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Night Shade Message Boards » Aguirre, Forrest » Interstitial Arts: Keeping it real: A shot over the bow « Previous Next »

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Forrest
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 02:54 pm:   

Hi all,

So I've been roaming and commenting on the interstitial arts boards off and on for some time now. And I keep saying to myself: "These are really interesting topics, with really intelligent people commenting on lofty theoretical issues." Then I find myself saying immediately afterward: "So what? What is anyone *DOING* about these great topics of conversation, outside of continuing on in an ever-looping conversation?

So here I'd like to propose some real, concrete things that need to be done to keep the movement viable. Otherwise, it's all a waste of brain power, no?

1. Identify viable markets for short interstitial fiction.

2. More importantly, compile a list of agents who would be excited about representing good interstitial authors and their work. Not just genre agents who dabble in mainstream fiction, not just mainstream agents who dabble in genre, but a list of agents genuinely interested in marketing these works (I'm talking novels here) to the widest audience possible for the best advances and royalties possible.

3. Recruit from the "outside". Most of the people involved in the interstitial movement are genre writers who dabble in the mainstream. This becomes incestuous awfully quick, with a whole lot of in-breeding going on. Where are the formal experimentalists? Where are the mainstream authors looking for an excuse to dabble in genre? Where do we find these people? Do we need new blood to keep the interstitial movement alive, or are we content with sipping tea in a dark, lonely sitting room bemoaning our fate as a dead movement?

4. Identify conventions/events that are interstitial-friendly. Again, not just genre/mainstream conferences that cross-over, but those dedicated to highlighting work that crosses over without highlighting the areas from which they cross. Where do interstitialists meet? Where do we meet other interstitialists from the other side of the fence?

5. Identify academic institutions that support creative writing programs for interstitial work. And those that support the study of interstitial work.

6. Figure out just what the hell "interstitial" means. The lack of definition dooms the movement to wander and wander until it is lost or just fades away from lack of focus. I hope that the previous five suggestions here will lend some focus to this sixth point.

I've been trying hard to convince myself that an interstitial movement is viable, but now I see a lot of people just sort of wallowing in the fact that we've "identified" a movement. But that movement will die as quickly as it has been "identified" if something isn't done about it. I hope for an upswelling of what I consider to be interstitial work in the marketplace, but my hope is fading, due to lack of organization and action on the part of those who are so happy to have found the movement.

So I offer these suggestions as a further step in continuing the movement and keeping this infant alive so it can grow up. I really have no answers, but I'm worried that no one is even asking the right questions, like "So, what do we *do* about this new movement we've found"? I hope I've provided some leads.

Please, contribute, argue, or ignore at your leisure.

Forrest Aguirre
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des
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 12:34 am:   

But, Forrest, are you sure that 'interstitial' is the right (optimum) word for this? des
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forrest
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 02:52 pm:   

Des, with all respect, I'm not going to go into the merits and shortcomings of the term "interstitial" here. This has been discussed on the interstitial arts board ad nauseum, and I think that those who fancy themselves interstitial writers are comfortable with the word - though, as I have said, it is still ill-defined. I'm fine with the word, but am still struggling with the many different definitions out there, all of which, collectively, water down any kind of *action* and suck all the positive energy that should be used in the ways I've outlined above, turning that positive energy into a negative self-pity that takes great (and useless) pride in itself. This is more a call to *action* than yet another initiation of discussion regarding whether "interstitial" is the right word. I'm asking those who feel comfortable with using the word to further define it and, much more importantly, to *do* something besides spinning their circles about how interstitial writers are under-appreciated.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 03:49 pm:   

"This calls for immediate. . . discussion!"
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Forrest
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 06:00 am:   

Yes, Nicholas, this is exactly what I'm so disgusted and disappointed with.

To paraphrase the Bible: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves".

