The London Book Fair can drown people. You come here as a bright-eyed young author or editor, wanting to find your ‘in’ into publishing, and after three days of trying hard to be noticed, you leave disheartened and refuse to get out of bed for a week. Don’t let this happen to you. People won’t talk to you unless you approach them, so make use of your time here, enjoy yourselves, gate-crash parties, attend the seminars and just love the books.
So, is it essential to attend the London Book Fair? For those of you wanting to get into publishing in London or the United Kingdom then yes, it really is worth going. It is a fantastic networking opportunity where you can talk to people, attend seminars, follow your interests and generally get a feel for the breadth of what the industry covers. The question of whether or nor it is helpful for writers to attend the LBF is more difficult to answer. On one hand, if you are an emerging writer who is not necessarily interested in having something commercially published but is working hard at getting noticed by literary magazines and smaller presses, then possibly the LBF is not for you. This is an industry event, where economic jargon is standard and people constantly ask ‘who are you represented by?’ If this does not faze you, then by all means go. Go for the opportunity to meet people and discover new things. True to this spirit, I have gathered a miscellany of tidbits from my wanderings, I hope they also take you to unexpected places.
London, United Kingdom
The Word Factory celebrates everything short story related. Founded by former Times journalist Cathy Galvin, these intimate saloons are held on the last Saturday of every month at Waterstones Picadilly. The events draw big names, with the likes of A.S. Byatt reading and providing wisdom on the art of the short story. The next one is on the 24th of May and Sir Peter Stothard, editor of The Times for ten years, is headlining. You can either spend the afternoon participating in a short story workshop (although not cheap at £60) or you can attend the reading in the evening for £12. So if you’re passing through London any time soon you can purchase tickets here.
Paul McVeigh, a short story writer himself and, co-coordinator of The Word Factory, keeps a blog titled, Paul McVeigh, which has regularly updated information regarding short story opportunities in the UK – it’s full of useful nuggets so worth saving in your browser.
Tŷ Newydd, Wales
Need a Spring fling in Wales to gain ground on that tricky project? Tŷ Newydd or ‘New House’ is a fairytale-esque abode that has been standing on the River Covert for five centuries and was once home to former Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. Now home to Literature Wales, Tŷ Newydd is opening its doors to writers who want to disappear into a lyrical setting. From the 12–19 May you can stay in Tŷ Newydd for a pricey £415 ($800),with, with catering and accommodation included in the cost (travel is extra). There are no pre-requisites for attending the short retreat. This is for writers who thrive on new surroundings and the old-world likeness of the Welsh language. Literature Wales also run courses at Tŷ Newydd. The ‘Stories in Our Surroundings’ course, from 12–16 June, will take you on trips through North Wales and have you examining where ‘place’ renders itself important in story telling. Courses cost £450 which includes accommodation and catering and the program.
The Stinging Fly is a journal that was established in 1997 as an outlet for ‘new writers’ with ‘new writing’ to be shown off to the world. Based in Dublin, they publish short stories, interviews and poetry from Irish and iInternational writers, with notable contributors including Sharon Olds and Kevin Barry (Paul McVeigh recommended him to me at the fair as ‘the best short-story writer of our time’). Their submissions open three times a year with the next round due to open in June. The Stinging Fly is also involved with the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award, which is the largest Irish cash prize for short stories. This year the judges included Anne Enright. Entries re-open early 2015.
For those of you already working as a publisher or are a sub-agent and interested in expanding your horizons to Scandinavian literature, the Swedish Literature Council are providing grants of up to 7000 SK ($1350 AUD) and providing accommodation and travel to Gotëborg Book Fair between 24–27 24 – 27 of September. This year the fair is taking an Brazillian focus, with the full program yet to be announced.
The Klaustrid Artists-in-Residence program is open for applications for residencies in 2015. The Klaustrid, or ‘the Monastery’, allows writers and artists from various disciplines to reside in Icelandic author Gunnar Gunnarson’s former house. It is in north-east Iceland and you may feel at the end of the world, anonymous to everyone and everything but you work for anywhere between 3–8 weeks. Accommodation costs are included, but travel and food expenses need to be paid for by the artist (note that Iceland is not the cheapest country). Applications are based on the merit of the artist. More information regarding the residency can be found here and applications can be downloaded here.
Eastern Europe has limited presence in our canon of literature, yet countries like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania all have fantastic, gritty literary cultures. In Rîga there is an association called NOASS that has an active residency program, inviting international artists to stay in their regal headquarters, a white floating house situated on the river Daugava. The residency encourages you to discover Rîga, as well as Tallinn, Estonia and Villnius, Lithuania, and to absorb the eclectic culture into your work. Timeframes for your stay are flexible according to preference and you will need to cover all subsistence, travel and material costs. The most efficient way to send through your application is to email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, otherwise they do accept mail applications. You can gather more information for this incredible residency here and you can download the application form under the ‘Criteria for Artists’ heading.
Relations, a brand new literary magazine dedicated to new Croatian writing, is hot off the press and a brilliant read. There are fifteen short stories, all translated from Croatian into English by Tomislav Kuzmanovic, May Hrgović, Celia Hawkesworth, Tatjana Jambrišak, Marija Dukic and Sime Dušević. ‘Welcome Mister Popović’ by Edo Popović is a dark, humorous account of an author at a literary festival and the bizarre closeness authors develop with their assigned publicists: ‘If a woman with a bottle of vodka in her hand ever shows up at your door, all the chances are, on that night you’ll be peeing in your toilet tank’. In his story ‘Symmetries of a Miracle’, by Zoran Feric provokes us with enigmatic phrases like: “ICE IS A PHYSICAL STATE WHICH ALLOWS AN ORDINARY MAN TO BECOME CHRIST!”. While the magazine is hard to find online and it has only just published, we have managed to track down a link to a page that is under construction. You can find out more from the Croatia Writer’s Society. For future reference, the ISSN is: 1334-6768. Email them and order a copy, it’s worth every Eurocent and every minute of waiting.
- Japan was not present at the London Book Fair this year, which was, we admit, disappointing. Granta, however, was present and a little butterfly mentioned that author Hiromi Kawakami will be in the UK in May for the launch of Granta 127: Japan. We are very excited because:
- Granta 127: Japan was launched at the Tokyo International Literary Festival last month to celebrate the opening of the Granta Japan branch. Now the launch is coming to London! The list of authors is diverse, including Hiromi Kawakami and Kimiko Hahn, and will provide a multitude of insights into this culturally intricate country. The launch is on Tuesday 6th of May at 7pm at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon and will feature readings and conversations with Hiromi Kawakami and Yukiko Motoya.
- Hiromi Kawakami will be travelling up to Norwich after the London launch to read at the Norwich Writers’ Centre. The event is on 7th of May at 6pm and you can book your tickets here. Drink sake and converse intimately with the Independent Foreign Fiction Award-shortlisted author. We will be in attendance and we hope to see you as well.
For our third and final article in our Departures LBF series, Eleanor Chandler will be reporting on all things translation: looking at the hows, the whys and the ethical dilemmas of translation. The next installment is not to be missed. Until then, take your pen somewhere unexpected. It may not be a castle in Wales or an Icelandic monastery, but see what you can do.