Words By Dani Hedlund
Dear lovely reader,
As much as I hate to admit it, some issues of F(r)iction are a struggle to pull together. The stories we love never quite make it. Locked work tilts too far in one direction—not enough genre work, too many solicited pieces, a handful of stories that are just a tad too long. Themes, having taken eons to surface, are abstract concepts that we struggle to fit works into. Although we love this beautiful beast of a book, the entire editorial team leans forward at our desks, heads in hands, wondering how the hell we are going to pull this off.
But this journal, dear reader, was nothing like that. This journal was magic.
In my eleven years running our nonprofit, and the four years running F(r)iction, I’ve never had more fun putting together a book. It started with a pitch called “Summer Home.” I won’t ruin it for you, but I’ll tell you it’s about vampires, and penguins, and the biggest ice island in the world. It’s also the first thing I’ve read in a long time that flat-out surprised me—and I felt it right there and then, a new energy flowing through the team.
But that was only the beginning. Island story after island story poured in. Fantasy and horror on cursed isles, characters seeking refuge in real-world island nations and in tropical seclusion. And in those tales that don’t take place quite literally on a piece of land surrounded by water, the feelings of isolation and escape ring through every word. We see the alienation of humans in nature, from each other, and, in one brutally honest creative nonfiction essay, we see one of the harshest separations out there—feeling sequestered from our own minds.
But the comic, that was the real deal breaker. How in the world would we find a brand-new, original comic about islands? Apparently, all we needed to do was ask. Approaching one of our favorite indie comic artists, Mr. Arthur Asa, we asked if, by any weird chance, he had a comic about islands brewing in that brilliant brain of his. To which he sent the following email: “I do have an idea about the Island of Dolls. Let me see what I can do.” I invite you all to see what he could do—with only a thread of an idea and three weeks to bring it to life.
But the magic didn’t stop at the content; it infused every aspect of our art team, too. This is, by far, the best art we’ve ever put out, and I couldn’t be prouder of our talented and hardworking artists. They pushed themselves further than ever before, and it shows. It glitters in tropical splendor, and I am immeasurably grateful.
F(r)iction #11 was a joy to put together. We could not be more excited for you to read it. From the phenomenal celebrity talent (I mean, did you see the names on that cover? Blimey!) to the sheer number of debut voices, from the variety of genres to all the stunning art, we know you’ll love this issue as much as we do.
So, dear reader, from our little island to yours, we hope this message in a bottle finds you, that the stories here enchant you, and that they remind you—much in contrast to the theme—that you are not alone, that adventure and wonder wait just across the water.