Author Archives: London Reader

Drama & Dragons

Drama & Dragons: Stories about Games and Growing up

From their humble beginnings a half century ago, pen-and-paper roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons have gone on to become a global cultural phenomenon and inspired many generations of writers to think deeper about the stories they create. This issue of the London Reader delves into the worlds of these games and the stories of the people who play them.

Guest introductions by Emily Care Boss and Steve Jackson give insight into the connections between games and literature. Short stories, poetry, and art by Jeff Noon, author of Vurt; Bridget Penney; PK Merlott; Innes Smith; Jesse Gazic; Christine King; Rachael Arsenault; Ian McLachlan; d’Ores&Deja; Kevin Oberlin; Paul Carrick; Inbal Breda; Stefan Poag; Eric Quigley; and Nicolò Maioli all explore roleplaying games and the lives of their players. This issue also presents an interview with the New York Times best-selling author of the Dragonlance series, Margaret Weis.

Drama & Dragons includes a Bonus Feature with three one-page, ready-to-play roleplaying games that walk the line between literature and games, as well as a Bonus Feature on LitRPG fiction, a new genre of fantasy and sci-fi, where the stories take place within a computer game and the rules of the game impact the characters. This bonus section includes interviews with the founders of LitRPG—Vasily Mahanenko, Alex Bobl, and D. Rus—as well as excerpts from LitRPG novels by Holly Jennings and Ember Lane.

Join these storytellers on their adventures as they explore the dungeons of our collective imagination and confront the troubles that lie within.

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Open Call: Drama & Dragons/Fans & Fantasy

Stories About Games, the People Who Play Them, and their Imaginative Worlds

Deadline August 5th, 2018

From its humble beginnings as roughly printed booklets a half century ago, Dungeons & Dragons has gone on to become a global phenomenon and has inspired many writers, including George R. R. Martin, to fall in love with fiction and to think deeper about their characters and the worlds they inhabit. The London Reader is looking for stories that explore this connection.

The London Reader is issuing an open call for creative writing and other artwork where fantasy and fantasy games are central to the story, such as in Ready Player One, Stranger Things, Neal Stephenson’s The Big U, Tad Williams’s Otherland novels, Mazes & Monsters, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim, the 2017 Jumanji movie, or many episodes of TV sitcoms where the characters sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons.

There have been many novels featuring games, but now the game has changed. LitRPG is a genre of fiction that developed in Russia over the last five years, first pioneered by Vasily Mahanenko and Alex Bobl. In LitRPG stories, a character inhabits a game world, overcomes its challenges, and “levels-up”. This issue will have a special feature on LitRPG stories, and we encourage LitRPG submissions as well as other experimental approaches to the fantasy genre.

While this call for submissions is open to fiction about all kinds of games, the issue will focus on stories featuring fantasy games in particular, such as in Stranger Things. Stories can also explore the social relationships of groups of players as both table-top and video games bring groups together on an adventure, leading to both inter-personal conflict and life-long friendships.

This issue will feature short stories, minifiction, experimental works, poems, and artwork that explores games and the fantasy worlds they inhabit. Traditional fantasy fiction inspired by roleplaying games will also be considered, but most submissions should feature the relationship and dynamics between players and fantasy games.

Story prompts and inspirations:

  • A bad break-up and the impact it has on a group of gaming friends.
  • A bullied teen finds themselves trapped in a virtual reality game and learns from the exp.
  • An existential crisis is caused when a divorcee realizes all there is to her life is a game.
  • Real world politics threaten to rip a virtual game world apart.
  • A gamer falls in love with their character.
  • The imaginary nations in a complicated game of thrones spills over into the real world.
  • A new research chemical causes players to experience a game in a vivid and real way.
  • A re-imagining of the “Satanic panic” of the 70s and 80s when fanatical Christians believed that games were tools of dark magic and the devil.
  • Four players gather for one last game after the death of their Game Master.

What to submit: Creative works can be stand-alone pieces or collections, but should be fewer than 5,000 words, or no more than 5 poems. Multiple submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or single A5 page.

How to submit: Email submissions as word attachments to  coordinator@LondonReader.uk and place “Drama & Dragons SUBMISSION” in the subject line. Please include a short biographical statement in the body of the e-mail and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and whether you hold publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is August 5th, 2018

Truth, Lies, & Fiction for a Post-Fact Age

Our lives are based on the fictions we tell ourselves and each other. Every new friendship grows out of the characters we present and perceive; every social media status and photograph we upload narrates the way we see the world; and every politician has a story they want us to believe. How can we navigate the truths and lies of our lives in this post-fact age?

In 2016, ‘post-truth’ was named the word of the year, and Matthew d’Ancona makes the case that we are living in a post-truth era. The short stories, poems, interviews, and art in this issue interrogate truth, lies, and the role of fiction in these trying times. Whether they deal with the big political lies we hear on TV or the little personal lies we tell about ourselves or our sexuality, the subtle and thought-provoking stories in this issue of the London Reader explore our difficult relationship with the truth—how we bend, break, and mend it—and they offer a pleasant reprieve from the swirling pandemonium of lies in our increasingly digital lives.

