"An Instant of Magic." A Chat with Catherine McNamara, Flash Fiction Editor of Litro Magazine
A peek behind the scenes of flash fiction submissions
Another editor interview is in the books!
I’ve just had the delight of speaking with Catherine McNamara, Flash Fiction Editor of Litro Magazine. “Founded in 2005, Litro sits at the intersection of technology, the creative arts & literature. It provides a forum for new & experimental writing, whilst nurturing literary development.”
Catherine began this work around 2016, shortly after one of her own pieces appeared in the magazine. She was invited on board by the magazine’s founder, Eric Akoto, who started the magazine as a small chapbook out of his garage. Now, as Flash Fiction Editor, Catherine reads a huge number of submissions each week. A single piece is posted on the site each Friday.
As Catherine is both a flash fiction writer as well as an editor (and a teacher at Litro), we spent a lot of time discussing how writers can master the art of flash fiction. Catherine’s own learning process involved hectic mornings of school-drop-off for her teenager, then returning home and attempting to write a 500-word short story every single day. Her work went on to be published as a collection entitled Love Stories for Hectic People.
So what makes for good flash fiction? Catherine’s answer to this question was one I’ve never heard before, but which is undeniably true: a good night’s sleep! She and I took an interesting little detour here away from craft and into the importance of nurturing one’s entire writer-self, i.e. keeping one’s mind clear, taking care of one’s physical health, and creating the overall conditions that make productive work possible.
Additionally, of course, good writing demands a lot of reading. And training. Flash fiction writers ought to practice and develop the craft continuously. When looking for weak spots in a work, or through the process of revision, writers may begin by asking themselves questions like, What do I want the reader to feel? And, Is this the strongest idea I have?
Catherine sees a lot of—and enthusiastically welcomes—international submissions. (She also grew up in Australia and now lives in northern Italy.) (She also has an accent so beautiful I could listen to her speak all day long.)
What she also sees a lot of in submissions are road trips, breakups and breakups on the Tube in London, cancer and dementia. This is not to discourage writers from exploring these topics. (Though perhaps breakups need not always take place on the London Tube.)
What else should writers know about Catherine’s editorial preferences? What makes for knockout flash fiction pieces? What are common pitfalls of the genre? And how should writers respond to a rejection from this magazine?
For all that and more, my friends, you will have to watch the video!
To everyone who came out today to tune in and participate, thank you! Your faces are the dear delight of my day!
And, of course, thank you to Catherine for joining us from across the sea in order to peel back the curtain of another splendid little magazine.