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Editor Interview: Heart of Flesh Literary Journal

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

A: Literary Christian work.

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

A: There are so many great publications, but I'm truly excited about (and admire) the newer, up and coming Christian publications. Lost Pen Magazine has been around about as long as we have, and publishes work with a "clear Christ-centered theme" and features some fantastic work in both its digital journal and blog. Solum Literary Press is both a literary journal and small press "in the evangelical tradition" that is soliciting submissions for its first issue. Though they've only just begun, they are a promising publication and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.

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

A: In writing, we love the style of Flannery O'Connor, Sylvia Plath, and Shirley Jackson. We like writing that has a little grit and darkness, with hope, love, and healing of Christ intertwined. We like gravitas, and we like light-hearted.
In art, we love William Blake and other Romantic movement artists. We like art that evokes a strong emotion, whether it is in disgust or terror of sin, or the desperate need for Christ.

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

A: Unlike some other Christian publications, we are not a typical "Christian fiction" journal, and we accept work from both Christians and non-Christians. This is for a couple of reasons. First, we wanted to create a space for Christians to showcase work that doesn't fit neatly into the "Christian" genre. I think there are many Christian writers that struggle to find their place and audience, especially if they don't write "Christian fiction," and as a writer myself I can totally relate. Second, we know a lot of non-believers are drawn to Christianity or have a view of Christianity that influences their writing. I believe there are few people in this world that have not been influenced by Christianity in one way or another, and I find Christian influences in otherwise secular writing to be fascinating. I wanted a place for their work as well. Third, I like the notion of having both believers' and non-believers' voices to give readers different viewpoints and perspectives to consider. I love the idea that there is a underlying conversation taking place between all the pieces that we publish.

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

A: Make sure it has a Christian theme. We're open to a lot of different types of writing, but if there is zero reference to anything about Christ, things of the Bible, or God, then it most likely won't get accepted.

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

A: I try to read every piece I receive all the way to the end, but there are times when I can tell a piece is not right from the first few paragraphs (or stanzas, if it is a poem). Short stories and Nonfiction stories especially need to grab my attention within the first couple of paragraphs, or they will not get accepted. By "grab my attention," I don't mean that writers should begin their stories with a crazy action sequence. I mean that a strong voice needs to be there. If writers have command of their craft, I can usually tell right away.

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

A: I usually do a basic proofreading, and then we allow the author to view his/her work, and voice any concerns, before our issue goes live. Every once in awhile, I will ask an author to edit something specific, prior to its official acceptance. In very few instances, I do line editing of a piece after its accepted because I think the story itself is great, but the writing needs tightening up. But, this is extremely rare.

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

A: No, we currently don't nominate work, though we are considering this for the future.