Michelle Tudor is a writer, average barista and wannabe cartographer. She is an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate whose work has been published both online and in print. Her first poetry collection You Are the Map and her debut short story collection Miyoko & Other Stories were both released in 2015. She currently serves as the editor of WILDNESS and Platypus Press.
Fem: What was your inspiration for creating Platypus Press? For Wildness?
Michelle Tudor: I think, mainly, a desire to find really great work. There’s just so much out there that doesn’t ever get seen. And because of WILDNESS’ nature as a journal (rather than the singular collections of the press), it’s not limited to one type of work or one group of writers. We want to explore great work and, vice-versa, we want other people to share that with us.
F: Have you noticed any growth in the number of small/independent presses? What does this mean for the literary community?
MT: Yes. We’ve only been going for just over a year, but we’ve seen so many new presses/journals opening up, which is great, as long as they don’t all cater to the same audiences (or writers) that are already out there. I feel that the more presses there are, the more diverse the literary community should become. Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case.
F: What is your hope for the future of publishing?
MT: For me, I want more people to get involved. More voices, more experiences. We recently interviewed Michael Salu in WILDNESS, who said that the people he writes about would likely never read his work and he wants to change that—to reach out to people who wouldn’t usually be a literary audience. And I think that’s completely right, we need to expand the audience, to amplify voices.
F: Tell us about your collections, You Are the Map and Miyoko & Other Stories.
MT: I’ll start with Miyoko & Other Stories because it’s so important to me. I have been a fan of Japanese literature for quite some time and love the relationship with nature and ageing, so I wanted to touch upon that in my stories. Each one is based around a season and the life of an elderly character, really just a snippet of their lives. One of the stories was the first story I ever wrote and almost as soon as I’d finished it I sent it off to an anthology competition. Amazingly, it got accepted and, to me, that feeling was one of the things I’ll always cherish as a writer (and I try to remember it when another rejection email comes in).
You Are the Map is a short poetry collection that never should have been. During my degree I hated poetry. I loathed the assignments we were set and I hated reading the classics. And when I started my blog a few years ago I only wrote small story-like snippets. But then I discovered poets like Richard Siken, Jean Valentine and Ocean Vuong, and things changed. I realised what poetry really could be. So I started trying to write my own, it came out nothing at all like theirs but it showed me that I could actually find a voice within the form. Now I write occasionally for my blog and that’s it. I think at the time I became burnt out by trying to write too much. I don’t envisage writing another poetry collection anytime soon as I feel like I always long for the rhythm of prose.
F: As an editor, what qualities do you look for in a piece of writing?
MT: I’ve been asked this before and it’s always so difficult to answer. I think (I’m not sure if this is true with other editors) but there’s always that feeling. The way a certain turn of phrase or line invests you in the work. Sometimes it’s hard not to choose too many similar pieces when they are in a style you like, so you have to let go of your pre-conceptions and really just explore the piece. There are, of course, things as an editor you just don’t like and that’s okay too, so long as you give them their due consideration.