Allison Fabian of The Insomniac Propagandist talks impressionistic fiction with Abby Sheaffer

[Image credit: The Insomniac Propagandist (c) 2014] [Image credit: The Insomniac Propagandist (c) 2014]

Allison Fabian and Kristof Goeser are the editors of a striking new art and literary journal based on bizarre fiction and altered reality. The journal is aptly titled, The Insomniac Propagandist. Already hard at work on their second issue, I was able to interview Fabian about the trials and tribulations of running the journal and what she looks for in submissions.

Interview after the jump. 

You recently launched art and literary journal, The Insomniac Propagandist. This exciting new journal delves into the mysterious and strange aspects of reality. What inspired you to create this digest and why?

When I first moved to Chicago and started to get involved in the literary community, I quickly found a ton of awesome events and resources, but I was finding events that focused on creative nonfiction storytelling, like the live lit events, which are great! I wanted to create a space for fiction writers to share their stories.

I’ve been invested in literary journals for a few years now, and it felt like something I could do. I love weird fiction and I wanted to put together a book that included all the things I like to read, that had room for strange voices, serious thoughts, a few jokes, and for stories and poems that range from silly to high-brow, from accessible to the type of hyper-textual story that makes you work to understand its allusions, and I wanted synthesize all those things I find interesting into a cohesive book, one that still felt curated.

I think literature tends to evolve more slowly than other art forms, authors who’ve experimented with the form seem to stick out in more history because they so rarely have success. I think there’s something to be said for throwing caution to the wind when it comes to the rules of writing and I want to encourage that experimentation. Language is for communication and writing is distilled language, and I believe we should make the most of that expression. When I started forming The Insomniac Propagandist I spoke with my friend Kristof Goeser and he immediately jumped on board as co-editor. He [Kristof] helped flesh things out, and became indispensable, adding the visual art component, developing ideas and doing tons of work and creating all of TIP‘s original artwork.

[Kristof Goeser 2014]
[Kristof Goeser 2014]
What do you look for during the submission process? 

If something has a new take on an old form or an interesting idea, or if it is truly experimental, we’ll publish it. But nothing gets into TIP unless it meets our standard criteria–most importantly–it has to relate to the theme, that’s how each volume maintains its sense of cohesion. Each story should reflect that the artist took some time to think about our mission, and the general style of TIP.

Kristof and I are both drawn to poignant works that relate to readers emotionally. We enjoy works that question the intricacies and absurdities of our existence. As I’ve mentioned before, we welcome experimentation in style and form, where the level of self-consciousness that creatives often struggle with is stripped away, allowing for a whole new experience. Kristof in particular is drawn to works where you can really feel the person’s inner struggles, thoughts, and conflicts. He has a brilliant eye and makes most of the art decisions. I have an affection for somewhat opaque writing–and for literary tricks–I love homages and re-imaginings, as long as there’s a payoff, be it emotional or intellectual.


[Image credit: The Insomniac Propagandist (c) 2014]
[Image credit: The Insomniac Propagandist (c) 2014]
In six words, describe The Insomniac Propagandist

Eccentric, enigmatic, expressive, visceral, introspective, boundless


You seek the strange and unusual with this digest, in your life, what novel have you read that you’d count as the inspiration for The Insomniac Propagandist? 

I think our interest in augmented reality is really inspired by both David Foster Wallace (particularly Infinite Jest) and Haruki Murakami (as well as other Japanese science fiction authors like Kazuo Ishiguro). 1Q84 is a favorite of both myself and Kristof, Murakami’s brand of magical realism is so engrossing. His writing is both complex and cerebral while maintaining the sense of contemporary realism, qualities we’d love to convey through TIP. I can’t get enough of Octavia Butler either. We are also huge lovers of Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury left a huge impact on me, I felt deeply connected with its shadowy passages. I also think the work of Edward Albee is another interesting example of altered realities, without magical or sci-fi qualities. I’m also big fan of New York based literary journal NY Tyrant. I think their offbeat mentality was a big influence on TIP.


If The Insomniac Propagandist were a famous fictional character, who would s/he be and why? 

 I think… Dumbledore! Younger, more dangerous Dumbledore, when he was still powerful, wise and mysterious, but not quite so whimsical. It may seem a bit silly but, the more I think about it, I like it. Who doesn’t want to read something that’s as luminous as Dumbledore?


What do we have to look forward to down the line with this publication?

TIP is still very much in the early developmental stages. Now that we’ve accomplished our initial goal of actually printing something real and sending it out into the world, the possibilities have expanded. One thing we’re really looking forward to is throwing some events, some art/music/literary parties with readings to share and celebrate the work of our contributors and meet new artists. We definitely want to increase the number of creative outlets that are part of TIP’s brand once TIP has established itself more. We’re starting to focus online content now, to keep readers interested in between volumes and to keep working with new artists through smaller calls for submission and competitions. Also TIP t-shirts!


[Image credit: Allison Fabian]
[Image credit: Allison Fabian]

Allison Fabian is a writer of impressionistic fiction and poetry. She is the founder and editor of the art and literary magazine, The Insomniac Propagandist. Allison has read her stories at Two Cookie Minimum, a reading series in Chicago and at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. She is an avid supporter of gender equality, which she promotes through her writing, volunteering, and occasional speech making, she most recently spoke at Ignite Chicago. 


Visit The Insomniac Propagandist. “Like” them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter @insompropa. 

Abby Sheaffer