Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Dragnet Magazine: Seriously Funny

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Dragnet Magazine

Currently working on its fourth issue, Dragnet Magazine began last year as the dream project of Jeremy Hanson-Finger and Andrew Battershill. Dragnet is an online literary magazine that publishes short works under 1000 words. It publishes serious things, but never takes itself too seriously and will always make you laugh. It was started by Jeremy and Andrew, who met in a high school creative writing class taught by poet Terence Young.

Jeremy got the inspiration to start the magazine while listening to a guest speaker for Centennial College’s publishing program last year. The speaker had started her own online magazine and Jeremy realized he could do it too. Jeremy already had experience with working on a start-up student literary journal at Carleton University and missed being part of a writer’s community. He contacted Andrew, who he knew would be interested. Andrew was in Victoria at the time, but is nowin Toronto pursuing his MA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

Since starting last year, Dragnet has added to their ranks. They now have Jena Karmali as a third editor, Lauren Mitchell as Social Media Specialist and Illya Klymkiw as Art Director. The name Dragnet comes from the old cop show from the 60s, which Jeremy thought was just a great name for a literary journal. It is also a metaphor for “trawling the seas of fiction for the best stories.” The magazine is mainly self-funded and they have put a lot of their own money into the project. The launch parties also act as fund raisers and they have managed to make some money from them. The party for issue four will be held at Smiling Buddha on January 21st, 2012, and will include DJs and dancing. Although they have minimal costs, they are planning to apply for grants so that they can begin paying authors for their writing.

Dragnet’s biggest initial challenge was figuring out the technology and making the eBook versions. Jeremy, who is bald, described it as a “tearing my hair out thing.” Their other big challenge was commissioning art to go with writing and having it arrive on time. They have decided to change their tactic and will just feature “really good art.” They also now have Illya, who is creating custom pieces for the magazine.

Something important that Jeremy and Andrew wanted to have was an online magazine that was actually readable. They initially had a website version, flash magazine layout and an eBook, but they canned the website version after the first issue due to a lack of popularity. They also got some initial help from Sam Hiyate, founder of The Rights Factory, who helped them to realize that they wanted to do serious topics but with humour. No other Canadian magazine currently does that.

Dragnet has a regular column/blog written by Luke LeBrun called “Sober Second Thoughts”. It is written from the perspective of a fictional character named Percival W. Pennyweather, an over-the-top, right-wing “public intellectual.” The first column was about the royal couple’s visit to Canada, and the second was about Jack Layton’s funeral. In a strange twist, Jeremy’s mother began posting about flowers in Percival’s blog and started a real-time quarrel with Percival.

About Jeremy:

Jeremy sees himself continuing the magazine for a long time. He currently works full-time for a publisher, but the magazine is what really gives him a sense of accomplishment and pride. Jeremy described the magazine as “like a really complicated business card.” An example of this was at a job interview he had at ECW Press. Jeremy mentioned the magazine during the interview with Jack David, the publisher, who told Jeremy that very few places would take a risk on Dragnet’s type of content. Jeremy was also surprised when Todd Zuniga, a co-founder of the Literary Deathmatch, knew about Dragnet and who Jeremy was. Another bonus for Jeremy is getting to meet with writers that he really respects and who he would love to have write for the magazine. He also likes the idea of being the “farm team for the next generation” of writers, and is excited by the possibility of publishing future award winners.

Jeremy first learned that writing could actually be a serious job in the creative writing class taught by Terence Young. Terence had his classes write reports on contemporary writers, which made Jeremy realize that poetry and fiction could be current and exciting. For Jeremy, he was a great teacher and someone to look up to. One of Terence’s former students and a classmate of Jeremy’s, Claire Battershill, (Andrew Battershill’s sister) won the CBC Literary Award for short fiction in 2009. She was also published in the first issue of Dragnet, which can be read on the website.

Jeremy is currently working on a manuscript of short fiction called Airplanes and Bad Things Happening to Women. A friend of his noticed that the two things were in everything he wrote, and he thought it would make a funny and fitting title, “so you know what you’re getting.” It also fits his recurring theme of juxtaposing serious with funny.

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