The Short Anthology, Issue Two

The Short Anthology, Issue Two

The Short Anthology‘s Second Issue has launched.

Each issue of The Short Anthology is a collection of short stories based on photography. The second issue is based around 8 photographs Alma Haser took whilst on a trip back to her native Black Forest in Germany. 6 writers then used these photos as the inspiration for a short story. The stories are an eclectic mixture, ranging from an encounter with a strange beast deep in the German forests to the unearthing of a long held secret in a town in Nigeria.

The writers are:

  • Susan Sanford Blades, a writer living in Victoria, BC. Her short stories have been shortlisted for the Short Grain contest, the Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award and the Alberta Magazines Showcase Awards.
  • Gary Budden, co-director of Influx Press and an editorial assistant at Unsung Stories. His work has appeared in numerous journals, magazines and websites. He writes about landscape, punk and more at
  • Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, who lives in Abuja, Nigeria. His writing has been nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing and his first novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms, was published in 2015 by Parrésia Publishers in Nigeria and Cassava Republic Press in the UK.
  • Anna Metcalfe, who had her first collection of short fiction, Blind Water Pass & Other Stories published by John Murray in May 2016.
  • Elizabeth Mikesch, the author of Niceties: Aural Ardor, Pardon Me (Calamari, 2014) and the co-founder of ( . y . ) press, an all-girl publishing project. She also performs contemporary folk arias as Fat Friend. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.
  • May-Lan Tan, the author of the short story collection Things to Make and Break (CB Editions, 2014) and the chapbook Girly (Future Tense, 2014). She lives in London.

The Second Issue is available to buy here:

If you didn’t get the first issue you can buy it along the the second issue in a special deal, go to to order.

TSA 2 spread 1 file11-1 file9-1TSA issues one and two

Battery Pack II now open to submissions

Battery Pack - A Micro-Anthology By Neon Books

Last year Neon Books published the first ever edition of Battery Pack – a tiny anthology of tiny stories, which was distributed free along with the spring issue of Neon Literary Magazine. The finished article featured stories that ranged from horror to tragedy to comedy to just plain weird, and enjoyed a print run of over three-hundred copies. This year I want to do it all over again.

To that end, Battery Pack II is now open to submissions. Stories need to be short, of course, but I’m also looking for original and high-quality writing. Take a look at the first volume for some reference, and then send along your miniature masterpieces via the webform on the guidelines page.

While you’re there, don’t forget to have a look at the most recent issue of Neon. If you subscribe now you’ll receive a free copy of Tracey S Rosenberg’s chapbook The Naming Of Cancer with your first issue. That’s in addition to the free pamphlet Selected Timelines: Past & Future. And all that for only £10 plus postage!

Transportation Takes a Look at an Island in the City

Fully crowdfunded and landing in book form this Winter, the short story collection Islands and Cities is inviting writers to write about what they know when it comes to islands, and when it comes to cities. Over the last few months the Transportation website has seen London editor Sean Preston write about a coup in the Isle of Dogs (over two parts), Tasmanian editor Rachel Edwards on the first published Aussie book, a three-part love song to Tasmania by author John Bryson, Scott J Faulkner on arts consumership in Tasmania, a comment on the island that is Cuba, a short piece of fiction from American author Tom Badyna, as well as many others and more to come from authors selected for the short story collection itself.

N Quentin Woolf, Will Ashon, Ben Walter, Tadhg Muller, Susie Greenhill, and Adam Ouston are joined by new writers that were selected during a submission process. These writers include Ian Green, whose short story Audiophile was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The story can be read here.

Transportation: Islands and Cities is set for release this Christmas and will be available to pre-order soon.

Transportation islands and cities

Transportation: A young ‘Islander’ and the boats of Tasmania.

Joanna Walsh and Chris Power at The Horse Hospital

On 19th October, writer Joanna Walsh will be reading from her collection, Fractals, and talking short stories with The Guardian’s Chris Power.


