FIRESIDE - Interview

This is a week of posts related to various Kickstarter projects I’ve backed and hope you will too. None of them are my own (currently, I’ve got nothing I think I should be doing a Kickstarter for), but all of these are important to me for one reason or another. Some of them are projects of friends. Some of them are just projects I think are cool. Most of them are both.

Today’s focus is on the recently-successfully-concluded Kickstarter for issue # 2 of FIRESIDE magazine. I backed the first issue, and ended up as a main character in Christie Yant’s story “Temperance,” which opens with my character concluding the worst bender of his life by puking into an open grave … during a funeral.  For issue #2 I chose the reward to be a main character in Damien W. Grintalis’ story, still unnamed, and I can’t wait to see what horrible things she’s going to do to “me.”

Here’s Fireside editor/publisher Brian White, talking about plans for #2 and beyond:

ANTHONY: What is the main concept for Fireside?

 BRIAN: Fireside has two goals: to publish great storytelling regardless of genre and to pay our writers and artists well.

The idea for Fireside grew out of a stew of information and ideas that had been simmering in the back of my brain for about a year, mostly coming out of conversations and ideas I’d been seeing on Twitter and blogs that I follow: about pay for writers, about new business models for publishing, and about the health of short fiction. I’d been starting to see a lot of talk about crowdfunding, especially Kickstarter, and one day I realized: I can publish a magazine. Funding even the first issue of Fireside wasn’t something I could have done out of my own pocket. But crowdfunding allowed me to do two things: eliminate a financial risk for myself, and gauge if there was genuine interest in what I wanted to do. I didn’t have the money, but I could invest my time, sweat, and enthusiasm in the magazine.

So once I realized I could do this, I quickly decided I wanted to do something like what Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio did with the anthology “Stories”: find good story-driven fiction, but not focused on a particular genre. I also knew I wanted to try publishing a comic in each issue along with short stories, because I’ve just started reading comics in the past few years, and I love them and wanted to experiment with that.

In the introduction to “Stories,” Gaiman writes of his response to a question about what quote he would want inscribed on the wall of the kids’ section in a public library. He captured the reason why we love good stories in his response:

“I’m not sure I’d put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface. I think I’d just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I’d put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show it’s working, and that pages will be turned:

“… and then what happened?” “

ANTHONY: What can readers expect in your first issue and beyond?
BRIAN: Each issue will have four short stories of between 2,000 and 4,000 words and one comic. I’m hoping that each issue will be very different in terms of the mix of genres, and therefore each will be a little surprising.

ANTHONY: What is Fireside’s policy on open submissions from authors?
BRIAN: Because of the nature of Kickstarter and because I was starting from scratch, the first two issues of Fireside were invitation-only. By having writers and artists lined up, I was able to offer a lot of rewards tied to each contributor.

However, we do want to start taking submissions. Starting with Issue Three, at least one slot will be held for submitted short stories. I’m not sure what form this will take, but it will probably be a limited window of some kind, both because I am totally new at dealing with submissions, and because we are quarterly and will have only the one slot per issue for now, I don’t think rolling submissions make a lot of sense.

ANTHONY: What made you choose Kickstarter for your fundraising efforts, as opposed to IndieGoGo or any of the other tools out there?
BRIAN: Mainly it was because Kickstarter is the most recognizable of the options, and because more people have heard of it, I thought they’d be more comfortable giving it their credit card information.

ANTHONY: Looking back, is there anything you’d change about your campaign?
BRIAN: The only thing that is apparent right away is that I think we overpriced a couple rewards that didn’t really have any takers, but other than that, I think things went really well. For Issue Two we experimented with a three-week campaign instead of the traditional 30 days, and it worked out great, and cut out one of the slow middle weeks, which are kind of nerve-racking anyway because it seems like interest has died out.

ANTHONY: How can people who missed out on the Kickstarter subscribe/become supporters of Fireside?
BRIAN: Fireside is for sale in several places, and we have subscriptions through Weightless Books. Links to all of those options are available at