Interview with Sam Hiyate at Don’t Talk To Me About Love
Why did you start Don’t Talk To Me About Love?
It’s the third litmag that I’ve been involved with and the one I’m the most excited about because it’s online (a LitSite), and only a few months in, we already have an international audience with 6,000 unique readers. Hopefully that will grow exponentially. And we’re publishing great stuff! So the rewards are there. I have two partners (Alexandra Risen and Diane Terrana), and the work is easier with three.
What is a day-in-the-life like for the editors of Don’t Talk To Me About Love?
Well, other than managing my addiction to Google Analytics, you mean? It’s been work in ways we never anticipated. Designing the website, managing social media, developing a curatorial vision (with three partners). And, of course, poring through the submissions. We spend hours at editorial meetings. The Proustian interview idea, one of our most popular features, came up at one of those meetings. We’d love to get more submissions for our online art gallery. Generally, a few months in, there’s been the thrill of watching something small taking on momentum.
I love the magazine theme of love. Do you feel your publication fosters a community, and if so, how do you nurture that community of writers?
I think every magazine or site is a family – definitely a community. It’s early days but eventually we’d like to host events, use multimedia and find ways to make our community know itself better. We can’t wait to see what happens to the careers of the writers and artists we discover and nurture.
What have you gained from working for Don’t Talk To Me About Love? How has this experience changed your perspective of reading literature and the process of maintaining a literary magazine?
It’s made me more conscious of love at the heart of many things – relationships with others, yes, but also as a force on its own. Individually and as a culture we glamorize it or we minimize its power, but it is at the heart of all the great stories.
What advice would you give to writers looking to submit their work at your journal?
Read us first to see what we like. (Really. We really mean this!) Also, we’re open to other ideas or departments – if you’re interested in a specific aspect of love you want to explore (I would love to have a section of say, Love Letters), we’re open to pitches. I also think there’s lots of room for the non-fiction to grow. Also, submit to our #6wordsaboutlove contest and win a mug with our gorgeous logo. You can see last month’s winner on our Facebook page.
Tell us about a piece or several pieces you recently published that got you and the staff excited. Why did you love it?
We were worried our interview might get repetitive but when we saw how author Margot Berwin (New School MFA) answered the questions, we were delighted. They were completely original. And very moving. We’re also serializing Margot’s novel, Irresistible. In addition, we were lucky enough to get a chapter from Lee Gowan’s just-finished novel The Beautiful Place. Our non-fiction is attracting a huge readership, and we have Kera Yonker’s wry/funny piece, “Sharks and Starfish,” about the disillusionment of dating and Tracy McGillivray’s essay, “Bright and Burning,” about her son. We’ve actually received several emails from readers who were affected by Tracy’s.
Where do you see Don’t Talk To Me About Love 5 years from now?
I would like to see it grow into a quiet arts and cultural institution, though that might take longer. I’d be happy with a million readers, considering the universality of the topic.
What are you working on in your own work right now?
I’m an agent by day, not a writer, so I am always busy with editing client manuscripts and submitting them to publishers.
What is the next exciting thing happening at Don’t Talk To Me About Love?
The contest! We’re giving away thousands of dollars in prizes for fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. Meanwhile, we’re hoping to break 12,000 unique visitors by Valentine’s Day. In my first litmag we had a circulation of 500 for our first year back in 1991. This is a whole new level.