“For those interested in new innovations in short fiction, I highly recommend Fractals by Joanna Walsh.” (Deborah Levy)

“Walsh’s closest literary ally is probably Lydia Davis, with whom she shares a brevity and starkness of expression… Walsh’s refreshing humour – sometimes biting; sometimes absurd – lends her work a poingnancy that is genuinely affecting.” (Will Rees, The Times Literary Supplement)

Entry by donation, for the benefit of the event’s venue, The Horse Hospital, London, which is under threat of closure.

You can buy a ticket here.


Holdfast Print Anthology and Call For Submissions!


Holdfast magazine has launched a fundraising campaign for our first ever print anthology. Click here to visit our fundraiser page and view the awesome prizes on offer, including signed books by Frances Hardinge, Emma Newman and Stephanie Salter, holdfast logo tote bags, and much more.

The holdfast anthology will be a beautiful artefact, comprised of new unpublished fiction, and some of the best articles from our online magazine, all in one, gorgeous volume.

Holdfast is a free, online speculative fiction magazine (that means science fiction, fantasy, horror and all the stuff that falls between) that celebrates and examines these amazing genres.

Read about a time-travelling law enforcer making a difficult choice, a cursed cycling tour that goes hopelessly and hilariously wrong, and what happens when the drugs don’t work on Sleeping Beauty in our fiction section. Discover what shark brains look like (spoiler: a human uterus), find out about the underrepresentation of Black women in science fiction, read a thank you letter to Margaret Atwood, and witness our attempts to convert a literary snob over to SFF in our non-fiction section.

Holdfast exists because of the wonderful writers and artists that contribute their time, effort and creativity for free. We want to recognise that writing and illustrating is work, and deserves to be rewarded.

So by supporting our anthology, not only will you be getting awesome stories, fascinating articles and fun prizes, you will also be supporting our wonderful contributors, without whom holdfast would not exist. All profits made will go directly to the writers and illustrators whose hard work and creativity fill the pages of holdfast, split equally for each contribution.

So go to our fundraiser, and become a part of the holdfast team!

We also need your stories for our next issue!

Issue#4 Diverse Reflections: Seeing Yourself in Speculative Fiction

 Deadline for online issue: September 21 2014

 In this issue we will look at people who aren’t represented in speculative fiction as much as they should be. For example, people of colour, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, and people with disabilities. Everyone should be able to see themselves reflected in their world, including SFF fans. It seems, however, that much like other media, this just isn’t the case. We’re looking for submissions on this theme to be included in Issue#4.

Go to our submissions page for further information.

Email with ‘Diversity fiction’ in the subject line with your submission. Please take the time to read through our submission guidelines before submitting.


Now coming up for its sixth year, Dalkey Archive Press’s Best European Fiction anthology has become a touchstone for literary translation. Over five editions the work of over 300 writers and translators has reached an audience of over 300,000 reader all around the world.

Seeking to include all countries from Greater Europe Dalkey Archive’s aim is that the rest of the world sees the rich literary work emerging from Europe each year.

Not only are the volumes published in English-language countries, there is also a Chinese edition in both print and electronic formats.

Widely reviewed and distributed, Best European Fiction has introduced writers and translators to publishers in many countries, and has led to writers in the volume being published in other languages and invited to festivals as far away as Korea.

Dalkey Archive is now accepting submissions of recent or forthcoming European short stories and stand-alone novel extracts for Best European Fiction 2016. We are looking for translations from all the countries that represent Greater Europe. We are interested in finding the best work from the Balkans, excellent writing from Albania, from the Basque region, Ukraine, Belarus, and Liechtenstein, work translated from Gaelic, Catalan, Welsh, Romansch, Greek, Flemish, and Hungarian, and all other European languages.

Submissions should be recently published in their original language (preferably within the last 5 years), and should not have been previously published in English translation. Submissions should be between 2,000 and 8,000 words long. Translators may make up to three submissions per language. We are not looking for authors who have already appeared in the anthology.

