Ad Hoc Fiction, our short short fiction press is excited to be publishing, in 2023, Flare, a ground-breaking anthology composed of flash narratives about chronic illiness. The anthology was conceived of, and is edited by, writer and editor, April Bradley who tells us more about the project and her ideas about it below. She welcomes submissions up until Novemeber 30th 2022 and the anthology will be published in 2023 and available from Ad Hoc Fiction and from Amazon worldwide. All contributors receive $10, a pdf and can purchase copies of the anthology at a 35% discount from Ad Hoc Fiction. Submissions are free. If you wish to donate, your generosity will benefit the contributors and help with the cost of production.
- The project to edit an anthology on chronic illness has, I believe, been dear to your heart for a long time. Can you tell us more about it and how your thinking evolved?
- Thanks so much for asking, Jude. On the last day of AWP last year, in Philadelphia, I landed on the idea and wrote most of the pitch in the hotel room. I spoke with several friends about their writing journeys and noticed how catastrophic illness or a significant event led them to creative and expressive writing—it altered or expanded their process and method. For example, a poet turned prose writer, or in my case, a technical writer turned creative writer, but this description sounds trivial. When these writers shared their stories with me, echoing aspects of mine, the events they described were profound and enduring; their identities as writers altered unexpectedly. During the pandemic, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and an audio-processing disorder, and although I had been managing complex health issues, I regarded them—and they were treated—disparately. A whole-systems approach led me to chronic illness. What connected the topic with flash was a workshop I developed to share with SmokeLong Quarterly’s Summer Workshop. There’s a rich breadth of work on illness and disability in flash. It’s innovative and deeply compelling. It also jibes with my experience and interests in bioethics, and narrative medicine.
- How did you arrive at the title, ‘Flare’?
It was an immediate title, intuitive. I required a title when I wrote the pitch, and this one rolled out—unlike much of my experience with titles. A flare or flare-up occurs when symptoms of chronic illness worsen, intensify, and it’s a word people with chronic illness recognize immediately and intimately. It also works well with flash—the definition and uses of the word are kind of wonderful: distress, illumination, intense heat, signal and burn, blaze, glare, spread outward, outbreak, bold display, and sports ones I didn’t know about: a weak flyball, a short forward pass. Mary Oliver’s poem Flare continues to linger in the background for me when I see and think about it, and I wish I could quote every word for you. http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/mary_oliver/poems/15811
- There is a wide brief for submissions you will consider for the anthology. On your anthology website, you say:
“This anthology has broad appeal and includes those who manage chronic illness, caregivers of those who live with chronic illness, writers and readers of fiction and creative nonfiction, creative writing programs, instructors and professors of creative writing and narrative medicine, physicians, healthcare and mental healthcare professionals, lawmakers and legal professionals, nonprofits, and policymakers.”
You have already had a substantial number of submissions for the anthology. Are there any areas you think are not covered yet and where you would like to see more submissions?
This is a topic that leans so easily into creative nonfiction. Personal narratives about chronic illness feel natural, and I love reading them. I hope writers feel comfortable submitting more blended genre and experimental work.
You are looking for ‘flash fiction narratives’ about chronic illness. Can you summarise what you mean by that, e.g., the styles of writing you are looking for and a little more about the submission guidelines?
Narrative includes flash fiction, creative nonfiction, hybrid, and experimental work. Rather than limit, I wanted to use narrative to expand subgenres. I want the work to drive the structure of the anthology. If it’s 750 words or less, I’d love to read it.
- Do you have a link to some of your own writing on the subject we can read? Or any other writers?
It’s a pleasure to share some of this topical writing:
Lumbar Radiculopathy by Tyrese L. Coleman
Writing With And Through Pain by Sonya Huber
The Cure by Sara Manguso
Cancer Arm by Kathy Fish
Social Time by April Bradley
You and Your Depression by Sara Lippmann
Migraine by Kathryn Silver-Hajo
Medical History by Nicole Sealey
Future Care Instructions for Your Wife with Multiple Sclerosis by Sarah M. Cedeño
So you don’t hear me by Hannah Greico
All In One Magic Soap Jennifer Fliss
Fill In The Blanks by Lori Sambol Brody
Quiz by Molly Giles
One for My Baby by Karen Jones
A Functional Murmur by Dina Relles
Your Personal Prescription by Sue William Silverman
Psychiatrist by Kim Chinquee
Crash and Burn by Damhnait Monaghan
Seed to Full Jolene McIlwain
Egg Foot by Meg Pokrass
Techno Show by Lucy Zhou
- If writers are shy to submit their work, which may, of course, be of a deeply personal nature, what would you say to them?
It is deeply intimate and nearly inescapably personal and can inspire feelings of vulnerability. Judgment is terrifying, especially others’ judgment of our bodies and minds. Your work will be treated with the respect, compassion, and generosity it deserves. It is private, secure, and only read by another reader and me. Please reach out to me with any questions or to discuss any issues at firstname.lastname@example.org</ul>
April Bradley is a Durham, North Carolina-based writer and editor from Tennessee. Her work appears in such publications as Blink Ink, CHEAP POP, CRAFT Literary, Gone Lawn, jmww, Heavy Feather Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Narratively, and South Florida Poetry Journal. Her fiction and essays have been honored by residency support from Vermont Studio Center and Rivendell Writer’s Colony. She is the founding publisher and editor of RUBY and serves as a submissions editor at SmokeLong Quarterly. April is a Best American Essays, Pushcart Prize, Best Microfiction, Best Small Fictions nominee several times over, and a graduate of Eckerd College and Yale Divinity School. Her research and writing interests focus on experimental and hybrid forms that explore trauma recovery, memory, parenting, chronic and mental wellness and illness, grief, narrative medicine, and food narratives. She is a graduate student in William & Mary’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Find her online at aprilbradley.com and on Twitter at @april_bradley