Peace Corps Writers
Talking with Jason Sanford (page 3)
 Talking with
Jason Sanford
page 1
page 2
page 3

Have many of the people that you first published gone on to publish books?

Yes, quite a few of the authors we’ve published have gone on to publish novels and short story collections, including Kat Meads, Krista McGruder, Greg Downs, and many more. In addition, quite a few writers we’ve published have later gone on to much bigger and better things. Perhaps the best example of this is poet Natasha Trethewey, a gifted poet we published back in our spring 2002 issue and who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Is there a future for little magazines in print — or will they be online?

Even though I deeply love paper magazines and journals, I’m afraid that the latter is the future as I see it. The simple fact is that publishing a printed literary journal is a no-win situation unless you have an incredibly rich uncle or university willing to continually bail you out. Most little magazines and journals have a distribution of less than a thousand copies. The average online journal like storySouth receives that many readers in a day or two. When you add in how expensive it is to print a publication, and the fact that brick and mortar bookstores rarely stock literary journals and magazines these days, then publishing online becomes a very appealing alternative to print.
That said, I do believe the biggest literary journals and magazines will maintain a print presence. But those little magazines which are created merely for the love of writing — those will be increasingly seen online.

Often I’m asked where people can read the writings of RPCVs I have interviewed. What would you suggest on your writings?

Almost all of my writings are either on my website at or linked from that site. While I publish my stories and essays in a number of different places, I always try to keep my website up-to-date with links and material.

What Peace Corps writers — and or books — have you read and liked?

Moritz Thomsen’s Living Poor has always stuck with me. I’m also a fan of a number of Paul Theroux’s books, although I wasn’t overly impressed with My Secret History, which focused on a slightly fictionalized version of his Peace Corps experience. I love the poetry of John Brandi and have also enjoyed some of Roland Merullo’s books. One short story collection which has long stuck in my mind is Maria ThomasCome to Africa and Save Your Marriage, which I’m happy to note was rereleased by SoHo Press this year for the book’s twentieth anniversary.
What advice would you give to a writer coming back from the Peace Corps and wanting to get published?
Write. Read. Write even more. Be sure to submit your work because editors will never accept your writings if they remain hidden on your hard drive. I’d also suggest creating a website or blog. That’s how many new writers are gaining exposure.
What’s next for Jason Sanford?
One of my short stories will be published in an upcoming issue of Interzone, a top-notch science fiction magazine in England, and a few of my critical essays and reviews are due out soon in different magazines and journals. I’m also trying to wrap up a novel by the end of the year. In early 2008, I begin work on the fifth annual Million Writers Award, which is an award I run each year for the best short story published in an online magazine or journal.
Thanks, Jason, for your time.
Thank you, John.
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