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des
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 08:47 am:   

'Disgusted' is a strong word, Forrest. Surely writers etc are about creating things, not spending time working out how to form interest groups or sell (from within) a new label. Doing, for me, is writing or editing. Are we to be marketing gurus, too? On second thoughts, perhaps we should. Also with respect, Des
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Forrest
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 09:12 am:   

The problem is that I keep hearing writers complain about how their work or work they love is under-represented or looked over by the big publishing companies, but they do nothing to change it. I *am* disgusted by all the griping and complaining. Instead of breaking out the blamethrower, let's *do* something to get that work to market. I have no problem at all with art for art's sake, but I do have a problem with the uproar I keep hearing (or, rather, reading), combined with inaction. I mean, what is the point of all the mental masturbation that I've seen lately? Who gives a damn if it doesn't lead to anything beneficial for those involved in the discussion? Should an author not advocate for his or her own work and the work of others that he or she loves? Yes, the work has to pass muster - this is why we have editors and rejection letters - but if people want to get their quality work to market, it takes work, not just writing and editing work, but real marketing work. We can help each other in this regard, but I see no volunteers to help, not even any ideas on how to proceed.

Go back and take a look at the interstitial boards. There was a huge upswelling of "wow, aren't we great, I love this stuff, I'm enthused by it and want the world to know about it" - then . . . nothing. Absolutely nothing. Then the blaming begins - people complain that this kind of work doesn't get enough exposure, that the big publishing houses will never embrace this kind of work because it won't make them big bucks, etc. Well, I say quite complaining and do some things that will get the exposure that you so badly want. The list above is not that difficult to execute, for the most part. Yet I notice that almost no one is offering their ideas of what might be done to garner acceptance of the interstitial movement or to market work that falls within its confines. It doesn't take marketing gurus, just some simple actions and a little research. We do need people to contribute, though, to the research and compilation of information. Volunteers? Anyone?
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 10:40 am:   

Yay, an uncensored board for discussing the topic! Thank you, Forrest.

I tend to agree. The one-sided nature of the beast (SF/F writers claiming to be actually writing something qualitatively different) I think shows the weakness of the movement and the conceptualization.

"My fantasy novel also has romance and historical fiction in it. Romance and historical fiction readers didn't buy it. Therefore I must claim to have written something entirely different in order to get them to buy it," doesn't fly as a theory, and as a marketing tactic isn't much better.

The problem is this: if interstitial means crossed genres, then every thing ever written is interstitial. Anything can have elements of fear and mystery, or elements of romance, or of "adventure." There's no Platonic example of a work that belongs completely any one genre and not all to any others.

If interstitial means "falling between the cracks of genre," so far anyway the claim seems dependent on artificially narrowing what individual genres represent in order to create ad hoc a "special place" for self-selected works to exist in.

I also have to say that I found it fairly amusing that elsewhere on this board a Guardian article on Mary Gentle was used as an example of interstitial work not getting the credit it deserves among the public. If Gentle was writing by-the-numbers fantasy, would she have been written up in the Guardian in the first place?

At any rate, speaking as a total nobody, I've found it quite easy to place my genre work in non-genre publications (including slicks) to get interviewed and noticed in non-genre publications, and to sell my work to non-genre readers. I actually got the idea to try back in 1999 after interviewing Matt Ruff for a now defunct webzine. He writes on both sides of the fence and I asked him if he felt any bias. He explained that SF people get far angrier about the perception of "literary" or "mainstream" sensibilities in genre stuff than the "literary" folks do about genre material.

So far, it seems to be working just fine for many people. Check out the lists of many independent publishers: Macadam/Cage, Serpent's Tail, Akashic, Soft Skull Press, McSweeney's, Grove press, and heck, even very large indies like W. W. Norton, do challenging genre-mixing work all the time, without blinking and without breaking their own arms from patting their own backs.

If it seems hard, it's because you ain't tried it yet.

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Eric S
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 10:55 am:   

It seems to me that a number of the most heralded mags and anthos of late are receiving their acclaim precisely because they are publishing work that fits the interstitial concept. I don't think the term "interstitial" would have worked its way into conciousness without that market existing and recognizing that there was a readership for trans-genre work.