Please send submissions in Word format to

Submissions deadline: 15 August 2014

Window of Opportunity

The Tasmania-and-London-based inter-continentl project that is Transportation: Islands and Cities (a book to be published later this year) is opening its submissions window, short story writers should be glad to know. The publishers behind the project, and indeed its editors, have reported an upturn in exposure and interest in the book. Therefore, submissions have been opened for a short time to allow writers new to the project to submit their work. For more on how to submissions, see here.

The project is asking that lovers of new writing and daring literary fiction take a moment to get involved with the crowd-funding campaign to pay the writers attached to Transportation with “top value rewards” available.

The project launch night on the London side of things will take place at The Society Club Soho, London this Tuesday 12th July at 7:30pm and is free entry to all. Longtime Saul Bellow collaborator and literary behemoth Keith Botsford will be speaking at the event, a long with live readings of short stories from raw literary talents.

keith botsford transportation web

Keith Botsford, 50 year collaborator of the late Saul Bellow.


The Short Anthology – The First Issue


The Short Anthology‘s First Issue has launched.

Each issue of The Short Anthology will be a collection of short stories based on photography. The first issue used 8 photographs of the sea by Joe Coleman and had 6 writers create short stories based on one or a few of the photos. The stories are a very eclectic mixture, ranging from dystopian African sci-fi to a story about immigration and loneliness set in Dover, UK.

The writers are:

  • Dilman Dila, who was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and is based in Uganda
  • Jonathan Kearnes, an MA graduate in Creative Writing based in London
  • Scott Morris, who was shortlisted for the 2013 White Review Short Story Prize and is Fiction Editor of The Literateur
  • Katherine Proctor, non-fiction editor of Should Does from North Carolina
  • Michael Salu, former artistic director of Granta Publications who has had his work published in various magazines
  • Matthew Sperling, a writer of poetry, fiction and criticism and a Leverhulme Trust research fellow at Reading University

The First Issue is available to buy here:


Bristol Short Story Prize Closes April 30!


“Bristol Short Story Prize’s promotion and publication of my short story helped me to find an agent which led to an offer of publication for my novel and, also, helped get my short story broadcast on BBC Radio 4.” Emily Bullock, winner of the 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize

This year it could be you! The 2014 Bristol Short Story Prize is open for entries – closing date is midnight on 30th April. 20 stories will be published in our 7th anthology, 1st prize £1000, 2nd prize £700, 3rd prize £400. 17 further prizes of £100. Entry can be made online or by post. Please click here for more details.

We interview the chair of this year’s judging panel, former BBC Radio 4 producer, Sara Davies, here. Sara is joined on this year’s judging panel by literary agent, Rowan Lawton, and celebrated writers, Sanjida O’Connell and Nikesh Shukla.

The 2013 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by London-based writer, Paul McMichael, Paul’s brilliant winning story, along with the 19 other shortlisted stories, are available in our latest anthology . We interview Paul about his success and his writing here.

Read more about how Emily Bullock secured an agent and publishing deal after being discovered in our volume 4 anthology here. Follow us on Twitter for very regular updates on the competition and links to the exciting and dynamic world of short stories, writing, reading and publishing.

Adam Foulds, SAND Journal and unknown writers making it

This month is proving a very exciting one for Visual Verse contributors. As well as having Booker Prize nominated author Adam Foulds headlining on the site, we are thrilled to announce a collaboration with the Berlin based literary journal, SAND.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 16.10.09

More of that shortly, though. First, Kristen Harrison (Visual Verse curator) and I want to thank all the contributors who made the March Visual Verse our best month since we launched last November. Our image was by artist and illustrator Denise Nestor: a precariously balanced tower of birds who seemed to be sleeping, or dead. The writers loved it – so much so, we had 80 submissions in one month, which was unprecedented. Each piece was astonishing: carefully observed and written to make every word carry weight. The chapter as a whole is a thing of beauty in itself, it is fascinating to see how one image can bring so many responses.

