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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Spotlight: Spellbound, a fantasy e-zine! {Review, Interview, Giveaway}

I am SO VERY excited to be spotlighting not a book today, but Spellbound, a fantasy e-zine for middle-grade readers from Eggplant Literary Productions! I had the pleasure of interviewing the editor and publisher at Eggplant Productions, Raechel Henderson. I also got the chance to read and review four issues of the e-zine. Plus, 10 lucky winners will get a gorgeous signed postcard! You can find all of this below...

(click each cover to learn more about each issue)

(info comes directly from Eggplant website)

Spellbound is a children’s fantasy e-zine for kids 8-12 years of age. 

Published quarterly, each issue contains stories, poetry, art and more all centered around a featured creature.  Issues come in a DRM-free ePub format.  They can be read on Nooks, Kindles, iPads, Kobos and many other ereaders, as well as laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones.

A subscription consists of four issues a year for $24.

Purchase a subscription or individual issues HERE

Can you tell us more about Spellbound and what it is exactly? What inspired its creation?

The inspiration for Spellbound came from a shared love of the fantasy genre.  I grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and science fiction thanks in no small part to the local librarian who was a big Star Trek fan.  She curated a well-stocked F/SF adult section, which I raided as soon as I became aware of it.  It always stuck with me that there was a dearth of fantasy in the kids section.  Fast forward to the last century* and I came into possession of several reams of paper, a laser jet printer, and a long-arm stapler and the desire to create a ‘zine was born.  I decided to try my hand at creating a fantasy publication for kids.

Marcie Lynn Tentchoff, the poetry editor, came up with the name.  We had one guiding principle: to make the story of magazine we would have wanted to read when we were kids.  We decided on themed issues to give it some structure, we posted some guidelines, and then away we went.  From 1999 to 2003 we put out fifteen issues.  Eventually I had to stop because, as a labor of love, it had gotten too expensive.

Fast forward to 2012, and I read that parents are buying their children Kindles and Nooks and tablets.  Sales of children’s e-books are increasing because of this, and I thought maybe it was time to rethink Spellbound.  We ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for our first year’s operating expense.  Moving to electronic allowed us to include color artwork for the first time.  We aren’t limited by page count.  Best of all, I’m not spending days standing over a printer, hand collating pages and stapling them together.
*Actually 1999, but I love the fact that I can talk in centuries now.

You’ve published 5 awesome issues of Spellbound to date…can you tell us a bit about each one? Do you have a favorite issue or theme so far? Can you tell us anything about any of the themes of future issues?

Each issue is themed.  What that means is that we choose a magical creature or concept—dragons for example—and all the stories, poetry and artwork touch upon that theme.  They’re sort of like mini-anthologies in that way.  Our first issue’s theme was “Rings and Other Magic Things” and it was sort of the bridge between the previous, print issues and all of our future, electronic issues.  The issue included a lot of stories and poems from previous contributors, even a story—“From Book to Rook, and Back Again” by Laura J. Underwood—which had been published in a previous issue.  In all of our issues we’ve included contributions from authors and artists from all over the world, both previously published and those for whom this is their first publication.

Our second issue featured “Changelings and Doppelgangers”—a theme I chose because it was going to be our spring issue and I felt creatures whose identity is ever changing was a good fit.  This was the first issue, too, where the policy of actively promoting diversity in our content started to gel.  The cool thing about Spellbound being an e-zine is that our readership exploded.  Before, most of the subscribers were in the US, with a few Canadian readers.  Now, I see that we have subscribers and readers in Spain and France and New Zealand and Thailand and Japan and other countries.  I really wanted Spellbound to reflect this global readership in the stories and poetry and artwork we published.

There’s not much I can say about the “Dragons” issue beyond it’s dragons!  We published previous issue in 2000 with the same theme and both Marcie and I were overwhelmed with submissions.  We always planned on doing another one.  I have no doubt that dragons are one of those topics we’ll continue to explore, though hopefully it won’t be another thirteen years before we do.

“The Creatures of the Deep, Dark Woods” issue is probably my favorite so far.  It really is hard to pick one, because whenever I finish an issue I state that it is better than the last one.  I do think that the fourth issue just shows how far we’ve come and that we accomplished what we set out to do.  The issue features stories that really fulfill our quest for diversity in setting and characters (one story is set in the Philippines, one in Japan, three of the four have female protagonists).  The same goes for the artwork and poetry.  Marcie wrote an article about one of the poetry forms in the issue.  There’s even a sort illustrated comic.  (Also, there is a turtle in the cover of the issue and turtles are my favorite animal, so…)
We’re currently working on the dwarves issue, and next year we’ll also be putting out issues on sea monsters, magical cats and elementals.

Since writers and artists can submit their work to be included in Spellbound, can you talk about what kinds of things you are and are not looking for in submissions? What kinds of submissions do you love receiving? Is there one story, poem, or artwork, that’s been published in Spellbound, that stands out to you as a favorite?