Truth, Lies, & Fiction for a Post-Fact Age features: new minifiction from Jeff Noon, author of Vurt; interviews with Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, and Matthew d’Ancona, author of Post-Truth; as well as stories, poetry, and art from AJ Berasaluce, Ruth Brandt, Rachel Bullock, Nicholas Gurewitch of Perry Bible Fellowship fame, Kat Hanula, Barbara E. Hunt, Wes Lee, Andrew Lloyd-Jones, Scott Stavrou, Laura Theis, Daniel Uncapher, Mike Wilson, and Christopher Woods.

Whether from a timeless or decidedly 21st century perspective, all of the writing in this volume considers the role of truth and lies in our lives today. At a time when the news is called into question, fiction can help us rediscover the truth.

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After Words: Animal Reflections

Stories, Poetry, and Essays on the Lives of Animals

We live side by side with animals. A flock of pigeons roosting on a rooftop is as apparently ordinary a scene as cats scrapping down the street or squirrels teasing their would-be chasers before turning tail to safety. How often we forget that we, too, are animals, and that our relationships with other animals can help us better understand the world we share with them. How often do we remember that as our ambitions and cities keep growing, the lives of animals among us keep changing? After Words: Animal Reflections questions our place in the world by exploring how animals have visited and haunted our lives and writing.

Curator Christina Claudia Galego frames the issue with new fiction by Meg Elison, winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, and critical poetry by Daniel Scott Tysdal, a ReLit Award recipient and TEDx speaker. Alongside these selections are creative essays, short stories, and poems by Ed Ahern, Mikki Aronoff, Janette Ayachi, Sarah Barr, Evan J. Coleman, Matt Daly, AJ Huffman, Matthew Hollett, Tom Larsen, Wes Lee, Janet McCann, Christopher M. McDonough, Cecile Rossant, Benjamin Paynter, David F. Shultz, Dan Veach, and Melanie Whipman, as well as affecting artwork by JJ Paynter, Dan Veach, Severine Richardson, and Jagoda Woźny.

After Words: Animal Reflections also presents a timely exchange with Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, and a thoughtful interview with Giller Prize-winner André Alexis, author of Fifteen Dogs.

For those who wonder where their dog goes at night, what it’s like to see an elk in the wild, or whether animals are people too, this issue of the London Reader is for you.

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Open Call: Post-Truth Fiction for a Post-Fact Age

Stories and Reflections on Truth in the 21st Century

Deadline May 6, 2018

The London Reader is issuing an open call for short stories and minifiction that touch on the topics of truth, media, and fake news, and how they affect our lives in the 21st century. Ideal submissions include both relatable stories about characters living in the world of social media as well as experimental stories that explore the nature of fact and fiction. Submissions of visual art and poetry on the same themes are also encouraged.

News invented by the newspaper and click-bait headlines; everyday life distorted by the smartphone lens; dystopias of political doublespeak and corporate social experiments; the unreliable narrators of social media stories or dating profiles; characters caught up in a world of falsehoods and fake news; and creative writing about the shifting standards of truth, such as in Alice Munro’s short story on storytelling, “Family Furnishings”. Fact and fiction often overlap, and this issue of the London Reader features stories that play in that grey area between truth and truthiness and stories of the characters trying to navigate that difference. At a time when the news is called into question, fiction can help us rediscover the truth.

What to submit: Creative works can be standalone pieces or collections, but should be fewer than 5,000 words. Multiple submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or single A5 page.

How to submit: Email submissions as word document attachments to coordinator@LondonReader.uk and place “Post-Truth SUBMISSION” in the subject line. Please include a short biographical statement in the body of the e-mail and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and whether you hold publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is May 6, 2018.

Open Call: Writing and Reflections on the Lives of Animals

After Words: Animal Reflections

Deadline: January 31, 2018

The London Reader is issuing an open call for fiction and nonfiction writing about animals, in the form of short stories, minifiction, creative essays, or poetry, as well as art and photography on this theme:

We live side by side with animals. A flock of pigeons roosting on a rooftop is as apparently ordinary a scene as that of cats scrapping audibly down the street or squirrels teasing their would-be chasers before turning tail to safety. Dogs are practically everywhere—many are members of our own families. How often we forget that we, too, are animals, and that our relationships with animals speak tellingly both to the history and condition of our species.

After Words: Animal Reflections will focus on the lives of animals—in themselves, in imagination, in relationship, and in thoughtful combinations thereof. In fable, fantasy, allegory—and in forms more and less traditional and experimental—submissions for After Words will reveal the moving ways animals have visited and haunted our lives and writing, and explore how, in our basest and most elevated moments alike, we belong to their number.

What to submit: Creative works can be standalone pieces or collections, but should be fewer than 4,000 words. Final selections will be weighed in favour of shorter works. Multiple submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or a single page.

How to submit: Email submissions and questions to coordinator@LondonReader.uk. Place ‘AFTER WORDS’ in the subject line.

Please include a short biographical statement in the body of the e-mail, and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and whether you hold publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is January 31, 2018.

