:: Buzzwords

Five questions for Savage Kick magazine

SavageKickBuzzwords: When did you start Savage Kick and why?

Steve Hussy: We had the idea of doing a magazine about 18 months ago. A huge part of the decision was that every magazine and online site was filled with at least 90% shit, and we knew we could do better. To start with, Savage Kick wasn’t a lit-mag – we’d planned on non-literary articles, music reviews, comedy, and just a couple of stories.

When Dan Fante agreed to be in SK#1, we realised we could attract great writers. Writers whose work we loved. With submissions and our own writing, we were confident we could fill the magazine with strong, purely literary content. Between the four of us we had a lucky mixture of skills… writing, design, art and the work ethic to feel we could pull SK off successfully.

Buzzwords: To the uninitiated, how would you describe the SK style?

SH: At various times, we’ve called it “ballsy fiction”. A writer laying his/her honest thoughts onto a page. This often takes courage as self-aware/honest people have views which are considered “sick”, “crazy” or “too much”. Ballsy writing bares the writer’s soul… warts and all… and in a pacy style. There is a refusal to hide behind wordiness, laboured metaphors, similes and literary allusions.

There’s two main camps to fiction at the moment. Mainstream fiction is bland and repellent, and promotes idiotic stereotypes… eg. “Bridget Jones”. Alternative fiction has much the same problem… only the club dresses differently. The standard alternative approach is either pretentious and wordy (Amis, Gaiman etc.) or it self-consciously “pushes buttons”… usually cheap tricks to manufacture disgust.

Savage Kick is about truthful stories/emotions simplistically told, which fits into neither camp. We’ve been called “subversive” but to us, the magazine is not subversive… it simply expresses what many are too scared to confront and write down.

Buzzwords: SK is a print journal which seems like two-fingers to the internet. That, and the fact that there are two versions of the magazine including a prestige, signed and numbered edition. Is this a deliberate decision? To keep SK print-orientated, rather than on-line?

SH: The “fuck off” attitude is not towards the internet… it’s a wonderful resource for information… but towards other literary magazines and particularly “we accept anything” literary websites. I can count on two fingers good online sites.

The “accept anything” culture is, to us, destructive in many ways. An upcoming writer often won’t develop his/her style because they’ve been accepted by Zygote in my Coffee or some other slop. Terrible writers get an ego boost to produce even more shit. Some of their stuff is so crushingly terrible it sucks the life out of you.

We have to feel 100% behind anything we publish. Anything else invites mediocrity. We’ve read hundreds stories from people who have submitted to the magazine through our website. THREE have made the magazine – Zsolt Alapi and Peter Wollman in SK#2, Steve Ely in SK#4.

I wish I could say there is a huge amount of great writers out there that we have yet to discover. But my experience tells me there isn’t… there’s a precious few great ones. By having a print magazine we can reward them – albeit in a small way – by paying them for their efforts. Many are criminally unrecognised by mass audiences and are in financial shit. Many of them have been incredibly generous and helpful to us… they are genuinely good people.

Buzzwords: You’ve had some pretty amazing writers in past issues — Dan Fante, Mark SaFranko, Jim Goad, Tony O’Neill, Joe R Lansdale — and you’re strict on submissions, not taking any old crap. Which writer, alive or dead, would you to see in SK?

SH: When we started SK we had a list of names of living authors we wanted in the magazine… Dan Fante, Jim Goad, Joe R. Lansdale, Harry Crews, Joe Matt, Eddie Little (who has now sadly died) and Tommy Trantino (who we’d feared was dead).

Trantino is now in SK#4 and #6, so the only writer left in Harry Crews. We’re working on that. We also want to interview the artist/animator Bill Plympton, of the fantastic I Married A Strange Person and Mutant Aliens. And some comic book writers… there are many fine, unheralded comic book writers. No doubt a few new great authors will turn up for us, like Mark SaFranko.

With dead writers, it’s a long list. Chester Himes, Jim Thompson, John Fante, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Bukowski, Iceberg Slim, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Hubert Selby Jr. There’s a few books we have a horrible feeling almost no-one has had the joy of reading. Trantino’s Lock The Lock is one. Lansdale’s By Bizarre Hands. Tanizaki’s Diary of a Mad Old Man is another lost classic. And there’s more. If I had to pick two, it’d be Himes and Celine. Both led storied lives and wrote with realism, humour and great pacing.

Buzzwords: There is also the Murder Slim Press imprint (which brought us Mark SaFranko’s Hating Olivia), which compliments the journal nicely. What are future plans for MS Press?

SH: Our next book will be Lounge Lizard, the sequel to Hating Olivia. In it, Max Zajack falls into the system – with both jobs and sex – and struggles to maintain his sanity and soul. We’ll also be releasing a chapbook of The Angel by Tommy Trantino, a 30+ page story that was the central piece of Lock The Lock. That will be out soon.

SK#4 will be out in Spring 2007 and features Trantino, Tony O’Neill and more. MSP will produce 3 or so Savage Kicks, 1 or 2 books, and a couple of chapbooks a year. When finances allow we’ll stretch out to other great writers, and treat them with the respect they deserve. They’ve earnt it.

[Further details on Savage Kick magazine can be found here.]

First posted: Saturday, February 3rd, 2007.

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  1. I agree with most of the comments on this interview, especially some of the rubbish on the litzines, but these guys need to own up. I brought savage kick 1 and aside from Mark SaFranko’s role of a lifetime and Df interview the rest was mediocre. Steve Hussy must be a manic depressive, no humour, no joy, just bleakness. As for Anna Caffrey, maybe one of them is shagging her, but V.bad and Thomas Salter, just plain shit really!

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