Over the past couple of decades, Houston has become a watering-hole for writers. This literary migration to our fine, muggy city can be largely attributed to UH’s esteemed Creative Writing Program. But you frequently meet aspiring writers around town who have already earned their academic credentials and moved to Houston with no intention of returning to school– they came here to write. Most, of course, are unpublished and struggling to appease the gatekeepers of literary success. And in a city bustling with talented writers whom have yet to cross the threshold of big-time publication, there should be a place where they can have their voices heard. Such was the idea from which Story|Houston, Houston’s newest literary journal, was forged. FPH sat down with Story|Houston to ask a few questions about the new journal.
When and how did the idea of Story|Houston begin to come about?
Last October, Farris Shenaq and David Monroe, former high school classmates at Lamar High School, were wandering the MFAH when they began to reflect on the difficulty writers face at the beginning of their career. They began to kick around the idea of a literary journal to help emerging writers build momentum. The two men wasted no time seeing their vision through, and spent the next few months rigorously organizing the magazine, fundraising, and recruiting a highly reputable editorial staff. Story|Houston launched for submissions last week and has since been inundated with short stories from authors around the country and as far as Australia and the UK.
It seems that Story|Houston is off to a great start. What did you know needed to be done to insure that the journal would be a success?
We recognized early on that outstanding editors would be the key to making it all work. We looked no further than David’s father, Dr. William Monroe, Dean of the Honors College at the University of Houston, to head the editorial staff of the journal. We rounded out the editorial staff with Kafah Bachari, a UH law professor and published writer of poems and short stories, and Robert Cremins, a novelist and freelance writer who also teaches at the Honors College. David and Farris also sought out Nate Nakadate, a magazine freelancer, and Ian Schimmel, Rice University writer-in-residence, for advice and editorial assistance.
What kind of literature should readers expect Story|Houston to put out?
The value the editors place on a strong narrative will shape the journal’s voice, which is implied by the magazine’s name: Story|Houston. This is the literary approach we believe will most benefit unestablished writers. One does not need to be up-to-date on the latest in lit crit to submit, and the magazine aims to expand the appeal of literary journals beyond the subcultural niche of the writing community to include everyday readers who appreciate beautiful prose and a good story.
When does Story|Houston plan on publishing their first issue?
Story|Houston’s first issue will come out this Spring. As of now, the no-profit is still looking for creative submissions of up to 5,000 words, both fiction and nonfiction, for the first issue. Stories submitted for publication will be considered scrupulously by the journal’s editors. Writers in the community need to look no further than Story|Houston for a fair outlet for their hard work, and readers can look to it for quality literature from the general public.
Writers and readers can submit their stories, subscribe and donate to the non-profit at www.storyhouston.com. Submitting and subscribing are free.