Suffragettes and Corsets

Her name kept coming up.  Her short stories appeared here and there in litmags I read.  You could say I became a fan.  Then this year she published her first novel.  And so I asked Lucy Ribchester, author of The Hourglass Factory, if she’d submit to a few questions for Circa. (One of the perks of being an editor is that you have an excuse to reach out to a stranger and ask them questions you’d really like to know the answers to.) She generously agreed.

The Hourglass Factory is a thriller set in Edwardian London.  It is a world of suffragettes, music halls, and corset fetishists.  And then there’s the mysterious disappearance of a tightly-laced trapeze artist.

Here is what Lucy had to say when I asked her about the difference between writing short stories and writing a novel:

I think because I grew up reading novels – particularly genre fiction novels – but only began reading short stories as an adult (aside from fairy tales which I never remember reading as a child, just miraculously becoming aware of at some point) it seemed more natural to try writing a novel first. I’m not saying writing a novel is easy – far from it. But trying to structure a short story with zero breathing room to establish characters, and having to bring out the kernel or climax of the story in such a short space of time, is murderous. That’s what I love about reading short stories but it’s also what makes them so bloody difficult to write. There have been (and continue to be) a lot of false starts. But luckily if you write a duff story that really isn’t salvageable, in the end you haven’t invested as much time in it as a novel. There has been a lot of trial and error though. And A LOT of reading other people’s stories, online, in anthologies and in single author collections. My favourite short story writers are Angela Carter, Ian Rankin, Anais Nin, Linda Cracknell and Sarah Hall, all for different reasons.

Click here for the rest of the interview with Lucy Ribchester.

VIDA counts and continents beginning with A

Inspired by VIDA, I thought I would make my own count of the female writers published by Circa in all the issues so far.

In the first issue, the numbers are very encouraging.  Six out the seven contributors are women.  Then things change rather starkly.  The second issue had only three out of ten female contributors.  And in the most recent issue, five out of twelve are women.

What does this mean?  I’m not really sure.  The numbers of submissions have been steadily increasing since that first issue and while I haven’t been noting how many are by women, my impression (admittedly not a fool proof standard) is that the majority, by a slight margin, are male.  While I’m not going to insist each issue has both genders equally represented, I would love to see more from any female submitters out there.

Another trend that has become very clear, in both the slush pile and in the stories accepted for publication, is a strong bias toward fiction based in Western Europe and North America.  Circa is a Canadian publication, first and foremost, and we love to see historical fiction set in Canada (or Rupert’s Land, New France, Kanata, or that nameless pre-historic landmass).  But I know there are fascinating stories from Asia, Australia, Africa and elsewhere that we would love to read.  We want stories from around the world, even if they aren’t from a continent starting with A.

Check the Submissions page for info on how to submit.  Oh, and tell your friends, colleagues, classmates, writing circles, as well.