Subjunctive Moods: How I put my first collection together

Dahlia Publishing is delighted to be publishing CG Menon’s short story collection, Subjunctive Moods. Catherine won two competitions hosted by us, The Asian Writer Short Story Prize in 2014 and the inaugural Leicester Writes Short Story Prize last year. It was after this second win, about a year ago, that I spoke to Catherine about the possibility of putting together a collection. In this short blog, CG Menon introduces her debut short story collection, Subjunctive Moods and shares her experience of the process.

When Dahlia Publishing approached me about putting a short story collection together, at first, I thought the hard work was over. Once I’d got that far, surely it would simply be a process of picking out the best stories and stapling them into a book. To cut a long story short: it wasn’t. Putting together individual stories into a consistent and cohesive collection was an intricate journey, and along the way I learnt a lot about the stories themselves and exactly why they worked.

Like many people, I write short stories without having a particular theme or common thread in mind. A lot of my pieces draw on my family history: my father is Malaysian Indian, and much of our family “folklore” comes from rural Pahang. However, there’s an equally strong pull from the other side of my family, who originate in Yorkshire. Both Pahang and Yorkshire are places with a very strong tradition of oral storytelling. They mix myth up with real, mundane events. They’re the sort of places where ghosts always appear when you’re doing the washing-up, and your first thought when a fairy walks in is whether you’ve mopped the floor.

Because of this, there were strong common threads between stories which were superficially quite different. I’ve never felt that I identify solely as an Asian writer, or solely as a white writer, and having a mix of the two was very important to me. In the process of choosing stories I noticed several resonances that I hadn’t at the time of writing. One of these was the role of children in myth and folklore, and the ways in which they grow up. My stories set in both England and Malaysia attempt to depict the way growing up really happens: in a series of jumps, that you don’t even notice until you look back.

It was also important to me to include stories which varied the pacing. Literary fiction has a habit of sticking too close to the contemplative, reflective side of life and ignoring plot. Dahlia Publishing worked with me to order the stories so that every so often the reader’s grabbed by an unmistakeable, immediate happening.

Of course, not everybody reads a collection from start to finish in order. I certainly don’t! I think it’s important for a collection to have a strong start and finish, but beyond that, the selection of which stories to read will always be up to the reader. This collection is bookended by two of my very favourite stories: one which was written recently and one which is the first story I ever wrote. I certainly hadn’t planned to lay the collection out in chronological order, but these two stories finish on hopeful, forward-looking notes that, to me, summed up my writing journey.

ABOUT SUBJUNCTIVE MOODS

In Malaysia, a young girl discovers the seeds of friendship turning into love. A ghostly aunt causes more trouble than she’s worth, and a sea-monster yearns for her poolside home. Family secrets confound two widows in Northumberland, and a third turns to the sea for comfort.

The stories in Subjunctive Moods are based around those tiny moments of missed connection and of realisation: the heartbeats by which we all grow up.

Featuring CG Menon’s prize-winning writing alongside her most recent stories, Subjunctive Moods is a collection exploring the complexities of human relationships, cultural identity, and finding your way back home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CG Menon has won the Bare Fiction Prize, the Leicester Writes Prize, The Short Story Award, the Asian Writer Prize, The TBL Short Story Award and the Winchester Writers Festival award. She’s been shortlisted for the Fish short story prize, the Short Fiction Journal awards, as well as the Willesden Herald, Rubery and WriteIdea prizes and the Fiction Desk Newcomer award. Her work has been published in a number of anthologies and broadcast on radio. She is currently studying for a creative writing MA at City University and working on her first novel. She blogs at https://cgmenon.wordpress.com/

LAUNCH EVENT

Come and meet prize-winning author, CG Menon as she celebrates the launch of her debut short story collection, Subjunctive Moods at Waterstones Islington on 5th July 2018.

HOW TO ORDER

You can order your copy of Subjunctive Moods directly from the publisher.

Normal Deviation: Seeking Short Stories Based on One Weird Pic

It all started with a weird pic and a throwaway tweet:

I want to do a fiction anthology where everyone writes a story just based on a weird ass picture. And then use that pic as the cover.

And then enough people cheered the idea that we decided to make it our first major project at Wonderbox Publishing.

Normal Deviation is seeking “Third Option” short stories based on the following image, up to 6000 words (deadline: 31 Aug 2017). “Third Option” is our shorthand for digging a little deeper into that writerly creativity bucket: we’d like everyone to cast aside (at least) the first two ideas that come to you, and instead focus on the third (or fourth or fifth…) idea to develop. The goal here is to avoid the obvious, to generate fresh ideas, to get at deviation.

We want stories in any genre, from any perspective, any time period and setting. As long as the story is good, and based somehow on this image, we want to read it!

image for inspiration

We’ve launched a Kickstarter to fund the anthology, as we think all authors deserve professional rates (starting at least at a penny per word). Support us, support authors, and please submit and become one of our authors!

