Interview: Editor Declan Meade of The Stinging Fly

November 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Stinging Fly magazine has been running since 1998, and has been responsible for bringing new writing regularly to an appreciative audience.  Editor Declan Meade talks about how it all started, its’ successes and his own favourite writers.
Q. Why did you set up the Stinging Fly initially?

I set it up because back in 1997 I was going along to workshops and writing groups myself and the common complaint from the various people I met was that there was a real dearth of places where beginning writers could send their work. So it was really a decision to do something about that and also to see just what work was out there.

Q. Has it been hard to keep it going and if so why?

On some levels and at different stages, it has been hard to keep it going. The main problem in the early years was funding. It took a while before we began to get a decent level of funding. But right away we began to get a lot of submissions so that was always the main spur to keep going. And we received a lot of support and goodwill from people as well.

Q. Talk a bit about the publishing press you subsequently set up?

We set up the Stinging Fly Press in 2005. It was the next logical step for us at the time. I could see that there were writers who needed support outside of the magazine structure as well. We’ve always had an interest in publishing short stories and short story collections and anthologies are not very well served by more mainstream publishers. There was a definite gap there – in the market or the culture or the industry or whatever you want to call it.

Q. Who has made the biggest splash of the writers you’ve published?

We published Kevin Barry‘s story collection There Are Little Kingdomes in 2007 and that has done phenomenally well. Kevin won the Rooney Prize and he has gone on to adapt the stories for the stage and to write for film. He has a novel, City of Bohane, coming out next April with Jonathan Cape. The story collection is still selling and the main factor behind its success seems to have been word of mouth. We’ve had great reviews for all the books we’ve published – so really it depends how you want to define and measure the splash. I know as well that getting something into the magazine can mean an awful lot to new writers: seeing their name in print and even getting paid a little bit for their work. It can give them the motivation to carry on – and that’s all any of us can do.

Q. Best moment of setting up the magazine?

There’s always a great thrill in finding a story or poem that you enjoy reading and you know straight away that you want to publish it. And I get excited every time the printer delivers a new issue.

Q. Name 3 of your favourite writers, poetry or prose?

This is always changing for me but over the past few years three writers I’ve got great pleasure from are Edna O’Brien, Philip Roth and Alice Munro. I’ve read nearly everything that Munro has written, it’s not so easy to keep up with Roth. I’m still discovering some of the earlier O’Brien stuff – she never disappoints.

The Winter 2010 issue of The Stinging Fly is now out. if you want to submit writing, submissions details are here.

Subscriptions are €20 for three issues-see the website

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