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Sorcery of Smog anthology of competition winners' short stories

The Sorcery of Smog anthology of competition winners’ short stories

Earlyworks Press launches new anthology

Locally run publishing group Earlyworks Press is about to launch their latest book of competition winners’ short stories, The Sorcery of Smog. Earlyworks produces anthologies of poetry and fiction by writers who have been successful in their competitions, as well as work by members of their club and their associates. Open to all, the competitions attract work of a high standard from across the English-speaking world. HOT’s Zelly Restorick asked Kay Green about Earlyworks origins and her vision.

Please tell HOT about Earlyworks Press – from its beginnings through to the current day. 

One summer’s day nearly 25 years ago, when I was struggling to find my way into the world of writing and publishing, I found myself standing in the Mendip Hills, looking down at the old Wookey Hole paper mill, which is now a museum, as so many things are. I thought, if I were rich, I’d buy that and create a press that produced real, beautiful books designed by the authors and illustrators. Small print-run perhaps, but real books that feel right and smell right. It’d be specially for people who hadn’t been published much before but had something worth saying, and it wouldn’t cost them a fortune. I’d call it Earlyworks Press.

All my life, any work I’ve done by choice rather than stark necessity has been about language and stories. For quite a few years, I worked as a teacher and then a teacher-trainer in English as a Foreign Language, whilst producing stories and articles in my spare time. I used to write fantasy and alternative histories for preference, and when my stuff had appeared in a range of little magazines, Andrew Hook over at Elastic Press offered to publish a collection.

I gave that book the title Jung’s People because that covered my main interests – psychology, fantasy and – well, humans. But rather than going on to develop my writing or teaching career, I got fascinated by the small press experience, and decided that it would work better if a group of people with a variety of reasons for being small press buffs or general bibliophiles worked together. With some friends, I set up some writing competitions and projects, which we advertised nationwide, then invited the shortlisted authors and the winner to join us in a writers’/indie publishers’ group based on an online forum.

Tell us about the Earlyworks competitions.

That was well over 10 years ago. We have a good long-standing group now, but the competitions are irresistible. For all their faults (how can you ever be sure you’ve chosen the ‘best’ story out of the wonderful variety we get?), the comps continue to bring to our notice great stories and fascinating authors. Every year, we produce an anthology of the best fiction, and usually at least one other book – poetry and/or flash fiction, or sometimes a more specialist collection. You can see them all on the links from the Publications page on the Earlyworks website. You can also see the current competitions detailed there.

We’ve paid out thousands in prize money over the years, usually manage to get enough entry fees to pay for printing and done our best to promote the anthologies in a way that’s useful for authors developing their presence, funding marketing and events from book sales money if we’re lucky. All in all, I prefer the unthemed comps, because the works that come in speak so strongly of the zeitgeist, and of what writers are grappling with. Sorcery of Smog has stories about war, about identity, some beautifully produced nostalgia, and some catastrophic endings. Very 2018.

Details about Earlyworks Press Short Story Competition Winners here.

The Sorcery of Smog can be bought via this link. On sale now!

I wouldn’t call Earlyworks Press a business exactly – businesses are supposed to make money, aren’t they? But we generally manage to make the comps pay for themselves, despite stubbornly continuing to produce proper paper books of the winners. However, the activities and contacts within the club are a great help to me, and other members, in various bespoke sole-trader careers around writing and other branches of the arts.

Kay Green with the new book, The Sorcery of Smog. Photo Chandra Masoliver

What sort of books do you publish? Do you accept unsolicited work?

Earlyworks Press does have a very few titles that aren’t competition books; back in the days when there was more funding for community-centre based projects, I produced several books about Hastings, by Hastings people, through Earlyworks Press, and once in a while, one of our competition shortlisted authors has a title ready to go that we think we can do justice to. But I really wouldn’t recommend sending submissions to Earlyworks Press unless you’re a club member or a shortlisted author – the world would probably end before it reached the top of the reading pile.

I do run my own small press separately from Earlyworks Press, through which I have occasionally published books offered to me by Hastings writers – most recently, Ann Kramer’s Turbulent Spinsters, which I’m delighted with.

Tell us about your connection to Hastings.

I’ve lived here on and off since I was 12 – my mother’s family lived here before us for several generations, so I guess I’m pretty well rooted here – and it’s just the best place to live and work that I’ve come across.

What keeps you motivated?

Good question – can anyone tell me how you stop being a publisher? That wasn’t on the business start-up course I went on all those years ago but to be honest, I doubt I’ll ever seriously try to stop. As an elderly relative once said to me, once you’ve been self-employed, you’ll never be unemployed. You might be broke, but you’ll never be unemployed. I do books – and other language and story things. Always have. If I stop doing it, could someone please check to see if I’ve died?

Earlyworks Press website and Facebook Page.

*** We will shortly be posting HOT journalist Chandra Masoliver’s short story, Wood and Fire, which is included in The Sorcery of Smog.

Posted 14:59 Wednesday, Mar 21, 2018 In: Literature

1 Comment


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  1. SecretSpi

    Many thanks for an excellent interview. It’s thanks to Kay Green and people like her, with an enthusiasm for stories, literature and books that the publishing industry hasn’t (yet) been reduced to a bland, formulaic commodity.

    Comment by SecretSpi — Thursday, Mar 22, 2018 @ 08:02

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