Jon Call reads his short story “The House of Chicken Wire” featured in Fincham Press student anthology “All That Glitters”

In preparation for the upcoming Hidden Treasures book launch of Fincham Press’s two student anthologies, The Box and All That Glitters, students whose work is featured in the anthologies read their work.

Jon Call reads his short story “The House of Chicken Wire” from Roehampton University’s seventh creative writing student anthology, All That Glitters.

Jon lives in Chicago, Illinois. He was born and raised in a small town in Wyoming and prefers mountains to skyscrapers. He has the literary guilty pleasures of an edgy frat boy, including Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson, but he truly loves reading different slices of Americana, from Carver to O’Conner. He graduated from Lake Forest College with a bachelor’s degree in English and is pursuing an MA in Teaching.

Get your ticket to attend the upcoming free double book launch event of The Box and our newest anthology All That Glitters.

Or order your copy of All That Glitters now.

Haley Jenkins reads her poem “Home Is A Place She Cannot Find” featured in Fincham Press student anthology “The Box”

In preparation for the upcoming Hidden Treasures book launch of Fincham Press’s two student anthologies, The Box and All That Glitters, students whose work is featured in the anthologies read their work.

Haley Jenkins reads her poem Home Is A Place She Cannot Find from Roehampton University’s sixth creative writing student anthology The Box. 

Haley published her first poetry collection Nekorb in 2017 (Veer Books). She has been published twice by Fincham Press, in Guttural magazine, Tears in the Fencepainted spoken, The Journal of British & Irish Innovative PoetryPlaster Cocktail, and others. She runs Selcouth Station Press, an online imprint committed to new writers.

Get your ticket to attend the upcoming free double book launch event of The Box and our newest anthology All That Glitters.

Or order your copy of The Box now.

Video: Aidan Chambers discusses ‘The Age Between’

An interview with Aidan Chambers about his 2020 Fincham Press book The Age Between can now be watched in full online

On 4 November 2020, Aidan Chambers’ most recent critical work The Age Between: Personal Reflections on Youth Fiction (Fincham Press, 2020) was launched online at the inaugural YA Studies Association (YASA) conference. At the event – which was co-organised by Fincham Press, YASA, and the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) at the University of Roehampton – Chambers was in conversation with his editor, Dr Alison Waller (Reader, NCRCL). This discussion, which covered everything from the theory of ‘youth fiction’ that Chambers elaborates in The Age Between to his long, illustrious career as a widely acclaimed novelist and theorist, can now be watched in full below, or on Vimeo.

In the thoughtful set of essays that comprise The Age Between, acclaimed author and critic Aidan Chambers presents his manifesto for youth fiction, weaving together insights from literary history, stylistics, narrative theory, and other fields. Chambers brings a freshness to the analysis of classic texts such as J D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Anne Frank’s Diary, and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, and thinks aloud about the shape, purpose, and future of youth fiction in a lively interview with Deborah Cogan Thacker.

Copies of The Age Between are available for purchase directly from Fincham Press or on Amazon UK

Hidden Treasures: Double Book Launch

After a pause last year, Fincham Press is releasing its two latest student writing anthologies together this May. Readers can hear from the authors in a series of online public readings from May 10, leading up to a live online panel event on Tuesday May 25.

The two collections, All That Glitters and The Box, were held up by the pandemic shut-downs of the last year, but they are now going ahead, with the joint theme of Hidden Treasures. The final event on May 25 will take place via Zoom from 18.30h to 20h, when our special guests Clare Bogan and Giselle Leeb will explore the delights of the anthology as a format.

Clare Bogen is the founding editor of 3 of Cups press, which started in 2017 in the hopes of creating a more equal literary landscape. 3 of Cups have released four anthologies of short stories and creative non-fiction, and are currently working on a poetry anthology to be released later this year. Clare is also the publicity director at Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Giselle Leeb grew up in South Africa and lives in Nottingham. Her short stories have appeared in over forty publications, including Best British Short Stories 2017 (Salt), Ambit, Mslexia, The Lonely Crowd, Litro, and Black Static. She has been placed or shortlisted in competitions including the Ambit, Bridport and Mslexia prizes. She is an assistant editor at Reckoning Journal and a Word Factory Apprentice Award winner 2019, and was recently chosen to attend the David Higham Associates New Writers’ open week. Her story, ‘Scaffolding’, is forthcoming in MAINSTREAM, an anthology of stories from the edges, from Inkandescent.

