Roger Nokes is the Editor in Chief at Rock and a Hard Place Magazine and writes fiction under the pseudonym Stanton McCaffery.
He has published short fiction in Out of the Gutter Online’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Heater Magazine, Between World’s Magazine, and has an upcoming piece that will be published by Shotgun Honey later this month. His novel, Into the Ocean, is available from New Pulp Press.
He was born and raised in
lives with his wife and son. He works for a United Nations agency and spends
most of his time commuting. New Jersey
Question: What is the genre of your magazine? Why did you select it?
Answer: At Rock and a Hard Place Magazine we feature stories about protagonists who are somehow at the bottom of society – whether by their own doing or not. The characters have to be between a rock and a hard place.
We publish stories about people stuck in poverty, in the criminal justice system. People battling disease. People trapped in abusive relationships. People struggling with addiction. People held down by racism or any other form of discrimination. The characters need to be desperate.
Given our own interests, we have a heavy leaning towards crime fiction, but we aren’t limited to the genre. Pieces slated for our first issue have literary leanings--one that’s a bit horror. We haven’t yet received any high fantasy or sci-fi pieces that were ready for publication with us, but that doesn’t mean we won’t find something in the future that works.
Our loose theme can be approached from multiple different angles. No genre has a monopoly on accurately portraying human suffering.
Question: What inspired this publication? How did it come about?
Answer: In terms of fiction influences, we’re fans of other publications, some of which aren’t around anymore, such as Thuglit. We wanted to put our own spin on it.
As for inspiration outside the world of fiction--well, look at the state of the world. There’s a lot of suffering going on. There are a few people that have a whole lot, but a whole lot of people that have very little.
I always found comfort in sad stories, sad songs, sad movies, and I thought that maybe there’d be some comfort for other people in a publication like this. It kind of makes you feel like you’re a little less alone in the world. That you’re not the only one trying to dig out of mountains of debt, or figuring out how to put a troubled past behind you, or coping with a rough diagnosis.
I do a lot of reading and what I love best is when I’m reading a story or a novel and think, ‘damn, this is a writer who at least can imagine what it’s been like for me.’ I want our readers to feel that when they read the stories published in Rock and a
There’s just something about fiction that I can’t quite put my finger on that oddly exercises the empathy muscle better than non-fiction.
Question: Is this your first publication? If not, can you tell us about some of your other publications?
Answer: This is our first publication. The first issue should be out in the late summer of 2019.
Question: What are you working on now?
Answer: We are working on copy-editing the 15+ pieces we have accepted into the first issue of the magazine. We’re also raising funds to help pay our writers.
You can contribute to the fundraiser at https://www.gofundme.com/f/rock-and-a-hard-place-issue-1?sharetype=teams&member=2009944&rcid=r01-156478297513-111ca9c3cf9c4d72&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w
Question: What made you start publishing?
Answer: I was at a point where I felt like I had plateaued with my own writing. I wanted to stay in the sphere of fiction writers, but had reached a point of exhaustion with little to show for it.
I felt like there were a lot of people talking about how blending genres was a good thing, but that there were few, if any, venues that actively encouraged submissions from different genres.
Question: What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing?
Answer: A lot of the advice I have at this early stage is advice you can hear almost anywhere. I’ve got so much to learn myself.
But here is some of what I have:
Keep at it. Just because you get rejected from one venue says very little about the overall value of the piece or about your writing. We received some great pieces that just weren’t what we were looking for.
All it says is that for whatever reason, the editors of that particular magazine didn’t think it was a fit. That could be for a million different reasons. There could be an editor who just doesn’t want to read anymore mafia stories, or serial killer stories, or whatever. They could feel like your ending was too dark, or in our case, not dark enough.
With so few fiction magazines out there and so many writers, it’s unfortunately impossible for editors to give feedback on every piece, so please don’t read a rejection as anything other than a rejection. It’s not a statement about your writing.
Also, if the editors tell you they want to see more from you, send them more. If we said it, we meant it, and I assume the same goes for other magazines.
Now, perhaps most importantly, you have to read the submissions requirements. Maybe they all seem the same, but still, you have to. Few things are more frustrating than investing time in reading a piece only to get halfway through and start to get the feeling that the writer just fired off a piece when they saw an open call for submissions without actually reading the requirements.
Question: Where and when will readers be able to obtain your magazine?
Answer: When it’s complete, it will be available through Amazon in print and for Kindle. You can stay updated by visiting our website, https://www.rockandahardplacemag.com/, or by following us on Facebook or Twitter. We hope to publish issue one later this summer.
Also, we would love to have a presence in brick and mortar stores. If anyone that owns a store or has connection with a store is reading this and is interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions and or comments for Roger are welcome here!