Hot Tub Astronaut Launch: An Interview With Jessica Schouela

Hot Tub Astronaut is primarily an online publisher of contemporary literature based in Edinburgh. They aim to publish innovative and exciting poetry as well as short fiction. They hope to foster a creative community and to share exciting literary works, often experimental. They are open to all exceptional writing.

Their launch night is here at Sneaky Pete’s on Thursday 7th May from 7pm featuring poetry readings and live soundscapes.

Find HTA on Facebook and Twitter

Sneaky Pete’s: Hi Jess! Hot Tub Astronaut is just launching now. It’s exciting to see someone set up an online publisher of contemporary literature in Edinburgh. What are your ambitions for the magazine?

Jessica Schouela: As it is really my first go at something like this, I think what’s really key to the whole thing is just figuring it out along the way and experimenting with different methods of communication. I think what’s cool about doing something like this online is that it can be local but at the same time reach larger publics. My hope is that people will find Hot Tub Astronaut to be a cozy home for their work, where they will feel it is well represented here. At this point, my ambitions are really just to see HTA grow and expand and to encourage people to write and submit something that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but then is probably ours. I guess when it comes down to it, my wish is that HTA can be a forum for expressions of honest human experience, however that might come out.


Photo by Lucile Dizier

SP: Are you open to submissions on any topic?

JS: Definitely, yes. I guess what I tend to be pickier about is form. I personally veer away from publishing anything too traditional or rhyming works. Hot Tub Astronaut is looking for voices that speak true to the curious and confusing stuff that comes with living in the world today, like the Internet or other technologies, and all kinds of relationships that make us feel funny or scared. What we’re really looking for is a style that reflects what its like to be alive now and with regard to topics, well, as long as its interesting and even weird enough that it has the capacity to really move someone.

SP: I’ve noticed that on your site, the writing appears before you find out who has written it. That’s a nice touch where the writing speaks for itself first. Well known authors get the same space as newer voices.

JS: I feel strongly that it doesn’t matter really how many publications an author might have. Of course, it may speak to the quality of a writer’s work, but doesn’t necessarily. I think what can be really neat is finding people who have been writing all their lives and have just started to take the jump into getting their words out there. We have published a man in his eighties who has his own Wikipedia page and have also published a young woman about to start her studies at Oxford. I think having this kind of diversity on the same platform makes it layered, in the best kind of way.


Photo by Lucile Dizier

How long has the site been going? You seem to have quite a lot of work up already

JS: I started the site in December 2014, at first, publishing works by a some of my friends. After spreading the word and posting an opportunity for publication with Creative Scotland, we got quite a few really good submissions. Twitter helps too. We typically aim to publish two posts per week, more or less.

SP: So there’s lots of demand, that’s interesting.

You’ll have several poets reading at the Launch Night. Have you chosen people whose style translates well to performance poetry?

JS: Well ideally we’d like to be bombarded with submissions. The more the better. But at the same time, we do like to leave a post to appear at the top for a few days so that it can claim some spotlight before the next one goes up.

Frankly, I’ve been pretty open with choosing the readers. As I’ve just recently moved to Edinburgh from London, I’ve only met one of the readers in person so I’m really looking forward to hearing what they’ve come up with!

SP: So it’s a surprise for you too!

JS: I think the launch is really with the purpose of getting people aware of Hot Tub Astronaut as a possible place for their work. Of course, what’s great is that poetry and words in general have the capacity to be translated and transferred into a variety of media. There are always awesome and new ways to communicate things.

Also, Hot Tub Astronaut is not just for writing. We’re also trying to attract more sound and visual art submissions. I’m really looking forward to hearing Brian Pokora’s ambient drone set as I’ve collaborated with him in the past, working with spoken poetry and sound.

SP: Great thanks Jess, I think we’re all looking forward to the night!

JS: So are we, thanks!