It is a special delight to bring these two books into the world and reward the patience of their student contributors.

‘I’m thrilled to hear that All That Glitters is finally being published, and my poem, ‘The Last Time’ will be included,’ says Annabel Black, who is studying creative writing and drama, theatre & performance studies.

You can order the two books here. Meanwhile we invite you to follow Fincham Press on social media (see links below) for the latest updates about the Hidden Treasure book launch.

Book your free ticket to the Hidden Treasures book launch here.

Leone Ross: teacher, editor, author – and cover girl

It is with both pride and sadness that we say farewell to Leone Ross, who has been editor of the Fincham Press student writing anthologies since they first appeared seven years ago.

Leone, formerly Senior Lecturer on the Creative Writing Programme, left the University of Roehampton ahead of the April 19 launch of her novel, This One Sky Day. It follows two previous novels, All The Blood Is Red and Orange Laughter, as well as a collection of short stories, Come Let us Sing Anyway.

In an interview with photographer, writer, and podcaster Naomi Woddis, Leone talks about what compels her to write. ‘There’s always private stories going on underneath the surface of people … I write about that, that’s what I’m most intrigued about.’

Her latest work emphasises these layers. The story takes place during one day on the island of Popisho, where everyone is born with magical gift – but one that may not be as helpful as it seems. Xavier, a chef, and Anise, a healer, bring the reader into this world and promise that you won’t leave it the same as when you arrived.

‘As long-time colleagues, Leone and I had the kind of mutual trust that makes collaborations a joy, and brings out the best in the students’ work,’ says Susan Greenberg, publisher of Fincham Press, Senior Lecturer on the Creative Writing Programme and Convener of the MA Publishing. ‘We aim to continue with the same high standards.’

Leone’s last two Fincham Press anthologies – All That Glitters and The Box – are being launched this May and news of the double-book launch will be posted here soon. Meanwhile, you can go ahead and order copies from the the university e-store,: either singly (see Glitters and The Box) or as a launch package.

Free ImprovBot.ai Stock Illustrations for Reuse

Free Image downloads

Hundreds of illustrations by Fincham Press cover artist Rudolf Ammann are now available to download and reuse, with licensing that lets you take, remix, and play, for free!

In spring last year I was invited to join an unusual comedy project which trained artificial neural networks on several years’ worth of historical Edinburgh Fringe festival programmes to generate new virtual show listings. My brief consisted in developing the brand identity and building the website, but, having familiarised myself with the project, I suggested that the purely textual show listings should also be accompanied by illustrations, which I’d be happy to create and supply. Eventually, ImprovBot.ai went live at the start of the Festival in August, and for three weeks kept churning out a dozen illustrated AI-generated show listings a day. The images are now available for creative re-use as non-restrictively licenced stock Illustrations. Here’s some very brief discussion and a few pointers to the various ways of getting hold of the images.

Producing digital illustrations by the hundreds requires a certain serial approach to their manufacturing, so it helps to have archives on hand that can be drawn on for visual elements to tweak and recombine. I have documented some of the elements in the ImprovBot.ai series elsewhere. In this post, let me just point out some areas of overlap with my book cover artwork for Fincham Press.

As a designer and a visual artist I have been collaborating with ImprovBot.ai’s project lead, Melissa Terras, for more than a decade. Prior to ImprovBot.ai (see Melissa’s account of her recent adventures in AI, incidentally), we’ve worked together on a variety of projects, including her book published by Fincham Press, The Professor in Children’s Literature, which I typeset and whose book cover I designed. This cover, based on a drawing by W. Heath Robinson, is among the elements I’ve remixed repeatedly as part of the series’ ‘extras‘ (fig. 1).