Full details and author guidelines are on our website. Subscribe to updates from our weekly blog, get a feel for what we’re like and what we like, and join us in this bizarre story adventure!

Lyle Skains & DeAnn Bell, Editors
Normal Deviation anthology
Wonderbox Publishing

Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed Book Tour

Arachne Press is delighted to announce that Liam Hogan‘s collection of eerie, darkly unsettling and frequently funny fantasy stories, Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed (0ut 6th April) is going on tour.

Deliciously Twisted

Liam will be reading at:

Thursday 06/04/2017 London launch Stoke Newington with Carrie Cohen reading some of the stories by invitation – get in touch and we’ll invite you!
Wednesday 12/04/2017 7pm for 7.30pm Basildon Library The Basildon Centre, St. Martin’s Square, Basildon, SS14 1EE (free)
Thursday 20/4/17 6pm North Kensington Library, 108 Ladbroke Grove, W11 1PZ with Louisa Gummer reading one of the stories. (free)
Tuesday 25/04/2017 7pm Lewisham Library, Lewisham High Street, SE13 6LG with Carrie Cohen reading one of the stories (free)
Wednesday 26/04/2017 7.30 Burley Fisher bookshop, 400 Kingsland Road, Hoxton, E8 4AA with Carrie Cohen reading one of the stories (free)
Friday  28/04/2017 7.30  Albion Beatnik Walton Street, Oxford, OX2 6AA (£2 on the door)
Wednesday 03/05/17 Teashop Tales Queenswood Cafe, Queens Wood Lodge, 42 Muswell Hill Road, London, N10 3JP (£5 on the door)
Thursday  04/05/2017 8pm West Greenwich Library, Greenwich High Road, SE10 8NN with Lisa Rose reading one of the stories (free)
Wednesday  17/05/2017 7pm The Story Sessions, Brockley Deli, 14a Brockley Cross, SE4 1BE with Annalie Wilson reading one of the stories. (free)

Other dates still in discussion.

In the realms of fantasy, it is foolish to upset the wee folk. Downright dangerous to incur the curse of a witch. And above all, it is perilous to ignore a warning.

Happy Ending Not Guaranteed
Contains twenty-seven stories of dark fantasy, from chess-playing automatons to smooth-talking Celtic faeries; from the Longitude Act of 1714 to the End of the World (in fractal form). Bad Kings, bad demons, and bad days abound.

There is humour even in darkness. You just have to look harder for it.

Small Wonder Short Story Festival

smallwonder

Don’t miss out on Small Wonder – the jewel in the crown of short fiction calendar!

Running from 28 September to 2 October at Charleston, the Bloomsbury home of art and ideas, nestled in the South Downs in East Sussex (shuttle buses to and from Lewes Station for every event).

Catch Ali Smith receiving the Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award and a new generation of prize-winning writers including Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride, Lisa McInerney, Kei Miller and Petina Gappah. Lionel Shriver, Elif Shafek and Salley Vickers pay tribute to Charlotte Brontë, and actress Juliet Stevenson reads Poems the Make Grown Women Cry. Join in The Literary Death Match and the Short Story Slam and hone your own writing skills in creative writing workshops.

Browse the programme and book tickets now!

VOTE FOR US! WORDS AND WOMEN SHORTLISTED FOR A SABOTEUR AWARD!

Words and Women are delighted to announce that they have been shortlisted for a National Saboteur award in the ‘best one off event’ category.  The nomination is for this year’s International Women’s Day celebration held on March 8th at the Forum in Norwich. The literary event with a difference saw not only the launch of Words and Women: Two, a second anthology of contemporary women’s writing from the East of England but also the performance of four newly commissioned texts for ‘About,’ an Arts Council supported project which explores the relationship between women and place.

Words and Women’s trademark warmth, eclecticism and vibrancy was on show in Norwich as organisers Belona Greenwood and Lynne Bryan hosted a range of outstanding women writers from the region, reading their winning entries featured in the anthology. Words were intermingled with live music from Anna Mudeka and Sithabele Dube. There were stunning performances from actresses who took on the roles of 16th century Jane Sellars, found ‘idle at Trowse,’ a woman on a pilgrimage of grief, a railway woman’s quest in wartime Britain and a young prostitute, Anguish, incarcerated in a 19th century lunatic asylum, directed by Adina Levay of Chalk Circle Theatre Company and supported by the Arts Council.

‘The event drew a great audience of men, women and children, a range of ages and people travel from as far away as Peterborough and Cambridge to be with us.’ Said Belona Greenwood.

