Ask Our Editors: Glenn Shaheen

What is your favorite song with the word “and” in the title?

“Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Also I like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts version. Maybe even better? I dunno, are we talking the radio edit of the original or the one with two guitar solos? There’s a lot of great songs with a lot of great words in the title. Like, what about the word “orange?” I guess that’s “Orange Rolls, Angel Spit” by Sonic Youth. Or “America?” Probably “America” from West Side Story. I don’t think there’s a song with the word “Glenn” in the title though.

Have you ever discovered an entire plot line from those instructions on a tv dinner? I’ve found myself reading & re-reading microwave instructions and wondering, who writes this stuff?

Those things have crazy sodium, so at my age (31) I need to stay away from them. I met somebody once who does copy for cereal boxes as his main job, but he’s also a great poet. But cereal is kind of poet-y, you know? Like granola, hippie dippie shit, vitamins, etc. I’d have to assume tv dinner instructions are written by unemployed writers of mass market spy novels with names like The Game’s A-Dead or One, Two, Three O’Clock, Four O’Clock, Murder. I heard you get paid $10,000 a pop to write those factory books, which seems like a lot and also not a lot. I’m a poet, mainly, and a flash fiction writer secondly, so anything long seems impossible. Also $10,000 seems impossible. I should mention I’m a big fan of cereal although in college I ate $3 frozen lasagna once a week but I always threw out the boxes right away out of shame, etc.

Why is money valuable?

Define “valuable.” No, really – like I said I’m a poet so I really have no concept of what “valuable” means, or “money,” or come to think of it “is” or “why” either.

What is your favorite kind of submission?

My favorite kind of submission is the kind that follows our guidelines. We have a form rejection that we have to use way too much that says we don’t publish line breaks, stories of longer than 300 words, and on and on. But that’s an easy answer, sure!

I like to see single story submissions, where it’s a flash piece that stands entirely on its own. We publish a lot of great stuff that comes from sequences, yes, and I’m very happy to have done so but those pieces seem like cheating you know? You could just write a 2000 word fragmented voice story and then cut it up into 7 sections and submit it everywhere like that. A lot of flash editors see the continuity between the pieces as development that doesn’t necessarily exist in each piece on its own, even if they only accept one or two parts. That is, they see some strengths or connective tissues from having seen a larger part of the project that their readers won’t see from whatever fragment gets published. I think a lot of flash writers have latched onto this trend in publication, and as a result we see more and more sequence submissions in our box. Some strong, yes, and some we’ll proudly publish, but I’d love to see a greater percentage of standalone stories, just out of respect for the genre.

What question do you have for people who read NANO Fiction?

How does flash as a genre work for you as a reader in ways that fiction or poetry do not?