Happy Equinox! The first issue of Reckoning is exactly one season away.
As part of figuring out how I want to run Reckoning, it occurred to me to ask some editors, people who have done this before or something like it, for advice, ideas, caveats. I’ve long been a fan of open source, and I very much want this to be a place where we all think and learn together, where we seek new ways to see and progress that will let us keep going for another season, another year, another generation. So I thought I’d share the results. With any luck somebody will get inspired and found a competing magazine or two. Creativity is like love: it’s an inexhaustible resource. The more you use up, the more there is. Also we all stand to benefit from a hell of a lot more of it.
Below, then, in the first of what shall be an intermittent series, please find my interview with Faith Gregory and T.X. Watson, the editor and publisher, respectively, of Solarpunk Press.
MICHAEL: What kind of submissions are you looking for?
FAITH: We’re looking for optimistic science fiction and fantasy based in themes of environmentalism, social inclusiveness and awareness (including but not limited to LGBTQIAP rights, disability rights, black lives matter), optimism (but not utopian or blind unawareness of current issues of oppression) and progressive tech. Solarpunk is not a “back to earth” movement.
WATSON: We talk a lot about treating the issues that we’re facing in the real world as both serious and solvable. We try to lean away from utopianism because utopian narratives tend to treat the crises of the global present as already solved, and we’re looking for fiction to help people who’re going to live through the difficult time in between now and the solved-crisis future.
MICHAEL: Do you solicit specific writers or seek unsolicited submissions or both?
FAITH: We do both. Primarily unsolicited, but we will occasionally ask specific writers for original content or reprints.
MICHAEL: Do you seek out writers from marginalized groups, and if so, how?
FAITH: We state on our website that we specifically would like to publish queer writers and writers of color.
WATSON: When we’re reviewing our submissions, if a story deals heavily with issues about marginalization, we’re conscious about whether the writer is a member of the group they’re writing about. And we have reached out specifically to women authors and authors of color.
When we got started, I made a big list of authors I’d like to ask for submissions, and before I started I crossed off all the cis white dudes, which was a really informative exercise because that took out more than half of my list. I ended up digging a lot harder to find more authors to reach out to, and I’ve started reading some really cool authors as a result.
MICHAEL: Do you get enough submissions/good enough submissions/the kind of submissions you were hoping for?
FAITH: We’ve managed to keep going so far. Pickings are slim sometimes, but there’s always at least one great story that we want or are working on at a time.
MICHAEL: Is the set of stories you’ve chosen different from what you expected?
FAITH: Some of them are stories I wouldn’t have necessarily expected to publish, but I have no regrets.
MICHAEL: Are you satisfied with how it’s going so far?
FAITH: Solarpunk Press has been more successful than I would have originally imagined. I’m very proud of what we’ve done, and I hope we continue to be more successful in the future.
MICHAEL: Do you think the press has had an impact on the field, on how people are thinking and writing on this theme?
FAITH: I think we’re a pretty heavy influence in the development of solarpunk, just by showing what stories we are willing to publish.
MICHAEL: What would you have done differently, given the chance to do it again?
MICHAEL: Any other advice for me?
FAITH: Use tumblr. There’s great writers and great support on tumblr.
WATSON: Great artists, too. Most of the people we’ve hired to do our cover art came from Tumblr, and we really like having the opportunity to give work to young artists, especially those who get involved in the community.
MICHAEL: Anything else I should ask the other editors?
WATSON: Ask them about what kind of role they see their work having in the world outside the text.
MICHAEL: Yes! That is exactly the kind of thing I’m trying to get to the heart of, and a great way of putting it.
Thank you both very much for talking to me!