Monday, May 28, 2007

Shiny Sneak Peak

Here at Shiny we’ve received a decent amount of submissions – enough that I don’t feel that we are being forced to take things we don’t absolutely love and not too much that we are being overwhelmed to the point that we can’t move for slush.

We’ve accepted 4 stories with one pending acceptance, in my opinion. We need 9 for the 2007 series. That’s 3 issues each with 3 stories. So I guess that puts us at the half way point. I get to send out the rejections. Rejections are not the fun bit about being an editor. You know that someone is waiting at the other end of the email you are writing, maybe a bit excited, and when they read what you’ve written, it’s kinda gonna put a dark cloud over their day. On the other hand, being involved in the Last Short Story project at the same time has really helped me get over the rejecting of slush woes. Because … rejecting work does the writer, the reader and the magazine a favour. There are far too many markets out there being too nice. Far, far too many.

But every now and then you get a STORY. You know the kind … the one that stands out from the rest. The one that is so gripping and intriguing that you shut out the world and inhale it all in one go and get really excited that you get to be the one to accept and publish it.

For me, in the Shiny project, that story is called “The Sun People” and it was written by Sue Isle. I jumped on the Isle bandwagon last year reading her 2006 works “Daughter of the Red Cranes“ and “Mary Bennet gets a Life”. Isle has such a strong and unique voice. She writes from her own perspective and puts something fresh out there. She writes for characters that are usually the wall flowers in stories and she makes them compelling. She speaks for the unspoken and that makes me, as the reader, feel like I’m stumbling across something new and important. And maybe just a bit fragile.

I asked her to consider submitting something to Shiny and she told me she can’t write under 8000 words. I have to admit to being in a novelette kinda mood these last months. As a reader, I’m erring on the longer story as a preference so 8000 words didn’t faze me. And then she submitted “The Sun People”. I’m so excited about this story. There is so much to *be* excited about with this story. It’s a strong YA piece. It’s set in Perth and centres around a transgendered youth. It’s a quest for self identity and survival in a post apocalyptic, globally warmed world. It’s tightly written and moving. It’s very possibly my favourite story that I’ve read all year.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Ben searches for his inner YA

So we have a third of our shiny shiny stories selected now. All you authors aspiring to appear in our first year’s worth of issues, start polishing those shiny stones!

I’ve written a review of Scott Westerfeld’s The Last Days over at ASif! ( I know, I know, we’re always ranting about Westerfeld around here. But it’s a damn good book, and if you want to find out just how good YA can be, it’s a book you should check out.

I keep mulling around and around in my head, while we’re slushing, trying to work out what this thing YA is. On the one hand, I think adhering too vigorously to what is essentially a marketing category is crazy. But on the other hand, it’s obviously how we define ourselves, as a magazine, and so we have to have some kind of idea.

I’m still at the kind of “I know it when I see it” stage. There are stories we get that are well written but just aren’t YA. Stories that seem like they’re written for forty-five year olds. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it ain’t the Shiny tone.

On the other hand, I’ve been happy that we’ve been able to find stories that differ in tone. YA isn’t a tightly-defined, narrow genre. There’s a lot of room to move within it, and the authors sending us stories have proven that.

One of the fun parts, for me, of the process, is trying to get back in touch with my inner YA self. Fortunately I don’t have too far to go, as I was never hugely wise or mature to begin with. But it’s enjoyable to try to reconnect with the way you engaged with the world when you were younger, before all the years of baggage and social conventions started to close you up and limit your personality. YA-time is a time of potential, a time of discoveries and coming-into-being. It’s a time when you’re free to define and redefine yourself, where you dig unashamedly into the guts of your mind and try to find out just who you are.

I hope Shiny reflects that sense of discovery and redefinition and honesty.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Shiny 5 with Alisa Krasnostein

1. What's your favourite kind of story to read?
Stories that change me in some way. I like a story that has an unexpected ending or that educates me on an issue or subject or reveals a new perspective or point of view.

2. Do you prefer character or plot driven stories?
I think I’m going to have say that I prefer plot-driven stories but with the caveat that all plot and no character investment makes for a dull story. I do need some kind of direction and pay off. I’m not really all that taken by 2000 word vignettes of a character that don’t develop or go anywhere.

3. Would you rather be stranded on a desert island or on a space station?
See I want to say desert island. They always look so luxurious in the travel pamphlets – all those palm trees, and clear blue water and long sandy, deserted beaches. Of course, I hate to sunbake, I’d have brought the wrong book and there’d be no-one to bring me cool drinks in tall glasses with umbrellas. I’ll have to go for space station and hope it has one of those food dispensers like on the Enterprise and a comprehensive database of reading material.

4. What do you like about YA over other subgenres?
I like that they’re shorter and easier to read. When did it become the goal of writers to write books so long that you can use them as book stops when you’re down and filled with pages and pages and pages of unnecessary world building that’s totally irrelevant to the actual plot? I want to get to the story, right straight into the angst, by the end of chapter 1 and be really invested in what’s going to unfold. A lot of YA does that really well.

5. What are you looking for in stories submitted to Shiny?
I’m looking for new ideas and fresh perspectives. I’m looking for stories that don’t patronise the reader and aren’t self-conscious. I’m looking for stories that are tightly written and draw me in so that I can’t put them down till the end. I’m looking for stories that have something interesting to say or an absorbing tale to tell. I’m looking for stories that will be a great way to spend a coffee break and will leave me better off for having read them.