The Death of the Short Story?
There are so few outlets for short stories these days. It didn’t used to be the case. There was a Golden Age of the short story from the 1880s to perhaps the 1950s when there were lots of magazines like The Strand and John O’London’s Weekly that published them. The Strand, most famous for the Sherlock Holmes stories, ceased publication in 1950 and John O’London’s Weekly in 1954. The London newspaper, the Evening Standard, also published short stories. Not sure when it stopped, but that was probably the 1950s, too. I don’t know why these magazines stopped selling. It coincides with people beginning to watch more TV and I wonder if there is a connection.
As a keen short story writer, I think wistfully of those glory days. Nowadays in the UK it is principally women’s magazines that still publish short stories on a regular basis – I’ve had a couple myself in The People’s Friend. It’s a bit different in the US: there’s Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and others. I don’t know where I would be without the wonderful EQMM, which has published a number of my stories.
Having said all this, I have to admit that the last couple of years have been particularly productive for me with four stories published in anthologies, two more in EQMM, and others in the pipeline. Last year I also had a story long-listed for the Margery Allingham Prize. Like many people, I have struggled to write during the pandemic and it has been less daunting to tackle a short story than to work on a novel. I’ve also had fun extending my range and have written a couple of horror stories for the splendid Comma Press, which specialises in short story collections. One of them was published last year in The New Abject and another is coming out later this year.
But perhaps the most fun I’ve had was in writing a short story featuring Cassandra James who was the protagonist in my first three novels, and deciding what had happened to her in the intervening years. The story, ‘Some Other Dracula,’ is out later this month in the new CWA anthology, Music of the Night. More about next time.