

A (Anna Pru for Electric Literature): Electric Literature is a bimonthly anthology of short fiction. Each issue, we strive to publish five short stories that are emotionally charged and gripping – and we try to deliver our content in every viable medium (for example, print on demand, kindle, iphone app). We started Electric Literature to help literary fiction adapt to the changing publishing landscape. We want to demonstrate that a journal can pay well and still be self-supporting, and we want to expand the readership of the short story using new media and new forms of distribution.

Q: I have it on good authority a bunch of you founders of EL went to the MFA at Brooklyn College, (which by my counts seems to be, as one might say, “kicking ass” lately. Poets & Writers ranked it up in the single digits on the best MFAs to attend in the country list this issue) Now, don’t ask how i know this, it’s why they pay me the big bucks and I’d be put in front of the firing squad like Mata Hari if I leaked my sources. Did you know that according to a report Henry Wales gave the National News Service in 1917 (he was one of the members of the firing squad) that Mata Hari refused a blindfold and insisted on staring at the executioners while they shot her? Anywho, I was wondering how the MFA experience may have helped inspire starting a journal if at all?

A: The MFA experience is one way to find a community of motivated, creative types who are interested in creating a vital literary community – and now we want to keep looking for more and more of these types. However, the MFA was also a place where the harsh realities of publishing literary fiction were explained to us. Time and again, we were told that selling short story collections had become a near-impossible task, and that many literary journals were in danger, suffering from little or no official distribution. Instead of acquiescing to these ideas, we decided to take a more active role. With EL, we are now working to create the type of outlet for short fiction that we wish existed.

Q: Don’t you think Michael Cunningham is just dreamy?

A: Yes. Michael is a true charismatic. We’ve been very fortunate that he also believes deeply in our project. Writers like Michael have their choice of places to publish, so it means a lot to us that they trust us with their work.

electric-literature-logosidebarQ: Why is it called Electric Literature and in 1550 when Gilberd discovered electricity, do you think he had a premonition you would exist?

A: I bet no one could have imagined that the same thing that makes little zaps if you pet a cat and then touch metal, would one day become a major way of transmitting stories. Electric Literature has a dual meaning: 1) our publishing model involves taking advantage of new media and other electronic means, and 2) we look for stories that are electric, immediately engaging and exciting, with a sense of movement, or, if you will, a charge.

Q: How is the Fictionaut group going? You guys are new around here, welcome, i like you. Hows it going?

A: Good so far, we’re still in the early exploration stage. We’ve poked around the boards, checked out some of the features, and have tried to get the feel of the community. We’re excited to see the creativity happening in the groups and forums. We like the way Fictionaut fosters community between writers, readers, and publishers.

Q: What groups have you noticed if any and do you like how they’re doing their proverbial “thing?”

A: We’ve joined a couple – thematic ones and groups of specific journals. The journal-specific ones have a slightly different feel, but we like being exposed to new journals and communities.

Q: What are you planning to do with the group if anything at all?

A: So far, I like the soapbox/sounding board aspect of the group – I’d like to involve the community in the stuff we’re really interested in: the short story today, how do we make a literary journal with new media methods popping up everyday, what’s a really gripping short story, etc, etc. I also think the groups have a lot of other possibilities as well, and I’m open to exploring.

Q: Tell me anything else here, plug the shit out of yourselves. get it? Plug? Electricity? Oh, nevermind

A: Our new issue is here! We just released a new Short Story Trailer on YouTube! Follow us on twitter (@ElectricLit). Issue two is now officially out. It’s exciting!

Nicolle Elizabeth checks in with Fictionaut Groups every Friday.

  1. 1 The multi-format future » Unstressed

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