The buzz is buzzing about:
Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and the recent Trampoline anthology from the Grant/Link axis. Polyphony. A biblical tome named Leviathan (hi forrest).

Other mags publish a wide spectrum of work such as Nemonymous (hi des), some of it plainly genre, some of it not. As a journal, it thus confounds expectations of the pure genre reader and becomes an interstitial experience. Add The Third Alternative to this category as well.

And these are venues that came from genre, rather than the mainstream. Authors who are published as mainstream also seem to fit the interstiatial moniker: Rushdie for instance. So the New Yorker publishes interstitial, they just don't call it that.

So excellent venues are there, perhaps just as many as for traditional genre. (Traditional genre may have many more low end markets, but these don't get the kudos.)

Do we want an interstitial arts journal? Or do we want more editors publishing what they like, some of which could be called interstiatial?
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 12:18 pm:   

Has anyone put together a reasonably extensive list of which publishers/editors have a track record for accepting and promoting genre-related material, and which ones actually harbor the near-mythic anti-genre prejudice? In the cases of mainstream literary magazines, must the genre-related work also touch on pet topics or favored treatments of issues, etc.? Getting this information out into the community might be good first step toward helping writers more strategically to place their work.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 12:20 pm:   

Has anyone put together a reasonably extensive list of which publishers/editors have a track record for accepting and promoting genre-related material, and which ones actually harbor the near-mythic anti-genre prejudice? In the cases of mainstream literary magazines, must the genre-related work also touch on pet topics or favored treatments of issues, etc.? Getting this information out into the community might be a good first step toward helping writers more strategically to place their work.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

Sorry for the doubled posting. No need to answer twice.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 01:58 pm:   

That would be a difficult list for a few reasons. For example, did Grove Press publish Robert Olen Butler's Mr. Spaceman because they're into genre-mixing or because they're into selling lots of books to Butler's already existing audience?

If they decide to buy more books like that novel afterward, is it because they're into genre-related material, or because they're into trying to duplicate successes?

For short fiction, Mary Ann Mohanraj has compiled a list of literary fiction markets. As you can see from the legend, the ones with SF next to them are considered genre-related friendly. But even there it is worth noting that Granta, which recenty published an SF story, wasn't IDed as SF-friendly.

Sometimes editors don't know that they're SF-friendly until they get an SF story they want to publish. Sometimes they don't realize it even afterwards, as they conceive of the SFnal story differently.

But given that submitting stories isn't expensive and rejections aren't accompanied by having one's hands chopped off, I'm still confused as to why people just assume a disinterest in their work rather than giving it a shot.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 02:01 pm:   

Hi Forrest!

I think you're absolutely right about the need for action, rather than just discussion, if interstitial arts is going to mean anything. Otherwise it will simply be the new slipstream (like pink is the new black), and we'll be having panels on it for the next ten years in which the panelists try to decide what interstitial really means.

My personal interest in the idea probably comes from the same place as most writers': I want to know where to send that story that the "main" genre magazines return with a "we like it, but not enough fantasy," but that I have a strong hunch isn't going to make it into most mainstream literary journals because of the fantasy element. (So my interest is pretty practical and self-serving. Realistically, I'll probably send the story to exactly the magazines Eric mentioned, all fairly new additions to the field . . .)

I don't know if this helps, but as a first step, the IAF people are working on a sort of gigantic (maybe too gigiantic) new website. My small piece of it is the academic section. In terms of academics, the first version of the website should have information on classes people have taught that cross genres in some way (I'm eventually hoping to include writing workshops), including descriptions and reading lists, and a bibliography of relevant theoretical writing.

That may not be so useful to writers, but other parts of the website might be, like an Events page. The website is supposed to be updated each quarter, and it should have featured artists, writers, etc. I don't know that much about what the final version will look like, so I shouldn't try to describe what I think it will contain, but it should hopefully be up some time this month.

