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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday 16 November 2015

Literary Salmon - a new fish in the publishing pond

Here's something that caught my attention for National Short Story Week: 3 writers get together,   set up a publishing venture and launch a quality anthology. Who are they?
Literary Salmon ...
Jane Roberts @JaneEHRoberts
Bernie Deehan @BernieDeehan
Francoise Harvey @zarahruth
And here is their first spawning: a collection of 12 short stories all titled The Casual Electrocution of Strangers.

You can download this collection FREE from Literary Salmon here.
I loved the concept of one title and 12 writers. Each story is a unique interpretation of the title, including both contemporary and speculative stories. There are some talented short story writers involved: Lisa Blower, Darren Lee and Jane Roberts to name a few. Tragedy and comedy happily entwine with some wonderfully diverse characters ... a woman executioner on death row, a boy obsessed with the Ghostbusters film, a mysterious and dangerous Parisian ex-Madam. Prepared to be stimulated by these electrifying tales.

I've met the absolutely lovely, Jane Roberts, at The Word Factory short story salon (held on the last Saturday of every month in Waterstones Picadilly). Jane's a terrific writer and talented flasher (flash fiction and all that) and kindly agreed to guest on here today and talk about Literary Salmon ...

Q. You launched Literary Salmon in October with its debut collection of short stories ‘The Casual Electrocution of Strangers’ (excellent title!). Can you take us back to how and when Literary Salmon was spawned and where did the name come from?
Three little words. The Word Factory. Proving that the concept of the Literary Salon is alive and well. More than that, it is a vital resource for writers and readers who wish to connect with literature and like-minded people.
So Fran, Bernie, and I took that idea and got a bit excited about a fun, fishy pun (with a glass of Word Factory wine). Yet it was only till later on in the year that we spawned the idea for the collection when crime queen Val McDermid mentioned on Twitter that she was having problems with people ringing her doorbell in the dead of night. You can look back on Twitter Search and see the conversation we all had back then. It’s amazing to think a few words created a whole collection of twelve short stories.

Q. One title. Twelve different writers for each story. What’s that all about?
An intriguing creative exercise is what it boils down to! We decided to each choose three other writers from our various backgrounds to share in our project. Our combined writing backgrounds range from: founding (or working for) publishing houses and literary festivals, editing, performance and spoken word fiction, poetry, novels, and short fiction published in many places with fixtures as high up as shortlisting for the BBC National Short Story Award. We didn’t know what our writers would do with the title; we only knew that we had faith in them to bring something uniquely theirs in terms of style and approach to the project.
Best of all – every writer in this collection has the lead story. We are very proud of each individual story.

Q. With three of you involved in the venture how did you share out the tasks? And who’s behind the fabulous cover image and the stunningly funky contents page?
This is just a note to my fellow Literary Salmon Crew. It doesn’t often happen that you get to work and share ideas with Very Lovely People. They are. The commitment, enthusiasm, and creative boundaries that have been explored as a group – it’s been a wonderful process.
We all dipped into the final edits; after several rounds of the writers commenting on or editing three other stories as well as their own. I think we all felt honoured by the level of trust people were willing to share in their groups. Comments were always set out to be constructive and helpful to the writer(s); there would have been no room for any kind of abuse or heavy-handedness in this project.
A big vote of thanks from us all to Fran for web-related procedures and formatting. She’s the technology genius in our camp! Bernie has been a fantastic force with an eagle eye on editing, ideas, and formatting. Mostly, I’ve been badgering people to look at what we’re up to and keeping the Twitter-side up: here, I must add a huge vote of thanks to everybody I have badgered – you know who you are and you have all been amazing with your time, suggestions, endorsements, and reviews.
We all had quite a concise idea of how we wanted the collection to look and feel (even if we had little idea about the content and style of the stories being entered at the initial stages), because we all read widely in the short story field – many volumes of Salt Publishing’s Best Short Stories, Unthank Books Unthology series, many literary magazines (Litro, Bare Fiction, Short Fiction, The Stinging Fly, The Lonely Press, Wales Arts Review…), not to mention veritable libraries of modern and classic short fiction authors.
The artwork is the brainchild of Harry Milburn (@realprintsharry). The Literary Salmon logo was created by Kate Townsend (@KateJTownsend). The realisation of an artist’s interpretation of some of those tiny seeds of our initial ideas is awe-inspiring. People who haven’t read the collection yet comment to say the artwork has inspired them to read the stories. A fantastic marriage of creative talent.

