Getting into writing – an interview with Jo Simmonds, editor of The Fiction Pool


I’m Jo Simmonds, I’m the editor of The Fiction Pool, an online journal which features short stories, flash fiction and occasionally poetry. I’m a published flash and short story writer but I also dabble in poetry and script writing.

Why did you start your publication?

I started The Fiction Pool because I was aware of a gap in the ‘market’ – a website which was smartly presented with photographs alongside bold, gritty and visceral writing from new and established writers from diverse backgrounds. I also wanted to be a female editor in charge of evening up the gender of the writers featured. I wanted to open the gate a bit wider for disabled and LGBTQ writers like myself and look for some BAME writers who may be struggling to get noticed.

What is the most gratifying element of publishing the written word?

The happiness of the writers definitely scores extremely highly – it feels very rewarding that I have given someone a happy day – it makes me feel proud and empowered. Also the immediacy of the publish button and knowing people can access the site from any device wherever they are is hugely gratifying.

What are your happiest memories in your writing/publishing career?

Being mentored as a writer was a real insight into the career and something which still inspires me. Subconsciously you always feel someone is cheering you on even if it’s three years later.

When a writer goes on to get published somewhere else or achieves a competition win after I have picked their piece for the website I feel very proud.

How do you handle success and failure?

I have become quite numb to rejections. My whole view of them has changed considerably since rejecting people’s work myself. More often than not a writer has submitted a very intelligent and well written story but something about it just doesn’t speak to me. Ninety per cent of the rejection will be the fact that I like what I like so I do realise how fickle publishing is now. I try to remember that when I get rejected. I have had a little bit of success so I know deep down it’s all OK if someone doesn’t like it. Before I was published I found that incredibly hard and that’s when writers need to try and hunt round for any feedback they can get. Sometimes critiques/feedback are offered on a competition entry if you pay a bit more or if you can access one, join a writing group.

The success I have had when stories are published is a wonderful feeling. There is no emotion like it – that mixture of nervous apprehension and sheer excitement around publication day.

What makes you write when you’re exhausted and your fingers ache?

The simple desire for escape from reality. Stress has always motivated me really well and as a woman with autism it levels me on the many days that feeling challenges me.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

Write for yourself or your friends. Have lots of fun. Write fan fic, erotica, sci fi, absolutely anything as long as it entertains you. Please yourself. And make sure your reading pleases you thoroughly too.

Are you a traditionalist or a digital? (paper or eBook)

I’m more inclined to pick up a book. I’m easily distracted so I tend to forget about eBooks as I can’t see them. I also love looking at books and seeing them out in the world doing that sexy thing they do!

Do you blog?

Not at the moment. I have in the past and the experience has proved worthwhile with my current project.

Do you self-publish?

I was going to say no to this but I have published one of my short stories on The Fiction Pool, so yes! I’ve heard of many people getting noticed this way whereas they might have slipped under the radar without that option being there.

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