Our fiction editor for February and March is Dawnie Walton, who is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. As a 2015 fiction fellow at the MacDowell Colony, she continued work on her first novel, a faux oral history about an art-rock duo in the early 1970s. She has been a managing editor for media brands including Entertainment Weekly, LIFE, and Essence, where she helped develop multimedia stories and live events focused on the empowerment of black women.
Why be an editor for the James Franco Review?
I’m feeling quite selfish because, as anyone who loves to read will attest, one of life’s great giddy joys is to discover voices and points of view that are completely new and inspiring to you. And then there’s the mission of JFR, which personally resonates with me as a black woman soon to be 40 with no MFA (as yet) and not much of a literary pedigree. The open door, the open mind have been everything.
What have you read lately that’s excited you?
Recently I devoured James Hannaham’s novel Delicious Foods, a crazy-inventive and gothic story about enslavement, greed, grief, and the chokehold of addiction. Heavy themes, obviously, and yet Hannaham injects moments of humor and yearning and hope that get at the full spectrum of darkness and light inside even the most shattered human lives. This one also illustrates the exciting possibilities a writer can explore in switching voices and perspectives — even crack (yes, the drug itself!) narrates several chapters.
I’ve also been reading a lot of fiction about the evolution of friendship, in both epic and short forms. I’m in the middle of Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, at the point where Lila and Lenu feel so real that I mutter to myself as I turn the pages, wanting so much from and for them. Then I was bowled over by “Two Men,” a precise and powerful story by Libby Flores that was published recently by Coda Quarterly. As an editor, I was astounded by the wallops of emotion Flores pulls off in such small space, and how her story’s terse form serves to say something deeper about her characters.
Submit fiction to Dawnie here.