portland, or 97210
October 22, 2012
Soft Skull Press
Berkeley, CA 94710
Re: La Chingada: Short Stories
A Mexican teen takes revenge on her sister’s killers. A Hispanic boy is pressured into taking part in a gang rape. A man spends a night with a young attractive heroin user. These stories and others, collected in my short fiction collection, LA CHINGADA, reveal the blurring of sex and violence in North American culture.
The audience for LA CHINGADA would include readers of Jim Harrison, Richard Ford, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Charles Bukowski, and Beth Nugent.
A list of published works, and a sample of published short stories, is included.
Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, runner/busboy, bike messenger, wilderness ranger, as well as a teacher of writing. He has lived in Mexico, Spain, France, and traveled to six continents. His first full-length collection of poetry, What Nothing Reveals, is out now. A complete list of his publications, and poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing samples, can be found at his website: www.johnyohe.com
This was a hardcopy letter, one of the last I've done, since Soft Skull at the time required it and I really really thought they would like my stuff. Alas.
I included a hardcopy of sample stories, plus a list of my published short stories, and works in general, while still directing them online. I don't include a list of published stories in my queries anymore, or not for my novel queries, just reference some lit mags I've been published in, with a link. But I think for a collection that showing the lit agent a list of published stories is still a good strategy. Do I have any proof? No. I don't know what the hell I'm doing.
Since it's a collection, I chose to do a one-sentence summary of some of the more powerful stories, a strategy I'd seen on the back blurbs of published short story collections. I still think that's a good strategy.
This query feels short. I could have added a page count, but I felt for a short story collection that that could change at any point, that some stories might get the ax. I suppose I could have estimated. I'm not sure what else I could have added, especially since my bio feels bloated. I was at this point deciding to take out my academic creds, which I still do. My thinking was to present myself as an interesting person rather than a MFA clone. I still do that.
I think I could have given more one-sentence summaries of more stories, to show more variety.
I have queried lit agents for this collection as well, with this same letter, I believe.
There is the question of calling the collection La Chingada, since that's a harsh term in mexican spanish, but I figure(d) go for it, be shocking, and find a publisher that wants to be shocking as well. Alas.
Some of the stories mentioned in the letter and in the collection: