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Comment from the book world in August 2023

August 2023

'An accidental short story writer'

28 August 2023

‘I think I'm a bit of an accidental short story writer. Most of my education took place in the US and my desire to write really crystallised while I was over there doing a BA. At the time I studied, the model I absorbed for a writing career was that you hone your craft learning the art of the short story and then you, effectively, graduate to writing novels...

What I like about short stories is that they offer infinite possibilities for play. Experimentation in a novel can get exhausting, but the brevity of the short form means you can attempt some zany things and not overstay your welcome in your readers' heads. That's kind of how they function for me: as playgrounds and laboratories to try things out, test ideas, discover answers I didn't expect, and explore.'

Malachi McIntosh, former editor of the magazine Wasafiri, whose first collection of stories, Parables, Fables, Nightmares is published by The Emma Press in September, in the Bookseller.

My story of getting published

14 August 2023

'Lots of people ask me for advice on getting published. All I can really offer however is what happened to me. I wrote my first novel while working full time as a journalist. The first draft took me about year to complete and while it was dreadful (it had characters changing name in the middle of a sentence and had plot holes you could drive an articulated lorry through) it was at the same time a complete novel, something I could work on, fix and improve, which is exactly what I did. I then gave it to friends to read, took on board their comments before packaging up the first three chapters and a synopsis and sending copies out to three literary agents whose names I'd obtained from the Writers and Artist Yearbook.

After a long wait I received a rejection followed by another rejection and then just as I was beginning to lose hope the third agent got back to me and informed me that she loved the book. We worked on the manuscript together for three months ironing out the creases before sending it to seven publishers on a gloomy Friday afternoon in October. By ten o'clock the following Monday morning we had two offers on the table and it went to a bidding war which was not as much fun as it sounds and made my head hurt a great deal...'

Mike Gayle, author of 17 novels, including My Legendary Girlfriend, Wish You were Here and All the Lonely People, on his website.