Wish You Were Here

Writing and Reflections on Travel

This issue of the London Reader invites you to pick a date, book a ticket, and step out your front door into the words of travellers from around the world. Wish You Were Here: Writing and Reflections on Travel is a collection of stories, poems, and thoughts about life on the road, in the big city, and even in our own backyards as seen by a visitor from somewhere else.

This issue features interviews with prolific writer and traveller Don George, who wrote Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing, and Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace and multiple travel memoirs and editor of The Virago Book of Women Travellers. The issue is introduced by travel writer and academic Mark Anthony Jarman, and it features travel stories by Sneha Abraham, Lucas Abrahão, M. M. Adjarian, Mia Gaudin, Nancy Ludmerer, Clare O’Brien, Fiona Sibley, Elen Turner, and Alexis Wolfe as well as poetry by Allison Adair, Rose Condo, Ben Fagan, Charles Leggett, Lindsay Reid, and Kaz Sussman.

If you miss the sea, especially if you’ve never been before, if you want to get lost with an old friend and find yourself somewhere new, if you want go where there’s no mobile reception or where you can hide in the crowds, if you want to set out for thirty days on a river and feel the ache in your shoulders under the pale northern lights, if you want to remember your honeymoon or remember that restless spring in Madrid when even the buildings were sweating in anticipation of the night, if you want to travel, next week or next year, this issue of the London Reader is for you.

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Words from Within

Stories of Mental Disturbance

It often feels to those who suffer from mental illness that words cannot convey their experiences. The twenty voices in this issue of the London Reader take up that challenge in creative writing. If there are any words that come close to capturing our mental states, it is the climactic sentence of a short story, the concluding line of a sincere confession, or the final metaphor of a sharp poem. Within these pages, writers and poets, essayists and lyricists, psychologists and sufferers, lay bare their experiences with mental illness, showing us both its ugly and its sympathetic side, with their Words from Within.

What is mental illness? It is different for each of us. It is being awake all night and feeling the buzz of a neon sunrise without looking. It is a ransom note demanding you give up normality in exchange for your life. It is sitting at an empty shoreline and deciding whether to swim or give in. It is a troubling phone call from a close friend that could be the last. These images come from the emotional and captivating stories and poems within the pages of this volume.

Featuring…

Interviews with award-winning novelists Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook, and Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from renowned writers like Beth Aviv, Amy Bee, and Alexis-Rueal, award-winning poets like Fern G. Z. Carr and Leland James, psychologist Alberta Nassi, sisters Rebecca and Carinya Sharples, and many others whose work has been inspired by their or their loved ones’ struggles with mental illness.

The creative writing of Words from Within: Stories of Mental Disturbance brings to the page both the pain and the perseverance of the everyday and the extreme experiences of those who suffer from mental illness.

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Open Call: Writing and Reflections on Travel

Wish You Were Here: Writing and Reflections on Travel

Deadline: November 5, 2017

The London Reader is issuing an open call for fiction and nonfiction travel writing in the form of short stories, minifiction, creative essays, or poetry as well as art and photography on the same theme.

The freedom of fitting all your responsibilities in a backpack; the mixed anxiety and excitement of your airplane taking off; the swelling contentment of watching the sun set into a foreign sea. Wish You Were Here will feature the stories of world travelers—stories of following the call of the road, of feeling small in a big world, of coming of age by going abroad, and of losing yourself to discover yourself.

What to Submit: Creative works can be stand alone pieces or collections, but should be less than 4,000 words. Final selection will be weighed in favour of shorter works. Multiple submissions are allowed.

How to Submit: Email submissions or questions to coordinator@LondonReader.uk. Place ‘WISH YOU WERE HERE’ in the subject line. Please include a biographical personal statement in the body of the e-mail, and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and if you hold the publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is November 5, 2017.

The Hate Speech Monologues

This issue of the London Reader brings you heartbreakingly personal stories of experiences of hate from around the world. From stories of escaping genocide or mass-murder, to dealing with hate in the home, the classroom, or on the street, the Hate Speech Monologues deals with the ugly realities of prejudice in the wider world, but it carries with it the hope that hate can be overcome.

Each of the pieces selected for this issue of the London Reader was originally performed on the stage. They were written from personal experiences and presented by the writers. These storytellers come from all over the world, but shared a stage together in Budapest as part of the original ‘Hate Speech’ Monologues. This issue of the London Reader presents some of the most powerful and compelling narratives and poems performed at the ‘Hate Speech’ Monologues in celebration of its fifth anniversary. This issue stands as a tribute to the power of stories to build connections and to stand up to hate.

Drawing on their own personal experiences of hate and discrimination, this issue features personal stories and poetry from: the award-winning poet and TEDx Talk speaker Nilofer Khan Habibullah; Mariya Parodi, Communications Associate for the International Rescue Committee; Elizabeth Joy Loudon; Philippe-Edner Marius; Sarah Ahmed; Ruth Simister; Jacob Verhagen; and more. This issue also features interviews with the academic Theodore M. Shaw and author Ibram X. Kendi on hate speech and racism in America.

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