Meet the Editors: An Interview with Fiction Editor Emily Coon
It’s a new year and new staff here at BWR. We (the editors) interviewed each other so that you (the world) could get a sense of us as editors/readers. We’re pleased to meet you!
Interview by SAMMI BRYAN
Sammi Bryan: What do you appreciate most about BWR? Any defining aspects that drew you to the journal?
Emily Coon: I most appreciate the willingness of the work in BWR to “go for the gusto”, which was a favorite saying of my mom’s that I’m pretty sure she stole from a beer commercial. Work in BWR dives in, takes big, open-hearted risks, and shows the reader something new. As a writer of speculative fiction, I’m also into the non-realist bent of some of the work we publish.
SB: Describe your writing self/self-self in six emojis.
SB: When encountering a short story (or any form of fiction, really) for the first time, what catches your eye as a reader, pulls you in and makes you say something like, “Oh hey…there’s something here”?
EC: Compelling language catches my eye first. After that, pacing and risk-taking (by that I mean a story told in a way I haven’t seen it told before). In stories, I value invention and imagination, work that pushes through what we think of as reality with radical envisionings, narratives told through a strong voice that doesn’t let go.
SB: Your hopes and dreams as an editor?
EC: To publish and promote thoughtful work from a broad spectrum of writers that creates its own luminous magic. To enter into the cyclical dialogue of writing/publishing/reading/writing in a new (to me) part of that process. I’ve seen so many incredible stories in the submissions queue so far, which has made me very excited about our next two issues.
SB: We’ve had a couple conversations about the necessity of joy. Can you speak to that? What’s a source of joy for you as a writer, reader, and human at the moment? Any talismans or simple pleasures?
EC: Given our current political moment, a fierce joy has been foundational for me to find the wherewithal to show up and carry on. I look forward to the future potential for the joy of justice and liberation. We must keep blazing. I am grateful for everyday joys, especially my relationships with other people, including my amazing sister and extended family and my curious, smart, sensitive friends. Simple pleasures: morning tea, walking in the woods, my fluffy cat’s antics, hearing the clear whistle of the train on rainy nights.
SB: Describe your last meaningful reading experience.
EC: I read Kindred for the first time over winter break and loved it so hard, not only because it absolutely blew my mind but because it made me appreciate Octavia Butler all over again. Especially coming after a few other books I’ve read recently, it was a stark reminder that our country has stolen more from its citizens of color than I ever learned about in history class. I am so glad that Butler’s work has recently been getting more critical attention.
SB: If you could keep company with one magical or mythological creature for the rest of your life (this can be one of your own making) which would you choose and why?
EC: Probably a giant, soft, friendly cat with a big personality, like a feline cross between Totoro and Toothless, because they would be an excellent companion and compatriot. Also, they would breathe hot soft sparkly fire when they wanted to, when I asked.