Author Archives: London Reader

Open Call: Travel Writing in Europe

Into the Eurozone & Onboard the Eurorail: Travel Stories from Beyond the Borders of Brexit

Deadline November 2nd, 2020

Brexit is locking down the British border for Brits and Europeans alike. Quarantine makes us nostalgic for last year’s trip with friends. Airline emissions now justify sightseeing by rail instead of leaping from continent to continent. Europe is changing. Air is out; rail, electric vehicles, and car-sharing are in. Borders that were razor-wire fences just a few decades ago have become lines in a road—and vice versa. Has Europe’s Erasmus generation grown up to become citizens of everywhere, or of nowhere? Sometimes travelling from one country to another is about the journey, sometimes it’s about the destination, sometimes it’s about the people met along the way, sometimes it’s about the people by your side, and sometimes it’s about the people left behind.

The London Reader is issuing an open call for short stories, travel writing, poems, photography, art, and postcard stories about travelling by land in Europe and neighbouring regions. We’re looking for road stories, interrail stories, city stories, language stories, hitchhiking stories, and border stories. We’re looking for stories focusing on character; stories of (bad) luck on the road; stories of the strangers met along the way, stories of fellow travellers, and stories of family left behind; slice-of-life observations from abroad; poetry about people, places, the traveller, or the road; stories about sustainable travel; stories about low-budget travel; stories of history present; stories of new experiences; stories of culture clash; stories about what it means to be a European after Brexit; and stories about epiphanies that change the traveller. The travel writing submitted to this issue can be true stories, well-researched fiction, or stories loosely based on true events. Submissions should be connected to Europe and focus on the experiences of characters.

The travel writing in this issue will explore themes of…

  • Human relationships and experiences on the road
  • Changing border barriers separating friends and family
  • Passport privilege and difficulties for marginalized people
  • Sustainable, low-emission travel
  • Alternative, low-budget travel
  • European identity in 2020

What to submit: Creative works can be stand-alone pieces or collections, but should generally be fewer than 5,000 words or no more than 4 poems per collection. Multiple submissions, simultaneous submissions, and previously published submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or single A5 page

How to submit: The London Reader submission portal for this issue at https://forms.gle/eFa1imHZs7JigPV39 which requires a Google account

If you have any questions or difficulty submitting, email coordinator@LondonReader.uk

The deadline for submitting on this theme is November 2nd, 2020.

Free Issue!

Our Time in Quarantine
Stories and Poetry from the Lockdown

In this difficult time, we set out to do what we have always done: bring writers and readers together to try to understand our changing world through stories. This collection of entertaining and enlightening stories and poetry brings together individuals in lockdown all over the world. This issue grapples with what it’s like to live in isolation, encounter magic in this moment, or lose a loved one. As difficult as these times are, these stories remind us that we’re not going through it alone

In the current circumstances, not everyone can afford a subscription to a creative writing magazine, but we’d like to share the issue with you nonetheless. That’s why we’re giving the pdf away for free. Just follow the link below:

www.LondonReader.uk/Quarantine

If you’re able to support the writers, poets, and artists who contribute to the London Reader, please consider becoming a subscriber, donating, or simply sharing this post. Every person who donates will receive a complimentary pdf or mobi of a back issue of their choice, and their contribution goes to the writers within the issue.

If you’re interested in powerful, moving stories told by authors with their finger on the beating pulse of this troubling moment, read on.

Cover of Our Time in Quarantine

Our Time in Quarantine

Stories and Poetry from the Lockdown

In quarantine, almost everything has changed—but it has changed for all of us, all at once. As difficult as isolation is, we all share this moment. We are connected the world-over like during no global calamity that has come before. And our stories can help us navigate this pandemic in this moment. They can help us understand it through other people’s eyes. And they can help us remember how it has affected everyone’s lives.

In these stories, a magical clock that last chimed during the Spanish flu is uncovered; neighbours learn everything about each other through their facing windows; one woman’s quarantine feels oddly like a house cat’s; and ghosts of the past come to dinner when no one else can. The stories in this issue were all composed this year. They sprang from the experiences and imaginations of almost twenty different authors grappling with the pandemic.

