At the 2009 Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Rob Spillman, vanguard editor of Tin House, spoke candidly about the perception many people have of literary journals in the United States. Consciously or otherwise, he said, most readers equate literary journals with medicine: they’re good for you, but they taste awful.
We’re lucky here in Australia to have a wide variety of journals in our literary pantry that continue to challenge, delight and inspire. But it is also important to recognise the necessity of reinvigorating and re-energising this medium – to shake it up, if you like, and publish literature that bites back. It’s the continued influx of new voices, ideas and enthusiasm that keeps our literary scene from going stale and we’re excited to be part of it.
It is with great pleasure, therefore, that we bring you the inaugural issue of Kill Your Darlings, a journal of new fiction, essays, commentary and reviews. We want to celebrate the pleasures of reading, where there is a renewed interrogation of ideas, movements and words. With this in mind, Kill Your Darlings aims to publish the best new writing – whatever topic it explores or genre it inhabits – from both new and established writers. We will be hunting out good writing wherever we encounter it: inviting writers whose work we admire, mining the riches of the Internet for fresh and exciting new voices to commission, and scouring our submissions pile with enthusiasm. The writing featured in this inaugural issue came about from a mix of these sources.
Kill Your Darlings is a fully independent national publication. Our website is local.killyourdarlingsjournal.com. Since September 2009, we have been building an online community via our blog, which has featured book and film reviews, author interviews, literary anecdotes and industry news. We look forward to continuing this in 2010 – and growing our complementary online presence.
Our title, Kill Your Darlings, comes from a quote attributed to William Faulkner; a phrase meaning to ruthlessly cut out that which doesn’t serve a purpose in one’s writing, no matter how sentimental one feels about it. As an aphorism both darkly witty and deadly serious, Kill Your Darlings encapsulates our vision: don’t be afraid to speak the truth, be tongue-in-cheek, or give a little lip when it’s deserved. But, above all, do what you must to create literature that demands attention.
It is appropriate, then, that we kick off Issue One with Gideon Haigh’s ‘Feeding the Hand that Bites’, a frank and fearless critique of Australia’s contemporary culture of literary criticism. The non-fiction section also features commentary from Clementine Ford on Internet dating, Justin Heazlewood on the death of the album, and Georgia Gowing on the all-grrl, underground roller derby scene in Australia. We present new fiction from Chris Womersley, Kalinda Ashton, Patrick Cullen and Emmett Stinson, to name a few. Three-time Man Booker Prize-nominated Sarah Waters is our début interviewee; we chat with her about her new novel, The Little Stranger, and some of the difficulties and frustrations she encounters as a writer. We are also showcasing a cartoon from Oslo Davis, and the work of Melbourne-based artist Jeremy Ley, whose illustration adorns our cover.
Kill Your Darlings has received a great amount of support and goodwill over recent months. I would like to make mention of my fellow team members – Deputy Editor Hannah Kent, Associate Editor Jo Case, who commissioned many of our contributors, Consulting Editor Anne-Marie Reeves, who is responsible for our design, and Business Manager Lorraine Harding – who have been integral in establishing the journal and pulling this issue together. Thank you to our editorial advisors: Melissa Cranenburgh, Kabita Dhara, Martin Hughes and Martin Shaw. Thanks, too, to all others who have given their encouragement and assistance, and to you, our readers. We look forward to getting to know you better.