Category Archives: Artists

So Say We All’s featured artists.

Interview with The Radvocate Editor Matt Lewis

So Say We All recently announced the launch of our new literary journal, The Radvocate. We are so proud of the work published in the new issue, which you can purchase here. Or! Come to our release party and reading this Saturday, 7/25, at 7:30pm at James Coffee Company in Little Italy. We’ll have lots of copies to sell to you!

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To get you all amped up for the party, our own Julia Evans spent a little time with our dear friend Matt Lewis, the founder and editor of The Radvocate, and a long time volunteer, producer, writer, and coach for So Say We All. See what Matt has to say about publishing, stories, and (of course) a little rollerblading:

So Say We All: Hi Matt! What got you into publishing zines?

Matt Lewis: Around 2006 or so, a well-known rollerblading magazine based in San Diego (called Daily Bread) shut down. It was replaced by something called One Magazine, which I went on to write a few reviews for. But the loss of Daily Bread within the community was too big for just one other media source to fill. A lot of corporations started to print off their own ‘magazines’ which were basically shameless plugging for the products and riders and marketed as a a publication. This irritated me to no end. I knew that there were a ton of people with the talent, in writing, art, and journalism, to make genuinely interesting media, who weren’t getting an chance because they didn’t know the right people. Daily Bread had always seemed to offer a space for weirdness and creativity alongside their content, but the new media that replaced it just seemed to sterile and formal, I guess because they wanted to project an image of professionalism. But around this time, my close friends and I had been talking about creating a parody zine that would lampoon the seriousness of these publications. My friend Geoff came up with the name: The Radvocate.

The parody zine never happened, but years later when I graduated from college, I saw the same exact thing happening with other writers, artists, and poets in my community. There were a few opportunities, but very few of them were for publication of any kind. Then San Diego Writers Ink offered a class on Zine-making, which was hosted by Todd Taylor, Jim Ruland, & Mike Faloon. Although I had been dimly aware of them, in the form of music zines my friends in high school passed around (Cometbus, Automatic, Maximum Rock n’ Roll, etc.) it never occurred to me that this was the avenue I had been looking for. Zines are unique in that they offer a platform to concepts that are typically cut out of mainstream media: in the 1930’s it was Sci-Fi, in the 50’s it was Pop Art, in the 60’s & 70’s it was queer & feminist issues, in the 80’s it was Punk Rock. Even in the present day, the zine community offers media that can inform you about important issues like Veganism, Animal Rights, Transgender issues, and DIY solutions to live a more sustainable and independent life. I was electrified by the fact that these people were communicating the media they wanted to despite indifference from the mainstream. It was all the motivation I needed to create the first, badly-photocopied issue of The Radvocate.

SSWA: What were some of your more formative zines?

ML: My early influence came from two different publications that were released when I was still in High School. I didn’t even know what a zine was when I saw them, or had even thought about independent publications at all. The first was called Any Given Day, which came from El Cajon and was created by Zeb Huset. He was a photographer for a few different rollerblading magazines, but he wanted a separate space to display his photos and give updates on local skating news (pre-internet, when we got all our information via magazines or word of mouth). The other was called Scum Magazine, which was created by Jan Welch. Scum basically had the same function as AGD, but for the Texas scene instead. Jan went on to move to San Diego and work for Daily Bread, which is how I found those for the first time. This was the first place I saw punk rock aesthetics being used outside of a music context, which went on to influence the early design/attitude of The Radvocate.

SSWA: What about literary journals? What are some of your favorites?

ML: As far as lit journals go, you can’t fuck with Hobart. They’ve done incredible work over the years and continue to do so with their online format. I love how they continually find the freshest talent and introduce the world to a lot of people who go on to write/do amazing things. I also like the format of NOÖ journal, in that they have literary content but they maintain a kind of traditional magazine aesthetic, which feels less stuffy then other traditional lit journals. And you can’t talk about unique without mentioning Carrier Pigeon; I found out about them at AWP this year and can’t believe what they’re doing with their graphic design. It’s revolutionary how they experiment with form and function, creating some really unique publications.

SSWA: What draws you to a story?

ML: There are two things I look for, and they could either be in tandem or separate. One is a visceral reaction. If a story makes me feel a certain way, physically – disgusted, depressed, devastated, terrified, ecstatic, inspired – I love to process why the story did that to me and what kind of truth is lying in it that causes these feelings. The second is a fusion of intellectualism & lyricism within the story. A good example of this would be Ray Bradbury’s writing, where you read something that is not only intelligent, but just spills off the page effortlessly. Of course, not all stories have these things, but when they possess elements of them, it really stands out.

SSWA: What draws you to live readings?

ML: I love the fact that live readings offer an opportunity to connect with a community of people. Real-life meetups are so rare now within any sort of thing, and they can often be notoriously awkward. But at a reading, everyone knows why they’re there and what their going to do: listen to some people whose work they enjoy. It not only becomes a place to hear the author, but to connect with people who have similar interests who live relatively close, without all the weirdness of ice-breaking. Not to mention they can be damn entertaining. When we had Scott McClanahan out for our December reading, he brought an entire noisy bar full of football fans to a dead silence. It was amazing to watch, but even more amazing was to hear from people who attended afterward about how much it inspired them and galvanized their own work. That’s why live readings can be so special. We’re hoping to replicate a moment like that for our Issue #13 Premier Show (7/25, 7pm @ James Coffee Co.) which will feature some contributors that are not only amazing writers, but incredible storytellers.

