Its heyday dovetailing with McCarthyism, lesbian pulp fiction thrived as a subversive cultural artform that afforded countless women discreet pleasure during a suppressive American milieu. Pulp’s most esteemed publishers walked a fine line, adhering to postal censorship guidelines — very few of the discipline’s protagonists were permitted the luxuries of transcending mental illness, curbing suicidal ideations, or foregoing death entirely. Otherwise, pulp afforded its authors their full-throated First Amendment right to write women — masculine and feminine alike; sapphic, libidinous, lonely, angry, and otherwise-inclined — in motion against the romanticized backdrop of the gritty, postwar metropolis. The result was a populist, straightforward genre tradition that, to put it rather simply, kept queer women alive.
As with fine midcentury modern furniture wrought from the hearts of pine trees, these stories, so frequently printed on cheap wood-pulp refuse, have endured.
Edited by Octavia Saenz and Sarah Fonseca, The New Lesbian Pulp will be a short fiction collection comprised of no fewer than 14 and no more than 20 works by established queer woman-identified writers and newcomers to pulp who have something of value to convey through fiction about surviving our own daunting sociocultural circumstance.
Why pulp? Why now?
At present, we once more find ourselves living against the backdrop of a gritty metropolis: only this time, the war isn’t quite over. The political divide that has defined the American Left and Right for the past five years has manifested within the LGBTQIA community to varying degrees, nowhere as intensely as it has for queer women; the politics of gender, sex, and, soon, religion, have never been this aggressively debated since the 1980s; parallel to that, broader cultural oration — so often delivered callously — on pornography, sex, and social media have put targets on the backs of these very same citizens (an act similarly unseen since the 1980s).
In unsettling times, we turn to art for solutions. We intend to do as our foremothers did by turning to the most frivolous-seeming form of written word: pulp. The co-editors ardently believe that lesbian pulp, if revived properly, could serve as a Trojan Horse for greater empathy, compassion, and mend some of the hairline fractures that have appeared between women's and trans communities, queer young adults and their elders, and build upon these existing bonds to create work that, on and off the page, envisions a more galvanized queer women’s community.
It is our priority that these fictional stories finally nod to these truths.
The editors have identified several qualities that each submission should possess:
Sample Lesbian Pulp Stories and Food for Thought
Sarah Fonseca, “Women Indoors,” Evergreen Review, February 2021
Sarah Fonseca, “Reality Is a Drag: I’d Rather Live In Lesbian Pulp Fiction,” March 2019
Sarah Fonseca, “The Old Familiar,” Math Magazine, September 2017
Sarah Schulman, After Dolores, Plume, May 1989
Monica Roberts/Fred Haley, Satan was a Lesbian, Publisher Exports Company, January 1966
Lorraine Hansberry, “Chanson du Konallis” (under the pseudonym Emily Jones), The Ladder, September 1958
How to Submit
Final draft manuscripts should be double-spaced and formatted in 12-pt Times New Roman. We will consider all works between 1,500 and 10,000 words, though we ask that you query us in advance if your submission exceeds 5,000 words.
The editors will consider previously published work on a case-by-case basis; new work is strongly preferred.
Submissions email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline: September 1, 2021.
Honorariums for accepted authors will be somewhere between $500 - $1,000, depending on how institutional funding shakes out; rest assured we're aiming high.
© 2021 Sarah Fonseca