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Backhand Stories Interview

Posted on 02 April 2008. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Martin Bell, editor of Backhand Stories

Tell us all about you; history, ethos, list etc

Backhand Stories began as a place for me to publish my writing – some short scenes, flash fiction – and the work of other people in my writing group. They never took me up on the offer (bah, losers!), but an even better thing happened; complete strangers from the internet began to send their writing. I liked some of it, and decided to add the work to the site.

“Backhand Stories” is a play on “Palm of the Hand Stories” by Yasunari Kawabata; lovely, meaningful, very short fiction. Although I do publish longer pieces, it's the expansive meaning that can be captured in very short stories that excites me.

Being a new writer too, I know the frustration in finding an avenue for your work. I'd like Backhand Stories to be a step somewhere between posting pieces on a forum for critique and submitting to one of the literary journals. In other words, the site does have submission standards, and I don't publish everything I receive, but I try not to be snotty about it.

How do you find writers?

All submissions through the web site. Send the submission in the BODY of an email to submit@backhandstories.com.

What excites you about a piece of writing-

I once read that the measure of a good story is that what the author wanted to say couldn't be said in any other possible way, apart from the words that he or she had placed on the page.

Meaning is important.

I've read so many short stories (and written several too!) that on the surface appear well written, but don't touch you at all. I want to read a piece, then spend at least the next ten minutes, and preferably the next ten days, thinking about it. And if that meaning can be squeezed into a couple of hundred words, all the better.

However, I'm a sucker for a great turn of phrase too. Sometimes a well rendered description, an image that resonates, is all I need.

and what makes your heart sink?

Self-centred, self-serving writing. Trust me, your diary isn't that interesting. If you have issues to work out, go see a therapist. (Then write about him or her!)
Violence for no reason.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

V`yonne at 15:48 on 04 April 2008  Report this post
And the really nice thing about Backhand Stories is that Martin responds personally to your submission and in my case in a very generous way. So I would say to all you of you Flash people who have something with a bit of heart in it and I know that's most of you... send it to Backhand Stories and let us support a great site.


Forbes at 12:22 on 06 April 2008  Report this post
A real pleasure dealing with this guy! I sent him a flash, he responded - promptly - and was courteous and polite! Yes! Really!!

No bad reflection on Martin here, but we've all come across those precious editors who like to slap a writer around a bit. And to keep them waiting for a response - for weeks. Purely for the writer's own good, you know.

Not my experience with this one. Try him and see for yourself.


tusker at 15:44 on 19 April 2008  Report this post
When I've got something, I'll give him a try.


JoanWood at 07:11 on 16 October 2012  Report this post
I just love their writing style, because they had very different perception about life. Very meaningful yet very simple to understand.

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