SSWA: What kind of content does The Radvocate seek out?

ML: Generally speaking, we’re looking for people whose work strives to reflect with raw intimacy the world as it is understood and lived by its inhabitants. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, interviews, photography, and art are accepted.

SSWA: What do you want to contribute to the literary journal landscape today?

ML: I can only hope that we will carve out a unique space where we can introduce some rad people & unique content to the world and not bore anyone to death.

SSWA: What’s next for The Radvocate? When are you reading submissions for the next issue? Any advice for hopeful contributors?

ML: We are currently taking submissions for Issue #14, which I’m hoping will come out in early 2016. We take and read submissions year-round, with the average response time being a month. My advice would be not to worry so much about what category your work fits into; just send in your best and if it’s rad, we’ll feature it.

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More:

Rad.

Black Candies Editor Ryan Bradford on Why Horror Matters

Our own Julia Evans recently got to interview Ryan Bradford, editor of Black Candies, our journal of literary horror. He also volunteers as So Say We All’s creative director, as well as a producer, performer, and writing coach for us. Black Candies: Surveillance was recently released (and is currently a Recommended Book at Powell’s Books!) and to celebrate, we are hosting a reading and release party this Saturday night, 6/27, at Low Gallery in Barrio Logan.

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So Say We All: Hi Ryan. Why horror?

Ryan Bradford: Oh man, busting out the big guns first.

Truthfully, I’ve spent so many hours trying to figure this out for myself. I suspect, ultimately, horror fandom is very personal, and there is often an underlying vulnerability to every obsession.

For me, I’ve dealt with anxiety most of my teenage and adult life. Even in benign social situations, I experience physiological effects: sweating, increased heart rate and clenched jaw. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to recognize these symptoms as anxiety, which, as a therapist told me, is a body’s reaction to fear. Or, basically, I was constantly experiencing fight-or-flight symptoms, despite the fact that I wasn’t being threatened. Reading horror or watching horror, on the other hand, provides this little nest where these symptoms feel normal. It feels like I can be myself, where my anxiety doesn’t feel misplaced.

But I’m also kind of a horror snob, or, at least, very particular about it. I think if you look at the majority of horror books or movies, you’ll see an overbearing grotesqueness. I wanted Black Candies to be an antidote to all the gaudy stuff I was reading and watching. It sounds pretentious every time I say it, but I’ve always wanted Black Candies to be intelligent horror—full of subtlety, wit and nuance. I couldn’t find a lot of online or physical print journals that were satisfying those needs, so I decided to make one.

SSWA: Do you remember what sorts of things you were reading/watching when you started Black Candies four years ago?

RB: I think I read Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas, Joey Comeau’s One Bloody Thing After Another, and Nick Antosca’s Midnight Picnic in a row and those books were dark and gross without being indulgent or typical. They also had serious emotional stakes that weren’t used as plot devices—which is rare in horror and dark fiction. Those were huge inspirations to Black Candies.

SSWA: Your themes are always a bit unexpected. What grabbed you about “surveillance”? Why did you want to curate a surveillance-themed issue?

RB: Good horror has always been a tool for addressing social issues of the time. I mean, look at George Romero movies—you can pretty much trace the history of American unrest through the “of the Dead” series.

So, I think like everyone else, I was freaked out when the Snowden bomb dropped, but it was also a moment of instant revelation: “Surveillance. That’s going to be the theme of the next issue.” It’s a fear that we all share right now to some extent, and I wanted to create something that we could all connect to.

SSWA: Do you primarily find authors who identify as horror writers?

RB: Not really. I just want people who can be dark. In fact, I think some of the best stories come from people who aren’t necessarily horror writers, but are given permission to tap into their dark side. It’s exciting when writers scare themselves at what they’re capable of writing.

SSWA: We feature a lot of women writers in Black Candies. Is this intentional?

RB: Yes, it’s intentional. I’ve found that women are often underrepresented in horror, and wanted to create a platform where they could not only have a voice, but be as gross, dark and unlikeable as they want. I still think there’s an attitude, even among the liberal literati, that can’t abide a woman writing ugly stories.

SSWA: What will non-horror readers think of these stories? or… Is this book accessible for people who traditionally do not think of themselves as horror fans?

RB: As I said above, I think “Surveillance” is a universal anxiety right now. Even if you’re not a horror fan, these stories should strike a nerve in you.

SSWA: And what about serious horror fans?

RB: If you’re a serious horror fan and you don’t like these, well, come at me, bros.

SSWA: There’ll be a live reading from the book this weekend, at the book release party. How does a story transform for you when you hear it read out loud? 

