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March 6, 2012

Abode of Short stories – Out Of Print

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Written by: Purnima
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“Out Of Print” (http://www.outofprintmagazine.co.in) is an online magazine dedicated to English short stories. Since 2010, it has been a platform showcasing seasoned writers along with the budding ones, giving importance to translations from regional literature. Indira Chandrasekhar, Samhita Arni and Mira Brunner run the magazine. The Editorial threesome’s passion and love for literature can be seen, issue after issue in the quality of the stories and in the aesthetically appealing covers.  If you’re an avid reader of fiction, bookmark this site. And if you’re confident enough about your story telling skills, here’s an opportunity to work with editors, who are writers themselves.

The following is an email interview with Ms. Indira Chandrasekhar, the founding editor of the online magazine. We, at pustakam.net, thank Ms. Indira for taking out time for us and giving us insights into what it takes to bring a magazine to life and then to keep it fresh and healthy. We wish ‘Out of Print’ to be online for a long, long time to come.

 

What was the motivation to have a magazine for short story fiction? Why is the magazine restricted only to that? Any plans of expanding to it other forms, say poetry or so?

We like short stories, we read them, we write them. And as editors, we felt we had to be honest about what we would be able to best evaluate. And, of course, choose a form that would give us pleasure. That’s why we stick to the short fiction form.

It is unlikely we will expand, but we might consider an occasional issue dedicated to a different form.

The magazine’s introduction says “Out of Print provides an online platform for writers of short fiction with a connection to the subcontinent.” Can you please elaborate on the part “with a connection to the subcontinent.”

We seek work from writers who are from the South Asian subcontinent, from the diaspora who have settled in different parts of the world, from non-subcontinental writers living on the subcontinent or in subcontinental communities outside. We might include writing that has one or more characters in the piece from the subcontinent – but this only happens when the culture of the character somehow influences the story, as in Jessica Tyner’s story, The Stopgap, in the forthcoming issue. In other words, a story about Jack and Robert in which the author only changes the protagonists names to Rahul and Sanjay in order to submit to us, will not work.

Why have you chosen the magazine to be online? What sort of challenges did this medium present you?

A variety of reasons – one, it makes distribution easier and reaches a wider geographic community. Also, it makes production easier for us, we have a great technical support team at Resource, Bangalore.

In terms of challenges – well, many people do prefer the printed medium, so they struggle with the idea of an online journal. Sometimes we are not taken to be a serious edited journal, but some light-hearted endeavour. But I am not too concerned – people who read the journal know its quality.

How has been the response to the call for short stories? What are your thoughts on Indians as story tellers?

I am not sure we should generalise, but I do believe the many traditions of storytelling in our region make us sensitive to stories, and produce some marvellous story tellers.

As for a response to our call for submissions, yes, we do get a fair number of submissions, some good, some not yet perfect, some exciting …

Where does the Indian short stories in the world of fiction? Where do Indians have an upper hand?  

I don’t think of fiction in terms of competition, really. We all have stories to tell. And our stories, those from the region – India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka are individual, interlinked, and equally valid, in my opinion.

Why the name, “Out of Print”, when all of the works are fresh from the pan?

That’s a good question. Actually, ‘Out of Print’ refers to the fact that it is not a print but an online journal.

Indira Chandrasekhar. (photo credit Mira Brunner)

 

Running any webzine is a herculean task. Add to that the high quality content and amazing photography you put in. How do you manage to do that, issue after issue?

Thank you. We shall remember your kind words if we find ourselves getting lazy. You yourself know what keeps it going – hard work, commitment, and a sense of the fun of it all.

What’s the process to get published in “Out of Print”?

Send in your story – in English, either original or translated – in accordance with the guidelines listed on the site. And if we, the editors myself, Samhita Arni and Mira Brunner like it, we’ll work with you on editing it, then eventually publish it.

I’m not sure if this is the case all around, but usually, the print magazines restrict their writers to write only to a certain length or to a predetermined number of words. That could be because of their own space constraints. As an online magazine, you may not have any space limitations, but then it can be tough for the readers to sit through a real long story. How do you handle such dilemmas? Otherwise put, how long, do you think, can a short story be?

Our word limit is 1000-4000 words. Of course, if really like a story, we might allow a few words more or less. But this is our general range.

Looks like you accept English translations of regional fiction. How has been the response on that part?

We have had a couple of translated-from-Telugu submissions. A previous issue had a story by Professor U. R. Ananthamurthy translated from Kannada. We’ve had an Urdu story by Firdaus Haider from Pakistan, which was submitted by the translator, one of our writers, Nighat Gandhi.

Why is there so much effort on the presentation of the content with photographs and all, especially when there is no in-print version of the magazine.

All three of us editors wanted to have a clear aesthetic style as well. We would have been unhappy if it hadn’t pleased us visually. Yamuna Mukherjee at Kiri Design, Bangalore is responsible for the design.

From what I gather, the magazine strives to showcase both the newcomers and well established writers. How do you maintain balance between them?

Thank you for noticing that. It is one of our aims. We don’t have a super strict rule, allowing each issue to have its own balance.

All the three behind this venture are  writers themselves. Does that help in your editing trials? And how much of these editing experience, helped you three in your writing? What I’m trying to get at is, how are you enjoying the see-saw game of editor-writer in each of you.

You sound as if you have experience in this juggle yourself. It is a challenge, and speaking personally, initially, just from a time-management point of view, my own writing suffered. But now, I find that as my editors eye gets more refined, my own writing is impacted positively.

With a year behind you, what has been most memorable about the journey so far? What are the future plans?

The most memorable – well seeing the magazine come alive, finding great stories. It is fantastic. It has also been great working with my editors, Samhita and Mira, and learning to respect their literary and aesthetic senses evermore.

Thank you for your interest in Out of Print. We hope we increase our reader and author base through Pustakam. The blog and facebook pages provide links and updates and are a good way to keep track of new issues. Our March issue will be out shortly.




About the Author(s)

Purnima

Software engineer by profession, Hyderabadi at heart, laidback by choice, an introvert by default, schizophrenic at will etc. etc... so much so about her, to give you enough to guess what she might come up about the worlds of words she wanders.. keep guessing..



4 Comments


  1. A M Khan Yazdani (Danny)

    Very interesting interview. All good wishes to OUT OF PRINT team.


  2. Country Fellow

    btw gr8 info/intro


  3. Country Fellow

    I think it is not adobe. Itz abode 🙂 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/abode


  4. Awesome. Kudos to the Out of Print team



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