Author Interview with S. Kay

Hello, S! I first received a submission from you while reading for our #MICROVEMBER event. Since then, it’s become pretty clear you specialize in microfiction, and more specifically, twitter-fiction. What draws you to this format?

I enjoy the challenge of the form, and the creativity it brings out in me. It stems from fast inspiration, but it’s hard to compose well, and fun to write. I can write anytime I feel like it, edit the next day, and have a tiny tale ready to share or submit in a jiffy. As a person without a lot of patience, lacking interest in writing long fiction anymore, it suits my temperament and my writing style. I enjoy brevity and feel I have a gift for it.

Sticking with twitter-fiction for a bit, your first book, Reliant was released by tNY.Press in 2015. What inspired this “apocalypse in tweets”?

It began as a varied collection of tweet-sized stories, but after tNY.Press accepted my manuscript we edited heavily to only include stories about technology and the post-apocalypse. Then I wrote many new stories to create a more cohesive overarching narrative, in three parts. There’s a lot about robots, because I love robots and robopsychology, and for a book with a theme of doom there’s plenty of humour and hope too.

Since what you write is so specialized and many readers might be unfamiliar with it, what markets would you recommend for people who want to read or submit more twitter-fiction?

There are only a handful of twitter-fiction markets left on Twitter; they’ve come and gone over the years. Right now there are four long-term lit journals: @7×20, @CuentoMag, @Nanoism, @Escarp plus a newer, small SFF market called @TinyTalesMag. @Nanoism is currently the only paid market. To read twitter-fiction, there are also writers who tweet from personal accounts and never submit to journals (@arjunbasu and @MicroSFF are two big ones), as well as a few popular weekly writing prompts, like Friday Phrases at #FP. #VSS (very short stories) is another frequently used hashtag useful to discover and share stories.

You announced a novella acceptance in late 2015. Any updates on this?

“Joy” is a novella about a woman who experiences relentless rejection in all aspects of her life. It will be published January 2016 by Maudlin House. We’re very excited about it. It’s a more traditional book structure than “Reliant,” but does feature multi-platform modern online expressions, and even some tweet-sized micropoetry.

On Twitter you talk a lot about your wife and cat. How much input and support do you draw from them for your work?

My cat doesn’t read my work, but he inspires me with his antics and personality. I’ve written a fair number of cat stories. My wife does read everything I write, and sometimes offers editorial input that’s very helpful. She’s a talented writer herself, who does science writing. She’s been very supportive of my fiction from the beginning (I started writing twitter-fiction in 2009), and I’m grateful for it.

You’ve mention LGBTQ writing frequently, and have a piece in Mixtape Methodology with lesbian characters. In a world where LGBTQ culture is so often marginalized, how important to you is it to have such works represented?

It’s important to me to be known as a queer writer and have LGBTQ stories represented. Not all my stories and characters are queer, but where possible I do make them either that LGBTQ, or gender neutral. Some markets are very receptive to them, and actively solicit work from marginalized writers, while others I try to slip into. One of the pieces I’m most proud of is “Authenticated,” published at theEEEL, featuring a lesbian woman who has a female sexbot. In a sci-fi universe full of the sexist male gaze on fetishized fembots, it’s refreshing and unexpected to have a lesbian perspective. It’s also gratifying to see my queer stories published on an equal footing with hetero narratives.

We’ve both contributed to some casual discussions on “submission culture”, particularly long response times and policies that prohibit simultaneous submissions. What is your biggest issue with modern submissions, and why? What role do you think smaller zines play or could play (if any) in solving this issue?

My biggest annoyance with submissions is long response times, and a non-simultaneous submission policy on top of that is just evil. When I write something new I want to find readers as soon as possible – sometimes there’s an issue of timeliness. Having to wait many months for a response is so frustrating. Smaller zines sometimes have a faster turnaround because they have fewer submissions to read, and certainly there are some cool, boutique literary journals I’m happy to be published in. Aiming for paid or more popular markets that hold up my work often feels like a waste of time and I don’t really see the point. I don’t want my work to sit in a submission queue, going nowhere. Last summer I started writing with more discipline, my output increased, I submitted more, and by the fall I had over 40 submissions waiting for replies. It was ridiculous. After that I stopped submitting as much. Right now I’m soured on the whole idea of submissions and am pickier about where I’ll send work. As I said, I’m not a very patient person.

One last question: Who should we be reading and/or following on twitter right now?

I have favourites for a variety of reasons. Some people are funny, some inspiring, some relatable. I recommend @sarahjeong, @arjunbasu, @charliejane, @rgay, @JoyceEmilyC, @iheartfailure, @DeirdreKoala, @GreatDismal, @Annaleen, and @rolliwrites. Finally, @EverythingGoats helps to ease the pain of long response times and rejections.