I guess my only other addition to the conversation is that I've found, even in my small corner of this project, that getting people to propose and carry out projects is HARD! Everything you wrote sounds fabulous, and I hope the IAF does exactly as you suggest. What and how much it can do will depend on to what extent it can get people involved. And I guess we'll have to see how good the organization is at doing that.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 02:08 pm:   

Hmmm, I see I've made the exact mistake Nick pointed out, assuming a lack of interest among the mainstream journals rather than giving it a shot. I think the assumtion dates back to earlier experiences with universtity writing workshops and a couple of (not terribly tolerant) journals. (Some of us really have gotten the "why do you bother with this stuff" reaction, especially in universtity writing programs. I suspect that's the basis for a lot of prejudgement. But it may be a reaction more common ten years ago, less common now considering the popularity of magic realism. And writers like Jonathan Lethem.)
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Forrest
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 02:45 pm:   

Nick is right. I've place plenty of at least nominally-speculative work in places too "highbrow" to take speculative fiction. It's easy enough to do, once you've done the groundwork. Theodora, please feel free to collect magazine titles from my lists (on one of my other boards - I'm so confused right now, I can't even remember which one) or to point whomever is collecting such a list that way. Nick, Mary Ann's list is good, but I could do some riffing off it, as you have - there are magazines on that list who take fantastical stuff who are not listed as willing to do so. And there are a few key players just plain missing - of course, this is not accusatory, no one can maintain the ULTRA-LIST, but it needs a little work to be more complete.

I think, though, that recruiting un-suspecting editors and writers who write interstitially (I know, the definition remains problematic) would help this discussion a lot. Nick and I, and Alan DeNiro, regularly place in "mainstream" or "experimental" rags, but we need people coming at it from a different angle - mainstream writers who tend towards the fantastical. People like Brian Evenson, Rikki Ducornet, Salman Rushdie, Steven Millhauser, etc.

Also, we've been concentrating on short fiction (and understandably so), but what of novels? Where do you find an agent for that truly interstitial (and, as yet, less-marketable) novel or collection for which you would actually like to be *paid*? What publishers do you query?

Hey, is anyone here involved with planning Wiscon? I'd be willing to head a (hate to say it) discussion panel on where to go next with the Interstitial movement, if it in fact even exists (I still think it does). I think Wiscon would be the ideal venue, as many of the people in regular attendance are what I would consider Interstitial writers (there I go with my egotistical pronouncements on what is and isn't Interstitial). Plus I'm definitely going to be there. Or, if anyone is game, I'm open to an informal meeting (in the stairwell, where all the *important* meetings take place) to discuss matters face to face. I'm not volunteering to head anything up, but I'm willing to facilitate discussion and delegate tasks in small, manageable chunks.

And to get the university list going, I'll propose Brown University, Denver University, and Notre Dame as three places with faculty who are all about experimental work that is not just cross-genre, but ignores genre/non-genre boundaries altogether.

Neal, I think you're idea of a list of interstitial friendly publishers/editors is ideal. Is anyone at the IAF doing this? Perhaps we need some kind of indicator of what the IAF is doing - is it possible to get this information, Theodora, not that you need to compile it, but just to know if/when someone is working on the same or a similar project.

Eric, I don't even know what an interstitial arts journal would look like. I try to think of a potential table of contents, and my mind reels. I would, however, love to see a convention dedicated to fantastical literature, but without the feeling that two separate camps, some of whose members dabble in the others business, are getting together in a forced manner. Is this possible? How do you do this? Invite specific attendees, or specific discussion leaders from both camps (ones who will likely not bash each other)?

I'm full of questions.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 03:34 pm:   

Forrest: "I would...love to see a convention dedicated to fantastical literature, but without the feeling that two separate camps, some of whose members dabble in the others business, are getting together in a forced manner. Is this possible? How do you do this? Invite specific attendees, or specific discussion leaders from both camps...?"

One approach might be to follow the model of convention discussion panels in academia. Lure some heavy-hitting figures from different camps into a panel discussion with a topic engineered to cut across generic-market boundaries. Whether the topic is brass-tacks practical (trends in writers' markets) or more critical-theoretical (the imaginary East in postmodern fiction) shouldn't make any difference. I can only assume the audience would take care of itself. Several such panels could be scheduled into a convention, with the result that people arriving to hear specific speakers would get an earful of whoever else was on the panel as well.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 03:42 pm:   

I'm unclear on what the two camps would be.

