Friday, April 1, 2011

~ These Strangers She'd Invited In ~ a new collection by Jac Jemc

Jac Jemc lives in Chicago.  She is the author of a chapbook of stories from Greying Ghost Press, These Strangers She'd Invited In, and a novel from Dzanc Books due out in spring 2012, My Only Wife.  She is the poetry editor of decomP and blogs her rejections at

Q: It's always great to see someone who's worked on the editorial board of Our Stories out there writing well and publishing. Could you tell everyone something about These Strangers She'd Invited In and what readers will find therein?

Thanks!  Agreed!  These Strangers She'd Invited In is a collection of 14 very short stories.  They're sort of profiles of characters with Russian names who are having trouble defining themselves in the context of others, or defining others in the context of themselves.  They live in an unidentified antiquity. 

Q: Tell us something about your writing process. How much is sort of "magical," if that's a fair way to put it, and how much forethought and planning?

Most of it is magic!  Honestly, I troll what I'm reading for words I like and jot them down and then I paste those words into new phrases and sentences and then try to play connect the dots with those phrases.   I rarely have more than a simple idea or theme in my head when I'm starting a story.  Sometimes I'll think, "This is going to be about foster care," or "This is going to be set on a trade ship," but that's about as far as I  plan ahead.  The rest comes out in how I connect the words and phrases and sentences. The story is in the glue.

Q: During your time contributing to make Our Stories a special place for writing, what would you say were the "deal-breakers" that prevented a story from being considered for publication?

I think the stories that I considered seriously for publication always presented themselves in obvious ways, and the deal-breaker for me was whether the person writing had their own voice.  Sometimes I had to read to the fifth page before I realized what the voice was and its strength, but the best writers always convinced me that their way was the only way to tell that particular story. I could also often tell when the writer trusted that the reader was right there with them. Having trust in your reader means you can do wacky things with subtlety and economy of language and wild metaphors, and never lose faith that they're still holding on. The stories that were easy to dismiss were the ones that didn't seem to have a unique life of their own - telling a story just to tell it - and also the stories that condescend to the reader. 

Best of luck, Jac, and thanks for being a part of OS!

Pick up THESE STRANGERS SHE'D INVITED IN here before they're sold out!

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