This issue presents enchanting and affirming short stories from Yvette Viets Flaten, Emma McKee, DC Van Schaick, Amy Lord, Anna McCarthy, Coles Lee, Miriam Huxley, Gabrielle Mullarkey, Douglas W Milliken, and Rekha Valliappan. It includes moving and inspiring poetry by Victoria Fifield, Nancy Cook, Gerard Sarnat, Katrina Dybzynska, Ronda Piszk Broatch, Jen Karetnick, and Anvesh Jain, as well as art from Ann Marie Sekeres, Brenda Mann Hammack, Laisve Rose, and Leo Wijnhoven. This issue also features interviews with the multi-award-winning author Namwali Serpell, whose first novel, the intergenerational epic, The Old Drift has been called “extraordinary, ambitious, evocative, dazzling” by Salman Rushdie; and with Phumlani Pikoli, the author and multidisciplinary artist who’s been cited as an “urgent new voice in South African fiction”.

The work of these authors and artists all bear witness to the greatest health crisis of our times. Through stories, we are deciding what is essential to our lives, we are figuring out what the phrase “the new normal” really means, and we are discovering, we’re all in this together.

Read the digital edition right now for FREE

Subscribe to either the Print or PDF edition of the London Reader to receive four great issues per year

Divisions

Stories of Inequality, Poverty, and Struggle

The 20s have returned with a roar. Wage inequality in the west is at its highest point since the Great Depression, and another global recession looms before many communities have even recovered from the last. What does it mean for those still struggling to thrive—or even just to survive? How do we criticise our own circumstances when it seems like someone else is always worse off? What causes the day-to-day struggles that define inequality in our lives? The answers are not so straightforward, but the pulse of the present moment can be found in its stories.

This collection brings together the beautiful and poignant stories, recollections, poems, and art of Tanatsei Gambura, Guy Prevost, Megan Carlson, Amy B Moreno, Rosa Borreale, Emily Rose Cole, Kevin Doyle, Susan G Duncan, PE Campbell, Kevin Fullerton, Leticia Mandragora, Delwar Hussain, Avra Margariti, Sorrah Edwards-Thro, Leo Wijnhoven, and George F.

What do they tell us about inequality and struggle? They say it is here, right here, as two people discuss an acquaintance’s health concerns at brunch. They say, look, it followed us from the past when forty orphans arrived in Arizona by train. They say, we can feel it, right now, when pulling tight a blanket against the indoor cold. They say it is ongoing, and it is threatening to get worse. The creative writing in this issue doesn’t have solutions, but it does have perspective, and we cannot change course until we know what course we are on.

Subscribe now to access to the most recent issue. To read a previous issue, donate whatever you want, and receive a download link to the PDF:

The London Reader is a cooperative magazine. Your donation supports the writers, artists, and collaborators who made the issue.

Subscribe to either the Print or PDF edition of the London Reader to receive four great issues per year

Motherhood Cover

Motherhood

Stories of Love, Loss, & Life

Motherhood can be all consuming, and yet it is all too often ignored. Why do strangers think they know a bad mother when they read about one incident online? What is the first week of motherhood like, holding a new life in a hospital ward? What do you tell a child who asks about death? What can you do when insomnia and your child’s crying drive you toward the breaking point? Who would you choose if you could magically foresee your future children in every relationship? What are the lengths people will go to have children on a harsh and inhospitable planet? And what would you tell your own mother if you had one last chance? All these stories and more fill the pages within. This issue of the London Reader turns its focus to the trials of motherhood to illuminate the beating heart at the centre of the human experience.

Stories of Love, Loss, & Life features a new story from Emma Donoghue, the award-winning and best-selling author of Room, which has been made into a film of the same name, as well as short stories, personal reflections, poetry, and art from Jayme Koszyn, Louis Evans, Diana Reed, Ewan Morrison (the author of Nina X and Swung), Stacey May Fowles (the author of Infidelity), Micaela Maftei, Laura Tansley, Joanna Streetly, Kay Bolden, Rosaleen Lynch, Nora Nadjarian, Suzanne Skaar, Clare O’Brien, Wilda Morris, Glenna Meeks, Ella Otomewo, Laura Marija Balčiūnaitė, Julie Blankenship, Cynthia Gregorová, and Zena Blackwell. The Motherhood issue is introduced by Kate Everett and includes an interview with Kim Thúy, the award-winning author of Ru and Mãn.

What is motherhood? Can the answer be found in stories of community and isolation, belonging and rejection, hope and fear, love and loss and life? Open this issue, and find out.

Subscribe now to access to the most recent issue. To read a previous issue, donate an amount of your choice, and receive a download link to the PDF:


The London Reader is a cooperative magazine. Your donation supports the writers, artists, and collaborators who made the issue.

