Issue 8, January 2011
20 Questions for Chris BartholomewInterview by Brandon Rucker
The world is populated with exceptional people who do exceptional things that benefit other people. Chris Bartholomew, editor/publisher/owner of the speculative fiction small press known as Static Movement, is one such person. Chris is an advocate for new writers finding their way in the publishing world. She has a long list of accomplishments as an author, editor and publisher, with over fifty books edited under her watch, and over two hundred and fifty short stories in several magazines and books published under her byline.
She is a friend of the Liquid Imagination family, as we consider Static Movement to be one of our sister publications (along with many others). The busy publisher took time out of her hectic schedule to answer twenty questions that cover her past, present and future in the small press, as well as her views on the publishing industry, and some friendly advice for those new to writing.
1) Chris, what inspired you to take on the duties of editor/publisher with Static Movement, effectively playing a very large role in the small press?
I loved being published and wanted there to be someplace where other people could get their stories read. There are so many venues that I wasn't sure the world needed another one, but I stepped out there and have a readership, and quite a few writers.
2) Eventually you decided to take Static Movement into print with two special print editions of the webzine, and currently you are publishing many original, themed print anthologies through your Static Movement imprint. What inspired that change?
I was working with Paul Campbell for RAZAR magazine when we decided to do the first ezine print issue, Static Movement Print Special No. 1, which was published by RAZAR Magazine in early 2007. Static Movement Print Issue No. 2 was published in late 2009 by Liquid Imagination led by John Arthur Miller.
The themed anthology books didn't start until Summer of 2010, when I decided (with a LOT of help) to publish books that were originally being published by Lame Goat Press. After those five books were published, the person with the printer that I go through asked me if I'd like to continue on with print books and I said yes. So… what inspired the change to Static Movement Imprint for printed books was the closing of Lame Goat Press, and a lot of encouragement from other presses out there and the writers who wanted to submit to a print version of Static Movement.
3) You have a third special print edition of the webzine coming soon as well. How is that coming along?
Almost all of the stories are in. Lee Kuruganti is illustrating all of the stories, which takes time, so we are waiting for her work. I estimate a few months for this to come out. She is also choosing the cover, and I'm hoping it will be from the ezine, since she has done all of the ezine covers for the last five years.
4) As an editor, what are some of the things you look for in a publishable story?
I like unique stories, well-written. If the idea is good but the story needs correction, I try to work with the writer to make it publishable. Most of the time, a writer is willing to make changes, sometimes they are not, because they are happy with it the way it is… when that is the case, I don't publish it. I don't worry about mistakes as they can be corrected. I read the story, and if it's good I'll take it.
5) In addition to being an editor and publisher, you are also a writer in your own right with well over 200 publishing credits to your name. How did you discover the joys of fiction writing?
I am from a family of readers. I only started writing for publication after meeting a bunch of writers on a forum that is now out of existence, probably mid-2004. After your first acceptance it's pretty much an addiction, for me anyway. I love it when someone picks up one of my stories, and having a bookcase full of books that I am in is nice.
6) As the publisher of an ezine communicating primarily with e-mail, how often do people mistake your name for that of a man? (Full disclosure: I made that mistake early on).
At first, I'd say for over a year people thought I was a man and I think that probably helped me rather than hurt me. Most people know now, and if I'm referred to as 'he' on a forum, someone corrects the person who made the mistake. I still get 'Dear Sir' in some submissions, and I usually just write back putting (Mrs.) Bartholomew in my email to them, or I say, 'you really should just say 'Dear Editor' unless you know for sure whether someone is male or female.
7) You have a couple dozen anthology books on the market currently with many more to come. Any chance you may get a break in your busy schedule to focus on your writing again in the near future?
I think that now, with 14 editors on staff at Static Movement, there will be a time when I'm not personally doing so many. That will be when I'll get the time to write. I'm currently doing several anthologies myself. Four have recently opened, but I won't open a new one until another one closes. There was a time when I was doing 25 alone!
I do make some writing time though, I'm working on a story for Yarns for Our Youth 2 for my grandson, and for another anthology that is due February 1st, 2011
8) Your main playground in fiction has been short stories. Do you think there is a novel inside you waiting to get out?
We'll know the answer to that if I ever sit down and write one. I love flash, but now am able to write to 5,000 so it's possible. It is a bit hard to go on, and on when you are used to using as little words as possible to convey the story, but I'm learning. My family has been after me to write a book, we'll see.
9) What is your take on some of the changes in the publishing industry; are there certain concerns you have regarding the future as book sales continue to stagnate or fall across the board, bookstores continue to close up shop and the overall doom that some forecast? Some believe that what is happening to publishing has similar parallels to what happened to music a decade ago.