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Forrest
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 03:54 pm:   

Camp one: Those whose work has been primarily published in genre publications, but who have chosen to ignore genre constraints and have found success in mainstream or experimental markets (ie, you and me).

Camp two: Those who are more or less mainstream authors who dabble in fantastical work, though they don't call it such (Rikki Ducornet, Steven Millhauser, etc).
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Forrest
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 03:57 pm:   

"One approach might be to follow the model of convention discussion panels in academia. Lure some heavy-hitting figures from different camps into a panel discussion with a topic engineered to cut across generic-market boundaries. Whether the topic is brass-tacks practical (trends in writers' markets) or more critical-theoretical (the imaginary East in postmodern fiction) shouldn't make any difference. I can only assume the audience would take care of itself. Several such panels could be scheduled into a convention, with the result that people arriving to hear specific speakers would get an earful of whoever else was on the panel as well."

I like this approach, Neal. Of course, this presumes that we have a convention to hold these sorts of panels - anyone have the capital to fund that? Or do you start with existing conventions? And, if so, who is the contact person to propose such a thing?

Sorry to get down to brass tacks so soon - I'm that way.
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Forrest
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 03:58 pm:   

tactless, that is.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 04:23 pm:   

Ah that's easy. You just need the three grand unifying elements of social behavior:

1. booze
2. commiserative discussions about money
3. softball

Do it Brooklyn, where you can't throw a stick without hitting a writer. Games in Prospect Park, then adjourning to a lounge in Williamsburg for the rest.

Damn, I am a friggin' genius.

Panel discussions? Not to start, I'd say. Since we don't know where the heads of the other camp even are, one could end up building a cargo cult convention rather than a real one. Camp two may just not care, after all. The first convergence should be to find out if anything else is worth doing.

As far as finding people; do it the same way one does a closed-market anthology or magazine. Solicit specific people and take recommendations from them for others who may be interested.

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Delia Sherman
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 05:58 pm:   

This all sounds very promising. The Interstital Arts Foundation, that is, the board of the organization that's hosting the IAF discussion board, has thought of some of these things, but not by any means all, and we're very grateful for your input.

We're actually a very practical and action-minded bunch. The reason you don't know this is that one of the things we've been busting our butts doing is putting together a website we can send new people to so that they can find out what we're about. It's going up some time this month. We'll let you know when. We've also been jumping through the legal hoops necessary to become an organization. An organization, not a movement. IAF is meant to be a place where movements can come to be recognized, to get a little power in the marketplace from making common cause instead of crying in the wilderness. We're not interested in defining ourselves so strictly that we define ourselves out of existence.

Forrest is not the only person who is beginning to find the endless conversation somewhat tedious. I'd love to make more progress towards our next goal, which is outreach to the mainstream and to arts that are not literature, implementing projects board members have already suggested, like leaflets for libraries and bookstores, market lists, etc. If any of you guys would be willing to help, let me know. One of the things we've been talking about is an Interstitial Arts Conference in 2005 or 2006, which is going to take a fair amount of planning and fundraising.

We need ideas, certainly, and I've taken note of everything you've written above to put before the advisory board. But we also need reliable people to help us implement them.

What about it, gentlemen? Will you give us your time as well as your ideas?

Delia Sherman

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Deborah Layne
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 07:34 pm:   

Hi Forrest (and everybody else). I want to say something, offer something to this, but I don't know what to say. I own one of the markets that gets mentioned in discussions of the interstitial (Polyphony) so I feel like I ought to know something useful or be doing something useful, but the topic won't sit still in my head long enough for me to form sentences around it...

Back in the olden days, two years ago, when Jay and I were ironing out the details of Polyphony (what? only two years? yup) it was still okay (and even descriptive) to say "slipstream." Now we seem to be interstitial. Okay, that's fine with me. I know it when I read it. Maybe that's enough. Maybe mine doesn't have to match up with everyone else's as long as Polyphony still gets mentioned in the interstitial discussion.