RB: It’s great to see how a story transforms when an author reads their own work. As I mentioned above, some of these authors don’t usually write horror, and when they do, it can be an exhilarating/terrifying experience for them. When you push that further and have them read this ordinarily-taboo piece of writing aloud, it can become a spectacle of emotion. Does that sound sadistic? Maybe.

SSWA: What’s next for Black Candies?

RB: I’ve always wanted to have an online Black Candies, so that may happen in the near future. Also, Black Candies-flavored Doritos.

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Read about how Black Candies: Surveillance is a Recommended Book at Powell’s Books in Portland here!

Join us at Low Gallery, 1878 Main Street, at 7pm on Saturday, June 27th for our Black Candies: Surveillance Reading and Release Party!

Purchase Black Candies: Surveillance here.

San Diego Book Awards!

Congratulations to two of So Say We All’s storytellers, Jim Ruland and J. Dylan Yates, for winning not just one but two prizes each in the 2015 San Diego Book Awards!

Jim Ruland won the prize for Best Published Contemporary Fiction for his novel, “Forest of Fortune,” as well as a tie for Best Published Memoir for “Giving the Finger.”

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Jim, a long time, steadfast supporter of the literary arts scene in San Diego and Southern California, was most recently seen on our VAMP stage in January.

J. Dylan Yates won both the esteemed Geisel Award for Best Published Book and the award for Best Published General Fiction for her novel “The Belief in Angels.”

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Dylan most recently took the stage in our LGBTQ showcase, Outspoken, in February.

Congratulations to our fine winners. We are so proud of you!

 

Rolf Yngve

Rolf Yngve served thirty-five years active duty in the US Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. He published short fiction in the 1970’s and 80’s in Quarterly West, The Greensboro Review, Best American Short Stories, 1979, and others. More recent fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals including Glimmer Train, Chattahoochee Review, The Journal of War Literature and the Arts, The Common, Kenyon Review and others. His stories and essays have been recognized through a third in a Glimmer Train Family Affairs contest, the 2009 Indiana Review Fiction Prize, and honorable mention in numerous contests. He holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, was a 2012 MacDowell Colony Fellow and a 2014 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Residency Fellow. He recently completed his first novel, Any Watch They Keep.

Eliza Jane Schneider

Eliza Jane Schneider is an actor, playwright, songstress, dialectologist, and fiddler. She is most widely known for voicing most of the female characters on Comedy Central’s SOUTH PARK, including Wendy, Shelly, Principal Victoria, Mrs. Marsh, Mrs. Cartman, Mrs. McCormick, Ms. Crabtree, and the Mayor.

Her one-woman, 34-character show, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, directed by Sal Romeo, won the “Best Solo Show” award at the New York International Fringe Festival, then ran Off-Broadway at P.S. 122, and was ultimately moved to Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. MOXIE Theatre in San Diego produced a run of the show in 2013, directed by Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg, and that production has been nominated for a Craig Noel Award. On camera, Eliza Jane guest starred on UPN’s GIRLFRIENDS as a white girl surprisingly fluent in “Ebonics,” and she was profiled on the International BRAVO! Network’s “Arts & Minds” program for her research. She is also known in over 60 countries as series regular “Liza,” on CBS’ BEAKMAN’S WORLD, and less known as “Sheila” on CBS’s THE AMAZING LIVE SEA MONKEYS with Howie Mandel.

Her gaming fans know her as Rebecca Crane in the ASSASSIN’S CREED game franchise, Elizabeth Swann in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and Arwen and Eowyn in the LORD OF THE RINGS games. She has voiced dozens of other characters and creatures for the gaming world, from Scottish trolls to Jamaican dragons. She specializes in voice matching, and recently worked ADR with Oliver Stone on the role of “Ophelia” for his film SAVAGES. For MTV, she voiced animated versions of Oprah Winfrey, Tori Spelling, Beyonce, Giselle Bundchen, Michelle Obama, a Cyborg Brittany Spears, and a Ugandan adoption agent who wouldn’t give Angelina Jolie a baby (among others), on Dave Thomas’s POPZILLA! As a dialect coach, she recently worked with Chinese actor Jim Lau to sound Thai for HANGOVER 3, and regularly helps kid actors sound like real live starving Ethiopians, Cambodians, and Haitians for charity.

Carolyn Budd

Carolyn Budd tends to shun the spotlight except at wedding parties where she’s known for butchering disco dance routines.
She ditched her career as a psychotherapist to run a non-profit theatre in Seattle when her acting students started making more progress than her therapy clients.
She returned to the Spring Valley home where she grew up to care for her elderly mother and stayed to study creative writing at Grossmont College.
Her poetry has appeared in A Year in Ink and The Far East.  She enjoys cooking for a crowd and fermenting her own sauerkraut.

Phoenix Gomex

After years in the Northwest wetlands Phoenix has returned to the San Diego desert and is studying to be a teacher. She’s believed in the power of stories ever since her grandfather did his Gollum voice when reading The Hobbit, while all the children and all the adults sat mesmerized. When not fiddling about in her journal she can be found somewhere huffing along on her bike on University Ave or trying to cajole her housemates into playing cribbage with her.