Subscribe to either the Print or PDF edition of the London Reader to receive four great issues per year

Existential Dread in the Digital Void

Ominous Horror Stories for the Present Moment

A second face appears in the dark of your phone’s screen; a web search for life’s purpose comes up blank; and your next right swipe might be your last. We stand on the edge of catastrophe and try to ignore the existential crisis by escaping into our devices, but our dread only deepens. This collection of ominous horror stories for the present moment sharpens its focus on the digital void.

Existential Dread in the Digital Void brings together twenty writers and artists who shine their mobile’s dying light down the darkened hallways of our times. The short stories and minifiction in this issue draw us in, like a foreboding buzzing in our pocket, and don’t let us go until their tragic or twist endings satisfy our digital itch. With a guest introduction by Ann Dávila Cardinal, author of Five Midnights, this issue features fiction from Jeff Noon, the award-winning author of Vurt; Bridget Penney; Michael Marshall Smith, winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction more times than any other author; Clare O’Brien; Simon Bestwick (with a guest foreword by Niwar Ameen Obaid); Tobias Wade; Emma Helen Reid; Claire Holahan; James Dorr; Jennifer Companik; Marie Argeris; and Ramsey Campbell, Britain’s most respected living horror writer according to The Oxford Companion to English Literature. The visual art in this issue comes from Elizabeth Barsham, Michael E Tan, Javier Rodríguez Corpa, Lyssa Omega, Joe Roberts, and the duo d’Ores&Deja. Finally, looking at the horror genre in the current era, this issue also interviews Ellen Datlow, editor of The Best Horror of the Year anthologies, and Tananarive Due, award-winning author and executive producer of the groundbreaking documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.

The chilling visions in this issue look both inside our minds, at our existential worries reflected in our devices, and outside into the dark, at the faces of strangers lit only by the screens of their phones. These ominous stories warn us of what we should have already feared, and their intimate touch, like a fingernail under the skin, will make you shiver.

Subscribe now to access to the most recent issue. To read a previous issue, donate whatever you want, and receive a download link to the PDF:


The London Reader is a cooperative magazine. Your donation supports the writers, artists, and collaborators who made the issue.

Subscribe to either the Print or PDF edition of the London Reader to receive four great issues per year

After the Flood

Stories and Poems for our Changing World

Tides reclaim coastal cities, forest fires choke the sky, heat waves scorch the plains, and in the eye of this catastrophe are the stories of families and communities—of fear and hope. The world faces a crisis, and we must search our souls for answers.

How can climate change fit into our stories? This issue of the London Reader re-maps the Earth with new and alternative visions of the present and the future. Stories and Poems for our Changing World faces crisis head-on, but the authors within come to many different conclusions. The cli-fi creative writing in this issue begins with pessimism, revealing the extent of natural disasters. It then revisits and re-evaluates our connection to the natural world. Finally, it finds a path forward, through calamity, with renewed ambition to make a difference.

After the Flood features an interview and fiction from Kim Stanley Robinson, the award-winning author of New York 2140 and the Mars Trilogy. The other creative works within include thought-provoking short stories from Elle Wild, Steve Carr, Hannah Wright, Kai Thomas, Katherine McMahon, Bell Selkie, and Omar El Akkad, author of American War; moving poems from Memye Curtis Tucker, Janette Ayachi, Ivy Archer, Colleen West, Matthew Gwathmey, Alice Mills, Robbi Nester, and Jill Evans; and stunning artwork from Artem Mirolevich, Christina Riley, Claire Price, David Ambarzumjan, and Ira Joel Haber, featured in the MoMA and Guggenheim.

We face a flood of unprecedented destruction. What will come after is up to us.

“A powerful intervention in our moment.”
Kim Stanley Robinson

Subscribe now to access to the most recent issue. To read a previous issue, donate whatever you want, and receive a download link to the PDF:

The London Reader is a cooperative magazine. Your donation supports the writers, artists, and collaborators who made the issue.

Subscribe to either the Print or PDF edition of the London Reader to receive four great issues per year

“When I came to the United States…”

South Texas Detention CenterMore than 90 Somali nationals were deported from the United States at the end of January. They are being returned to a country of strife that they crossed an ocean to flee.

Writing in the most recent issue of the London Reader, Somali-born Ali Dahir tells the story of his persecution in Somalia and later Ethiopia as well as his detainment as a refugee in the United States, where he was held at the South Texas Detention Center.