I like action better than talk, too, and for me that means my long-term planning about what to do with my press. Like most of my ilk, my ideas for projects far outnumber my resources at any given time, but, yeah, my projects are going to be ones that look interstitial. Maybe I'll start using the word intersitial in my promotional materials. Is that the kind of action independent publishers can contribute?
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Forrest
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 07:53 pm:   

Delia,

I would be interested in helping out, though my time is extremely limited (as is everyone's, I'm sure). I'm glad to know that someone with some sense of organization is moving things along.

Deborah,

Call me paranoid, but is it too early to use the word "interstitial" in promotional materials? I agree, I know it when I see it, but though Leviathan has been called "interstitial" I don't know if I would be willing to stick my neck out and call it "interstitial" in promotional materials *just yet*. Maybe after the term has had some time to gestate and grow a bit, but not now - besides, I consider that Jeff's call anyway, as he is the captain of the ship, as it were. Anyway, I don't know if doing so might be putting the cart before the horse - or maybe not. Chicken/egg/chicken/egg . . . agh!
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 08:06 pm:   

One person to talk to about Wiscon is Ellen Kushner, who organized last year's interstitial panel at Wiscon. The panelists were Terri Windling, Delia, Ellen, Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, Charles Vess, me, and I think Greg Frost? The organizers gave us an enormous room, and all the seats seemed to be taken, with people standing by the walls, so there seemed to be a lot of interest and enthusiasm. I'm sure there will be at least one IA panel at the next Wiscon. Certainly a panel or meeting of some sort to make concrete suggestions and get volunteers would be a great addition.
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Deborah
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 08:28 pm:   

Good point, Forrest, and I'm cool with that...I'm happy to just let other people keep pointing to Polyphony when they talk about this stuff.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 05:53 am:   

Forrest: "Identify academic institutions that support creative writing programs for interstitial work. And those that support the study of interstitial work."

There are any number of academics who might be recruited to showcase and review this kind of work. Like the "mainstream" markets, academia is not as hostile to genre-related work as some imagine.

An interested person might take a peek at some online course catalogs, snoop out those profs doing something along the lines of "the fantastic in the arts," and dash off a few e-mails. Point out reviews, insider buzz, and so on. In other words, act like an old-fashioned salesman. At the very least, it might get some books bought as course texts (especially if the publisher threw in a "desk copy" for the instructor). It may also help to introduce a new generation of readers to something they might just take a shine to.

Larger critical names -- Eric Rabkin (and others at the Genre Evolution Project), George Slusser, Gary Westfahl (who is very awake to the importance of market forces), Chip Delaney, and many more -- might at least be contacted and apprised of the situation at IAF, of its goals and means, and of anything it's scheduled or posted. I can't speak for any of them, of course, but they work in SF/F, so what goes on in (and around) SF/F should certainly be of interest to them. It couldn't hurt to put a bug in their ears.

Forrest -- Sorry my tacks aren't as brassy as they might be. I don't know how much money it would really take to arrange a panel at a convention. My experience with SF/F conventions is exactly zip, which is why I framed my suggestion on the MLA model. The big funding problem might come when any organizing committee tried to solicit a big-name draw from "mainstream." Anybody know how much Salman Rushdie charges in honorarium? How much his security costs? Ugh.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 07:32 am:   

"One person to talk to about Wiscon is Ellen Kushner, who organized last year's interstitial panel at Wiscon. The panelists were Terri Windling, Delia, Ellen, Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, Charles Vess, me, and I think Greg Frost?"
********************

Is this 'Interstitial' thing just American?
des
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 08:05 am:   

Six people to contact from the academic side:

Steve Tomasula, Notre Dame University - the Ministry just published his book IN&OZ (yes, I highly recommend it - as interstitial a work as I can think of). He teaches a class on the small press at ND and is deeply entrenched in the experimental fiction scene. He is now organizing a conference for next April, which I hope to attend, called &NOW:

http://www.nd.edu/~andnow/festival.html

My feeling is that this festival is going to turn into a big deal over time. In any case, I have Steve's contact info and can work as a liason if need be.

