Friday Feature: Interview with Amber Taliancich Allen

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Amber Taliancich Allen, editor of Whiskey Island.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

Whiskey Island has a history of leaning toward an experimental aesthetic. I personally love works that are a little rough around the edges, not afraid to be a little messy. Strange and beautiful pieces that strive to go beyond traditional narratives.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

I’ve been a longtime admirer of Gigantic Sequins, The Pinch, Sundog Lit, Brevity, and River Teeth. I’ve just recently stumbled upon a newer nonfiction online journal, too, which features quarterly themed issues — Proximity Magazine.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

I think writers really need to do the work, the research. The more you know about what a journal likes, then the more likely you are to truly understand whether or not your piece would be a good fit. If I come across a piece that I feel like compares in tone or structure or even narrative to something I’ve written, then I pay attention to where it was published, and then I add that journal to my list of places to submit my own work to. Not only does it increase your odds of getting accepted if you know you aesthetically align with the place you’re submitting to, but it just really saves everyone time, in the end.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

That’s a hard question. I think we all set out with similar intentions, and I think, in the end, we all reach our goals. We find pieces we believe truly represent the best of the best in the types of writing we love. For us, we focus on language and voice and character and works that sometimes rely less on traditional narratives, and I think we really pay attention to how we curate each issue. The works must stand as strongly together as they do alone. And I think one of the things I love the most about our latest issue, Issue 67, is that sometimes it’s hard to tell what genre a piece is unless you reference the TOC.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

I love lyrical, experimental essays. As for fiction, I’m from the south. I grew up reading Faulkner and Welty, and so sometimes I’m less interested in plot. I want voices that will stick with me. Language that will haunt or mesmerize or make me stop everything and question my life choices because it’s just that damn beautiful.

What made you want to be an editor?

I think it was just something I sort of fell into. I started at the bottom. I was a reader, and I didn’t quite know what I was doing, then. But then I worked my way up and fell in love with the process, as a whole. I think the curating, though, is my favorite part.

What kind of things do you write?

I write essays and fiction. Both seem to explore themes of womanhood, especially in the south, and my growing concerns with one day becoming a mother.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

There’s a peninsula in Cleveland called Whiskey Island.  I’ve never been, but I hear there’s a bar. I hear there’s actually whiskey there.

What inspired your aesthetic?

I’ve always liked things a little strange. In my first year of college, I took a British modern lit class, and the second I read Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, I suddenly had this different outlook on how one can approach storytelling and writing. I learned it was okay to break the “rules.” But lately, I’ve been reading a lot of essay collections, and Amy Leach’s Things that Are has definitely inspired my recent work.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I think what I want most is to be able to share the wonderful pieces these writers send us. In the end, we’re all writers. We’re all playing the same game. I know what it’s like to sit on the other side of that computer. And so, I think I also want to ensure I create a worthy home for those pieces. Do them justice, so to speak.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

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