In this first of an ongoing series “Meet your Flyway Editors,” our new Managing Editor Michelle Donahue talks about talking about books, “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” and why she’s so excited for this new publication year.
Flyway: In a couple of sentences, share something about your background – writing related or not.
MD: I’ve got a background in science. I have a bachelors in environmental biology, have taken ecology classes in three countries, and did some National Park volunteer work in the Galapagos. I’ve had a foot (or at least a tiptoe) in both the writing and science worlds for a while now.
Flyway: What book can you not stop talking to people about?
MD: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Old news, I know, but I finally read it this summer, and though I’ve read quite a few things by Kingsolver, this is my new favorite. I love the shift in perspectives, the lyrical prose, and the way she captures the wonder and horror of being trapped in a foreign place. We need more novels that focus on faraway places so carefully, so compassionately.
Flyway: What book inspires or compels your writing?
MD: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I’m a big Atwood junky, but this resonates with me because it’s so many things all at once: historic fiction, sci-fi, good ‘ole literary fiction. My writing is really driven by outside sources and sometimes that’s science or history or religion, but it’s hard to balance real-life fact with the fictional momentum of a piece. I’m also drawn to non-linear narratives and stories that always keep you on your toes, keep you guessing. Blind Assassin does all of the above and does it in a sly, not-pretentious way. In many ways it’s been my almanac of how to write.
Flyway: What (other than Flyway) literary magazines do you read?
MD: Glimmer Train, The Beloit Fiction Journal and Ecotone have been long time favorites. I also read a lot of online journals, like Paper Darts, Diagram, [PANK], NAP, Birdfeast, THRUSH, Fiddleback, and Brevity.
Flyway: What writers do you seek out in literary magazines?
MD: I don’t really search for specific writers, I usually just bounce around and read whatever peaks my interest. Lately, I keep coming across stories by Lauren Groff and I’ve loved everything of hers.
Flyway: Is there an aspect of the writing life, or the writing industry, that deserves more attention than it gets?
MD: I have these magnificent dreams of a world where poetry is as widespread as something like, let’s say, “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” Although really high quality fiction and nonfiction can make it into pop culture, I wish poetry had the spotlight more often. And really in this instant gratification, 150 character, fast paced time, you’d think poetry would be the go-to form of reading. Quick, powerful, BOOM. It blows you off your feet in a way that “Keeping up with the Kardashians” just can’t.
Flyway: What advice do you have for potential-contributors of Flyway?
MD: We really are open to broad, strange, sideways takes on the “environment.” Although I love a good wilderness work with sweeping Steinbeck setting descriptions, I’m more intrigued by something a little different. Show us something with a little whimsy or grit. Show us an urban environment, an anti-environment, a volcanic, crepuscular, moonscape environment. Also, read some work from Flyway before you submit to see what we’re all about. It’s free! Also, please read our submission guidelines and label your work with the correct genre. A writer that can’t read is worrisome indeed.