Jessica (J.L.) Powers is the author of the recently released coming-of-age story set in South Africa, This Thing Called the Future (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011) and The Confessional (Knopf, 2007). She is the editor of The Fertile Source (http://www.fertilesource.com) and The Pirate Tree (http://www.thepiratetree.com) and runs a small press, Catalyst Book Press (http://www.catalystbookpress.com).
Natasha Stagg: Tell us about your journal.
J.L. Powers: The Fertile Source is an online literary journal that publishes the best fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and artwork that explores the broad topics of fertility, infertility, and adoption. We are also publishing interviews with the writers and artists that we publish.
NS: Where are you from, and where do you live now?
JLP: I’m originally from El Paso but now I live in California’s Bay Area.
NS: How does your magazine fit into the world of publishing today?
JLP: Because it’s online, it’s like a lot of new literary magazines out there. I think we’re a little different than most literary magazines because we’re so topically specific. Certainly, there are other literary magazines out there that have a more focused mission than simply to publish great literature….but I rarely run into other literary magazines that focus so narrowly as we do.
NS: So, it does something that no one else is doing?
JLP: There is nobody else out there publishing literary work that is focused exclusively and specifically on these topics.
NS: How do you feel about literary journals in general: simply a necessary means to an end, or something more worthwhile than even anthologies these days?
JLP: Actually, I prefer anthologies to most literary magazines today. I guess I like collections of great work on the same topic. Nevertheless, though I prefer anthologies, I believe literary journals are essential….Popular magazines today publish very little fiction and creative non-fiction.
NS: What styles of literature is The Fertile Source most interested in?
JLP: We publish all types of stuff–classic literary styles as well as experimental. The important thing for us is whether the writing is excellent and does it touch on the heart of human experience as it relates to our sexuality.
NS: How do we submit?
JLP: We accept only online submissions. All submissions should relate to the topics of fertility, infertility, or adoption. There is no reading fee and no reading period. For poetry, send to Tania Pryputniewicz, the poetry editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For fiction, non-fiction, and artwork, send to Jessica Powers email@example.com.
NS: Do you think literary journals are endangered?
JLP: Yes and no. They’re endangered from the point of view of the general public, who largely aren’t interested. But MFA programs are churning out writers who want to submit and who read literary journals. We can be worried that we don’t appeal to larger segments of society or we can embrace the population that does seek us out. But maybe the real question should be whether we should seek to make ourselves accessible and entertaining for a larger audience. There can be a stigma attached to “popular” writers and popular novels…but maybe we should admit that literary fiction is a genre just like mystery novels, just like thrillers, just like science fiction, etc. Once we admit that, maybe we’ll be able to publish work that does appeal to the masses.
NS: Is becoming “online only” something to be worried about?
JLP: I’ve only ever been online only so my answer is no. But on the other hand, I do love the feel of print magazines. I hope we never, ever lose that.
NS: Will only the fittest survive, and could this be a good thing?
JLP: No magazine survives if it doesn’t appeal to a certain number of readers. The question is always how to find a particular magazine’s audience–it’s usually out there somewhere but may be elusive. So in that sense, only the fittest do survive–and the fittest, by definition, is the magazine that is able to seek out and retain its audience. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me.
NS: What about book-publishing?
JLP: Probably everything we’ve said about literary journals applies to book publishing as well.
NS: Had you heard of Sonora Review before this?