Editor’s Choice Week: An Interview With Jan Elman Stout

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The story from this week’s submissions will be selected by a member of our editorial staff. All stories submitted April 29 – May 5 will be read by Jan Elman Stout.

What themes, topics or styles I’m drawn to:

I’m partial to realism and magic realism. I’m a huge fan of stories that create an honest emotional experience and leave a lingering emotional footprint. I want language that fits the story and characters and doesn’t hem either in. A strong, authoritative voice is key. Deft use of compression excites me. I want to be surprised, by an unexpected word or phrase, an unusual character, or an unforeseen turn or change. I like stories about unusual characters and outsiders. And how these characters cope. This said, I am open-minded about what you send me; a great story is a great story.

Dealbreakers in flash:

  • Gratuitous violence
  • Stories that reveal the writer’s cultural prejudices
  • Poorly written prose
  • Meandering openings
  • Punch line or gimmicky endings

A flash story I LOVE:

I love flash that causes me to react viscerally. There’s nothing more delicious than a story that raises the hair on the back of my neck, punches me in the gut, leaves me breathless or makes my heart feel as if it could explode. A story that inspires all of these reactions is pure gold. “Let’s Say” by Julia Strayer, published in SmokeLong Quarterly, is a story I LOVE and a perfect example of the type of story I just described.

A flash I’ve written:  

“Yield” is a flash I wrote that was recently published in Pithead Chapel.

About the Reader:

Jan Elman Stout’s fiction has been published in Literary Orphans, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Midwestern Gothic, Jellyfish Review, Pithead Chapel, 100 Word Story and elsewhere. She is a Submissions Editor for SmokeLong Quarterly. In her former life she was a psychologist. Jan lives in Washington, DC.