Topic: College of Sciences and Humanities

May 8, 2008

"The best new fiction on the Web. Or anywhere else, for that matter."

With that bold assertation, Ball State English professors Andrew Scott and Victoria Barrett have ventured into the precarious world of Web publishing with the spring launch of their online literary magazine, Freight Stories.

The debut issue features the work of 11 authors. Many are new writers but several, such as Toronto-based author Mary Swan, are nationally recognized. Barrett said Swan, winner of the 2001 O. Henry Award for short fiction, was a "big get" for the magazine.

"I have adored her forever, and as far as I know, this is the first time she's allowed her work to be published in an online publication," Barrett said.

If preliminary interest in the magazine is any indication - writers as well-known as Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Richard Russo have perused its contents - then Scott and Barrett may achieve what many other literary journals have failed to do before them: Attain name recognition and a list of subscribers beyond the small circle of writers, students and editors traditionally comprising a literary magazine's audience.

"The readership of most print literary journals is about 1,000 copies," Scott said. "We've already had more Web site visits than that, and for a fledgling effort, we're beginning to prove ourselves. We're excited about the possibilities ahead."

Scott and Barrett say what helped them in launching Freight Stories was their previous work in literary publishing. Married in 2005, Scott and Barrett earned their master of fine arts degrees from New Mexico State University. While studying there, both worked for Puerto del Sol, the university's well-established literary journal that, for more than 40 years, has published works from now-established writers including David Foster Wallace and Kent Haruf.

Barrett said Freight Stories will be a quarterly publication with future issues to be released in June, September and December. "We're accepting submissions for future issues right now," Scott said.

The publication can be read online but also printed as a PDF in a layout similar to a printed magazine. Both Barrett and Scott are published authors, and Barrett said their aim in creating Freight Stories was twofold.

"I've had the benefit of being published," she explained, "and feel an obligation to help bring other writers' good work into the world. As a teacher, I feel it's important to share what I know about writing with as many students as possible."