Rikki Ducornet, retired from Denver University. If you don't know Rikki Ducornet and claim to love interstitial work, you must read her books. I consider her the inheritor, in some ways, of Angela Carter's legacy.

Katherine Casper, University of Texas San Antonio. A student of Ducornet's, she forms, with several others including Amy England, Joanna Howard, and Mary Caponegro, the essence of American female surrealism. Again, an interstitialist to the nth degree, though she might not know it. Again, I have contact information.

Robert Coover, Brown University. Coover has written interstitial work in the past, but his most recent experimentations have been in hypertext/multimedia literature. A veritable powerhouse in the academic world.

Brian Evenson, Brown University. Sometimes editor at Conjunctions, previously directed the creative writing program at Denver University, I believe. His work includes the books Altmann's Tongue, Dark Property, and Contagion. My opinion: Brian has written the best horror in contemporary literature, though no one is calling it horror. He has won an O'Henry award and translated several pieces of fiction from the French. Again, I have contact info, though Brian is extremely busy right now.

Lance Olsen, retired from University of Idaho. Lance is a mover and shaker in the mountain west/pacific northwest "avant pop" scene. He is on the board for Fiction Collective 2 and has won the Science Fiction Research Association Pioneer Award, as well as being a finalist for the Philip K. Dick award in 1995. Lance also won a pushcart prize in 1998. He has a discussion board here at Nightshade, but most of his online time is spent, I think, at his website: http://www.cafezeitgeist.com .

Anyway, that's a start. If anyone would like me to contact those with whom I already have a good working relationship: Steve, Catherine, Brian, and Lance (I've spoken with Rikki, but only once), I can do so, though it would be nice to have something to present them with (ie, a completed website, an invite to . . . something). Let me know if I can help, Delia and others. There are several other names that come to mind, but my information (contact and otherwise) is less complete.

Forrest
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 08:08 am:   

Is this 'Interstitial' thing just American?
des

*********

It sure seems like it, doesn't it, Des? But I would definitely include work such as Rhys Hughes' in the interstitial vein, as a non-American example.

Forrest
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Delia Sherman
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 10:10 am:   

It's not just American. I've been talking to Andre-Francois Ruaud in Lyons about this, and Francis Giraud, who writes wierd stuff he calls Interfiction, and has just published a theoretical work on the subject in French that we're looking into having translated. We might even be able to get a grant. Patrick O'Connor is exploring the Latin American connection, which ought to be very fertile. Anyone with other connections should let me know. I'd love to get some Eastern European input, for instance. And there's apparantly some interesting stuff coming out of Africa.

Deborah, you can call Polyphony anything you want. If Slipstream works for you, then that's good. Interstitial is an umbrella organization. As long as the work (and we're not just limiting ourselves to writing, either) is hard to classify easily and tends towards the edges of the known and the comfortable, then we're interested, and we'll point to it. We genuinely mean to be inclusive. Interstices aren't really narrow, you know. They all connect up to each other to make a various and ramifying system.

Forrest, all your suggestions are noted and appreciated. Neal, we'll let you know if there's a small project in the works you might be interested in contributing to. We're still working out the details of how to get things done without eating anyone's life. Including mine.

I kind of wish this were all going on on the IAF board. But if you feel more comfortable doing it here, hey, I'm glad to have the conversation at all.

Delia
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 10:22 am:   

A quick response to Forrest's list of names. They all sound wonderful. I think you're right that we need something to show them, so I would suggest waiting until the website goes up. Then, my first instinct is to ask them if they might have an essay we could reprint, or if they would be interested in contributing to the website in some way. (There will be obvious ways, at least in the academic section, once it goes up. Classes they've taught, books they think we should list, also any events we should put on the calendar.) That's a start.

