short story september

So I was scrolling through Twitter the other day, as I do, and I came across an account dedicated to Short Story September. I had a quick gander, because I love short stories, and thought that it would be really interesting to interview the creator of the campaign, as well as generally chat about short stories!
So, here is my interview with Farhana Shaikh, the creator of Dahlia Books and Short Story September.
1. Thank you for agreeing to being interviewed by me! Could you introduce Dahlia Books, as well as Short Story September?
Thanks for having me! Dahlia Books is a small independent publisher based in Leicester. We’re committed to championing regional and diverse writing as well as showcasing new talent. Short Story September is a month-long initiative dedicated to celebrating the short story form and encouraging anyone to put pen to paper.
2. Why did you start Short Story September? What exactly do you do to celebrate writers and readers of short stories?
So Short Story September was launched in 2018 with one goal – to unite short story readers and writers. I guess you could say we were blown away by the response, which saw 300 people sign up to our mailing list, attract 600 new followers to our twitter account and reach just under 380k people through our hashtag #ShortStorySept. The campaign – run exclusively on Twitter and our website – showcases one short story and prompt a day. So readers get a chance to read exceptional writing but writers get a chance to kick start the engine and create new work.
3. Why do you think that short stories are read less than other types of narrative fiction, such as novels?
I’m not sure that they are. I mean I know sales of short fiction has been traditionally poor with publishers very reluctant to publish collections by new writers. However, with the rise of MA programmes and online journals, the short form really lends itself to fail fast when you’re writing. You can work on a short story over a matter of days rather than years and actually get to an understanding as a writer of what it is that you’re trying to do. So from a writer’s point of view they are read often critically to understand the dynamics of storytelling. So I think they are read – as well as enjoyed by readers – in great numbers but probably how we account for that reading is somewhat different to counting book sales. A case in point: Cat person.
4. What would you recommend to someone who doesn’t know how to get into reading short stories? Where should they start?
That’s a really good question. I think my own love for short stories started in audio. So I think a good place start if the idea of sitting down to read is out of the question, is to seek out stuff that already exists online – in audio. The BBC National Short Story Podcast is always excellent and I guess part of the fun of listening to short stories is that you can do so while working on other things.
5. Do you think that people are reading more short stories, in comparison to five years ago? Do you think that the increase in bite-size narratives such as Twitter threads and blog posts play a role?
I guess I’ve alluded to that in a previous answer and I would definitely say that there’s been more activity in terms of people writing short stories. Whether it’s because of the proliferation of creative writing courses and competitions, I don’t know. I should say that I think the digital tools we have at our disposal now is definitely helping us to get more of these stories in the hands of readers.
6. Part of Short Story September is to give recommendations of collections! What are your three favourite collections of short stories that have come out this year?
Ooh how do you pick? So I am a massive fan of anything that gives voice to the deliberately silenced, so I think my hot picks this year are:
Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
And I’m biased but I’m also in love with the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize anthology 2019 which is on it’s way to the printers this week.
7. What does the future of Short Story September hold? I’m looking forward to next year already!
I’m so glad you asked. So in our first year we showcased writers, this year we’re profiling collections and in our third year – and I realise this might seem totally crazy – but I’m hoping to do a short story festival in my hometown Leicester. I also want the campaign to go national next year, so I’ll be hopefully partnering up with lots of organisations, publishers and indies to make that happen!
Thank you so much to Farhana for answering my questions! Sign up to the Short Story September newsletter here – it features a weekly round-up of our campaign activity, with exclusive prompts, prize draws and opportunities.

One thought on “short story september

  1. Pingback: september wrap-up

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