I hate it that so many bookstores are closing, but I don't take that as meaning people don't want to read, I believe it's because people don't have the money to spend on books that they used to. You look online and there are many small presses closing, because the money is not online either. It's the economy. Will it bounce back then? I don't think that it will any time soon.
10) You read a multitude of fiction submissions every day, but when you step away from that to curl up with a good book, who are some of the authors that you like to read?
I don't read best sellers anymore – I don't have time. If I read it's either one of the 25 published Static Movement books or another anthology my work is in from another publisher. I have a couple of boxes of books that I could read, but I'm just not really interested as I spend so much time reading submissions.
11) As a writer you mostly stick to the speculative genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Why do you think you favor those over other genres?
I grew up watching horror and science fiction. Fantasy is something you can get lost in so I like that too. Horror is my favorite though to write, fantasy being second.
As an avid risk-taker, I have had many episodes of near-death in my life that helped shape my writing direction. Not only am I an experienced skydiver, but during one of my jumps my main parachute ripped up. Instead of cutting away and using my back-up I decided to ride it out and land with the damaged one. I admit that I could have easily died and my jump master was certainly unhappy with my decision, but I say that taking risks is a part of life.
I enjoy being scared and being able to scare others. There is often a stigma attached to us horror writers that we must all be odd people in order to invent some of the things that we use in our writing. I reject these kinds of generalities, grounded in the knowledge that I am a good and moral person and don't believe that authors of any stripe should be cast in one role or another.
12) What kind of music gets you going (i.e. bobbing your head, singing or dancing)?
Rap is my favorite music; I don't listen to anything else if I can help it. The only time I listen to music is in the car, not in the house. When I'm reading submissions or writing I might have a movie playing in the background, but more than likely it's just quiet here.
13) What are some of the movies you will watch repeatedly?
Midnight Lace with Doris Day is my very favorite movie of all time, if I had a copy I would watch that a lot. I watch the new Batman movies often, I LOVE Cloverfield. With hundreds of movies you can imagine that, with no TV, I watch many movies over and over.
14) You also write nonfiction. Specifically you write articles about the true crimes of serial killers as the editor for Serial Killers Magazine. Is there a fascination with that particular subject matter?
There is no fascination with serial killers. I saw a call for writers and I responded. My work has gotten a lot of good feedback, especially here locally so I kept up until they asked me to be head writer, but I've slowed down there a lot too.
15) In regards to writing for Serial Killers Magazine, how thin is the line between journalism and awareness versus exploitation and glamorization, considering the true, horrific nature of the real events?
The thing is this stuff sells, so you can see where Serial Killer Magazine came from. I am not glorifying the killers; I'm just telling it like it is to a readership that wants to know. It's a place to write for.
16) What do you think your strengths as a writer are?
Probably my voice. Many people never find their voice, and I have found mine. The best thing that I think is a strength is knowing that you can write, gives you confidence to withstand the critics and rejections. Confidence is a good thing to have for a writer.
17) What is the one thing in your writing you would like to do better?
There is a question I cannot answer, because if I knew the answer I would fix it. Editing helps me grow as a writer, when I see something that does not work and then see that I do it too… we are always growing and learning.
18) Which school of thought are you from in terms of writing approach?
There are two schools of thought on writing a story, neither one inherently better than the other. One requires the writing of an outline and, perhaps, a character sketch before the author begins a tale. Proponents of this method argue that you cannot hope to achieve your goal unless you have a plan of action in place. I do not ascribe to this method of writing. Instead, she prefers to begin writing and let the story roll out and take her along for the ride. This can sometimes lead to surprising revelations and take you in directions that you'd never thought you would go. I believe that this is the truly exciting side of writing.
19) As a short fiction enthusiast and a beacon for the hard working writers in the small press, what advice do you have for newer writers?
Never try to write like someone else, always be true to you. Never set goals such as: if I don't get published by a certain time I'm a failure and am quitting. Success takes as long as it takes. Never rush a story to the ending; it'll be done when it's done. Never listen to criticism unless you can handle it. Don't take one person's word for anything, and always look on the positive side of things. Don't keep your rejection slips as most people do. Read them, learn from them, and then throw them away.
At my webzine, when I reject a story, I do not expect that person to carry that thought through all of their writing. Everyone is different, all editors are different, and one may hate something you wrote when the next one will love it. Always go forward. Self-confidence is one of the most indispensable character traits that a young writer can possess. It is not necessary to be arrogant, but you must believe in what you are doing and you must believe that you will succeed.
20) With well over 200 writing credits, your work is probably not too hard to find. Where can readers find your fiction and poetry?
Most of my writing is in anthologies now, some can be found online, and some of it was in ezines that are closed and gone now. My credits page has links to some work though at www.staticmovement.com/Credits.htm
* * *
Static Movement can be found atwww.staticmovement.com.