Swarm is thrilled to have Brandi Wells on staff as our newest editor! Brandi is the author of Please Don’t Be upset (Tiny Hardcore Press) and the forthcoming This Boring Apocalypse (Civil Coping Mechanisms). She is one of our two fiction editors, and her first selection was K. Jane Child’s “Cake,” included in our Summer 2014 issue. Poetry editor Brandon Amico sat down with Brandi to ask her a few questions about her writing life and literature tastes, so enjoy this glimpse at our newest member of the staff, and help us welcome her!
Brandon: What writer do you wish you had found much earlier in your life? What writer do you wish you had avoided altogether?
Brandi: I’ve just started reading Angela Carter. What the fuck was wrong with me? Why didn’t I get to this sooner? I think I looked at Carter when I was younger and the sentences felt “hard” so I moved on. But maybe it’s nice that it’s all so new and fresh to me now.
I don’t think the Chuck Palahniuk books I read when I was younger did me any great service.
What’s the story that has most impacted your writing?
That’s almost impossible to answer, but I can name the story that has impacted the stuff I’m working on lately and that’s the title story from George Saunders’s Pastoralia. The tone/voice of the whole thing really gets me going.
Tell me about the first submission you’ve ever sent to a journal. We all had to have a first submission, and there’s almost always something regrettable about it, so spill.
I have no idea what my first submission was. I was doing a lot of stuff wrong. I think some professor told me to submit in new courier font, so I was doing that. I was also writing really awkward cover letters where I lied and referenced work from their publication that I hadn’t actually read. I was such an embarrassment. Maybe in five years I’ll think what I’m doing now is embarrassing. It’s all fine.
What grabs your attention when you’re reading a story—what do you look for, what do you run screaming at the sight of?
I guess I like something that’s interesting right off. A story that begins in medias res.
I pretty much never want to read a story about a guy trying to pick up a girl at a bar. But I see those here (and in other slush piles). Dudes, please quit writing boring stories about the girls you did or didn’t sleep with. I don’t want to read writing about your girlfriend or your ex-girlfriend’s body.
Enough of those softballs, here’s the question everyone wants to know: What are your five (5) favorite fruits?
I think my favorite fruits, beginning with my most favorite, are: Watermelon, Pluot, Plum, Blackcherry, and Grapefruit. Close behind are Blackberries, Honeydew Melon, Peach, Nectarine, and Banana.
I take issue with anyone who says their favorite fruit is strawberry.
What the crap is a pluot?
It’s a hybrid plum-apricot. Most grocery stores have 3-4 different kinds of pluots.
If you have miraculously lived this long without eating a pluot, I recommend you correct this gross oversight.
Will do. By the way, can I keep this whole exchange as part of the last question?
If you’re comfortable admitting you are an adult who hasn’t heard of a pluot.