Some of my favourite lines: ‘What does the sheep think of the sky?’ in Tristan Forster’s elegiac prose poem; Sarah James’ wonderfully  forensic piece, with the line,  ‘the delicacy of coiled intestines and death plucks song’ and of course our lead writer Adam Marek’s short story, with its simple control of voice: ‘The cheese was all prickly. Like battery tops. We fought the cheese was bad, but when we noticed the same taste was in everyfin, we realised it was our mouths.’

This month is lead by another Adam – Adam Foulds, whose Booker nominated ‘The Quickening Maze’ and ‘The Broken Word’ are poetry laced with violence and despair. The perfect choice for this month’s image, by photographer Marcus Bastel. I absolutely love reading all the submissions we get each day, and even more taking part in the conversation about them that is growing on twitter. I read and consider everything  – there are only a couple of rules – it must be 50-500 words, written in the space of one hour in response to the image. It should not have been published anywhere before.

Those who submit find new opportunities opening up for them too. I’m delighted to say that Berlin-based SAND journal will be featuring Visual Verse in their next issue. In consultation with us, they have selected four pieces to publish in SAND Issue 09, both in print and online. SAND exposes fresh literary talent from Berlin and beyond and we are proud to be featured in it.

I can’t wait to read what the month will bring. If you are thinking of submitting, the only thing I would say is  – you won’t regret it. Visual Verse is all about collaboration between what you see and how you write, you, us, our readers: art and words. The image is the starting point, the text is up to you. Enjoy!

Preti Taneja
Editor, Visual Verse


Creative Future – Museum Tales

Every object tells a story… Come and listen to writing inspired by the artefacts in the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, read by the writers themselves at the launch of Museum Tales II – a pamphlet of work created on our popular Museum Tales courses. Copies will be on sale fresh from the printers. Come and support your fellow writers and see Brighton Museum through fresh eyes!

When? 27 March 2014, 2 – 3pm

Where? Fashion Gallery, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

March Fortnightly Roundup II

Hello story lovers,
Here’s our roundup of what’s been happening on ShortStops over the past fortnight:

Lit Mags and Competitions
Mslexia’s short story competition closes today, March 17th, get your entries in quick! We welcome new lit mag Jotters United to our list. You can now enter Brittle Star’s short story and poetry competitions online, deadline March 21st. Read an extract from a story from Neon’s Winter issue and check out their call for proposal for chapbooks and pamphlets. The Brighton Prize, a short story prize with a live lit twist, is accepting entries until April 1st.

Holdfast magazine’s second issue is published and submissions are open for Issue #3 on the theme of Objects, Artefacts and Talismans, and the Moth International Short Story Prize is open until June 30th.

Live Lit & Short Story Events
Today is the deadline for submissions to Telltales on the theme of ‘Unhinged’ to be read at their next event in Falmouth on March 25th. Stand-up Tragedy’s Tragic Heroes is at the Hackney Attic in London on March 21st.

At In Praise Of Short Stories at the Daunt Books Festival on March 27th in London, KJ Orr will be talking to AL Kennedy, David Constantine and Helen Simpson. Book tickets for the next Word Factory event, also in London, on March 29th: a masterclass, short story club, then live lit event with AS Byatt, Joe Dunthorne and Will Cohu.

Last Minutes & Gentle Reminders
Short Fiction’s 2014 short story prize is still open for entries, deadline March 31st

Submit a short story on the theme of Islands and Cities to a new Tasmanian-London anthology by April 30th.

Happy reading, writing, listening and performing!

Transportation – £200 for successful submissions

Submissions for Tasmanian/London book Islands and Cities will open on Monday, March 3rd and remain open till April 30th, 2014, midnight.

Submissions should be in the theme of ‘Islands and Cities’, and no longer than 5000 words in length.

All submissions must be original work and not be previously published.
The work must be accompanied by a short bio/statement of up to 200 words.

There will be a small entry fee of £10GBP / $15AUD, details on this and more will follow with a full submissions guideline shortly.