Professor Branestawm and Lehrer Lämpel
Fig. 1: Book cover remix: Professor Branestawm and Lehrer Lämpel

The extras, as their name suggests, are perhaps not very central to the ImprovBot.ai series. By contrast,  ‘moresque patterns‘, an ornamentation style that was in wide use across Europe for much of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, are a core element. They appear frequently, often occupying a middle ground that holds a composition together. 

For many pieces in the series, I passed historical moresque patterns through algorithmic deformation filters, thus experimenting further with an imaging technique I had first used on the cover of a recent Fincham Press anthology, In which Dragons Are Real But (see full cover art).  

Many instances in the series (e.g. fig. 2) resemble the initial Dragons cover in that the computationally deformed moresque patterns remain the dominant element.  

Fig. 2: Relatively simple composition dominated by moresque patterns

Some of the illustrations are more complex in their composition, featuring moresque patterns along with other elements, such as mojibake and glitch captures (e.g. fig. 3).

Fig. 3: A more complex composition with several elements conjoined

Availability

The whole set of Improvbot.ai illustrations is available for reuse and can be picked up individually from the project website and the Twitter feed. The images , briefly reviewed by category on a separate page, can also be browsed by these categories. The categories most suitable for re-use are probably these:

Moresque | Capture | Dataviz | Base64 | Network | Hardmod | Mojibake | Noise | Extras

Also available, but perhaps less suitable for reuse might be these categories:

Identity: ImprovBot | Identity: Improverts | The Bot, incl. Multiples Edinburgh and Multiples Shakespeare |

A zip archive of the full illustration set is available for downloading from Zenodo.org, and a subset of individual illustrations is distributed via Pixabay.com.

Legal

The illustrations are distributed under the CC-BY-NC licence, the image set on Pixabay under even less restrictive terms.

Reuse? Feel free to let us know about it!

Some of the images might be suitable for book cover art, a blog post illustration, or they might inspire you to simply play with them and produce a few remixes of your own. If you find a use for them, feel free to drop us a link and let us know via any of the Fincham Press social media presences!

Book Launch: The Age Between

We invite you to join us for the launch of Aidan Chambers’ new book, The Age Between: Personal Reflections on Youth Fiction.

This free-ticket event will take place online
Wednesday 4 November
18.30-19.30 GMT.

It will feature:

  • An introduction by Lisa Sainsbury, Director of the NCRCL
  • Aidan Chambers in conversation with his editor, Alison Waller 
  • Q&A 

The launch is being hosted as part of YA Studies Around the World, an online conference considering young adult literature, media, and culture and in conjunction with the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL).

To book your free place, Register Here

On the Pleasures of the Printed Book

Aidan Chambers, author of The Age Between: Personal Reflections on Youth Fiction, reflects on his relationship with printed books and the younger generation of ‘new book people’.

The Age Between Cover

Let me tell you about a meeting I had three years ago with two-hundred and fifty young people between the ages of eleven and eighteen. I was the guest speaker at the opening of the tenth annual Mare di Libri book festival for young readers, held at Rimini, a seaside town on the north-east coast of Italy. It’s an extraordinary, indeed inspiring event, organised almost entirely by a group of the young people themselves, based on the town’s children’s bookshop. They decide which authors they want to invite, look after them while they are there, organise the meetings, a bookshop, and other activities over a four-day period in June. Groups of young readers from many parts of Italy attend, along with interested adults.

At one point in my talk I said,

Look, I’m eighty-three. I’m probably the last of the traditional book people. And you are the first of the new book people. The readers who read books on iPads and mobile phones. For me, these are new, almost strange devices. You take them for granted. They’ve been around since you were born. They’re not a novelty, just part of your everyday life. A teacher recently told me the worst punishment for pupils’ misbehaviour is to take away their mobile phones and ban their use for more than a day.

Because of that, I’m wondering whether your experience of reading stories and novels or anything in fact is different from mine. And if it is different, how it’s different. So, let me tell you about my experience and then perhaps you will tell me about yours.

For a start, I do read digital books, on my iPad. But what I’ve discovered is that if a book really matters to me, matters so much I want to read it again, want to roam through the pages in any order, want to find particular passages again, and even mark words or sentences or paragraphs so that I can easily find them again, then I buy a traditional printed copy and read that instead of the one on my iPad.

