SELFIE INTERVIEW | Andrew McLinden, Gertrude Stein Award 2014, 1st Place Winner


I’ve always been interested in books and music, although coming from a working class background, I didn’t call it art. I was brought up to believe that artists handled paint brushes. I’m a lyricist and co-write songs with my brother Paul: —Andrew McLinden


Who would you arm wrestle, if you could?

I’d most probably arm wrestle Dan Brown. The way I see it, the longer I arm wrestle him, the longer I keep him away from writing. Any man who creates the following lines though can’t be distracted for very long:


How do you want to be remembered?

I used to think that was important. Now I don’t. These days I realise that the only thing that counts is a statue. If you don’t have a statue erected after you die then you’ve failed on a fundamental level.

Announcing The Gertrude Stein Award 2014 Winners

We are so very pleased to announce our Gertrude Stein Award Winners for 2014. It was a difficult decision, as we received so many fantastic submissions from truly talented writers. Please join us in celebrating our winners and finalists:

1st Place
“A Song Died” by Andrew McLinden

Among the many ways to describe good fiction is the tried but true “simultaneous inevitability and surprise.” It’s an added pleasure when surprise comes wrapped in a package of what could or should be expected. Grief as conflict is not a stranger to fiction; the extents, extremes, depths, and varied quiet subtleties of grief have been effectively plumbed. It may not be an exhaustible topic. But in Andrew McLinden’s “A Song Died,” to see the daily vacuum of a brother grieving for his sister carried a surprising impact, in the who, the how, as well as the pitch and tone of the telling. If not for particulars in the character’s life, the details and sensibility of his grief could have created a genderless character experience, thus the somewhat off-the-beaten-path sibling grief ­— siblings of different genders and not twins — finds a freshly effective intensity. (Cris Mazza, Judge Gertrude Stein Award 2014)

2nd Place
“Insecticide” by Rachel Goldman

3rd Place
“Song of the Amputee’s Mother” by Shanee Stepakoff

2014 Gertrude Stein Award Finalists

“Winterriese” by Sara Baker

“Peaches” by Sarah Gerard

“Anonymity of Faces” by Kirk Glaser

“The Birds on Peach Street” by Anabel Graff

“Rhonda Belle and the Butterfly” by Chad Halliday

“Down the Street that Lady Comes” by Robert Krantz

“Passed into the Fire of Molech” by Hunter Liguore

“People in Jail” by Linda McCullough Moore

“Waterhead” by Terry Mergenthal

“The White Envelope” by Sophie Monatte

“Another Man’s Wife” by Nicole Mullis

“The Letters of Odysseus to Kalypso” by Zana Previti

“Gods” by Vernon Pua

“Things You Can’t Forget” by Sara Taylor

“Fruit Loops” by Alice Urchin

“The Rooms We Rented” by Robert Vaughan

“Violins” by Luke Wiget


Rue Cris MazzaOur guest judge for the Gertrude Stein Award 2014 is the awarded author, Cris Mazza, whose hybrid memoir, Something Wrong with Her, is out now with Jaded Ibis Press. We encourage you to experience the talent and lyricism of Cris Mazza’s words. It has been an honor working with her here at Eckleburg.

SUBMIT NOW: Gertrude Stein Award 2015

Our Gertrude Stein Award 2015 will be judged by our excellent panel of judges and authors including Weston Cutter, Mary Krienke, Mary Stein and Natanya Ann Pulley. Read more about our 2015 judges below. You can read past winners in Eckleburg No. 18.


Read the winning stories in the upcoming Eckleburg No. 19. Read last year’s GS Award winning stories in Eckleburg No. 18guest-judged by Rick Moody.

2015 Contest Judges

Weston_Cutter-Weston_CutterWeston Cutter is from Minnesota. His work has been published in Ploughshares and The Rumpus. He is the author of You’d Be a Stranger, Too and All Black Everything. He’s an assistant professor at the University of St Francis and runs the book review website Corduroy Books.
Mary_Krienke_DrTJEMary Krienke grew up in the Midwest and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. She received her MFA from Columbia University’s Fiction Program and has been previously published by Midwestern GothicTwo Hawks QuarterlyJoyland, and Underground Voices, with work forthcoming in Palooka. Now an associate literary agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, she is currently writing her first novel.
SteinMary Stein lives in Minneapolis where she’s the assistant editor of Conduit literary magazine and works as a teaching artist. Her fiction has appeared in Caketrain, The Brooklyn Rail, and Spartan Lit. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has been nominated for New Stories from the Midwest.
Natanya_Pulley-Natanya_Ann_PulleyNatanya Ann Pulley is half-Navajo (Kiiyaa’aanii and Tachiinii clans). She has a PhD in Fiction Writing from the University of Utah and is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Dakota. A writer of primarily fiction and non-fiction with outbreaks in poetry, Natanya’s publications include Western Humanities Review, The Florida Review, Drunken Boat, and McSweeney’s Open Letters (among others).

