Editor Interview: MadHat Annual

This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.

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

A: a wedding feast

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

A: American Letters & Commentary, Caketrain, Diagram, Dreaming Methods, Drunken Boat, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Otoliths, Action,Yes, Jiving Ladybug, Apostrophecast, Exquisite Corpse, Fiction International, Gargoyle, Unlikely Stories, and Wheelhouse

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

A: Samuel Beckett, Don DeLillo, Donald Barthelme, Isabel Allende, Gertrude Stein, Franz Kafka, Lewis Carroll, Jorge Luis Borges, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Rikki Ducornet, Jane Austen, Albert Camus, Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Hardy, Italo Calvino, Leonora Carrington, Mark Twain, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, Dorothy Parker, Rainer Maria Rilke, Anna Akhmatova, early W. S. Merwin, John Berryman, Yves Bonnefoy, John Ashbery, Joseph Brodsky, Tristan Tzara, Andre and Elisa Breton

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

A: First, we publish a wider range of "genres" than the vast majority of online journals: fiction; poetry (including concrete/visual); drama; whatnots (the undefinable); wit and whimsy; digital films and video's; cartoons; "creative non-fiction;" book reviews; columns; and texts in audio. Second, we "marry" texts with audio and art. Each author's work is accompanied by original, custom-made music or author's recitation, or both, as well as custom-made artwork. We also offer unique features, including showcases of works by authors and artists from specific countries. In our next issue, we will feature contemporary Russian writers, as well as "visual music" and "moving words." Our current issue, the Mad Bunkers' mash, which is still evolving, is a collaborative project by Mad Hatters' Review and Bunk Magazine. The journal is surprising and expansive, collaborative and anti-cliquish; we look for fresh, original writing. I'm always open to new ideas and projects and refuse to publish the same author/s in consecutive issues, unless we're publishing works in serial form.

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

A: Familiarize yourself with our journal to get a sense of what we like. Start with our "About" page and peruse "Archives."

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Fresh, surprising, and linguistically delicious.

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

A: They don't read our guidelines thoroughly, and many submit during closed periods. Also, it's obvious that the majority of submitters are unfamiliar with the journal's philosophical and aesthetic inclinations.

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

A: Our submissions form asks for a bio. Cover letters are unnecessary. The quality and originality of the writing is far more important than a list of credits, but we're curious to see where the author has published.

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

A: I can tell when a piece is a fit after reading the first few sentences or maybe one to three paragraphs. If I see something like: "Arthur always cried when his mother left for work at the tire factory. He hated his aunt Mary and would lay around all day sucking his thumb and watching cartoons with his dog Miffy," I will toss the submission in the Reject folder, unless I have the patience to read further and see that the story may actually be a clever satire that might fit as "wit and whimsy." Generally, a submission has to demonstrate the author's delight in language from the first sentence or two.

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

A: We have genre/category editors and guest editors who employ their own yardsticks. I have the final say. I evaluate submissions in terms of originality, linguistic dexterity, depth of imagination and psychological/philosophical sophistication/intelligence.

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

A: Electronic submissions are author-friendly. I rarely submit to a journal that requires snail-mail submissions, though as a publisher, the electronic sub process has drawbacks. Many authors don't bother to figure out whether their writing is suitable to the journals that allow email subs. We, therefore, get flooded with inappropriate submissions, as I've already said. As for social networking sites, they're valuable tools for PR, exposing writers and other types of artists to other artists' works, including new publications, and introducing them to journals and presses, and vice versa.
I view POD as a publishing mode that makes it easy for a press to create an empire (or at least, a generous number of publications) without having to fork out money for printing, and naturally, small indie presses are rarely well endowed. It also makes it easier for writers to get their books published.
I think, on one hand, that the employment of these user-friendly technologies has resulted in an exhaustion of transient, often trendy online journals and possibly a few presses that publish works of dubious quality and frequently serve as means to promote only the publishers, themselves, and their circles of friends, hero's, MFA classmates, and fans. Most of these journals are online versions of traditional print magazines (i.e., not utilizing the multimedia potentials of the Internet), and some are blogs. On the other hand, there is a reasonable number of mature, inventive, original journals and presses that utilize modern technologies to promote excellent "outsider" writers in need of audiences they would never be able to otherwise attract.
I really don't see that there's much if any choice left for journals but to embrace (or reluctantly shake hands with) modern technologies. For the global arts community and interested public economically privileged enough to utilize the Internet, these technologies have radically opened up access to an expanding variety of literary and artistic works and vehicles for creative expression.