Launch of National Short Story Week
Last night I went along to the launch of the UK’s first National Short Story Week, which was held in the Charles Dickens Museum in London. I arrived to find the museum packed with people from all areas of the short story world: writers, booksellers, publishers, voice artists, and teachers of creative writing, all keen to do their bit to help promote this much loved but often marginalised genre.
The event kicked off with an introduction from the founder and Director of the event, Ian Skillicorn, who outlined the objectives of the week (which is 22 – 28th November): to encourage people to read and write short stories, and help promote ‘commercial opportunities for individuals and organisations involved in the short story form.’ This is so very badly needed – lots of people write short stories, but so few buy them that it’s an extremely difficult genre to make work commercially. Unless this changes, writers will be relying on publishers to take them on for the pure love of their work, which sadly, doesn’t pay the rent. Ian then handed over to the Patron, celebrated romance author, Katy Fforde, who gave a rousing speech encouraging people to read, write and support the short story. We then all went upstairs for a real treat – a wonderful reading of Dickens’ ‘The Signal Man’ given by Keith Drinknel. There’s nothing quite like being read to by someone so talented.
The advent of National Short Story week is a great step forward for the British short story. At Salt we’ve timed our autumn/winter short story collections to come out in November, including our 2010 Scott Prize winners: Susannah Rickards (who was there last night), Tom Vowler and Patrick Holland. It’s a great hook for new collections and readings – an opportunity for them to be part of something bigger that hopefully, over time, will be as high profile as National Poetry Day. Good luck to everyone involved and thanks for a lovely and stimulating evening.