Punctuated People

Punctuation marks made of puzzle piecesA Case of the Puncs started with the simple idea of attributing personality types to punctuation marks.

Here is my cast of characters:


I sat with a list of punctuation marks and tried to marry their characteristics with those of the people around me. Loud confident people became Exclamation Marks whilst ponderous thinkers turned into Question Marks. I thought of making pregnant women Question Marks at one stage because an upside down Question Mark does look like a pregnant woman:


Hipsters became Quotation Marks with their slogans splashed across their t-shirts. So did war vets and Goths and anyone else who liked to show the world what they stood for by how they dressed. Ellipses were people who never knew when to stop. You met them every morning in the lift on the way up to your shitty desk job. The more you ignored them the more they tried to fill the space with meaningless words. Ellipses were the type of people who walked around at the height of summer saying: what about this heat?

Commas created unwelcome pauses in your clauses. They were the people who would get back to you when you really needed an answer straight away. I’ve probably met more Commas in my life than any other type of Punc. The next most common after Commas is the Full Stop. These were men who had reached the end of the line. You saw Full Stops everywhere: on the bus, on the television, or pushing a trolley along a supermarket aisle. They had slumped shoulders and sad Full Stop eyes. Their wives were cheating; they were losing weight; they were coughing up blood onto blue tissue paper in the bathroom while their kids stood outside with tooth brushes stamping their feet and waiting to get in.

No one really knows what Semi Colons are used for. We stick them in sentences here and there without any real conviction. They hang around because no one has the guts to tell them that they’re not wanted. So I used them to represent those people who weren’t wanted: the one night stand who wouldn’t take the hint next morning; or the old friend you were no longer friendly with. Their first cousin, the Colon, was used to describe people who always tried to better anything you said: folks who would wait until you’d finished talking, before adding a list of achievements that topped yours. You’d say you’d been to Fuerteventura on holiday; they’d say they owned the island.

Brackets were soul mates; couples who started to look the same and who spooned together in bed. They lifted their coffee cups at the same time in cafes and they walked at the same pace. There’s nothing more beautiful in this world than soul mates. I thought of calling them Parentheses but decided against it because there are many kinds of brackets – ( { [ ] } ) – just like there are many types of close couples.

A Case of the Puncs is a story that I hope can be visualised: ideally, readers will see the alpha males’ pogoing down the streets on top of their Exclamation Marks knocking the less fortunate Puncs out of the way or maybe they’ll see the hipsters walking by with their Quotation Marks hovering around their heads like earphones. If I had the money or the skill I would like to animate this story as I think it would work well as a cartoon.

The unnamed protagonist in the tale is a Full Stop. He’s dead inside and he breathes bereavement. His social dislocation is leading him inevitably toward his own specific designation and he can’t do anything to stop it. He’s become isolated in his own life, unable to break out. He almost never responds directly to a question, instead internalising his answers. I tried to make him appear as if he was in a self-contained bubble.

I wrote this story sober and edited it drunk. This is how I usually work. Editing while inebriated somehow makes things clearer to me. Liquor lets me shine a light on language. I catch most of my word redundancies this way. I can also spot places where I’m not telling the truth. I highly recommend this technique. A writer should always put literature before his liver. Perhaps, A Case of the Drunks would have been a more fitting title.


Andrew McLinden lives and works in Glasgow. He started life as a lyricist and his work has been used on a variety of film and TV projects from Irvine Welsh’s Acid House Trilogy to a recent episode of American drama One Tree Hill. He’s had short fiction published in a number of online and print journals. He hopes to finish 2013 by completing his first novel. 

Andrew likes referring to himself in the third person. He sometimes walks into a supermarket and says to the checkout girl “Andrew wants to know if these cakes are part of the two for one deal you’re currently promoting?” Andrew likes to read and likes to write and hopes people like to read what he writes.