Editor Interview: The Golden Key

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

A: Speculative marvels.

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

A: Unstuck, Goblin Fruit, Shimmer, Pear Noir!, inkscrawl, Through the Gate, DIAGRAM, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Fairy Tale Review, Ideomancer, Strange Horizons, Caketrain, Conjunctions, Stone Telling, Linebreak, Sugar House Review, and Mythic Delirium are a few of our favorites.

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

A: To name a few: Kelly Link, Aimee Bender, Lydia Davis, Angela Carter, Donald Barthelme, Shirley Jackson, Lorrie Moore, Aryn Kyle, Haruki Murakami, Karen Russell, Raymond Carver, Stanley Elkin, Steven Millhauser, Lauren Groff, Arthur Conan Doyle, Karin Tidbeck, Kellie Wells, Katherine Riegel, Naomi Shihab Nye, Richard Siken, Margaret Atwood, Ben Marcus, Charles Simic, Conrad Aiken, Anne Sexton, Kevin Wilson, Jaimy Gordon, T.C. Boyle, Theodora Goss

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

A: The Golden Key is inspired by the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale, "The Golden Key"—a tiny, unending, unfinished tale that ends (but really seems to begin) with an iron chest being unlocked and the reader on the edge of finding "what kind of wonderful things" there were inside. In the same spirit, we seek to publish poetry and fiction that is open to the strange and marvelous possibilities of the world around us. Each issue is thus themed to explore one of the wonderful things – either literal or figurative – one might find upon opening the little iron chest. Each celebrates the curiosity and enchantment of the Grimms’ tale with work that is odd, surprising, and unafraid to venture down the unknown path.

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

A: Read our first issue. Read what we recommend on our blog and Twitter—we like to share poetry and fiction from other journals as well as our own, and we love everything we share. Send us your best work. Send us what you love.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: A story or poem where the words are the bones. Language that surprises us. A story that doesn't neglect its ending. Work that is in keeping with our issue theme, but addresses it in a way that isn't spelled out or blatant, or reliant on the word or synonyms of the theme to get the theme across.

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

A: Sending multiple stories or more than 3 poems in one submission. We have also gotten a few submissions that don't quite respond to either the speculative aspect of our journal or the issue theme.

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

A: We like to know a little about the writers who submit to us for our own edification. That is, we're curious (and nosy). For example, if your story or poem takes place on a submarine and you have some experience traveling on a submarine, that's what we'd like to know about.
Publication credits are interesting in that they give us a sense of what kind of writing you like, but ultimately don't count for anything in our reading of the submission.

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

A: Every piece is read to the end—with the exception of submissions that have many glaring errors right off the bat.

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

A: There are three editors on staff. Each of us read all submissions. Over the course of the submission period, we conference regularly about the submissions. This involves a lot of deliberating, debating, persuading. If one of us stays a rejection on a piece, we hold onto the piece. We sleep on it, go back to it, read and reread it over time. We conference again, and more persuasive arguments are made and heard. In the end, the other editors are either convinced or they aren't. We strive to publish work that all three of us are in agreement on.

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

A: Very important, especially when it comes to reading submissions and queries and other communication. We love print, and we are so grateful there are a lot of journals that produce both print and digital issues. We still prefer holding books in our hands than e-readers. However, as writers ourselves, we feel it's in the writer's interests to be able to send work quickly and to receive a response as soon as a decision has been made. There's also less of a chance of something getting lost in digital space. We also do our best to keep writers updated on the state of slush on our Twitter account.