Interview w/ Cristina Deptula

By Carol Smallwood

Posted on

Cristina Deptula is the executive editor of 
Synchronized Chaos Magazine. A former science and technology journalist, she enjoys discovering how people think and how the universe works. When not writing or editing, she loves to hike, read novels, and sip coffee.

Please describe your website and your duties as editor/writer.

Synchronized Chaos Magazine accepts submissions of writing and visual art of all genres from around the world. We then determine the theme for each month based on what we have received, tying all the submissions together into some sort of cohesive theme. While this has on occasion required some creativity, it has also brought our team together as we brainstorm and encouraged the contributors to come back to the site and read everyone else’s work.

Tell us about your career.

Synchronized Chaos Magazine came out of my work as a journalist. I have always possessed a deep curiosity about the world and reporting harnessed that curiosity into the service of the written word. Launching a magazine open to worldwide submissions seemed a way to continue my research into the zeitgeist of the times, finding out and chronicling how and what people were thinking and doing. Over time I’ve built a network of authors and launched a public relations team to help writers gain exposure, which I suppose is a way that this nonprofit project led into some income for myself and others.

Which recognitions/achievements have encouraged you the most?

The greatest achievement we have is surviving eight years. We launched in August 2008 with no idea of how long we’d stay around, and it’s now the end of 2016. I remember reading a collection of essays, Paper Dreams, from the editors of various literary publications. In the back of that volume they had an honor roll of literary magazines that had lasted 25 or more years, which they considered their gold standard. I don’t know if the same metric applies to a purely online publication, but I’d certainly like to see how many years we can keep going!

Also, I feel honored and humbled that people continue to send us their work. Synchronized Chaos Magazine is a nonprofit publication and doesn’t have the resources to pay contributors or volunteer interns. People don’t even leave many comments for the writers, so really the benefit of getting published is simply to have one’s words out there, heard and printed. I’ve often thought, wow, people are sick and starving in the world, the climate’s changing, earthquakes and floods and injustices are happening, do we really need another literary magazine? But people, even people who are seriously down on their luck, in and out of the hospital, living on the streets, submit to us and ask nothing of us other than to put their words out there. So apparently we are meeting a real need, or people wouldn’t be continuing to submit.

What writers have influenced you the most?

I hate to say this as I wouldn’t want to discourage someone from sending something to Synch Chaos because they don’t think it’s in a genre that I would appreciate. We’re edited by a team and there’s at least one person on our team who likes just about every genre.

But I love international literary fiction. Literary fiction because I appreciate the art of writing. Pacing, plotting, character development, unique settings and clever or elegant sentences all contribute to books that can be quite lovely, or intriguing, or hilarious. Life is fascinating but often confusing and frustrating, and the craft of storytelling makes it more understandable and elegant. And international fiction because too much Western work feels as if it has to be angsty, self-conscious, or ironic, all of which has been done before. Writers from elsewhere, at least to me, can sometimes tell a story without being overly self conscious and just get me interested in the plot and characters.

How has the internet benefited you?

Our magazine is online and wouldn’t exist without the Internet. The online format has allowed us to publish much more cheaply and reach a wider audience. We want to save trees and cash so we really only put together print issues on request for contributors who are in special situations (such as some people who mailed us work while they were incarcerated).

What classes have helped you the most?

Well, I learned how to analyze and compare literary works in school. So that liberal arts (comparative literature) degree from UC Davis and my journalism coursework (San Jose State) ended up doing me some good, even though I didn’t become a journalist or professor.

What advice would you give others?

I’d say to live your dream, do what you’d like to do, whether it’s starting a magazine, writing creatively, having a book published, or anything else. But don’t quit your day job until you have an income stream from what you love or from something else, since stress about how you’re going to buy groceries and pay your bills can be just as exhausting as a day job. You can set up your career so that you maybe have a mid-level day job rather than going as far as you can on your career path and it doesn’t take up every single hour of every single day. Or you can write on the train or on your lunch hour or give up television until you finish your book, whatever it takes. But make sure you feed and shelter yourself along the way.

And if you’re unemployed, disabled, homeless—–don’t beat yourself up about not being able to do as much as others can. Sometimes life has seasons where all one can really do is survive. But know that you matter and that your voice also counts and that you’re also part of this world.

What are your favorite quotations?

“Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.” –  George Carlin

“I write when the inspiration hits. That’s usually at 8:00 am, when I sit down at my desk to work daily.” – Unknown

Carol Smallwood