AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Matt Williamson

You recently did a Kickstarter to fund volume 3 of Unstuck, an annual literary magazine devoted to “New Literature of the Fantastic and the Surreal.” How did the magazine first come about? 

Some friends and I noticed that there weren’t a lot of magazines or web journals that were trying to appeal strongly both to con-attending, Lightspeed-subscribing SF/F readers and to the kinds of adventurous “general readers” (for lack of a better term) who might subscribe to One Story or Tin House. We thought that a reader who enjoyed Rachel Swirsky, Karin Tidbeck and David J. Schwartz would also enjoy Aimee Bender, Patrick Somerville, and Amelia Gray, and vice versa. So we started Unstuck, in a sense, to throw a party with a fun and unexpected guest list.

Why did you decide to fund the new volume via Kickstarter? 

We’re in an unusual (but not unique) spot for a nationally distributed literary journal, in that we aren’t affiliated with a college or other institution—we’re totally independent—but are also a very non-commercial, volunteer-driven 501(c)(3). So we depend on revenue from sales and subscriptions, and on the hundreds of small donations we receive annually. Kickstarter offers a nice place to preview and pre-sell a new volume, and also to give people who are interested a chance to support us.

How do you think Kickstarter and self-publishing platforms (like Amazon’s KDP, etc.) are changing publishing? 

I think Kickstarter—along with the small presses, web-only presses, etc.—is helping to democratize publishing. It’s not just helping authors and editors find and engage with interested readers; it’s also helping readers find projects that they like.

A good personal example is the recent Kickstarter for Boss Fight Books. Boss Fight, given its mission, is obviously going after a fairly small readership, but I am right in the center of that target; I’m the kind of person who would love to read the sorts of nerdy books they want to publish. I got one of those emails from Kickstarter telling me that a lot of my friends were backing the Boss Fight Kickstarter, so I checked it out…and I’m now very excited about reading the books my friends and I helped fund.

You’re also a writer—obviously, since you’re writing a story for HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!—so why don’t you tell folks a bit about your own work. I’ve published you in Nightmare Magazine (“On Murder Island”) and in my anthology Brave New Worlds (“Sacrament”). But where else might people find your work, and what’s it like? 

I’ve written so little since starting Unstuck that I’m not even sure what my writing is like anymore. I had a novella in Bat City Review last year, about a teenage video-game-design prodigy, that some John Joseph Adams fans might like. It’s probably not a shock, given that I helped start Unstuck, that I’m most interested in writing stories with elements of fantasy and sci-fi.

What’s up next for you? What else are you currently working on? 

Well, Unstuck #3, which is coming out early next year, still needs some work, so I’m spending a lot of time on that. We’re going to be at the AWP conference in Seattle next year with a very unusual table. Believe it or not, we’re already working on the stuff we’re going to have at that table. It involves gadgetry. At some point soon, I’d like to get back to my own writing. There was a point when I was spending so much time working on fiction that it felt like a grind. My hope is that when I finally get back to it, writing will have novelty appeal again.

BONUS: What are some examples of fiction you like in which the format helped dictate the story? (i.e., like the stories in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!, or like a found footage movie, or like Jake Kerr’s “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince,” etc.) 

I was actually in a very cool anthology last year called Fakes, which includes dozens of examples of stories shaped by their strange formats. Not to get too 9th-grade-English on you, but I really love Spoon River Anthology, as well as Matthew Vollmer’s more recent Edgar Lee Masters-ish Inscriptions for Headstones. And when I was at Fantastic Fest last month, I saw two found footage movies that really impressed me: The Dirties and Afflicted.