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Spotlight: Ren Martinez
Interview by Julian Drury
*Editor's Note: This interview project was created to help you as readers get to know our writers as well as the Quail Bell Crew to get to know each other better. This interview was conducted by Julian Drury and focuses on our fiction editor Ren Martinez.
How did you become associated with Quail Bell?
One of my good friends, Zack Budryk, had a few pieces published and I always read his work. I started reading Quail Bell and I loved the content, the quality of the work, the overall feel, so I decided to send something in. Then I sent in another something and another something and now I’m happily stuck.
What kind of writing do you do for Quail Bell? And do you do any writing outside of Quail Bell?
I have submitted everything from personal essays to short stories to poetry. My works in Quail Bell tend to be somewhat fantastical, but always thought-provoking. I like evoking magic in the everyday. As for outside QB, I’m always trying to submit something somewhere. I’ve been published at The Mary Sue, Margins Magazine, and The Quotable.
Who are the biggest influences on your writing?
Some of the first names that come to mind are Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, and Flannery O’Conner. Their stories always teach me something and I get caught up in the worlds they create, whether that world is a small backwoods town or literal Mars.
What are your hobbies that don’t involve writing?
I actually consider myself a failed hobbyist. I am where hobbies go to die. I’ve tried knitting, jewelry-making, baking, tarot reading, soap-making, gardening, you name it, I have done it for a week then never again. The only hobbies that stick are video-gaming and Netflix.
Your essay “This Town” is quite remarkable. It certainly reflects that stale, yet changing, face of American suburbia as well as the desire to escape complacency. When writing the essay, did you feel “home” was people only in a certain locality? Could home, perhaps, also be people we grow fond of in any location?
I wrote “This Town” shortly after I moved back to Richmond after living in Denver. I never thought I would be the kind of person who returned to their hometown once I was able to escape, because I had a truly visceral loathing for it. But, there was a desperation in that hatred, and I think a lot of that resonates in people who feel like they don’t belong in the places they’re supposed to belong to.
I’ve been pretty lucky, because I have found “homes” in people all over the world. I think social media is so amazing, because it allows me to keep the people I’ve met in reach even if I never get to see them. Home is not a literal place for me, but a feeling I get when I’m around certain people. It’s like, “I can rest here. I’m safe here.”
What’s a book by a local or indie author you would recommend to someone?
There’s quite a few Quail Belles who have published works, and I would recommend checking them all out. Because I simply can’t give him enough air time, I would also make a specific shout out for Zack Budryk’s Judith, the feminist crime noir thriller that should be required reading at the moment.
Why are small presses so important in the industry?
I think we’re in a time where oversaturation is a real problem, but the problem isn’t that mediocrity is taking over. It’s that the market has become so narrow and so focused on profit that great writers, amazing writers, are struggling to be heard because they don’t have the next Hunger Games. It’s like, big publishers don’t have time for you if a movie deal isn’t in the cards. Small presses allow for quality writing to be displayed, maybe not in front of millions, but by people who love to read. That’s every writer’s dream, right?
Do you believe writing should have a schedule? Should writers set aside time every day to write, or should writing be based on feeling?
Goddess bless, if writing was supposed to be on a schedule, I’d be failing miserably. Schedules are nice for a lot of people, and I try to follow something that’s a vague, misshapen mockery of a schedule. But, the spark strikes when the spark strikes, and I think there’s something to letting the words come when they’re ready. So, schedule what you can, write when you’re able, and don’t sweat it if you skip your daily quota in favor of trying out that new taco place.
Is there a difference between sex and love, either literally or metaphorically?
For me, sex and love are discrete things that sometimes overlap and sometimes don’t. As someone who’s both bi and on the ace spectrum, sex and love have never, ever between the same thing, because I’ve been in love where sex never entered into the equation and I’ve had sex with people I was never in love with and I’ve even had sex with people I’ve been in love with but wasn’t actually attracted to, which is its own strange thing.
Sex is lovely. Love is lovely. They may both be flowers, but sunflowers and roses bloom very differently.
Do you have any upcoming works you’d like to reference, for Quail Bell or any other outlet?
Right now, I’m interning with RVA Magazine and GayRVA, and that’s taking up so much of my time. I have had several articles recently published through them, like my coverage of the DC Women’s March and Richmond’s Independent Zine Library, which features Quail Bell in its archives.
As for an upcoming project, I’m in the final stages of submitting my first comic for publication through Emanata, VCU’S annual comic collection, so be on the lookout for that!
Welcome to our staff blog, where you can learn more about The Quail Bell Crew.
Christine Stoddard conceived the idea for Quail Bell in late 2009 after writing a children's story by the same name, and launched the website as a college blog in 2010. In June 2013, Christine and former art director Kristen Rebelo officially launched Quail Bell Magazine as a global web magazine. Read our editorial mission statement to learn more.