Monday, November 10, 2008

THERE IS A FARM IN YOUR HOUSE


Mike Dell’Aquila is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Farmhouse Magazine (one of my favorite reads). Inspired by a formative, passionate group of writers and editors with a penchant for blending emerging and published voices, FM has evolved into one of the most reputable and exciting online magazines. So much so, they've taken their success to an entirely new level, adding a publishing arm, launching TODAY. Like the mensch he is, when I I hocked Mike about an interview, he graciously agreed.

KS: Tell me about YOU, the Farmhouse Magazine Editor-in-Chief.

MDA: I have a hard time talking about myself and defining myself along any lines. This much is true: I really got into literature and creative writing toward the end of high school and by the time I got to college I couldn't really picture myself doing anything else but that. What makes me laugh is that it happened almost in spite of (not because of) my high school curriculum. I discovered writers like Jack Kerouac, Hunter S.
Thompson and Chuck Palahniuk outside of the classroom and the rest is history, I guess. So I ended up majoring in English at Penn State University and graduated in 2004. I spent a few years working various jobs and now I'm back in school, getting my MA in English from Brooklyn College. I'm also working on a novel, which I'm pretty excited about.

KS: When did you start Farmhouse Magazine?

MDA: I started Farmhouse Magazine the July 2005, right after I graduated college. I spent years talking about wanting to do something to get young writers and artists' work out there and finally my then-fiance (now wife) just pushed me into it. I don't know if she was just sick of hearing me talk about it all the time or not, but if it hadn't been for her I don't know that we'd be having this conversation.

KS: What made you choose the name Farmhouse? (Love it, by the by)

MDA: Long before we had a magazine, we had a name for it. In high school and college, we would go to one of my friend's grandparent's farm and either camp on the mountain or sleep in the Farmhouse. We'd have some of the smartest—and some of the dumbest—conversations there, and it was just a generally special place for all of us. Back in the day, we used to say that we'd start a magazine or a newspaper type of publication and write all sort of things, ranging from the sublime to the absurd. I suppose that part came true. Basically, I wanted to pay tribute to those memories and friends.

KS: Since inception, has the magazine met or exceeded your expectations?

MDA: Well, after we were able to patch together a really impressive and dynamic first issue, I had serious worries that we might be a one-and-done publication or that there would be a huge drop in quality. The opposite thing happened. Not only were we able to continue getting more and more submissions, but the quality also kept going up. The fact that we survived those first few issues was certainly enough to exceed my expectations; the fact that we are where we are now in terms of readership, submissions and starting a publishing arm is really entering on the "wildest dreams" terrain.

KS: What separates Farmhouse Magazine from other magazines?

MDA: We're really committed to finding new and emerging voices in the arts. We're kind of banking on the fact that there are a lot of readers and other writers who are all interested in reading a publication that puts the quality of the work itself back in the forefront. I don't want to take anything away from the mainstream or even small press magazines that all publish really great literature, but unfortunately the industry at large requires a lot of marketability from its authors. Their overhead is pretty steep, which means that they have to take the safest bets to move as many copies as possible. Since we're an online publication, we're able to have the approach that good work is good work no matter who writes it. For example, even in this most recent issue we have the sort of range that we like to maintain: in addition to having a few MFA recipients showcasing their work, we also have a high school student who was previously unpublished and everything in between.

KS: What kind of work does Farmhouse Magazine accept?

MDA: We accept all sorts of literary fiction, poetry, satirical pieces and creative non-fiction. Really, anything but genre-based pieces. Genre fiction can be very fun and entertaining, it just does not have a room in the Farmhouse, unfortunately.

KS: How frequently do you publish?

MDA: We just switched to a quarterly format for a number of reasons, not all of which need to be explained here. We're finding that doing quarterly issues instead of bi-monthly ones allows us to review a wider range of work and keep the level of quality as high as possible.

KS: Any plans on moving it to print?

MDA: The magazine itself probably won't move into print, but we are now rolling out a publishing arm of the organization. We're going to work with a lot of the contributors we've previously collaborated with to get their novels and short story collections out there. We also have a Best-Of Anthology coming out in November, and that features our favorite pieces from the first three years online. I think that's probably how we're going to move forward with striking a balance between the online publication and the print world.

KS: Where do you see Farmhouse growing in the next five-years?

MDA: We're making a pretty big commitment to our publishing arm, and I believe that a lot of our growth will come from that. I would like to continue to work closely with our growing network of contributors to both give their work as much exposure as possible and also given them more control over their work. Looking down the road, it would be great to be able to help the next generation of writers.

KS: What new endeavors is Farmhouse working on?

MDA: Again, the publishing side of our organization is what has us all very excited. We're trying to make this Best Of Farmhouse Magazine anthology as big as a success as possible, not only to get our name out there, but also to introduce a lot of new readers to some of the best pieces that have appeared on our site during the last three years. More than starting up new endeavors, I believe that we're more interested in finding new ways to make good on our promise of promoting new and emerging voices in the arts. Our publishing venture helps us out toward this end, as does more of an effort to do some marketing and cross promotion with people in our growing network and community.

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If you haven't checked out Farmhouse, start with the fall issue right here. Don't forget to pick up your copy of "The Best of Farmhouse Magazine" Anthology available on sale TODAY, November 10th. They are such menscharellas, they included one of my essays "My Legs are Closed for Business".

I'm so proud of The House of Farm! If you haven't read the magazine, you will fall madly, wildly and passionately in love with it. Run. Read. Now.


2 comments:

Cormac Brown said...

MAZEL TOV!

Beth said...

Will RUN. Will READ. In the 'morrow.

Great interview, BTW.

 

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