Fiction Editor DT Schatten shares what they’re looking to publish in our Summer 2023 Online Issue.
Before I get into what kind of fiction I, personally, want to publish during my tenure at So to Speak, I think it’s worth talking about what kind of fiction I think every literary journal should strive to publish. This is going to be controversial, so get ready.
Writing that’s good.
And what do I mean by that? Well, that’s really where things get subjective. Obviously, every journal will be looking for something that matches its own tastes, and every different genre, subgenre, and mission will desire different calibers of quality. But all writing should, first and foremost, be good — in the eyes, especially, of its writer.
That might sound obvious, but genuinely, always strive to be proud of what you write. Send it to your friends, send it to your teachers, send it to your family or found family before sending it to your favorite literary journal. Read, reread, and reread it a third time to make sure you truly enjoy the piece before you send it on to a journal. Be skilled in your work; of course, this means checking your story to make certain it is free of typos and cliches, but beyond that, it means exemplifying your own values, proving to your target journals that you’re willing to fight to get your words on the page (or screen), and writing the story that you know, you just know, no one else can write. Or, if they can, they haven’t yet.
Now, what am I, DT Schatten, fiction editor, looking for? That’s a little less ephemeral. Aside from good work, I look for things I haven’t seen before, the uncanny, strange, fascinating, or downright weird. I look for work that exemplifies the values of So to Speak: intersectional work, meaning work that examines identity through different lenses, particularly those which have been historically marginalized. I look for work that reads nicely on the page or out loud, work that has exciting or beautiful moments, and work that I wish I’d written myself.
My interests have historically tended toward the speculative as well as the intersectional, so if you want to get my attention, good authors to emulate are Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Michael Chabon, N.K. Jemisin, or Kelly Link. (If you can do a good ode to Mark Z. Danielewski, I’ll be impressed, but I wouldn’t try unless you’re very confident.) I heavily enjoy horror, science fiction, post/transhuman fiction, and other works about a world either much better, much worse, or much different than our own, as long as it says something about the actual world we live in. Fiction with themes of Judaism, transgender life, and commentary on the intersection of technology and humanity will also tend to interest me. Still, we will be happy to publish you regardless of genre if we truly feel your work is as good as it can be — as you can make it.