This is Shannon? An Interview
Shannon Peil lives and writes in Boulder, Colorado. His work has appeared in a few dozen online publications and a couple in print, but more notably he edits for people who actually know what they are doing at http://amphibi.us. He gets referred to as Ms. more often than not in e-mails. He was born in 1985.
Ana said: "Long is good."
AC: OMG. Facebook told me you're from San Diego. Why did you leave SD and did you ever visit Tijuana?
SP: I think my FB hometown might be misleading as my mom moved for her company to Boulder when I was four, so I don't actually remember living there. And I haven't been to Mexico yet, but I'm definitely planning on going.
AC: If you were an onomatopoeia, which one would you be?
SP: I would be a fwump like a fire eating up all the oxygen around it.
AC: If amphibi.us was an onomatopoeia, which one?
SP: I think amphibi.us would be a croak like a frog, or a babble like a brook. Can it have two?
AC: Do you ever spend a day without the internet? If yes, how does that make you feel? If no, why not?
SP: The last time I went any longer than a few hours without internet was a music festival in the woods, sleeping in tents last year. I think I did okay because I consciously prepared for it - put amphibi.us on hiatus, told everyone I'd be missing for a few days, and made sure I hadn't left anything undone before I left. Before that, I can't even remember an instance of being without it for any prolonged period of time. I start getting really anxious and worried really quickly without internet. I think I spent too much time alone as a kid, the computer has always been my closest friend.
AC: When/how did you decide you wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing?
SP: I think I've known it for a long time, but I didn't start putting work out until a year and a half ago. When I was a little kid I devoured my parent's bookshelves and wrote stories and poems, nothing serious obviously, but I fell in love with words as soon as I could read. In 2009 I started submitting poems and had a few stories published and started getting more serious about it. Around the time I started amphibi.us I was trying to find as many lit magazines online as I could and just reading everything they'd ever done. It was this whole world I had no idea existed and I knew then that even if I never did anything of real note I wanted to be part of it.
AC: Do you google yourself? Why?
SP: I try not to. I think googling ourselves is the most narcissistic thing about the time we live in right now, but of course I do. I check for comments on my writing, or mentions on sites. A few times I've found link backs or on two occasions, works I submitted and never got a response to that were posted somewhere. Those were kind of jarring and unprofessional, I think, but at least I found them.
SP: I tend to write a lot when I'm in my cubicle during breaks at work, or I have specific lines of dialog or a story that I have to write down, usually when I'm busy with other things. When I'm driving, especially, I get weird lines of text running through my head and I talk myself through it until I get where I'm going have to try to make notes for myself about it for later before I forget. I find that when I'm bored or have nothing to do, and I think "I should be writing something," the results are dismal. They almost always end up scrapped.
AC: Who do you admire? Who/what influences your writing?
SP: I'm going to lame this question up (see below) and say that I admire everybody who's putting their work out there. Not just the writers, but also the people who help facilitate their work, the editors and publishers who help everyone along. I get this feeling when I read something that really affects me, that I'm different somehow for having read it, so I'm thankful for people being really passionate about getting those words out there for everyone to eat up.
As for who influences me, I promised myself I wasn't going to name-drop specific people before I read these questions, so I'll just say that the following sites really inspire me and I'd be outrageously happy if I ever got into any of them:
pangur ban party
AC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
SP: Star Wars (not counting recent additions to the canon,) because Star Trek never really grabbed me all that much. I think maybe Star Trek would hold a higher place in my heart if DS9 and Voyager had never happened, but that's just me.
AC: What’s your writing process? Do you think about cool words or do you magically come up with a line and develop the idea or what do you do?
SP: When I have an idea for a story or just lines of text floating around in my brain, I jot them down in a notepad for later. When I get an idea for a story, I write myself shorthand about where it should start and end and then flesh it out when I have time.
Usually poems come into my head and are written in one sitting, then I let them sit there for a few weeks and if I still like it when I read it again/make more edits, I put them in a separate document for stuff I'm really happy with. The document I'm not really happy with is currently 700 pages long and I don't know what to do with it.
AC: I think the name of a site is important. Names are a big deal. How did you come up with ‘amphibi.us’? Did you think of other names/ideas before that one? How long did it take you to pick amphibi.us and not something else? Do you remember the other ideas/names for your lit journal? Can you name some?
SP: I really wanted to use the tag line "waterlogged words," so I was going for a liquid related word from the start. I had a notepad filled with ideas around the time I was getting ready to buy my domain and I just kept entering them into a domain search engine looking for ones that would be available. I was having trouble locating an original .com that I could buy so I started thinking of words that end in "us" so I could buy a *.us domain instead. I decided to misspell amphibious because amphibio.us looked weird. I didn't really think of it at the start, but I end up getting a lot of submissions to "Amphibi" or "The Amphibi" which always cracks me up.
My next favorite idea was "ragged right" or "ragged right press" as in left justified text. I also bought "wordswordswordswordswords.com" which I still haven't used for anything. I was pretty drunk and thought it was a good idea at the time.
AC: I think rejecting submissions is hard. Please describe a shitty submission. How do you reject submissions you don’t like? or why do you reject submissions? Do you try to be nice?
SP: Examples of shitty submissions I've received:
90 page documents of poetry
Fiction in double-spaced comic sans that are usually way over the word limit
Rhyming Hallmark style love poems
Shit with numerous typos / proof reading done by spellcheck only
Combinations of the above, usually just not reading the submission guidelines.
These are usually accompanied by a shitty cover letter that calls me Ms., misspells my last name, explains that they are submitting to the journal because I accept reprints, or my personal favorite, "I'm submitting to your site because like me, no one's ever heard of you..."
That said, I don't let coverletters influence whether I'll accept a piece or not and I'm happy about the fact that I've never sent out a form letter rejection. I keep everything nice when I reject a piece, even if it's godawful, and I don't offer criticism when I reject a piece, just a simple no thanks, whether it was really close or not. If they are way off base and obviously didn't read the submission guidelines I try to hint at what I'd accept in the future without getting snarky or anything.
AC: I liked your questions so I’m going to steal this one: What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
SP: This one is really hard for me. I'm terribly socially anxious and paranoid as a person, so the tiniest things will embarrass me for days. That said, I should be able to pinpoint a really hilarious anecdote about it, but so much of my life is spent being embarrassed it all kind of melts together.
AC: What’s your favorite emoticon? :)