As “guest editor” of the fiction section of this issue of carte blanche, I had to read 122 fiction submissions, then select maybe four or five pieces that I liked. One story I read was about a dystopian office space. Another was about a mother who starts making breakfast in the middle of the night as a kind of cry for help. Later, I felt bad a little for having to “reject” a story by a man whose author bio said that he lived in a house with his lovely wife and gorgeous daughters. I thought, “The gorgeous daughters are going to be so disappointed.”
In the end, I chose stories by Lucy K. Shaw, Lauren Lawlor, Alexandra Naughton, Andre Simoneau, & Luke Kokoszka.
Lucy K. Shaw was born in England, lived in Toronto for a while and now lives in Berlin, Germany, where she edits the wonderful online journal Shabby Doll House. About a year ago, I read and really liked Lucy’s debut collection of stories, The Motion, so I am excited to be able to publish a brand new story by her through carte blanche. Lucy’s writing voice feels, to me, fresh, contemporary and insightful.
Lauren Lawlor studies Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal, where she was shortlisted for the Irving Layton award. Her story, Red Dog, involves dealing with loss, using nail polish to paint a dog’s nails & Pokémon cards, among others.
Alexandra Naughton lives in Oakland, California, where she runs the small press BE ABOUT IT. I am very happy to be able to reproduce an excerpt from her forthcoming novella American Mary, which will be published in March by the internet press Civil Coping Mechanisms. The section we’re featuring in this issue is about “MySpace, Jesus and pen pals,” and I think this is Alexandra’s first time being published by a Canadian literary journal.
Lastly, I selected “Bridges We Build” by Andre Simoneau, a highly polished piece with a cinematic quality that won the Irving Layton Award for Fiction in 2015, and “The Kettle” by Luke Kokoszka, a writer who lives in British Columbia and whose work has appeared in Potluck Magazine and The Louden Singletree.
Thank you for reading carte blanche, and I hope you enjoy these stories.