‘It is a really exciting to be shortlisted for this category. We want to encourage people to vote for us. It’s easy, just click on the link.’   VOTE NOW!  http://www.saboteurawards.org

Rozzy

Rozzy Burt as ‘Anguish’ in Counting the Pennies by Tess Little, one of the ‘About’ commissions supported by Arts Council England.

Lora

Lora Stimson reading her winning story, ‘Cornflake Girl’ at Words and Women on IWD, March 8th..

Cover-WW2 copy 1 (1)

‘Words and Women: Two is an excellent anthology of imaginative and superbly written pieces.’ RM Bond-Webster, Eastern Daily Press.

Bristol Story Trail Needs Writers!

Calling all doodlers, ponderers, writers, poets and dreamers!

Get ready for the Bristol Story Trail (starting 15th Feb 2015) brought to you by Dream of a Shadow, an online project bridging the gap between reality and fantasy through storytelling.

Dream of a Shadow is collaborating with published authors and budding writers in Bristol to map the city through the magic of storytelling in an event running alongside Bristol Storyfest 2015.

The more creative minds, the better. So we are currently looking for short story submissions from you – these can be as little as 50 words, or up to 1000 and should be based in Bristol (loosely in the area around Spike Island).

So take a moment and get involved in writing the city!

All stories submitted will be included in the Bristol Story Trail alongside several other writers as well as in exhibitions later in the year, with any contributors fully credited and promoted. For more information, or to email your submissions contact livingfictionbristol@gmail.com

Don’t have time to contribute? No worries – you can still get involved and discover the city of Bristol through some wonderful short works of fiction! Follow us on Twitter to find out how, and spread the word… @DoaSLiveFiction #BristolStoryTrail #WritingTheCity and keep an eye out for new stories on the Bristol Story Trail website

 

150206 Story Trail Poster

WORDS AND WOMEN’S COMPETITION WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

Lora Stimson, who studied creative writing at Norwich School of Art & Design and the UEA is the winner of this year’s Words and Women’s contemporary writing prize in the East of England.

The quality of the 170 entries was very high and there was a broad range of theme and style with women of all ages submitting prose from across the East.  Lora Stimson wins £600 for her original and quietly compelling short story, Cornflake Girl, which will feature in the second Words and Women anthology published in March this year. Lora’s story will appear alongside other highly commended selected entries and the four newly commissioned texts for ‘About,’ an Arts Council supported project which explores the relationship between women and place.

Lora has published stories and poems with Nasty Little Press, Unthank Books, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Streetcake Magazine. In 2014 she was mentored by novelist Shelley Harris as part of the WoMentoring scheme. Her first novel, about sex, grief and model villages, currently hides in a drawer. She has higher hopes for her second novel, about twins, which received an Arts Council England grant and is now in its final edit. Lora works as a programme manager for Writers’ Centre Norwich and sings with the bands Moonshine Swing Seven and The Ferries. She lives in Norwich with her husband and son.

Other prizewinners who will be published in the anthology, include Norwich-based Anna Metcalfe for The Professor, Hannah Garrard for Did You Eat Lunch? Melinda Appleby for Footprints on the Tideline, Julianne Pacheco for Kurt Cobain’s Son, Radhika Oberoi for The Reporter, as well as Patricia Mullin for The Siren and Thea Smiley who will appear twice, with her short story Magazines and her performance text, Holding Stones. A further 16 writers will also have their work included in the anthology.  For a full list of our winning writers please see our blog:  www.wordsandwomennorwich.blogspot.co.uk

The competition was judged by novelist Sarah Ridgard.

The launch of Words and Women: Two and performance of extracts from the ‘About’ Commissions’ will take place on Sunday, March 8th, on International Women’s Day at the Forum, in Norwich.

‘It has been another exciting read,’ said Belona Greenwood, co-organiser of Words and Women. ‘We had a hard time selecting our long list before handing the final responsibility for choosing the winners to this year’s judge, novelist Sarah Ridgard.  We have had a number of winning entries with some connection to the Creative Writing MA at the UEA which continues to bring new talent to Norfolk but entries have come in from all over the five counties displaying a great range of women’s voices.’

‘We judged the work anonymously and it was very exciting to find out the names of our winners at the end of this process. We have selected an outstanding mix of work, both fiction and non-fiction, and look forward to seeing it appear in Words and Women’s second anthology which will be published by Norwich based Unthank Books,’ said Lynne Bryan, Words and Women co-organiser.

Last year’s anthology was shortlisted for the national Saboteur Awards 2014. It has been praised as ’a bold and insightful collection containing much vigorous writing…’ Eastern Daily Press and ‘…a refreshing, vibrant collection that redefined the way I see women’s writing.’

Words and Women showcase women writers who live in the East of England, at all stages of their professional careers in an annual celebration of regional creativity on International Women’s Day, and through commissioning opportunities and an annual new writing prize.

See www.wordsandwomennorwich.blogspot.co.uk