Lindsay Hunter is the author of the story collections Don’t Kiss Me and Daddy’s. Originally from Florida, she now lives in Chicago with her husband, son, and two pit bulls. Ugly Girls is her first novel. Twitter: @lindsaydevon
To say that volunteer Gary Gould has been our lifeline lately would be an understatement. Not only has he produced several VAMPs this year, but he is also currently producing the partnership showcase with San Diego City College, taking place October 15th at the downtown library, and co-producing this month’s VAMP: 4 AM. We love the way he empowers the storytellers he works with to get to heart of their stories.
And, AND! He wrote and performed this lovely, funny, and poignant story, “Split” in our June VAMP Showcase: “Wedding Season.” Gary’s story was recently picked up and published by SPEED. You can read it here. Were you at the Wedding Season show? It was a phenomenal night, full of vivid stories and we kind of went through the emotional ringer together, didn’t we?
Banana Splits, it read, a support group and ice-cream social for students with divorced parents. That’s me, I thought, that paper is talking about me. Were there other kids who felt like me? Who wanted to talk about their feelings and eat ice cream? Could Banana Splits be the answer to all of my problems?
Read his story, and then come and see the fruits of the work Gary has been doing with the writing community in San Diego this month. Congratulations on the publishing credit, Gary, and way to make us proud.
(image: Speed Literary Magazine)
We laughed, we cringed, and some of us had to step outside to get some fresh air, but we LOVED Jen Stiff’s story from August’s VAMP: Red Flags. And we are not alone: Her piece was picked up by XOJANE and, lucky you, you can read it here.
We are proud. So proud. Way to go, Jen!
When the nurse practitioner peered into my cervix with her spelunking headlamp, she exclaimed, “Oh my goodness. That’s the tiniest little cervix I’ve ever seen. But don’t worry. I’ll get that sucker up there.”
Jennifer Stiff, letting us all up in her business, at our August VAMP
Ryan Bradford is the founder and editor of So Say We All’s journal of literary horror, Black Candies, as well as our volunteer Creative Director. He is usually the one doing all the bragging about everyone else’s writing, so it’s nice to be able to turn the tables on him.
Because: Ryan’s story, “Animal Control,” just won the prestigious short fiction contest at Paper Darts, a fantastic art and lit mag. Yeah Ryan! It’s an incredible story, by an incredible writer, in an incredible literary magazine. We’re so proud, and, as always, quite disturbed. Happily disturbed. Way to get under our skin.
From “Animal Control“:
The next time I see Jean she’s on all fours, crawling over my grass and sniffing the ground. The movement forces definition into her leg muscles, which, I realize, are spectacular. I watch from my porch, draped in a robe and sipping coffee. She turns to me and, without standing, says, “You gotta think like them.” She also says, “There was a killing spree last night.” And finally, “Rough night?” I must look extra pathetic because she offers to show me the victims as consolation.
original accompanying illustration for Animal Control on Paper Darts by John Willinski
If you like Ryan’s writing, you might want to check out the stories he’s curated over the years in any edition of Black Candies. Black Candies: Surveillance is available for purchase here. Each Black Candies contributor he’s worked with knows that he uses that highly-tuned gory-creative touch as an editor, too. Way to represent So Say We All, Ryan.
Join So Say We All this Thursday, August 27th at 8:30 pm for our August VAMP Showcase, featuring curated stories on the theme of “Red Flags.”
Red flags, red lights, red tape. These things are supposed to warn us but sometimes we don’t pay attention. Join us for an evening of stories about gut instincts, warning lights, and that one time we just.didn’t.listen.
Our blind submission process featured more brave and wonderful submissions than we’ve ever seen before. Here’s who got caught in the net this month:
Featuring VAMP first-timers:
- Becca Karpinski, with an inspiring and, at times, difficult story of travel, risk-taking, and mothering
- Michelle Franke, PEN USA’s Executive Director, regales us with a tale of class, privilege, period wear
- Jean Guerrero, from the KPBS Fronteras Desk, with a heartbreaking tale about the past, family, and, naturally, about VHS
- Rachel Peschman, another VAMP first-timer, with a story of two troubled people navigating a troubled love.
And storytellers who have been on our stage once before, or maybe a dozen times before:
- Anastasia Zadeik, with a stunning story about loss, memory, and family
- Long-time VAMP performer and producer Ed Farragut will tell a story about a particularly gnarly work environment
- So Say We All’s co-founder Jake Arky rolls back into town with an unsettling story about someone he was crazy for
- and Jennifer Stiff, who has graced our stage several times with her incredibly funny yet intimate stories, with a harrowing tale of preventive measures.
Our Red Flags showcase is produced by Whitney Roux and Matt Lewis.
VAMP Showcase: “Red Flags”
Thursday, August 27th
8:30pm – 10:00pm
Whistle Stop Bar
2236 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104
$5 suggested donation
Natanya Ann Pulley is a writer in Vermillion, South Dakota. She writes fiction and creative non-fiction and fancies collage. Her work can be found in The Collagist, The Toast, Western Humanities Review, The Florida Review: Native Issue, Drunken Boat, AS/US journal for indigenous women, and McSweeney’s Open Letters (among others).
Natanya has a phd in Creative Writing from the University of Utah. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Dakota where she teaches Creative Writing, Native American Literature, and Narrative Theory. She is the Fiction Editor of South Dakota Review.
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!
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.
- For more on The Radvocate, read our announcement here.
- Come to our launch party and reading at James Coffee Co! For more details, visit the Facebook event here.
- Enter a chance to win a copy of The Radvocate #13 in our Goodreads giveaway!
- If you can’t make the reading, you can purchase the Radvocate here.
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.
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?
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.
Join us at Low Gallery, 1878 Main Street, at 7pm on Saturday, June 27th for our Black Candies: Surveillance Reading and Release Party!
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, 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.”
Dylan most recently took the stage in our LGBTQ showcase, Outspoken, in February.
Congratulations to our fine winners. We are so proud of you!