Today’s interview is with one of my favorite editors, Eric Bosarge. He founded the humor magazine, Eric's Hysterics and edited the short story anthology, LOVE HURTS! (Note: while the magazine is closed to submissions, it's still available online if you're in the mood to laugh.)
SARETT: What was your impetus for starting Eric's Hysterics?
BORSAGE: I wanted to submit something funny that I had written but couldn’t find a suitable home. I decided that meant there was a niche I could exploit. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to work. I never expected to produce a print anthology. The thing took on a life of its own in a "field of dreams" sort of way.
SARETT: What are the ingredients that make a good fiction magazine editor?
BORSAGE: Being able to recognize that the simplest fix is usually the best. Writers and artists get touchy when someone insists on changes. It’s important to make sure any suggestions will enhance their vision, not yours.
BORSAGE: Two common problems were the this will be funny if I use a sarcastic, witty voice designed more to imply humor than actually be funny kind of attitude, and making improbable, unbelievable premises and conflicts the heart of the story. To address the first, a good, funny story only needs one funny line per page, sometimes even less. It’s better to be genuinely funny once, than fake funny all the time. You can’t force it. Second, it’s one thing to attempt the theater of the absurd, but the reader still must bear the weight of disbelief. Unbelievable premises or characters are doomed to failure.
SARETT; I’ve heard that writers who are rejected write back and argue. Does that happen or is that a myth?
BORSAGE: It does happen. I’d rather not comment on specific instances, but remind writers that each time they leave a bookstore, they leave thousands of books behind, and it’s nothing personal. It’s the same with rejection letters. You’re trying to sell a manuscript to people who are browsing, hoping what you have will fit their interests. Style and skill helps to attract editors, of course, but most often rejection is about fit for a particular market.
SARETT: Any favorite humorists that you’d like to share with readers-- novelists, essayists or short fiction writers?
BORSAGE: Besides the blogger conducting this interview? (wink wink):
--Wayne Scheer is a machine, with something like seven pieces featured on Eric's Hysterics. His work was always a pleasure to read.
--Mike Heartz, whom I see you're familiar with, is just waiting to be discovered. I am amazed a top editor hasn’t latched onto him. He’s one to watch.
--Josh Sampson, one of the writers we featured early on, has the drive needed to succeed. His revisions to a story (featured on the site) blew me away.
--Helen Peppe’s memoir PIGS CAN'T SWIM is currently atop the bestseller list, and rightfully so. I’ve used her short fiction piece “The Situation and the Story” to set the stage for writer’s workshops.
SARETT: Would you ever think about a new magazine, or is it, been there, done that?
I want to pursue something, but not without the backing of either a Kickstarter-type campaign or a major publisher. It probably won’t be humor. I’m working on a novel and enjoying the pleasant distractions of home ownership and family life.