Read more about the issue, “Home: Stories of identity, belonging, loss, and migration”

“When I came to the United States, I never expected a situation like I experienced in detention. Perhaps I expected a warmer reception. I faced a lot of problems in the immigration jail: racism, discrimination, and abuse both at the hands of the officers and the other detainees. I had no dignity left after being terrorized by the police in Ethiopia, but I was not immune to the words hurled at me in the detention centre.

“Behind the razor wires, steel bars, and concrete walls of the prisons, the Muslim inmates are treated the worst. We were the objects of sarcasm and ridicule by other inmates. If you tried to complain to the officers, they normally sided with the detainees. I regularly heard mocking calls and jeers, like ‘Hey Osama! Did you come to bomb the US or do you just want to bomb the cell?’ Muslim detainees are the longest-serving detainees.”

He was deported from the United States in the summer of 2016.

You read more of the Dahir’s story alongside other writers and artists exploring the concept of Home in PDF through Patreon.com or on Kindle through Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

“Nobody Knows”

CHILD: “Mother, where is our house?”
Mother: “Son, it’s been crushed. But don’t be scared. We will build another one.”
Child: “Mother, where is my school?”
Mother: “Son, the tent became your school.”
Child: “Mother, what is the future?”
Mother: “My son, the future’s unknown — nobody knows it except God.”

Girls painting“Nobody Knows” was written by a 14-year-old Syrian refugee and is featured in the latest issue of the The London Reader, “Home: Stories of identity, belonging, loss, and migration”.

These stories, drawings, and photographs come from a small group of Syrian girls aged 11 to 16. The girls are living in Akré Refugee Camp, a former-Suddam Hussein intelligence centre, in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. The refugees’ houses are former holding cells. The camp has a heavy presence. When the building was first opened, all you would have seen, in every direction, was the peeling, yellow walls and, hung large on the 2nd floor, the Kurdish flag. Standing in the centre of the camp, turning in a circle, you would have seen the same image, again and again. The bareness. The despair.

When the children arrived in the camp, this scene of desolation and misery is all they had left to call home. The children had fled the Syrian war, some on horseback, many on foot, across the desert. They had been lined up at checkpoints, counted, told where to avoid landmines, and sent to the camps. Many of the children had lost relatives, and some had seen bodies scattered in the streets. Here, at the camp, the horrors that these young children witnessed are not spoken of. They are dealt with silently, gently, and personally.

The children, however, transformed the camp, reclaimed the space, called it their own. Over the last two years, the children have covered nearly every available wall with their thoughts, their feelings, their anger, their misery, their longing for the past, and their hopes for the future.

You can see more of the girls’ artwork and stories alongside other writers and artists exploring the concept of Home in PDF through Patreon.com or on Kindle through Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Fiction in the Facebook Era

zuckerberg-facebook-dead

“A glitch on Friday afternoon led Facebook to declare two million users, including Zuckerberg himself, prematurely dead. People logged in to their accounts to find that they had been ‘memorialized'”The Guardian

Our lives and technology have intertwined with often uncanny fallout. In the Autumn issue of the London Reader, #cyberpunkNOW, a piece of minifiction by Benn Ward looks at the eerie cybershade that lives on in social media after a person’s death:

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Contrails
by Benn Ward

I HAD WORK in the morning, my first day back after the funeral, but I sat awake in the light of my computer screen, clicking through Dad’s Facebook page.

Condolences and prayers were still popping up on his wall—“You were the best coach I could have asked for. Thank you,” and, “Steve and I will always remember you. Love, Cherryl”—as if they were writing to his smiling profile picture taken at the top of Mount Rundle.

All of his Likes were in the present tense too. Curling. Hiking. He hadn’t played cribbage in years, but it was listed there. His most recent photo was from a friend’s retirement party in February at the Westwood Lodge, when he could still walk.

His last status was just beneath the condolences, asking if anyone had a spare 20 litre pot they could lend our family for Easter Dinner. He had trouble chewing solid foods, and Mom was going to make a soup.

These photographs, these words, this contrail of his life, is all that’s left. But none of the pictures showed him in his hospital bed, unspeaking, shaking, as he grasped my hand.

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To read more of the #cyberpunkNOW issue, including another piece of minifiction in the “Facebook Family Furnishings” series by Benn Ward, subscribe or donate to the London Reader.