Click the image below to find out more soon.


The Brighton Prize

Brighton prize
The Brighton Prize is a new annual short story prize run by Rattle Tales, Brighton’s interactive live literature night. They are looking for fresh interesting new writing that will keep the attention of a live audience and get them talking. The short stories must be between 1000 and 2000 words long and there is no restriction on subject or genre.

The Brighton Prize began with the aim of finding exciting, challenging new writers and to bring their work to the Brighton stage. The first prize is worth £400 and the two runners up are £50 each. The shortlist will be judged by two Brighton based authors. Bethan Roberts, author of The Pools, The Good Plain Cook, and Mother Island (out June 2014) and Laura Lockington, author of The Cornish Affair, Cupboard Love and Stargazy Pie. All three finalists will be invited to read their stories at Rattles Tales’s Brighton Festival Fringe show on May 14th. In addition the top ten shortlist will be offered publication in their anthology. The closing date is 1st April 2014 and the entry fee is £6. Visit for more details.

Transportation – Tasmanian/English Book Announced

The project, which has confirmed experienced editors in both London and Tasmania in Open Pen Magazine editor and Londoner Sean Preston and the former editor of Island magazine and Tasmanian Rachel Edwards, will invite  writers from both locations and also call for submissions on the theme ‘cities and islands’ in upcoming months, to compliment published novelists already attached to the project.

“Transportation is an ambitious literary project that will publish, promote and showcase writers from London and Tasmania in book form for release in late 2014.” said the Tasmanian team behind Transportation.

Drawing on the long historic links between these distinct places and evoking the connection of historic and cultural significance, Transportation will allow for a meaningful connection with the reading public, coupled with longterm commercial viability.

More information is expected soon, and the call for submissions already eagerly anticipated.

Battery Pack Seeks Submissions Of Tiny Fiction

Battery Pack Image

This year Neon will be publishing a number of exciting side projects. The first is Battery Pack – a palm-sized anthology of very short fiction. Battery Pack will be eight pages long and folded from a single sheet of paper. It will be given away for free with the spring issue of Neon, as well as being available for readers anywhere in the world to download, print and fold their own copy.

If you want to get involved you can send in your writing for possible publication. I’m looking for short stories containing no more than seventy-five words at most. I prefer stories where there’s a clear narrative and it’s easy to tell what’s going on. Abstract or purely descriptive pieces are less likely to be selected. I have a slight tendency towards horror, but am happy to read any genre.

To find out more about the project and to submit work please visit Neon‘s website. While you’re there you can check out the latest issue of Neon, which features the work of Paul Ebbs, Simon Collings, Michael Hemmingson, CJ Opperthauser, Amy Schreibman Walter, Dan Coxon, and Helen Addy. The cover image is by Sarah Katharina Kayß. There’s time travel, mannequins, failed attempts at kindness, a haunting retreat to a cabin in the woods, and a trip on board the Anti-Titanic.

Submissions to Neon are also open, and with issue 37 just around the corner now is an excellent time to send in some work for issue 38. Have a quick read of the magazine (you can download it for free in a variety of formats, or purchase a print copy for £2.50) and then send something along!

Smoke on the Water


Please note that the actual cover/title
will be finalised later!

Water. H20. Adam’s ale. We’ve all seen it, gathering ominously in puddles, bouncing from umbrellas and rolling off the backs of insouciant ducks. Water doesn’t just fall from the sky, though: there’s a whole mucky load of it flowing in a big trench along the northern rim of south London, thankfully steering a course between the buildings on either side. And rather smaller amounts trickling past the bottoms of back gardens out in the suburbs. Some people even believe in such things as lost rivers, underground streams and tadpoles. And let’s not forget the docks, the canals, the broken Victorian water mains.

