Growing up we were both avid readers. As a little girl I had more books than toys, while Ion discovered the escapistic literary worlds later on, in teenage years. Somewhere around our mid-20s, however, a novel fatigue started seeping into our minds. We dedicated then our attention to works of nonfiction, though something was missing. Short story collections weren’t cutting it, either—we sought diversity of voices and ideas. In a way, anthologies seemed like the solution, except the ones we managed to get our hands on not always were synonymous with quality, be it of editing or writing. Elsewhere awaited the cure to our impasse. At the time we were tech-savvy enough but had never turned our gaze to the web to fulfill fictional needs. But, alas, hopeless is he who doesn’t adapt. A short and skeptical search brought us to the homes of some online publishers and, after reading a story or two, we realized that—holy moly, this is actually good stuff! I remember those first weeks we’ll go through this process where either Ion or I would pillage the archives of a venue, copy-paste the most interesting-sounding stories into a Word file, which we’d then save on Dropbox and read the hell out of the following morning on the subway going into work. The New Yorker, Tor.com, and BOMB Magazine—these three made for a rather peculiar fictional diet, which with time expanded to include sixteen speculative venues and about thirty-five literary magazines and journals. We and the novel medium have reconsidered our relationship around last year and call each other friends again, though the digital package (lately papery, too, since my eyes can’t stand the phone screen that longer anymore) of stories (and seldom poems) is our primary source of new ideas and, why not, entertainment. We’ve read so much in the past years—and some of it was just… Wowser!—that when it finally hit us that it was all for free, we felt dirty. All those stories and what were we giving back? A couple praise lines on social media, eternal memory space to the characters most in-line with who we wanted to be, lip service with our bookish friends, sure, but that’s it? We had a little existential crisis. Then one morning Ion came to me all wide-eyed, gesturing in this way that he does whenever he has an eureka he struggles to put into words. I asked him what it was about and he simply blurted, “How about we ourselves create an online magazine? Like, a place where new stories and authors could be introduced to the readership at large.” That gave me the heebie-jeebies. Us? Being in charge of accepting or not people’s wordy children? Could we do that? And the answers: 1) Sure. 2) Why not? 3) That’s still too early to say. Punchline being: that’s what formercactus is. Our thank-you to the writing community out there. Our way to redeem ourselves for having been passive consumers and nothing else. Our Dropbox file for other Ions and Lanas finding it difficult to connect with longer, more traditional works. This is the first of, we hope, many issues. We ask you but one thing: that you give the authors and artists here included the attention they deserve.
—Lana & Ion