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I’m always intrigued when a new group for a literary journal is formed at Fictionaut. I contacted RW Spryszak about his new group, Thrice Fiction, and  how it ties in to his magazine, Thrice Fiction.  Thrice Fiction, in their own words:

The main thing Thrice Fiction means to feature is the forms fiction can take. So along with the more standard, straight-up, rote, causative stories that go from A to B to C, there will always be the form benders. Is it poem or is it short story? Is it recognizable at all? Does it tip a hat toward the phenomenon of flash fiction? The answers are; who cares? Does it have to be? And why not? Respectively

We don’t always know where we’re going. All history, besides usually written by the victors, is also retrospect. And sometimes a survivor gets a word in edgewise.

It’s the edgewise we’re after.

So we’ll mix forms we may not yet understand with the more acceptable, accessible ones. We do this in the hope that it can all be seen as part of the same effort. We set the proximity between the two streams so they can at least offer validity to each other from a new viewpoint. Not that anyone is seeking approval, but simply making the statement that they belong together for a reason. People who love words read it all.

Q (Lynn Beighley: ): I sent an email to RW Spryszak, and received a response, and then got your obliging acceptance of the interview. I’m not sure if RW Spyszak is your real name and I have no first name. What should I call you?

RW Spryszak is my real name. If you look into the Ohio State archives you’ll just see I used to sign a lot of stuff just “Spryszak.” But those are my real initials. You can call me Bob.

Seems like you’ve been very active in both writing and publishing and worked full-time as well.  How do you keep your writing in your life when you have to take care of a job and kids?

Well for example my second granddaughter is getting born tomorrow. My daughter Kate has to be induced because she developed pregnancy-specific diabetes and is on insulin, and they have to induce because that’s not good for the baby, so they have to get her born tomorrow. But I compartmentalize like everybody else. I walked away from it for about 10 years and concentrated on my family, though I never gave up on the contacts and friends I made in the 80′s and 90′s. Lori Jackson, who was just about to break through in the early 90′s, wrote a piece for the Fiction Review when I ran it called “And the Corpse Had Numerous Tattoos”. It was about a woman with a lot of tattoos who dies of a heroin overdose. She sent it in and then went and died of a heroin overdose. She had tons of tattoos. Stuff like that makes you think. But I’m at the point now, with my daughters on their own, that whenever I feel the need I just hide upstairs and start hammering away at it. Bits of what I’m working on I put up at Fictionaut with the hopes somebody will say something useful. Mostly though people only say things when they like it, which is odd because I usually hate what I write the next day and everybody’s so damn nice over there. None of what I’ve posted there now looks like it does there.

In the meantime I’ve done everything from sales to construction to being a printer. I’ve worked every shift there is. When I rip off a piece of napkin and write furiously on it and stuff it in my shirt, people are used to it.

Where’s the connection with Fictionaut for the magazine? I see some contributors who are my friends on Twitter, but who aren’t Fictionnaughters.

I was invited by Ann Bogle. She led me around by the nose to look at a couple people on the site and there ya go.
What is Thrice Fiction seeking?
We try to blend the traditional with the new. The traditional stuff like short stories or novellas, you have to have a voice and it has to read like it isn’t “writing.” I’m not saying it shouldn’t have beautiful language, but some people don’t know when to tone it down or just shut the hell up already. Elmore Leonard wrote 10 rules of writing which people should bone up on before sending the traditional stuff to me. That doesn’t mean they follow that to the letter, no one should ever do that, but it is a good place to start.When I say non-traditional I’m talking about forms and genres. There was no such thing as flash fiction at one time. That was considered a non-traditional form. This notion has changed somewhat. But it took the pre-internet alt-zine world publishing it and sort of championing it to get it out there. Of course by and large there’s still a lot of editors with brooms stuck up their asses about what are legitimate forms and what aren’t, but luckily they’re old and will be dead soon and then we can get on with it. As an editor of two different zines, I can safely say that most editors I know are assholes. But I digress. I’m up to seeing anything new, whether it be new in the form it takes or new in that it bends a genre or whatever it is. But I’ve been writing and editing since the 80′s, and I know a poser when I see one. A guy slaps a bunch of shit on the paper and says “here, this is avant-garde,” and it’s total crap and I reject it because it has no soul and he’s just lazy but he says “I’ll show you” and then the world never hears of him again. You can tell when something is real, I can’t explain how that happens.

What’s the point of creating a Fictionaut group?

It seemed like the thing to do. I want to attract writers. It’s a public group, the submissions are open, and it’s a nod to Fictionaut’s standing to hook up with it, in my opinion. Plus with paper and ink being held onto like gold in the publishing industry, a lot of very good writers are out there kind of abandoned. I’d like to find me some. Fictionaut seems as likely a place as any.

I wasn’t invited to join, and I have to admit, that stings. What are you looking for in the submissions?

I will send an invite as soon as I’m done with this. I am slowly meeting people there. The submission guidelines are posted at Fictionaut. But we’re looking for stuff that is fully realized. Stuff with a voice.
Have you decided on the theme for the next issue?
No theme for issue #4, we’re going to turn it over to the writers and artists next time and see what we come up with.
You offer three electronic formats as well as a print version. Is there one version that is hands-down the most popular?

The free downloads to computer are the most popular. It should be noted that the pay-for-hard-copy version sells quite a bit for being limited in our marketing, but we don’t see a penny of that. That’s why we have to be careful about accepting long work or a lot of things, because the more we pack in there the more expensive it becomes. I’d like an alternative. We’re looking into it.

Thank you for the invitation. Your artwork is gorgeous. Who does it, what inspires it?

Dave Simmer is the art guru of the zine. He has a network of artists that he’s been a part of, and is very willing to look at people’s ideas for graphics. We were very proud to get Echo Chernik to do our cover for issue #2. Most of Dave’s connections come out of what used to be known in the old days as “graphic artists.” There’s a good chance you may have seen some of Dave’s work in the broader, commercial world without realizing it. He’s inspired by art, but a guy’s gotta eat.

So to summarize, what do you hope to receive from your contributors to the group?

Bruises on my ass when the stuff they send is so good it knocks me the fuck off my chair.
Lynn Beighley is a fiction writer stuck in a technical book writer’s body. Her stories often involve deeply flawed characters and the unsatisfying meshing of the virtual and actual world. You can find more of her work at Fictionaut and on Twitter as @lynnbeighley.

  1. susan tepper

    Very interesting interview with a man who definitely speaks his mind (in a good way) and knows what he’s after in writing and writers.

  2. Ann Bogle

    The genre issue or topic or debate or series of divisions, including institutional and commercial segregations, the divisions among poets and writers, poets from writers, has seemed like a science to me, a required immersion in form. Thrice is on the wave of fiction happening. Bob Spryszak contacted me! That was a great day, three.

  3. Marcus Speh

    Came to this late, found out only a couple of months ago about THRICE, and issue #4 is absolutely gorgeous.

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