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Editor’s note issue 1

Issue 1

As recently as two years ago it was put to me that short stories are a hard, if not impossible sell. In general, readers prefer novels and their expanse; agents prefer to talk up whole and intricate narratives; publishers can brand a novel simply and with one succinct tagline and foreign publishers and foreign readers can digest, interpret and ultimately translate a story of universal suffering or hope far easier than a varied and nuanced collection of similar lessons with multiple casts of characters.

At the time, I nodded in feigned belief and utter misunderstanding. In my naivety and perhaps my simplicity, I thought:

If you really like a bunch of stories, then surely you can communicate that and invoke others to feel the same.

Or at least you can encourage them to give the stories a chance where previously they had not been considered. I suppose at the time I decided that I could sell a collection of short stories with sheer enthusiasm, love for the genre and bloody-minded determination.

Now something has changed. There has been a shift in the length of time it takes to convince someone that their life might be enhanced by reading a short story or two. Why is this easier? Is it that the work is better? No, there have been good and excellent short story writers around (especially around these Irish parts) for decades. Is it that the publishers are interested again? Perhaps. Bloomsbury has named 2012 the year of the short story (planning to publish a collection a month until May). But there is evidence that there may have already been a year of short stories: in 2009, the American novelist Eric Puchner concluded that their popularity is cyclical rather than something brand new (Arminta Wallace, Irish Times, 25 February 2012). Have agents found the way to strike a deal? Hardly. There is no end to the ways in which agents will strike a deal. And finally, as is the natural conclusive question these days, does the internet have anything to do with it?

In the years and decades to come, we will decide that the internet had everything and nothing to do with the many shifts in behaviour at the turn of the twenty-first century. There is much talk now about diminished attention spans and the short story, being short, has been branded a fitting salve for this phenomenon. But there is a danger of forgetting, or never even knowing, the work that goes into creating a narrative full of perfect holes and for this reason, now more than ever, the short story must be hoisted above the parapets but defended against assumptions of simplicity and easy digestion.

THE SOUTH CIRCULAR passionately believes in the short story as an enhancer of lives. We are here because we want to be. Our duty is to that passion first and then to do these stories and their authors a faithful service in bringing their work to a wide and new audience.

The stories we have chosen for the very first issue of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR are, we believe, examples of good short stories. Eddie Stack, Eley Williams, Shane Hulgraine and Adrian Duncan are talented emerging writers. Their stories ask much of their readers; they have created contained little worlds with astonishing logic and surprising rules; they are moments of clarity in a world clogged with junk and we think they are entertaining enough to hold your attention for just a few minutes.

One of the motivators for us when we started THE SOUTH CIRCULAR was the opportunity to collaborate with creatives in industries other than publishing. Hannah Doyle of came on board just in time to create a handsome issue and a nifty website too. And as we’ve said elsewhere before, we are absolutely ecstatic that for the cover of our very first issue, Fuchsia Macaree agreed to create something original and true to the spirit of the journal: a shared discovery.

There is a song by Joanna Newsom, called ‘En Gallop’ which carries the lyric ‘… you unending afterthoughts …’ If we have one wish for the first issue of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR, it is that the stories contained in issue 1 spend just a little longer in your thoughts than the time it takes to read them.



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Issue 1 is in the pipeline!


If you signed up for our Newsletter, then you’ll already know a little about the progress of our journal. Issue 1 is in production and it’s coming along nicely.

We’re delighted to announce that issue 1 of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR will feature stories by Eddie Stack, Eley Williams, Shane Hulgraine and Adrian Duncan. And we’re just ecstatic that Fuchsia Macaree agreed to do a cover for us, with barely a brief to go on!

Way back in early January, we fretted quite a bit about the best publishing format that would best serve our desire to bring you, the readers, an exciting collection of stories. In fact, to be perfectly honest, this question had come up as early as May 2011 and went on until about August but we eventually put it away to concentrate on things like the website and the first round of submissions.

Throughout this process of development, we looked around, in as many nooks and crannies as we could find on our own, and spoke to many different publishing (book and magazine) and digital experts to see what the general feelings were about ebooks, Kindles, iPads, PDFs, Atavist, isssu … the list goes on and on. We also tried to predict the future, keeping a close eye on those busy developing games and educational apps for smartphones and tablets, as well as free online publications.

In the end (or should I say the beginning), we’ve opted for an EPUB format for iPhone, iPad (iBooks) and Android (Aldiko). We made this decision quite soon after Apple announced iBooks Author. Truth is, we felt that even after nine months of planning, time was now against us and we were torn between bringing issue 1 out when we had promised everyone we would and postponing it until we had conquered the obstacle course that is iTunes authorization.

One piece of advice I received very early on, last March in fact at the Banter session, ‘Young guns doing it for themselves’, was to ‘bootstrap’ wherever possible. Don’t spend money when you don’t have to. I’ve also interpreted this to mean, keep things simple until you can make them complex. We’re going to spend the next year working hard to bring you the work of excellent emerging writers, beautiful cover art by a hand-picked wish-list in a format that reflects the very latest in developments in digital publishing.

We won’t rest until we’re absolutely certain we’re on that track, every day, every way.