I like Negative Suck. I like Jeffrey S. Callico‘s work. I figured you might also. Jurgen’s abroad, this means I’m in charge, so this write-up is two days late. I’m making the calls, people. Everybody gets a choice of an elephant or one green teabag. One.

Q (Nicolle Elizabeth for Fictionaut): What is Negative Suck? Its history? Its ethos? Its start date? Its “vision”?

A (Jeffrey S Callico): Negative Suck is a monthly ezine featuring writers and artist who don’t suck.

The term “negative suck” is something I ran across a few years ago; I’m really not sure where I saw it first, but it seems it was on some medical program either online or television. The sound of it caught my attention immediately so I scribbled it in a notepad vowing I would use it as a title for something. Back in 2007, I think, I did just that, using it as a title of an awful piece of flash fiction that will never see the light of anything. It really sucks.

So since that time I knew I should use for it something else and the idea for the zine came late last year. I decided it was time to put it to much better use than before.

The “virgin issue” of Negative Suck appeared online in December 2009 and, to my surprise, rather took off. I was lucky enough soon afterward to get it picked up by a fiction and poetry resource listing site called Duotrope’s Digest; once that happened I got submissions almost daily. Some were good, but yes, some definitely sucked.

Now for the meaning of the term “negative suck” and how it applies to the zine. It’s a medical term, as I mentioned. When an infant sucks at a bottle or the mother’s nipple, a vacuum is created eventually, thus preventing the infant from obtaining milk. So, in essence, the infant can no longer suck. Obviously I use that as a very loose metaphor for
the zine. Everyone I’ve explained this to kind of smile and go “That’s cool!” or something similar.

When I say it’s for writers and artists who don’t suck, that is of course subjective on my part. The primary tips to all who submit: 1) Read the guidelines; 2) Read the zine; 3) Read the guidelines.
The vision of Negative Suck? I just want to keep it coming out every month. The art so far has been fantastic, and the art editor, Madrea Marie, has been a great help in finding some really good artists. There have been excellent writers, too, such as Lyn Lifshin, Erin Cole, Michael Solender and Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge. Right now, my dream is to one day be able to feature someone relatively big on the literary scene — like fiction writer Rick Moody or poet Bob Hicok, for example. I’d also love to publish a print version as a “best-of” compilation once the first year is behind us.

What sort of dialogue do the members of the group carry on?

I have overheard some stuff through the walls. I really can’t tell you what’s going on, but it’s been sounding kind of freaky.

How is Negative Suck finding Fictionaut?

It’s a very active site so I am hoping group membership will increase soon. Get the word out! Maybe sell some free beer.

What suggestions might you have for us?

Will you be developing a new beer anytime soon?

Please tell us about yourself here. Tell us everything. Spill it.

I hail from Atlanta. I own a 10-year-old black Lab. I hate watermelon, cantaloupe, and most of all, beets. I have no tattoos and look weird in photographs. I don’t wear a watch anymore. My favorite novel of all is John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany but the late John Updike is my favorite author. I own all of Neil Diamond’s vinyl. Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are my favorite bands. I saw Kiss in 1979, and Mahogany Rush opened. When I was 13 I saw Boston play live for the first ten minutes of their show; then my father forced me to go home because it was a school night (rest in peace, Brad Delp). I’m an average drummer, and weekly have the good fortune to play a snare that Neil Peart of Rush once played. If I could have a long-winded conversation with an inanimate object, it would without doubt be my personal computer. One thing I’m proud of doing every week is writing at least two pretty good poems. My collection of short fiction,
Fighting Off The Sun: Stories, Tales, and Other Matters of Opinion, is available on Amazon. My work has appeared in several print and online literary journals, including FRiGG, Johnny America, Origami Condom, Calliope Nerve, The Legendary, Opium Poetry 2.0, Target Audience Magazine, Full of Crow, SpokenWar, Pulp Metal Magazine, Weirdyear and Fashion for Collapse.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, do you have any beer?

What is the best book written this decade so far and why?

I want to say all Charles Bukowski poetry collections, but I’ll stick with the 2007 book The Pleasures of the Damned. If anyone knows anything.

Nicolle Elizabeth checks in with Fictionaut Groups every Friday.

  1. michael j. solender

    Jeff’s style as a sardonic, wry and sparse writer & poet is one that sets his work apart in its directness and non-subtlety. He has carried that sensibility into his editorial gig at NS by featuring pieces that are right out in front of readers or, as he once said to me, pieces that smack him up the side of the head. Keep your eye out on Negative Suck, clearly it does not suck at all.

  2. LynnAlexander

    Thank you for putting up this interview, Jeff was a good choice. I have always said, since I first started reading his work about a year ago, that he stands out as different and a writer to watch.

    One thing that you realize and appreciate in a way that takes some time is that Jeff can be sick but he is funny as hell.

  3. Karen Schindler

    Great Q&A
    And Oh my gosh there is just too much here to comment on. I’ll be sending Jeff an email in a minute so I can embarrass myself in private.

    I have enjoyed everything I’ve seen in Negative Suck. I think Jeff has a talented eye for spotting great work.

    A) Thank you for presenting this interview
    B) Next time? Give the man a beer.

    Karen :0)

  4. Laura Eno

    Great interview with Jeff. Negative Suck is truly unique, just like its creator. It’s too bad you didn’t give him a beer though…


    Your interview with Jeff was both interesting and informative re: creation of Negative Suck Blog. He’s truly a fine writer.

  1. 1 Checking in with The Carnage Conservatory - Fictionaut Blog

    […] Callico and Emily Smith-Miller. Jeffrey, this is your third time on Checking In With Groups. First Negative Suck, then Dark Chaos, and now The Carnage Conservatory. Tell me the truth: at this point you’re […]

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