SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Ujjwal Dey: I was working as a professional Content Manager and Editor with leading multi-nationals such as Capgemini Consulting, Accenture and Verizon India. I felt I needed to expand my content into fiction domain. So FFJ started as a hobby. The love of our writers, readers and contributors made it grow exponentially in its first year of publication itself. Born in my bedroom on August 2008, FreedomFiction.com now brings easy entertainment, joy and valuable experience to its supporters. It is my voluntary effort to give back to the industry and activity of writing and reading. I invest time, effort and money in it without earning a single cent of profit. Profit is not the motive. Short stories are an endangered species in the literary world. We provide a safe home to them. In 2013 we expanded into book length works but it is limited to our known, select authors who know we pay peanuts but we do no monkey business.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
UD: Clear name of author, contact email, attachment should be .doc or .rtf only for text and .jpeg for artwork. We want to tell your story. So we want to promote you and not just your content. So please feel free to tell us about yourself so that we can put it as a brief bio along with the story. We only accept electronic submissions by email to editor @ freedomfiction.com
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
UD: Excessive formatting of the text or total lack of effort in the layout of the text is a sight ready to turn off the most active reader. Follow the IT rule of KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Often I would take a chance on a subject matter or on an experimental story because it was in a simple .doc file without any fancy decorations or alterations to the paragraphs.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
UD: Every submission sent to us received an edited document and a customised reply irrespective of acceptance or rejection. From 2013 when we started looking at book length works, we no longer provide free editing services to the submissions. But from day one on 2008 till present, every submission of story or art has received a personal reply from a human at FFJ with specific comments about the submission irrespective of acceptance or rejection of the manuscript. We even provide a phone number after acceptance of content so that our authors or artists can contact us whenever they have a concern or request.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
UD: Writing is just the same as any other art form. You may learn painting, you may learn singing, you may learn to play the saxophone, you may learn to run a marathon, you may learn to dance well, you may learn kung fu, etc. But then there are generations of humans who do all these things without going to a special course or school or tutor. They do it naturally. So writing can be taught but you don’t necessarily need tuition in creative writing. Read enough crime fiction, and you may have an idea for your own crime novel. Photograph enough relatives, someday you may just get paid to photograph social events. You may not be a Shaolin Monk, but if you are 6’3” and can bench press a small car, then you can defend yourself. Find your calling. Find your gift. Then give it a chance to grow from within to outer space.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?
UD: You should ask why the hell do I keep doing this? I have no answer. There certainly is no money nor fame in this activity or online ezine called freedomfiction.com yet it is now in its sixth year in print. How? Why? Who cares? Well, it does impact lives. Many of my best writers are now friends with me on Facebook and LinkedIn. We keep in touch and motivate each other through life’s onslaught of challenges and successes. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I made a lot of very good friends whom I have only met “online” so far. I am not as famous a publisher as Murdoch or Hefner but my work helps my authors and artists build a portfolio, a resume, a stepping stone to greater things. Never received a complaint. Never regretted my personal time going into this. If I could do it all again, I would probably keep more from the slush pile and send out Christmas cards to everyone who has ever emailed us at FFJ.
Thank you, Ujjwal. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.