Many years ago, not long after I first began teaching fiction writing at Emerson College, a student emailed to say he had just registered for my class and wondered what kind of work he would be allowed to share. Could he, he asked, workshop the fantasy novel on which he was working? Or was that prohibited?

The question surprised me. Though it was true that the majority of students in the residential creative writing program submitted work that would fall under the arbitrary designation of “literary fiction,” the idea that I would disallow anything outside that rubric had not occurred to me. My requirements for fiction were simply that it be immersive, sensuous, coherent and compelling—and that it try to tell the truth about what it means to be human. More than anything else, says the writer and teacher Robert Olen Butler, what it means to be human is to desire: to yearn. Whether that yearning is for a new boyfriend, world domination, or a magical sword is irrelevant. As is whether the yearning protagonist is a restless suburban father or a restless, underworldly elf.

I wrote to the student: “In my workshop, there are two kinds of fiction: good and bad. Try to write the good stuff.”

For the past five years it has been my honor to help launch Emerson College’s MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing as a home for writers aspiring to write the good stuff. Now it is my great thrill to welcome Page Turner Magazine, which will be in the business of highlighting and publishing the same.

Here is the new home of the best in science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical, romance, mystery, thrillers, young adult fiction and too many exciting combinations of such to articulate. This magazine has been built from the ground up entirely by PopFic students, a labor of creativity, purpose and, most of all, love for work that challenges our thinking, enriches our imagination and expands our vision.


MAY 7, 2021