Q. I’ve really enjoyed this first collection, but what does the future hold for Literary Salmon?
Can you talk about your next venture? At present readers can download the collection for FREE - do you plan to charge a fee at some point? You must have overheads to cover etc.
The future plans for more Literary Salmon leaps in the “Fresh Waters of Literature” are yet to be more precisely-delineated. But Fran, Bernie, and I are keen to keep the Literary Salmon buoyed up and afloat.
We are extremely proud to have been supported by so many generous people in the publishing world. We will be having a swim around in the next few weeks and months, promoting the work of our writers in the collection, and, most importantly, promoting their new collections, novels, performances, and workshops however we can. I feel we have made a bond between some people where only a fragment existed before – a sort of mutual support network.
It would be a shame not to try and get The Casual Electrocution of Strangers into print copy. Perhaps, along with some exciting new stories… Samples of fiction work very well to hook a reader. With the wealth of difference in the inaugural collection, and the statistics of our “shares” and “downloads”, Literary Salmon has made an impressive first leap. On Twitter alone, a Literary Salmon tweet nets views in the thousands. Not bad for a small fry! Of course, if a print copy became a possibility, it would be judged in-line with similar projects in terms of reader-friendly pricing strategy. And it would be wonderful to be able to give something back to our writers!
We’re all learning new skills on the job. Our enthusiasm for the love of reading and writing – and sharing that love – knows no bounds. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, we would be more than happy to hear from you.

If that isn’t electrifying enough, Literary Salmon are proud to be featuring in a slot at the Word Factory December Party! We can’t think of a more apt way to celebrate – come and join us! Details on The Word Factory website.
Q. Can other writers get involved in future publications -will there be submission opportunities?
We are all absolutely thrilled by the level of engagement – both from our writers and readers. It would be fantastic to involve more people in the future. One clear response is that sometimes a writer needs to write something for the love of writing, to re-engage with the fun and joy of the processes without the fear of rejection and the stress of deadlines. Furthermore, writing in this way produces a piece of fiction that can inspire a lot of readers. It is a potent gift, to be able to enjoy these simple acts. Who wouldn’t want to take part in that?

Please look out for further Literary Salmon sightings as we continue our Blog Tour, and thank you, Tracy (& LitPig) for hosting us! As a writer we all admire, it is fantastic to have your Salmon support!

Catch the Literary Salmon
Twitter: @LiterarySalmon and #LiterarySalmon #LitSal


  1. It always amazes me how differently writers can use the same theme or concept.

    1. That's the wonderful thing about writers, Patsy :)

  2. Thank you so much, Tracy and Jane, for this fin-tastic interview. The Casual Electrocution of Strangers is a beautiful project which showcases the most excellent writing and has produced an inspiring catch of magnificent, shining stories. I am sure this collection will be the first of many. xxx

    1. Thank you, Joanna. Love the fishy puns ... The venture is a terrific achievement and well done to Literary Salmon for dipping a toe (or fin?).

  3. Replies
    1. Do download the collection, Julia. It's a great read.

  4. That's a good idea.

    1. Neat isn't it, Susan. Love how writers will all find something different to say about one theme or title.

  5. I was honoured to be asked to take part - and astounded at the end result - both at what I achieved in my own writing, with support and critiques - and the overall collection. I am still savouring everyone's stories. Thank you Literary Salmon - you are fry -tfully fabulous. Nadia x

    1. What a great story, Nadia. It brought back a few memories (not all good) of those 'toddler' years & petting zoos ...

  6. Thanks for letting us know about this fascinating new venture! Sounds interesting and exciting.

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. Have a look at the collection if you have time.

  7. Thanks, Tracy. I've downloaded. Now got to find time to read it!

    1. That's great, Sally. You can dip in whenever you've got time that's the beauty of collections on Kindles etc.

  8. I love the title and it sounds like a great initiative. Thanks for the interview, Jane and Tracy.

  9. Thanks, Wendy. I recommend this is one to download :)


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