In short, it’s bloody wet out there. Which is why we’ve decided to produce the Smoke Bumper Book of Water. Although it won’t actually be called that, for obvious reasons. Basically, a compendium of words – fiction, non-fiction, something-in-between – and pictures in which London’s water is the ruling element. If you’ve seen our first book, From the Slopes of Olympus to the Banks of the Lea, you’ll know the sort of approach we’ll be taking; if you haven’t, you’re a fool to yourself, but click on the title and scroll down for a sample pdf.

It’s a deliberately broad topic, and the focus might change slightly, depending on what arrives. There are plenty of other books out there dealing with the history of the Thames, for instance, so we’d prefer to meander more around such things as, say, the Dagenham Brook, the last remaining tidal streets in London, a riverside pub crawl, or the reservoirs at Tottenham. Back in issue 2 of Smoke, we published Seb Brennan’s marvellous London Shipping Forecast – a nightly bulletin to guide and protect those stranded on the city’s streets and lull those safely tucked up in bed – and that’s the sort of thing we’re after. The stuff we really want to avoid, I suppose, is anything too drily informative; if anything, we’re after the exact opposite: something wet and fanciful.

As with all Smoke books, successful submissions will initially also appear on the website as regular posts; towards the end, though, we’ll probably keep them for the printed version.

Deadlines and word counts

People always want to know how many words are needed, and our answer is usually “roughly half as many as you’re thinking of sending us, sunshine – go back and delete all the adjectives”. Basically, though, there are no real rules – just whatever seems appropriate. Bear in mind, though, that the longest pieces in From the Slopes of Olympus were around 3,000 words, and most were a lot lot shorter; shorter is always better. As for a deadline… shall we say the end of February?

Interview with Tom Vowler, editor of Short Fiction

SF7 coverShortStops is delighted to welcome short story writer Catherine McNamara to the blog. Catherine’s short story Montgomery Akuofo, Father of Twins appears in the latest issue of the annual short story journal Short Fiction and below she interviews its new co-editor Tom Vowler, a short story writer and novelist himself. We’re thrilled that Tom has agreed to send a copy of Short Fiction Issue 7 to one lucky  ShortStops reader anywhere in the world, just leave a comment on the blog before January 20th and Catherine will pick a name out of a hat! You can read an excerpt from one of the stories  – the winner of last year’s Short Fiction short story prize – at the end of the interview.

Catherine: Congratulations on another beautiful edition of Short Fiction. You’re up to Issue 7 and have developed an original formula of bespoke artwork and a unique selection of established and emerging writers. Tell us about the origins of the magazine and how you think you’ve achieved such prominence and longevity when so many print magazines have trouble surviving.

Tom: Short Fiction was established by Anthony Caleshu, of Plymouth University’s English and Creative Writing Department. He wanted to produce a journal that showcased great short fiction (as well as short stories we feature self-contained novel extracts) next to beautiful and bespoke artwork. I came on board after finishing my MA in Creative Writing at Plymouth (where I’m now in the middle of my PhD). With Issue 3, in 2007, I became Assistant Editor, and starting with the next issue I’m Co-Editor with Anthony. Arts Council England supported us for a few years (and hopefully will again) but we’re really able to keep doing what we do thanks to the support of the English and Creative Writing Department at Plymouth. The journal’s visual aesthetics are absolutely important to us, this marriage of text and image was something that felt absent in the UK, and as more and more excellent web-zines appear, we want to produce a magazine that readers want to hold and see and feel, as much as they savour the words. I think our success comes from a blend of featuring emerging talent among literary heavyweights, and taking care to produce a book which really pays attention to layout and design.

C: Your short story competition runs once a year and is one of the major prizes indicated in the short story blogosphere. There seem to be more and more competitions with an entry fee than ever before, do you think this has any influence upon the stories that are being written in general? Do you notice a difference between stories submitted for the competition, and stories that are regular submissions? And if so, what?

T: It’s a delicate balance to achieve. You want to reward great stories, and of course you have to attract them in the first place – as you say, writers have a lot of competitions to choose from. It’s fantastic to think that new authors can launch a career on the back of winning such prizes, which of course have to be funded by an entry fee.

