Depressing numbers for short story writers

This article by Chris Power in the Guardian looks at the so-called “renaissance of the short story” that article after article (often in the Guardian itself, ironically I would say if irony wasn’t such a quaint concept):

In 2017, almost 50% more short story collections were sold than in the previous year. It was the best year for short stories since 2010. Booksellers are reporting a surge in popularity for the form, commentators note publishers are buying more collections and issuing them with greater care and enthusiasm; in December the newcomer Kristen Roupenian cut five- and seven-figure deals in the UK and US after her New Yorker story “Cat Person” went viral. 

Alright, sounds great, but Power takes a closer look:

if we aren’t living through a renaissance of the short story, how to explain those booming sales figures? Let’s break them down. Collections by Tom Hanks, one of the world’s biggest film stars, and Jojo Moyes, one of its bestselling authors, represent 22% of that total: £1.3m in sales.

Have a good day.

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The Proverb Zoo – a short story collection, out May 2018

I am very truly delighted to say that my short story collection The Proverb Zoo will be published this May in Ireland by The Penny Dreadful Press.  There even was an official announcement and everything, so it’s real.

The book collects fifteen short stories, a good number of which have been published in magazines (in I think something like five different countries!) over the last few year. Those stories vary in length (three of them must be a couple of pages long, while others are definitely on the chunky side) and styles. There are minute miracles, shipwrecks, gameshows, IKEAs, kite-flying, severed legs… now, now*. Enough. I just hope it’s a Zoo you’ll want to visit. Spend time with those beasts.

Exact date of publication is yet to be announced, and for those of you in Ireland,  there WILL be a launch, and you’re all invited.

The Proverb Zoo Cover

*This is my sales pitch. I am new at this.

Quote #18: Charles Baxter

“Daddy?” He feels his elbow being picked at. “Daddy!” His daughter is holding her clarinet as if she is about to hit him with it. Behind her brown-rimmed glasses her eyes are fierce. She looks like a twelve-year-old district attorney with a good case and witnesses. “I was going to practice,” she says.

from “Prowlers”, in A Relative Stranger, by Charles Baxter

I love Charles Baxter. I love Charles Baxter. He’s a master; his short stories are intense little nuclei of goodness. Not all like this previous sentence of mine. He’s good. He’s good – his stories radiate kindness. I can pick up pretty much any of his stories and within a couple of pages I’ll have stopped three or four times to ponder some brilliant, sneaky line.

Unsung Stories open to submissions

Unsung Stories

London-based publisher Unsung Stories are open to submission until February 26th. They’re looking for speculative fiction, and accept novels as well as “sets of novellas or novelettes, interlinked short fictions and the like”.

If you’ve read their books, you’ll know they have quite a relaxed approach to genre,  and publish authors who merrily write across the borders of fantasy, science fiction and whatever other categories of the fantastic and weird you might come up with. (They’ve published a noir sci-fi novel in verse, so you see what I mean.)

They’re well worth checking out even if you’re don’t have a manuscript looking for a home. I’d recommend in particular You Will Grow Into Them, a collection of dark and weird short stories by Malcolm Devlin, and Aliya Whiteley‘s The Arrival of Missives.

A Slow, Unstoppable Devouring of Everything

I have a story up at Necessary Fiction called “A Slow, Unstoppable Devouring of Everything“, and I’m pretty proud of it.

Necessary Fiction is one of the best online literary magazines, and one that’s been around for quite a while too. Apart from fiction, they have book reviews and a very interesting Research Notes section in which authors talk about the work behind their book. Founding editor Steve Himmer‘s own writing is worth seeking out, and you should follow him on Twitter, if you’re into that kind of thing, for great bookish thoughts and recommendations.

 

 

A fanciful tribute to Horacio Quiroga in Nightscript

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The third volume of the annual anthology Nightscript came out recently, and it includes a dark tale of mine titled “Homeward bound now, Paulino”

The story was inspired by, and is a sequel of sorts to,  “Adrift” (which you can read here – a short read, about a thousand words, I think), probably the best known short story by Urugayan writer Horacio Quiroga. Quite loosely, I should say. And maybe it is a little presumptuous to write a sequel that runs two or three times longer than the original story by a classic writer, but hey.

I first came across Quiroga when I studied his stories in college, then got reacquainted with his work during a trip through South America. I visited his home in northern Argentina, getting drenched to the bone walking there on a red clay-like dirt road to visit the place not many tourists seemed to patronise.

His work is worth checking out, and his life, full of dark, messed-up episodes, might yet prompt me to write more around him. And of course, Nightscript is more than worth checking out, with over twenty dark tales by great writers working that seam of weird ore.

[And for those of you who write in that same tunnel, Nightscript editor C.M. Muller will be opening to submissions for the next volume in January 2018]

File:Horacio quiroga misiones 1926.jpg

 

Strange California: a gold rush story. Kinda.

I have a story in this beautifully illustrated anthology about California and its weird corners, histories and myths, edited by  Jaym Gates and J. Daniel Batt. There’s plenty of great names next to mine on the TOC, and while I can’t comment on all the stories (I haven’t received my copy yet, and am looking forward to getting into it), mine features gold-rush era ghost, has earthquakes, a clonal colony of aspen, a fleet of ships rotting in the Yerba Buena harbour, and hailstorms.

You can get a copy straight from the publisher here, or at the Book Depository here, with free shipping worldwide. (I would usually prefer to give you a link to Wordery, for a website that sells books with free worldwide shipping which ISN’T owned by Amazon, but they don’t seem to have the book at the moment.)