Welcome Southern Writers blog tour and ICLW. This week is an exciting one for me. I’ll be posting interviews with people that I’ve met and who have influenced me. Best of all, we are all Southerners!
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Anne Hicks. She is the Executive Ediotr and Publisher of moonShine review. I met her about a year ago when I read at the 2011 moonShine review publishing party. Anne and the other editors liked my writing. They helped boost my confidence by publishing my short story, Wolf a Modern Tale in moonshine review 2011 spring/summer edition. It’s about the big bad wolf getting out of jail early for good behavior and his young neighbor who dreams of becoming his next victim. I originally wrote it ten years ago. Wolf reminded me that all I ever wanted to do was write. Anne’s keen eye and generosity has helped my dream come true. Anne also published my short story 888-555-WING Infomercial in the fall/winter 2011 issue of moonShine review. I hope to be lucky enough to keep contributing. I think it’s rare to find someone who gets you and hears a writer’s voice as well as Anne does.
BIO: Anne M. Hicks, a resident of Charlotte, NC, for 20 years, is an editor by trade and the founder, publisher, and executive editor of the creative prose and photography journal, moonShine review, which is now in its eighth year of publication.
She is also the author of Floating a Full Boat, a collection of her own poetry and photography. Her writing has been published in several magazines and journals, including Pearl, Thrift Poetic Arts Journal, and Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets.
1. What made you decide to publish a literary journal?
I suppose you could call it fate that I began publishing moonShine review. In 2000, I was looking for a creative outlet for my own writing and found that Charlotte actually had a very extensive writing community and support network. I first became involved by attending open-mic readings and assisting a friend with her poetry journal. As a writer of prose and poetry, I realized poets had more opportunities in the region among the independent publishers. At the time, I couldn’t imagine being a publisher, but I knew there was a need for a creative prose journal. The more I talked about it, the more my friends encouraged me.
The idea finally coalesced one night while I was explaining to another writer how I wanted to produce more than a creative prose and photography journal — I wanted writers to come together, through their stories, to speak in a kind of unity, and I wanted to highlight photography that would further unite the writing. For me, it was never about specifying a theme for an issue but rather seeing how the submissions came together naturally. In my first Editor’s Note, I put it this way: “Away from the harshness of daylight, promises are made, bodies come together, words are spoken that can never be taken back — and the creative process thrives. This journal is about what speaks to you in the moonlight, and it is about the shadows cast in mind and memory. For only in the darkness do we show all of ourselves.”
Eight years later, this still holds true for me and what moonShine review stands for. And we still thrive as a publication because of all the wonderful artists who contribute.
2. What’s the most rewarding part of publishing?
The most rewarding part of all is holding the latest, printed issue of moonShine review in my hands. That’s when the culmination of all our work — my editors and I working as a team, the authors’ words, and the wonderful photography — speaks to me as a whole. It feels very much like a birth each time. A close second is the reward of developing relationships with our contributors. I’ve gained many friendships over the years as a result of publishing moonShine.
3. What is the most frustrating part of publishing?
It’s most frustrating keeping the budget in check at all times since I love the creative process but hate the financials. If I had unlimited funds, then more photography would be in color, and every issue would be bigger. As it is, I hate having to decline some stories because we just don’t have the room. On the bright side, that does make us work harder to make sure the stories fit together well.
4. How often do you write?
Not nearly often enough! I must admit that I wrote every spare moment I had when I was in my twenties, then I slacked off greatly in my thirties, and now I’m getting back on track in my forties. I think, as writers, we all go through periods when it’s hard to find the time and energy to sit down and create — especially if our full-time jobs aren’t as writers. But when the inspiration and the timing come together all at once, it’s a miraculous experience for me that motivates me to work at it. Thankfully, that has happened more often in recent years. And I have to give great credit to the two writers’ groups I’ve joined. They really keep me on track and encouraged through their feedback and sharing of their own writing.
5. What’s it like to connect with another writer and help them create a better work of fiction?
It’s extremely gratifying to work with other writers and offer feedback that helps better their writing. I’ve worked with fiction authors as well as poets and non-fiction writers, and each time we become more than two individuals with opinions. I think we become a real team — bouncing ideas for improvement back and forth, sometimes even taking a piece and finding a whole new direction for it. It’s very important to me as an editor that the author’s work shine, and I know that happens best when a writer and I listen to each other carefully. Of course, that means offering suggestions for enhancing the piece and making grammatical corrections, but the process also includes discovering, or recognizing, that particular writer’s talent and understanding how to highlight that.
6. I think you have great insight into my creative mind. I am always blown away how you can take my work and help me say what I meant to say. Have you always had this talent?
Thanks, I suppose I always have relied on my intuition, though it took me a little while to realize that and to trust my instincts fully. When I first started editing full-time, I thought I needed to have all the answers and know all the grammatical rules. I’ve always placed emphasis on being grammatically correct and reviewing carefully for consistency and plausibility — that stuff is very important and contributes to the polish that gets a writer noticed, for good or bad.
But it’s the voice an individual writer creates that captures my interest the most and allows me that “insight” as you call it. I don’t read any individual’s work the same way or try to place writers within any category. Rather, I put myself within that person’s writing perspective and then go from there. I’m lucky in that the writers I work with have such individual writing styles and create unusual voices that are easy to get into. I may find some similarities from one author to the next, but each one is still essentially unique. From there, I’ve found it’s really important to ask questions and let the author and my instincts guide me.
7. How do you think literary journals will survive in the digital publishing world?
Actually, I see the digital publishing world as an exciting frontier for independent publishers. Digital publishing has opened up avenues for those that found printed journals just too costly to consider starting. We already have several quality literary e-journals out there, and I expect more will develop as digital publishing becomes the mainstream.
I do hope and believe that readers still want the word literally “in print” — we writers, at least, like the enjoyment of holding that book too much to let it go completely. I see some literary journals, like moonShine review, offering both print and online versions in the future. But there is the very real problem of publishers and writers being compensated monetarily for publishing online. So much is offered free or at an extremely discounted cost currently. Until that issue is truly addressed, I don’t think we’ll break the paradigm that online publishing is somehow not as “valid” as being published in a printed journal. Still, for new and aspiring writers (and those not trying to make a living from writing), e-journals are even now a great resource for being published.