Today was the launch for the Big Issue annual fiction edition. It was held at the Cube at ACMI and there was a panel which included editors Alan Attwood, and Thuy On and Rochelle Siemienowicz who worked through the initial pile of submissions and produced the shortlist of 28 stories.
I’m thrilled that I made it to the final cut with my story The Dead Man’s Cake. At the launch today, they spoke a little about the history of the fiction edition of the magazine and the selection process, as well as how the edition has evolved, with some containing a mix of commissioned pieces as well as blind-judged ones. This year’s magazine was an open submission and all the final stories are from emerging writers – no names among them, well, apart from Nikki McWatters who I know is published, and there was one other writer who had a story in last year’s edition.
At the launch, Alan sprang a question on the room: Were any of the authors there? Three of us put our hands up. The microphone was passed around and we each spoke a little. This was impromptu and a bit nerve-wracking. Even though I stand up and speak in front of even larger groups all the time, this was very different. I managed fine though, and afterwards a woman came up and told me she’d really enjoyed my story and was still thinking about it even a couple of weeks later. That was a thrill and it was really kind of her to come up to me.
In the cafe nearby, Alan was there with the team, including the lovely Lorraine Pink and Melissa Cranenburgh who I’d had email contact with, and they pulled me over to say hello. That was a thrill. I was there at a table with my family having a bottle of Champagne, and so it was lovely that the Big Issue people wanted to speak to me, so I sat with them a while and they asked questions and it was all wonderful.
Instead of staying on to go see Alex Miller and a final free event, I decided to get on the tram and trundle home with my daughter and mum, and found myself so exhausted I needed a bath.
It’s been a brilliant festival. I’ve loved all the events I went to, I think I selected very well. My tip for next year would be to get onto it quickly and book. Things get sold out – I’ve spoken to a few people who missed out on seeing people on topics they were interested in.