In this latest installment of our “Meet the Editors” series, we talk with Assistant Fiction Editor Nick Bogdanich about the recent renaissance in linked short stories, setting as character, and the importance of No Capes!
Flyway: In a couple of sentences, share something about your background—writing related or otherwise.
NB: I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison where I completed my B.A. in English literature and creative writing. The three most interesting jobs I’ve had (besides working for Flyway) are: spelunking leader, bouncer at a concert venue, and carny.
Flyway: What book(s) can you not stop talking about?
NB: One collection of short stories that I can’t stop talking about is Dead Boys by Richard Lange. I liked how the wonky, noir setting in this book essentially serves as a recurring character that links the stories.
Flyway: What book(s) inspires or compels you writing?
NB: I am currently at work on a collection of linked short stories, and Lange’s collection has informed the development of my own. I also admire Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge—a collection of short stories linked by a common character.
Flyway: What writers do you seek out in literary magazines?
NB: When I read a lit magazine, I gravitate toward writers skilled in characterization. As one of my professors reminded me recently, fiction has above all other genres the greatest propensity to probe a character’s inner life. Considering, any story that does not do this needs to have a good reason. Concept-heavy stories frequently fall flat for me since they often engender characters whose allegorical functions trump complexity and believability—there are, of course, plenty of exceptions.
Flyway: Is there an aspect of the writing life, or the writing industry, that deserves more attention than it gets?
NB: As you can probably guess from my responses to the previous questions, I like linked short stories. Although this form has gained some popularity in recent years, I still think it deserves more attention. I’d be very interested in serializing a collection of linked stories on our website. Flash fiction is also something that we haven’t really published yet, but that I would like to see more of. Comic fiction or sequential art also interests me. Since our magazine is now online, the added cost posed by publishing artwork is no longer an issue for us. Just remember: dynamic setting, memorable characters, and no capes.
Flyway: What advice do you have for potential contributors of Flyway?
NB: My advice to prospective contributors to Flyway is to think of your setting as a character that must develop throughout the course of the story, and not merely serve as a backdrop. I don’t want to be too prescriptive, but Flyway is a journal of writing and the environment. As such, “place based” stories earn preference in cases where all other elements of craft prove equal.
Although we are a journal of the environment based in Iowa, I don’t consider Flyway a regionally specific journal. The folks who run it come from a diverse background, both regionally and in terms of our varied approaches to our craft. What makes us similar is our appreciation for writing’s power to elucidate environmental themes and concerns in ways that formulas cannot.