Interview With Fiddleblack

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Author: Jason Cook

Why did you start Fiddleblack?

I started Fiddleblack in 2010 because I was writing a lot of fiction at the time that, to me, felt like it would never find a suitable home. I thought it might find placement but nowhere that would celebrate what I was really trying to do. I guess it was all about a certain vibe that I’d been exploring; I wanted to see that become a real thing, so I set out to create and build it myself.

Describe your journal in 3 words?

Sense of place.

What is your literary background like? What got you interested in starting a literary journey?

I have an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. I studied transgressive fiction at Goddard under John McManus and Darcey Steinke.

My interests in literary journals stemmed mostly from graduate school, where it all seemed like the only objective to be had other than print publication. I quickly realized, nearly post-Blogger then, as content management systems became fashionable and then permanent, that the idea of the journal had sort of died off in a sea of mediocrity and repetition.

What is the most challenging part about being an editor?

I think the most challenging part, for me, is really just staying on top of it all. My inbox gets crazy sometimes, and I hate letting emails sit far longer than they deserve but it’s sometimes unfortunately unavoidable. Other stuff, the creative work, like finding the content and stitching it all together, is something that should probably come with a kind of ease to any real editor.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

I built Fiddleblack on a weird interweaving of ideas I borrowed from Cormac McCarthy, A.M. Homes and Michel Houellebecq. I’m not sure how relevant all of that is now, but I do enjoy most everything Haruki Murakami does.

What do you look for in a publishable piece of writing?

I look for something that matches our vision clearly. It’s not often me, though. A lot of this is done by Melissa at intake. She knows what Fiddleblack is and what it wants, and she’s able to sift through the hundreds of submissions and find what’s right.

What are you working on in your own work right now?

Right now I’m working on finishing a new hardcover for a big author.  I can’t say who yet but I think folks can figure it out.

What is the next exciting thing happening at Fiddleblack? In what ways do you see Fiddleblack evolving?

We just released a book curated by big time horror filmmaker Larry Fessenden. It’s been in the works for years, and it features lots of original artwork and essays on the “Wendigo” of American Indian folklore. Entertainment Weekly and RogerEbert.com both talked about it. I think that’s pretty cool.

Our evolvement is really just starting this year, I think. We recently repositioned our brand as an “experimental production company,” which I’m going to go out on a limb and say is a kind of highfalutin way of telling folks we’re not really a literary journal anymore. We are in the sense that we’re still publishing in our journal format, but we’re looking to do a lot more with our name and audience types—branching further and elsewhere into film, music and written word.