New Smut Project is an new online literary magazine with the tagline “A kind of funny name for people very serious about quality, diverse erotica.” They are interested in erotica that is also literature: “We love smut, but we also love language; we love lyrical sentences that sing with meaning, action so vivid you can feel as well as picture it, and dialogue that rings so true it hurts.”
I had so many questions! First, I read the information on their tumblr site, which is thorough and will answer just about everything. Make sure to check out their About and Ask away pages. See my interview with co-editors Alex Freeman, Guenivere Chase, and T.C. Mill as well as a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about the New Smut Project.
NSP: This was a project born from love and frustration. We (in particular, T.C. and Alex) loved smutty writing. We couldn’t find enough of the smutty writing we wanted. So we decided to publish it ourselves.
We love smut, and we also love language. But common wisdom holds that erotica isn’t “real literature,” so why look for beauty in its prose or richness in its characterization? The saddest part is the writing that takes this to heart, churning out cookie-cutter fantasies full of characters who are completely two-dimensional–except for breasts, which are always double-D’s and whose description seems more important than their owner’s dialogue. And that was our second frustration, one more keenly personal. We’re queer feminists. It became dispiriting to search in vain for erotic stories that reflected our own experiences; what we found instead were sexism, cissexism, and heteronormativity. We felt the world could definitely do with more well-written, queer, feminist erotica.
After all, despite the frequency of the cookie-cutter variety, we knew the erotica we were looking for existed. Growing up with the Internet fandom generation, we read stories from fanfiction and indie writers who crafted work with cutting-edge literary quality and keen social awareness (no surprise, given how many of the writers themselves have marginalized identities). And so, with our goals in mind–high-quality writing and nuanced, diverse characterization–we put out calls for submissions. After a fascinating slushpile experience, and aided by the generous talent of our volunteer copyeditor Annabeth Leong, we gathered thirty-nine stories by thirty-six writers into two anthologies. Between the Shores contains twenty stories about sexual negotiation and consent, while Heart, Body, Soul holds nineteen stories about how people tick both inside and outside the bedroom. Both feature a wealth of characters from authors with different backgrounds, sexualities, and experience in writing.
Erato is our next project, a collection of sexy and memorable flash fiction and prose poetry. We’re joined by co-editor Guinevere Chase, who had two amazing queer stories published in our first two anthologies.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
NSP: Readers like us: discerning, curious, unashamed of their desires, and a bit bored with standard erotic fare. Whether queer or straight, and wherever in the world they come from, they’re ready to read something different. They may also be of identities that aren’t well-represented in mainstream erotica, seeking characters and experiences more like their own real lives.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
NSP: Stories that are gripping from the first line, make efficient use of wordcount, and feature vivid consensual sexiness while celebrating the diversity of human experiences. How explicit the sex is–and what counts as “sex”–is up to the writer, but we’re seeking stories that leave us in some way breathless.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
NSP: We’re always seeking more diverse work, body positivity, queerness, and anything that breaks the “mold” (of basically a well-endowed guy and a flat-stomached gal having missionary penetrative sex). In terms of specific plotlines or ideas, I (T.C.) would love to see more sex realism most of all: for instance, we’d love to see arousal nonconcordance, women with unshaved legs, or characters adapting to minor mishaps in the bedroom. We’re also hungry for #OwnVoices stories from trans writers, writers of color, and disabled writers.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
NSP: In terms of erotica, I’m a fan of the beautifully illustrated New Zealand-based magazine Aotearotica, and I fondly remember Nerve before it went offline–the tagline for one of their anthologies was “Literate Smut”! Cliterature and The Erotic Review journal both put out thoughtful writing about sex and society. Lastly, I’m a religious reader of the Best Women’s Erotica of the Year anthologies.
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with the New Smut Project?
NSP: Getting to read lots of smut in my inbox every morning is quite lovely! Truly, there’s a sense of discovery every time I open a new submission. I also learn some very cool stuff from people’s author biographies.
I also love the feeling of being part of the chance I want to see in the world, offering a home for body-positive, diverse, feminist erotica.
HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?
NSP: Read our submission guidelines and then email Newsmutproject@gmail.com. Please put “submission” in your subject line.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?