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Editor Interview: NUNUM: Blending Flash Fiction & Art

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: visual flash fiction art

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

Brillant Flash Fiction
Flash Fiction Online
Crack The Spine
Vistal Review
Unbroken Journal
The Cantabrigian Magazine

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: Writers
Yoko Ogawa
Hitomi Kanehara
Ryu Murakami
William Gibson
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ted Chiang
Madeleine Thien
Jon Fox
Hong Seung Hye
Takashi Murakami
Jeff Wall
Tracy Pitts
Emma Sywyj

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: NUNUM focuses on blending flash fiction with visual art to produce a work which while faithful to both parents is, as all offspring are, unique unto itself.
This is all we publish, and we do it in order to further explore the idea that both the words of a flash fiction piece and the elements of an image don't exist in a vacuum. A reader's mind isn't blank, it is full of clusters of memories, all inter associated with each and it is these associations which NUNUM's work seeks to pique.
When a reader engages with a piece from NUNUM our goal is to disrupt their contemporary mental associations and force them to change, quite literally to change what they think in a way that either the story or image alone would be unable to accomplish.
After all, this is what nunum means, something which promotes a moment of mental stillness that gateways to a more reflective state.
While I am sure we don't bullseye this each and every time, it is the only thing at which we aim.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Less than 500 words, not a single character rant, stay away from the first person narrative voice unless it is bat crazy good. Also, I'd say to send us that piece you wrote which later you felt like you shouldn't have. The thing that made you pause as a writer is probably what you should be always aiming to write. Artistically, we are dying for more drawings, sketches, graffiti, things that are rough, real, expressive, basically we are looking for art with a personal edge and we're not so interested in that beautiful photograph you took on holiday in Italy last summer.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Easy - I read it or see it and want to accept it and ask the writer/artist for more before any other reviewer has even seen it.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Word length, but I have to say this happens less at NUNUM than it did at previous journals I worked with in the past. I think it could be because NUNUM only accepts flash fiction, that word in itself let's everyone know from the start that submissions need to be short.

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: Oh tricky, tricky. Honestly, I scan them before I read the work most times. Its just the way submittable is set up, cover letter is right there. Although full disclosure I'm the only one who sees it, the readers don't have access it to until all publication decisions have been made. Anyway, it matters yes but only in the extremes. Kafka's great granddaughter submits a long lost piece of his flash fiction to NUNUM for its first publication, dude I don't even read it, instant acceptance. Done and done. Afterwards I read it and it sucks (like it would but you know for arguments sake), I don't care, I'll figure out a way to make it work. Flip all that around, most beautiful, quintessential nunum-esque piece of writing I've ever seen but turns out the writer blogs for a neo-nazi website when she's not out scamming seniors out of their retirement savings through some hustle grift thing. Well, sorry hands are tied here, can't be involved with that shit. Same goes for art, what the artist is looking at with their work matters, their skill, their execution those things matter but just like it does with the writers, who they are matters when things are run all the way out to the edges.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: NUNUM only accepts flash fiction, so with it being less than 500 words I read until the end. A piece of writing starts to affect me after word one. First word was banana, had one for breakfast and it was divine, this story is going to be good. Better be at least, I don't want that memory tainted. And so it goes, word after word until the end and then it is a fill in the blank situation with all the opinions, feelings, etc. I accumulated from the reading. Sure, sometimes the decision to reject a piece feels like it was coming but then again other times a piece that started 'in that direction' for me turns and twists and spins and ends up being the piece I can't live without. Vice versa pops its head up once in a while too, oh this is going to be good and then whimper, sniffle it died and prompts that letter no one likes. Best situation for me is I need five stories for the next issue but I have ten that can't be a no. That's when the team sits and begins the ugly, painful cull but I always make sure to at least let the five we couldn't take know we loved their work and it was logistics and not their writing that prompted this particular rejection.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: For NUNUM there are two things. One, once we have that list of stories everyone (or almost everyone) agrees we want, we have to start thinking about how the individual stories will fit together into an issue. Two, because at NUNUM we work with a story and an image to create a piece for the journal, we have to think about the art we received during the same submission period and how we can work with both elements together to reach a final product that will satisfy everyone involved. For us this is the hardest step in our process but also oh so necessary because it is what gives us pieces with which we can knock on a stranger's door in the middle of the night and know they won't be upset once they see what lovely presents we have to give them.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: Busy, full stop. Excited, love to open up new submissions and see what gems are inside. Anxious, we are a new publication, will we ever get another submission or has everyone held a meeting without us and decided that what we do just isn't right. But then one arrives and we all get a little giddy and go into different corners and remember why we started NUNUM in the first place.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: I know people, not many, but I'm serious here, I know people who have trouble reading the time off a tick-tock type analogue clock. You remember cursive writing? My nephews don't even learn that at school anymore. Why mother's circle of friends are nearly all in their 70s and 80s, dude they chat on Facebook. Traditional? Traditional for who? Those friends who can't figure out those crazy clock hands, they don't care, all but one of them doesn't even wear a watch. If you want my nephew to make his writing 'fancy', then guess what, he'll download whatever font type you want. They have their own tech, the only one they've ever known and so it goes with journals, new ones will be tech'ed up without even thinking about it because it is just natural for them to be that way. Then there will be older, more established journals that are like my mother's friends, they'll pick and choose tech that they feel works right for them. Until they feel they are missing out on something, when everyone knows something they didn't but wish had, then they'll go online with someone and figure out the next piece of tech that gets a welcome mat into their lives. But there will always be journals who avoid electronic submissions, social media, POD and all the rest of it, but man they better be like my brother's wife's father and have stories so damn good you can overlook the fact he still calls it Ceylon.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: Taking something out is easy to ask a writer to do. Story is so much stronger without these two lines here, what do you think about removing them? Or what about having this story start with the second paragraph, stuff like that, I have zero hesitation to ask a writer what they think about those edits of that nature.
Basic proofreading for spelling, grammar, etc. is a given and to be honest if there was very much of it to be done most likely the story got rejected and never reacted the editing stage.
Suggesting synonyms for an over-used word is easy to do too, especially remembering NUNUM works with pieces of 500 words or less. So repeated words are supernova obvious and if they aren't busy reconstituting something a synonym will be suggested for sure.
Line editing, suggesting additions, mmm, this is where it gets very grey for me and again remembering the length of the work NUNUM works with, there wouldn't be more than one, max two, of these I would be comfortable with asking a writer to consider. After all, a writer is sending me their story, the way they wanted to write it, they are only asking me if I want to publish it and not do I want to rewrite it the way I think it should have been written and then publish it.
Does the author get to approve the final edits? Is that a joke? If there is an editor out there that edits work and publishes it before getting the green light from the author they should be fired on the spot. A submission is an offer, not a gift you can bring to the store and exchange for store credit to use to buy what you really wanted.

Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?

A: As of yet no, but NUNUM is only six months out of the womb. Is this something we intend to do, one hundred percent. For every single one we can, we will. It is in our submission guidelines that we will. It is in the acceptance letter that we send to our contributors. And even more than just nominating the piece NUNUM was fortunate enough to publish, we want to help with their future successes as well. If they have a reading, a new publication, an interesting project, a whatever - if they let us know, our social media will sign about it. We want to build relationships with our writers and artists, I know it isn't for everyone, but it is important for me to make sure the opportunity is there for everyone NUNUM publishes, anything NUNUM can do to help them be successful, it'll get done.