From a fiction stand point, I’m always interested in seeing strong characters.  By strong I mean well-written, not physically strong.  Protagonists who sound like kids—not like how adults think kids sound—and who are actively involved in the story.  I know that Marcie has said she’d like to see more non-rhyming, serious poetry.  I think people often think that poetry for children has to be Dr. Seuss-like, and we really want to introduce kids to poetry as something enjoyable to read and as a method of expression.  It’s hard to pick a favorite story, but I thinkSiena Leslie’s “A Proper Dragon” stands out as a great humorous story that turns the princess trend on its head.  For artwork, I absolutely love Dana Martin’s illustration of a woman reading a story to a changeling child.  I actually bought a print of the illustration for my office.  “The King’s Ring” by Heather Hobson is a poem in the first issue and which I love.

What do you hope young readers will gain from reading Spellbound? What do you hope to accomplish with each issue?

 I want young readers to enjoy Spellbound.  I want kids to read the stories and the poetry, look at the artwork and when the issue is over want to go out and find more.  I want kids to see themselves reflected in the content, and I want that to encourage them to try their own hands at creating their own art.

More than that, I want them to enjoy it with their parents.  I do think that with the rise of tablets and ereaders there’s an opportunity for families to read and enjoy books together.  Spellbound is provided DRM-free because I want it to be as accessible as possible.  I want parents to cuddle up with their kids and read a story or poem before bed.  I want siblings to sit together and flip through the “pages”.  I want children and parents to talk about what they’ve read, to imagine what is going on in the stories, and to spend even just a few minutes exercising their creativity.

 If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Spellbound (as a whole or an individual issue) what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

Oooh!  It’d be a rainbow cupcake, with a gooey fruit center, topped with butter cream frosting and sprinkles.  It would be a mess to eat and sugar you up so much you’d have to run around in circles until you crashed and took a nap in the middle of the floor.

(I received four issues of Spellbound in exchange for my honest review)

 Spellbound is a fantasy e-zine for the middle-grade crowd (8-12 years old), created and published by Eggplant Literary Productions. Released quarterly, each issue of Spellbound focuses one particular creature or theme, and work submitted by writers, poets, and authors.

I had the pleasure of reading four review issues of Spellbound (Rings and Other Magic Things, Changelings and Doppelgangers, Dragons, and Deep Dark Woods) and I LOVED them all! I may not be its targeted audience, but I had so much fun reading each issue and enjoyed every moment of my reading experience. Each issue is filled to the brim with all things fantastical, enchanting, funny, and unexpected. The editors of Spellbound have done a stupendous job of filling each issue with an entertaining and eclectic mix of stories, poems, and art that capture the particular theme so well.

The editors, and artists whose work is featured, know their targeted audience very well. The stories, poems, and pieces of art featured in each issue will entertain, amuse, and delight young readers, while also feeding and inspiring their imaginations. There’s a wonderful mix of pieces that will thrill and excite readers, make them laugh, and even leave them thoughtful. But don’t worry, you won’t find any preachy morals or lessons being thrown in childrens’ faces. And young readers will love that the stories in Spellbound are for children and mostly about children; the young characters are the stars of the show and the heroes/heroines.

I love that Spellbound is a real collaboration between the ones putting each issue together and the many writers, poets, and artists, who submit their amazing work! I also found the length of each issue- long enough to satisfy, but short enough to hold the attention of young readers- to be perfect. And each issue has a recommended reading list with books that incorporate the theme of the issue, which is so handy and will encourage children to read even more!

I can’t recommend this e-zine enough for young fantasy lovers (and us not-so-younguns as well!) or young readers you want to introduce the fantasy genre to. With each issue of Spellbound, young readers will find themselves in a world of magic, tricksy creatures, surprising wonders, and so much more! 

MY RATING of Spellbound

Win 1 of 10 gorgeous postcards signed by the artist!
Raechel has generously offered to mail 10 winners one beautiful postcard that features the cover art of the Giants issue, signed by the artist:
This would be a perfect piece of little art to share with the young readers in your life!

-there will be 10 winners
-will end 12/13
-must be 13+, one main entry per person
-winners will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
Fill out the Rafflecopter form:


Sherlyn said...

Perhaps an issue about mermaids could be considered! I love mermaids and would like to see the artist's interpretation of them (:

Sherlyn @ Mermaid with a Book

Anonymous said...

We did a mermaids issue back in the day! It was the fall 2000 issue and was a lot of fun. We may come back to that theme in the future!

yudizt said...

I'd love to see some elves theme. That'd be amazing :)

Anonymous said...

Our last print issue featured "The Little People". We'll definitely be revisiting elves and faires and other fae creatures in a future issue. :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful review and for hosting the postcard giveaway!