Ghosts will soar in a new literary magazine

by Rebecca Szkutak / Beacon Staff • February 18, 2016

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Grab the skeletons out of the closet, writers now have an opportunity to pen their ghostly and ghoulish stories to an online literary magazine. 

Spectator and Spooks is a new publication created by Cassandra Clarke. The writing, literature, and publishing graduate student said she started this project as a way to collaborate with her peers from her classes as they finish up their final year at Emerson. 

The magazine serves as a forum for stories that thrive in the “otherness.” Considering many works of writing don’t fall neatly into one genre, Clarke said she wanted this publication to cater to that niche market of writers, and fill a void.  

The site will be taking submissions of articles, short fiction, and essays, according to Clarke. 

The magazine also serves as a way to stay connected with classmates after graduation.

“It was a little selfish,” Clarke said. “I wanted to communicate with the same writers I met in the program, and do a project outside of class. But a lot of it came from my love of ghost stories and my want to have more diverse stories.” 

The fiction editor of the magazine, Ryan Bradley, said that he originally got involved with the project because of his friendship with Clarke, and his past experience with other Emerson publications like Words Apart, another online literary magazine.

Bradley, also a writing, literature, and publishing graduate student, said that he hopes this publication will boost the ghost story’s image.

“There is so much snobbery in the literary fiction world where ghosts stories are looked down on,” Bradley said. 

Elizabeth Parfitt, one of Clarke’s past professors in WR600, teaching college composition, said that it will be beneficial for Clarke and her classmates to work together on this project because teamwork is a key part of the writing process.

“Anytime MFA students can use their time and create something new and collaborate on it, even just one piece of writing, that’s what the program is all about—building your own community of writers,” Parfitt said. 

Clarke said that they have had a handful of submissions, even though Spectator and Spooks is in its beginning stages, and said she is excited to put them online for the first issue that is set to come out during the fall, after they have all graduated and parted ways.

Parfitt said that getting these first works sent in, and drumming up initial interest are some of the hardest parts of launching a project like this. 

“Just the act of getting started and getting submissions is always a challenge,” Parfitt said. 

Although complications could arise from the publication being dependent on a mainly niche market, and with it somewhat specialized writers, Clarke said this  isn’t one of her big concerns. 

“It’s kind of like a passion project,” Clarke said. “I’m not aiming to be a huge thing or have tons of popularity,”  

Clarke said that she’s also hoping to reach a younger crowd of students aged 16-19 with this project. She said she is building buzz through word of mouth and social media, and she was recently asked to come speak to an Emerson undergraduate class about the potential of writing for the magazine.

Although currently available only online, Clarke said that the publication will  be posted twice a year with a print issue each year. She said that hopefully in the future it could become more frequent.

“[Clarke’s] taking a risk and that’s a really exciting thing to do,” Parfitt said.” She has the time and space and connections to make that happen.”