Friday Feature: Interview with Syntax & Salt

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 Ani King, editor in chief of Syntax & Salt: Stories, A Journal of Magical Realism.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

While I think we have pretty eclectic tastes at Syntax & Salt, we definitely lean towards literary works with a strong, defined voice. Ken Liu, Catherynne Valente, Kelly Link, Karen Russell, Nnedi Okorafor, Isabel Allende, to name a very few, are among some of our overall favorites who have incredible flexibility with their tone and style.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

This is bound to be an incredibly long list, but in particular I love publications that always manage to attract and publish the unique or surprising. I try to read a variety: well-established publications like Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Apex, Fairy Tale Review, and; equally wonderful magazines that are still on the road becoming more well known, such as Strangelet, Axolotl, Sick Lit, Spilled Milk, or Inklette. There’s so much out there to admire, with the ability to easily set up online now.

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

Following submission guidelines is always a plus, but also taking the extra time to make sure a story is really ready to be submitted. Get critical feedback — often there are small plot holes that another reader might catch. Make sure characters have agency and purpose and don’t exist merely as a story device. Bend the rules, throw away old tired tropes.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We strive for an array of voices and styles, rather than intentionally looking for an issue theme. I believe in the two issues we’ve put out there is at least one story for most readers to love, if not more. I hope too that the art is visually arresting.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

I would love to see much, much more work from underrepresented communities, particularly women of color, LGBTQA writers, and stories from differently-abled persons. I believe that the literary community as a whole has an obligation to provide a place for these voices to be heard, and to eschew accepting stories that instead fetishize or appropriate from these groups.

What made you want to be an editor?

It wasn’t something I expected to happen, but in the case of Syntax & Salt, it happened I think because the magazine was my baby, and when the incredible group of writers that I run it with sat down to talk through it, likely the deciding factor was my deep control freak nature.

In all seriousness though, I really enjoy the detail work involved: layout and site design, working with the authors to make sure we’ve got everything right, choosing or creating the art, and enthusiastically promoting the work we feature. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the world’s greatest managing editor (Hi, Chelsea!), and the best readers who love magical realism.

What kind of things do you write?

For the most part I write short speculative fiction. I enjoy experimental forms and flash fiction quite a bit, though I’ve been turning my hand to poetry and plotting some longer works. I always have at least ten plates in the air, and I’m hoping to complete a collection of short stories this year that will stay together.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

I’m a very prose-driven reader, and I think that syntax, like salt, can be the difference between a bland read, or a perfectly seasoned one.

What inspired your aesthetic?

The whole S&S staff and I have been in a writing group together for almost two years, and we found ourselves driven to read and write a lot of magical realism. At some point we realized that the next natural step was to provide a home for others to do the same.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I aim to publish excellent stories and provide a home for the new, the weird, the old reimagined, and for first time authors, to give them a great experience in submitting and working through the editorial process.

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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