There’s something else. I don’t find reading a book on my iPad as satisfying as reading a printed book. It’s as if the book on my iPad doesn’t exist. Whereas a printed book has an individual identity. I can hold it in my hands. It has a feeling and a smell. And when I’ve read it I can keep it on my bookshelves, and see it and take it down and look at it again whenever I want to. Easily, quickly, a pleasure in itself.

Books that I value become part of my life, part of myself, and I want them with me. They are companions. That is not true, for me anyway, about books on my iPad.

At this point the audience, who had so far been quiet and attentive, began to react. Some were nodding, some began muttering to their neighbours. One called out ‘I do that!’

I was so surprised that I stopped and said, ‘Are any of you like me? Do any of you start reading an eBook and then decide you want it as a printed book?’ There were cries of ‘Si! Si!’

‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Do something for me. Please hold up a hand if you prefer reading a book that matters to you as a printed book rather than as an eBook.’

Almost everyone in the room held up a hand.

‘And if you start reading on screen, how many of you then buy the printed book?’

The same crowd of hands went up.

We spent the rest of the time talking about the differences. We agreed that when you want information quickly, and in brief, online reading is best. We agreed that young people nowadays write and read vast amounts, because they are always busy sending messages on their mobile phones and finding out what they want to know by using search engines. But we also agreed that if you want to read carefully, with lengthy concentration, if you want to think about what you’re reading while you’re reading it, if you want to imagine what you’re reading, when it’s a story, and feel as well as think, and if you want to read something that is long, then the printed book is far better than an eBook or any other digital form.

This was face-to-face living evidence of all I’d read in Maryanne Wolf’s Tales of Literacy for the 21st Century, and Reader, Come Home, which make clear for those of us who are not specialists in neuroscience just how different the experience is of reading a text in a traditional book, and digitally, and why. At its heart, it’s the difference between what Wolf has called ‘deep reading’, and superficial, quick reading. What was inspiring was the conscious distinctions those young readers were making about reading as a valued, necessary activity. And as well as that, their passionate love of reading fiction, poetry, and other forms of narrative writing.

I was with them for four days. Time and again they came up to me in ones and twos to talk about what we’d said in that opening session, and what they thought of the books they were reading, and of mine. I watched them in the bookshop, where ten of the older organisers acted as sales assistants, introducing other young people and adults too to books they thought especially worthwhile.

It made this dinosaur feel that he was not at an end of a culture but part of its evolutionary developments. They were particularly interested in the novels and books published ‘for’ them – the books I call youth fiction, which in my estimation are not merely ‘for’ them but belong to a literature with its own poetics, its own special qualities and identifying features. This is the fiction I write about in The Age Between, in which I try to set out my own experience of writing novels of this kind, and my reading of books which are examples of the literature.

Aidan Chambers

Coming Soon: The Age Between by Aidan Chambers

We’re delighted to be publishing Aidan Chambers’ new book, The Age Between: Personal Reflections on Youth Fiction.

The Age Between Cover

This series of essays explores the history and form of classic texts such as J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Anne Frank’s Diary, and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War. Chambers also examines his own fascinating experiences of reading and writing youth fiction, weaving these together with fresh insights from narrative theory, anthropology and neurology. The book includes a lively discussion between the author and Dr Deborah Cogan Thacker. Chambers is well known for his young adult fiction and critical writings on the craft of fiction, publishing, and young people reading.

We are holding an official online launch for The Age Between on Wednesday 4 November, 18.30-19.30 GMT. Check back for more details and follow Fincham Press on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram .

March 25 cancelled – but Virtual Soirée is on its way

To everyone planning to come to our March 25 book launch and writing soirée – sadly that event is now cancelled. Like others, we are following best advice on social distancing to avoid any contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However we do have plans for an alternative virtual event, which we will announce shortly, along with full results from the Writing Competition. Please keep an eye open for updates.

Meanwhile, we hope you are all taking care of yourselves, and we look forward to seeing you in person at a future date.