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5220 Dexter Ann Arbor Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI, 48103
United States

Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.




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Categories: Fiction
Availability: 6 hours per month
1-hour session: $20
2-hour session: $35
4-hour session: $50

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MATTHEW FOGARTY is the author of Maybe Mermaids and Robots Are Lonely (George Mason University’s Stillhouse Press, 2016), which Kirkus named one of the best books of 2016. The title story recently won a Pushcart Prize. He has an MFA from the University of South Carolina, where he was editor of Yemassee. His fiction has appeared in such journals as Passages North, Fourteen Hills, PANK, Smokelong Quarterly, and Midwestern Gothic. He can be found online at and on Twitter at @thatmattfogarty

Mentorship sessions are available at a cost of $20 for one hour, $35 for two hours, or $50 for four hours. All payments are processed through Submittable at the time of manuscript submission.

To book a mentoring session with Matthew, please select one, two, or four hours (depending on availability) from the product menu above.  Please continue clicking through the checkout process; though you will not be charged at this time, finishing your purchase reserves your hours with this mentor.  Though you will need to provide a billing address, you do not need to enter a credit card at this time.

Once your purchase is completed, a Dzanc staff member will be in touch to help you submit your manuscript and your payment through Submittable.



            And just because his skin is steel doesn’t mean he feels nothing. Maybe they’re at a beach and she’s in with the tide. Or maybe they’re at the tops of skyscrapers, a city between them, and all they can see is each other: her with the curls that fall in a tangle over her shoulders and the dress that drapes her fins, him with the earnestness of a logic board. Wherever it is they find each other, he has to believe in the possibility, because if this isn’t possible, what is?

            Maybe they have coffee or a drink. She’s intelligent, passionate about the sea. He’s funny. She touches his arm and there’s a spark. Later, they’re at his factory, afterhours. In the breakroom, he finds salt and a jug of water. They lay under his favorite socket. He’s barrel-chested, cylinder limbs heated drunk with her coursing energy. She’s an electrical drug; her lips tap his circuit veins. He says, “I’d rust for you.” She says, “You leave me breathless.” Her grip is firm. His alloys green her clamshell breasts.


            Maybe it’s morning then and they’re still at the factory when the first shift comes in.

            Or maybe they woke early. They’re already at the shore among schools of surfers. There’s sand in his hinges; he feels unplugged. She says she has to go back. She says, “I wish you would come.”

            And maybe that’s it. He lets her leave. Maybe his heart is a heat sink, a dull organ that shields his mainframe from her glow.

            Or maybe it’s clockwork, his heart, and maybe there’s a screw that’s twisted, a gear that slows. His LED eyes fade. There’s an electric tear. He says, “I wish I could go.”

            A wave flows in. She ebbs out with it.


            At the factory, he ratchets parts on the line, his hard drive looping that last image—her arms extended, hair trailing behind, the flip of a fin as she dives under, her wake shimmying the surface. Maybe that’s when his memory loads an image of a surfer shedding a wetsuit.

            In the closet, there are sheets of silicone rubber, bottles of glue and sealant, spools of thread. He lays them over a worktable, looms it all into the shape of him, his metal hands mechanical, methodical. If he could sweat, he’d wipe his brow. The moon sets in the high factory window.


            At the beach, his pincers clamp at the sleeves, fit the wetsuit over his tin-can body. He goes awkwardly into the water, his feet softly sinking into the wet sand and the wet sand sucking thick against his step, against the pull and fall of his metal limbs. The water rises to his articulated joints and rises further. A broken wave washes against his mechanical chest, splashes the gloved whole of him, and recedes to the warm of the air. It splashes again, higher, and recedes again, the cool of it fogging the plastic mask he’s sewn in to see. He loses his axis. The sea bottom descends. The sea floor gives way to water. He’s surrounded by it. He’s in it. His metal body buoys, and for a moment he floats, free—feels the surface as archived memory—before realizing it’s a feeling he was never meant to have felt. He flails for it and from his flailing he floats down and he flails more and he goes deeper, floats further underwater, airless, deep and dumb.

            He wonders whether robots can drown. He wonders whether she’s forgotten him, or whether maybe he’s in the wrong ocean, or if it’s all just a cruel glitch. She’s a failure of programming; she doesn’t exist. Maybe this is what happens in the night, when the factory is closed and it’s dark—idle robots dream of love and mermaids.

            Or maybe that’s when she catches him, thrashing for life, fishhooks her arms under his. He says, “I’m sorry. I’m not programmed to swim.” And she smiles, takes his hand, says, “Then don’t let go.”