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Cassidy McCants is the 2020 Innovative Short Fiction Contest Winner!

Cassidy McCants is the 2020 Innovative Short Fiction Contest winner!

The results are in. Emily Wortman-Wunder has finished deliberating, and we’re pleased to announce Cassidy McCants as the 2020 Innovative Short Fiction Contest winner for her piece “The Things I Took From Your House.” Cassidy’s piece will be published in The Conium Review: Vol. 9, and she’ll receive a $500 prize, contributor copies, and a copy of the judge’s book.

Cassidy McCants is a writer and editor from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She received her B.A. in creative writing from University of Arkansas and her M.F.A. in fiction writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she is Managing Editor of Nimrod International Journal. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Lascaux Review, Liars’ League NYC, Gravel, The Idle Class, Filling Station, Witch Craft Magazine, and other publications, and her stories have received honorable mentions from Glimmer Train Press.

This year’s finalists were Kelly Hill, Ploy Pirapokin, and Miranda Williams.

Here’s what Emily had to say about her choice:

Headshot of Cassidy McCants, the 2020 Innovative Short Fiction Contest winner

“All four finalists were good but this one stood out with the way its innovative form mirrored and reinforced its arc and helped to nudge out new corners of its characters. I loved this story’s sly and surprising voice, the way it skipped along in a wry wistful way and then plunged in the knife.”

–Emily Wortman-Wunder, contest judge & author of Not a Thing to Comfort You

Volume 6 pre-orders now available!

The Conium Review: Vol. 6 is now available for pre-order. We expect to ship in mid-December.

This volume of The Conium Review features nine new stories from Tamara K. Walker, Jay Vera Summer, Matt Kirkpatrick, Rebekah Bergman, Kevin Finucane, Stephanie Wang, Simone Person, Rachel Lyon, and J. L. Montavon. Readers will experience ghost detector apps, a sentient chalkboard, trippy art museum visits, and more. Throughout this volume, inventive prose, dark satire, and  compelling characters abound.

We’re still processing final copy edits and completing the layout, so page count is still up in the air, but it’ll be a similar length to other recent issues (around 100-ish). As usual, we have a wrap-around cover with just a hint of the main image peaking out. On back, there is a large tree stump gracing the volume.

Vol 6 - mock-up (02)

Announcing the Vol. 6 authors

The Conium Review: Vol. 6 comes out in December, 2017. We’ve finalized the table of contents, and we’re pleased to introduce the authors and stories slated for this issue:

  • “Ramune,” by Tamara K. Walker
  • “Holy Water,” by Jay Vera Summer
  • “Something Like Feeling,” by Matt Kirkpatrick
  • “A Hunger,” by Rebekah Bergman
  • “I Am Me,” by Kevin Finucane (winner of the 2017 Innovative Short Fiction Contest)
  • “Time Travel for Beginners,” by Stephanie Wang
  • “Maurice,” by Simone Person
  • “Naming Maura Maura,” by Rachel Lyon
  • “Extraterrestrial Science,” by J. L. Montavon

ABOUT THE CONIUM REVIEW: VOL. 6 AUTHORS

Tamara K. Walker resides in Colorado and writes short fiction and poetry, often of a surreal, irreal, magical realist, experimental, speculative or otherwise unusual nature. Her fiction has previously appeared in The Cafe Irreal, A cappella Zoo, Melusine, Peculiar Mormyrid, ink&coda, Three Minute Plastic, and others. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Star*Line, Lavender Review, Scifaikuest, and indefinite space, among others. Her short story, “Camisole”, which appeared in The Conium Review: Vol. 4, was a 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee. She may be found online at http://tamarakwalker.weebly.com

Jay Vera Summer is a Chicagoan living in Florida. She writes fiction and creative nonfiction, and co-founded weirderary, an online literary magazine, and First Draft, a monthly live literary event in Tampa. Her writing has been published in marieclaire.com, Proximity, LimeHawk, theEEEL, and Chicago Literati.

Matthew Kirkpatrick is the author of Diary of a Pennsylvania Farmer (Throwback Books, forthcoming), The Exiles (Ricochet Editions), and Light Without Heat (FC2). His fiction and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, The Common, Puerto del Sol, Denver Quarterly, Believer Logger, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. His audio collage and hypertext, “The Silent Numbers” is anthologized in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 3, and was part of the “Shapeshifting Texts” exhibit at the University of Bremen. He is an assistant professor at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches fiction and new media writing.

Rebekah Bergman’s fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Hobart, Joyland, Passages North, Poor Claudia, Two Serious Ladies, and The Nashville Review, among other journals. She holds an MFA from The New School and is a contributing editor of NOON.

