Interview with David Backer

3 mins read

David Backer was born in 1984 in Danbury, Connecticut. He’s currently pursuing a PhD in philosophy and education. His blog is

Natasha Stagg: Give us a little history on your website, FictionDaily.

David Backer: Earlier this year Ted Genoways published a controversial essay called “The Death of Fiction” in Mother Jones. The piece elicited hundreds of comments from writers and editors and readers of online magazines, turning it into a kind of manifesto. The message was clear: fiction is very much alive, just not in print. It’s online. At that time I knew a few magazines but I didn’t really know how much was out there. I followed the links in that comments section to a huge number of journals. It was overwhelming. I thought: fiction online may be alive and well, but there’s no way to access it. How is anyone supposed to know where to go or what to read?

One commenter on that Genoways article wrote about the need for organization in online literature, a way to navigate the ocean of online magazines. I read Arts and Letters Daily almost every day, and I thought that that kind of aggregator site could help people navigate fiction online. No one was doing anything like that, so I started

NS: What would you say is FD’s function?

DB: I use the word ‘aggregate’ a lot when describing what FictionDaily does. ‘Curate’ also works. If you think of online literature as a large convention where every journal and blogger has a table, then FictionDaily is like a convention guide or a map. The point is to help readers find and enjoy contemporary fiction.

NS: How do you look for the fiction you find?

DB: At first it was a combination of twitter-checking and random site-hopping. I compiled our literature list and read until I found something good. The work became a little overwhelming for me, and I’m fortunate to have the writers Matthew Funk and Ryan Nelson helping me edit the site. We each take a category and email each other links.

NS: If you could call Fiction Daily one object, would you call it a gel-capsule, a laser pointer, or a mobius strip, and why?

DB: Definitely a laser pointer. Pointing to stuff is our MO.

NS: What do you read when it is not for work?

DB: I like big novels.

NS: How ironic.

DB: Right now I’m reading Witz by Joshua Cohen.