I don’t distinguish between competition and general entries: you look for the same qualities, to be dazzled, affected, shocked or captivated. You look to forget you’re reading. I don’t think the nature of stories differs greatly in the different categories. There are times I read a general submission and think the author should have entered it into the competition. All competition entries are considered for publication and as well as the winning story we’ve regularly featured the runner-up.

C:Tell us about this year’s prize-winning story.

T: Rachel’s story holds that wonderful blend of a confident and compelling voice with a powerfully affecting story, and as with the best works, its whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s an authority there from the opening lines, an assurance we’re in safe and expert hands. Several of our shortlist were serious contenders, but the winning story dazzled us with its linguistic brilliance.

C: With the next issue of Short Fiction you will be sharing the chief editorial position with colleague/poet Anthony Caleshu, are you looking forward to the task? Does reading so many submissions over your reading period have any effect upon your own writing?

T:It will be an exciting (and somewhat daunting) challenge to continue the journal’s excellence, the heft of those former issues perhaps weighing a little heavily. Moving on from being the assistant editor, I’ll actually read fewer stories on their initial submission, focusing more on the production side, discussing shortlists, choosing the final content.

C: As an editor who wants to keep your review alive and kicking, do you allow your own personal taste to impinge upon your preferences, or do you select to please an audience? Clever stories with bells or quieter ones without? Open or closed endings?

T:Good question. You want, of course, to ‘please an audience’, but you need a reference point, which has to begin with your own aesthetic tastes, so, yes, future journals are bound to reflect this subjectivity somewhat, those final few stories that make it through a beacon for my own tastes. But then the truly great stories tend to attract a consensus of approval. I’d never be prescriptive on style or structure, form or genre. I like pieces that take risks, but ultimately it comes down to voice for me.

C: The artwork selected for this issue of Short Fiction is brilliant. You have the very current Bob and Roberta Smith, as well as a series of headless dogs on leads and a unique graphics inspired by each story. How do you commission your artwork and how important is the artwork to the SF concept?

T: The art, unlike the stories, is all commissioned. Bob and Roberta Smith’s work is the epitome of text-based art. The art is in the construction of the ‘sign painting’, but it’s also in the message. We like the fact that the art is political and provoking as well as being visually stunning.  The illustrations that front each story are all done in house. Once we’re selected our content, we send stories to our illustration colleagues at Plymouth University. Staff and some of the best illustration students at Plymouth always manage to surprise us with their interpretations. You can view the new issue’s illustrations on our website, which really complement and enrich the stories.

C: Could you give us your submission period and your short story competition details?

T: We accept general submissions between September 1st and December 31st each year, and our competition is open from January 1st to March 31st. Our first prize is £500 and for £10 you can submit up to 2 stories, which entitles you to a free copy of our next issue (worth £10).

C: Best of luck with Issue 8! Here is the opening to prize winner Rachel Fenton’s wonderful story, While Women Rage in Winter:

I don’t want to occupy a place of importance. Knowing other people like to harbour their children’s swim gear safe from spray under the reef-like shelter of this plastic table, I leave one chair between me and it. In essence the seat’s already taken; there’s a small piece of putty or modelling clay, grey-white as a mushroom, moulded to the shape of the inside of a child’s hand, the curved drills of the fingers identifiable by their prints. I sit. The empty pairing now to my left hints at my isolation; I place the four books I’ve borrowed from the library here with my satchel farthest away. A small part of me thinks this shows confidence, an outward symbol of occupancy, and I can move them if I have to.   

Thanks so much, Catherine! To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Short Fiction Issue 7, leave us a comment below by January 20th. If you don’t win, do consider ordering your copy at This year’s issue features Jenn Ashworth, Frances Gapper, Bob and Roberta Smith, Michelle Green, Liam Harkin, Richard House, Catherine McNamara, Annemarie Neary, Scott Pack, Lee Upton, Jill Widner and Rachel Fenton.