Kevin Finucane was awarded a bronze Solas Award by Travelers’ Tales in creative nonfiction in 2009 and was named a Finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition in the novella category for 2010.

Stephanie Wang is a Beijing-born Australian writer currently living in Melbourne. She can travel in time, but only in one direction. She is currently working on a novel.

Simone Person grew up in small Michigan towns and Toledo, Ohio. She is a dual MFA/MA in Fiction and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her work has appeared in Queen Mob’s Teahouse and Puerto del Sol, among others, and has been anthologized in Crab Fat Magazine: Best of Year Three. Her chapbook is a semifinalist selection for Honeysuckle Press’s 2017 Chapbook Contest. She occasionally uses Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.

Rachel Lyon‘s debut novel Self-Portrait with Boy is forthcoming from Scribner in February 2018. Her short work has appeared in Joyland, Iowa Review, McSweeney’s, and other publications. Rachel teaches for Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Catapult, and elsewhere and is a cofounder of the reading series Ditmas Lit in her native Brooklyn. Visit her at www.rachellyon.work.

J. L. Montavon was born and raised in Denver and lives in San Francisco. Her story “Recursions” was chosen by Joan Wickersham as the winner of the 2016 Salamander Fiction Prize.

“The Conium Review: Vol. 5” cover

The Conium Review: Vol. 5 is slated for release on December 15th. Here’s a mock-up of the new issue’s cover. Like the last couple issues, the front is rather minimal while a larger image wraps around the back. Any guesses what those scraggly lines are? Answer: broken chain-link fence. Pre-orders for The Conium Review: Vol. 5 will go on sale this weekend!

"The Conium Review: Vol. 5" cover

“The Conium Review: Vol. 5” cover

A brief interview with Lindsay Hunter

A brief interview with Lindsay Hunter

and a preview of our 2016 AWP Conference panel: “What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?: Authors Cut Through the Jargon”

Lindsay Hunter was originally slated to be on our AWP Conference panel, “What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?: Authors Cut Through the Jargon,” but she had to drop out and Manuel Gonzales will be replacing her as a panelist. Fortunately, Lindsay was still able to answer some panelist questions for us. This chat gives a preview of what you might expect at the panel on Friday, April 1st, and it also gives Lindsay a chance to chime in on the topic for our online readers.

[James R. Gapinski]: So I have to ask the central question: what does innovative fiction actually mean? It seems like some cheesy buzzword, but can we define innovative fiction?

[Lindsay Hunter]: I think innovative fiction is something that surprises its readers. You know that feeling you get when you’re reading something and you think, “Man, I could never do this.” And then you think, “Man, I’m gonna go sit down right now and try to do that, or try to write something that makes me feel like reading that made me feel.” That’s innovative. It generates a chain of inspiration and creation.

[JRG]: When you’re writing a piece like “Don’t Kiss Me,” do you begin with the intentional goal of doing something formally unconventional, or is that something that just happens organically as you write?

[LH]: It’s very organic for me. I sit down and write the first line knocking around in my head, and then I write the next one and the next one. It’s all about the voice, the word selection that nourishes that voice. I don’t think, “Okay, I gotta write something truly f*cked up, GIDDY UP HUNTER, LET’S DO IT.” I think, “Hmm I wanna write about a woman who’s obsessed with another woman at work.” I think it’s unconventional because I’m trying to reveal something in these marginalized, sometimes hyper-real characters that I love so much. I’m trying to unveil some humanity whenever I can.

[JRG]: You’re judging our short fiction contest. I’m sure those interested in submitting are itching to know: are there specific things you look for in a great piece of innovative writing?

[LH]: I always find myself looking for an interesting turn of phrase. A quickness, a deftness between word and image. Something that makes me jealous! I’m also a sucker for anything that makes me feel nostalgic – either the character’s nostalgia or something sparked inside me.

[JRG]: Could you share some authors or books that you find particularly risky or innovative?

[LH]: Gutshot by Amelia Gray is like an opus of innovation. I think it’s perfect. Catherine Lacey’s Nobody is Ever Missing is another one. And Maryse Meijer’s forthcoming Heartbreaker burns it ALL down. Full disclosure, we all have the same editor. But that editor is a master of seeking out innovative, weird stuff!

Lindsay Hunter headshotLindsay Hunter is the author of Ugly Girls (FSG Originals, 2014), which The Huffington Post called “a story that hits a note that’s been missing from the chorus of existing feminist literature.” Her next novel, working title Eat Only When You’re Hungry, is forthcoming from FSG. She is also the author of the flash fiction story collections Don’t Kiss Me (FSG Originals, 2013) and Daddy’s (Featherproof Books, 2010).