This is really Delia's bailiwick, but I'm responding because some of the names listed are of people coming out of academics, and the academic side is what I'm most involved with. (And I would absolutely love to recruit more people for that side of the organization.)

The IAF is American only to the extent that the people who started it are American. Interstitiality may look American because we're most familiar with American and English literature. But I don't think the concept necessarily is. My own thinking about it has been formed by coming out of both American/English and Eastern European literary traditions. I still remember reading Milan Kundera and thinking, we can do this? But people are flying . . .
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 11:42 am:   

Now that I read this interview with Lance Olsen:

http://www.flashpointmag.com/hbeauty.htm

I think we need his brain on this project!
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 11:45 am:   

Delia, I originaly posted here because I don't really like starting discussion threads on other people's boards. I feel like I'm intruding, especially with material that might be viewed as controversial.

In regards to Eastern European connections, I haven't been able to get ahold of him (I've tried) but Victor Pelevin writes very strong work that I consider interstitial. His agent is a brick wall, though, so I don't know if he can be gotten to directly.
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Delia Sherman
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 05:14 pm:   

You're not intruding, Forrest. And controversy is fine. Nobody ever got anywhere preaching to the choir.

Would anyone here mind terribly if this thread got copied in IAF? If this is against protocol (I know little of these matters--this is the first time I've ever been on a board), we'll just find a way of guiding people here. It just seems a pity that a most active and productive discussion should be on someone else's thread.

As for Mr. Previn, once we get a little more established as an organization, we might be able to bluff our way over brick-wall-like agents. I agree with Dora. A certain amount of publicity is going to have to wait until we have more to show for ourselves than a flyer (it's really cool--a cartoon on the front and FAQ's on the back) and a few pages on someone else's website.

Delia
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 09:10 pm:   

Feel free to copy it over, if you like, Delia. No problem.

As for publicity, surely there must be some little things we can do in the meantime? Yes, slow and steady wins the race, but there is something to be said for impetus.

Forrest
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Forrest
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 06:56 am:   

Delia or Theodora, any chance we could see more-or-less regular updates on what the IAF is doing? It feels like a shadow cabinet at present. It would be good to know of even little successes (and failures!) so that others of us can riff off of them and, perhaps, generate some new ideas or even volunteer to help with tasks.

Forrest
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 10:43 am:   

I'm glad to see that there is some action being taken to concretize a lot of what has just been ephemeral talk up until now. I generated a lot of discussion on my online journal back at the beginning of November about this very thing.
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Forrest
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 10:57 am:   

Glad to see I'm not the only one, Jason. I'm curious what other action items you would add to the above list?
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 11:41 am:   

Forrest, I'd like see something like this, where a clear mission statement behind the foundation is given, along with goals and the means of acheiving those goals. In addition to the actions discussed above that the IAF could take, the SLF take the further step in "raising funds for redistribution to quality work which enriches the field, by individuals and organizations, and presenting individual and organizational grants and awards -- possible grant/award areas include: novel development grants, a first novel award, small press/magazine development grants, financial assistance for writers attending workshops or writing retreats, etc."

It didn't take a huge website to establish this information either, just one text-only (except for the PayPal buttons) page, black text on a plain white background. These are the kinds of things I would hope to see on the massive IAF website.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 01:01 pm:   

Hi Jason!

There is a mission statement on the current IAF website, but it's much more theoretical, not quite so practical as what you suggest. I'm not sure what's going to go on the new website. My personal instinct is to keep our list of practical goals slightly less formal than what the SLF has come up with. The IAF has a broader range of projects (anthologies, special issues of academic journals), at least at the moment, and I think it would be more useful to have a list of goals for, say, the next two years or so. Which our Fearless Leaders are currently working on, so if you have suggestions, make them now!

Delia, following up on Forrest's suggestion, isn't there a place on the IAF board for messages from the IAF? Could that be used as a place to post a regular update on the IAF's goals and projects, also a place to solicit volunteers? Also, just a reminder to everyone that the IAF is a new organization that will develop in part in response to input exactly like what's appearing on this thread. So I think this is incredibly valuable.

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