Oneworld editor and former guardian Journalist Richard Lea heads up a new web-based short fiction magazine, Imaginarywhich aims to raise £15,000 next month on Kickstarter.
The start-up magazine has already ranked contributors such as Sarah Hall (in the picture) – the only author to win the BBC National Short Story Award twice – and Alan Mabanko, writer and professor at the University of California, for writing new short stories for its first issue, due out in June 2022. Other contributors to the first edition include New Orleans author Ladee Hubbard and Owen Booth, writer Illustrator and Illustrator Isabel Greenberg. Novelist Helen Stevenson Mabanko will translate.
The quarterly literary magazine will publish specially commissioned short novels from around the world with five short fiction pieces planned for each issue, one of which will be a translated story and a short graphic story. The site will connect with new readers through a blog and podcast featuring in-depth interviews with the authors. The standard subscription will be £20 per year for four issues but on Kickstarter there is an offer of £15 reader pledges for the first year.
Publisher Leah, his team of three, who served as writer and editor at guardian Desk for Books for over 15 years has been podcasting newspaper books and commissioned short stories. He is now a freelance editor at Oneworld. Writer and editor Rachel Aspden will serve as lead editor while the audio producer will be Esther Opoku Gyeni, associate director at Spotify.
Hall said, “I’m really excited ImaginaryA great new platform for the short story. This model is so powerful and versatile, with diverse traditions all over the world, it would be exciting to contribute and read new work by such great writers.”
Leah (right in the picture) Tell Book seller Why he wanted to launch the magazine online now, explaining, “It’s a project I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but reading has spiked in the pandemic and seems to have held up well this year. We’re also more comfortable with digital, engaging with things digitally, but it also seems that the story Shorts are the perfect shape for capturing the tattered nature or feel of our contemporary lives. So this seemed to be the best time to launch a quarterly short fiction magazine.” He added that “the short story genre is in good shape now” and high sales in recent years support this.
When asked how he differentiates it from other literary magazines, Lea said, “There are plenty of other excellent short fiction magazines, but one of the things that stands out about us is that we are digital first. We want to reach people all over the world. We also have translation fiction and illustrated fiction in Turn every issue. This is unusual among magazines. I first started commissioning a short novel when I was in guardian But one of the things we found is that graphic fiction has reached a different kind of reader, those readers who are interested in comics and visual storytelling. And translation is a way to open up, be curious, bring out the best fiction from around the world, and reach readers in those places.”
Imaginary Lea said the new writers will be presented along with the well-known names. “We’ll be open to new writers and one of the things I’m most excited about is putting high profile names next to new writers, finding the most exciting new voices, calling for applications and looking for a book that hasn’t been published in English yet.”
He is keen to foster as cosmopolitan a spirit as possible, saying, “This outside focus and focus on high quality and the world at large is matched by the kinds of voices we hope to find. We’re looking to find voices outside of English and American traditions, diverse voices that push forward a little bit. Being open-minded. Curious and universal in feeling. We also want to distinguish ourselves with the kinds of stories we’re playing.”
Much of the £15,000 from the Kickstarter project will go to paying contributors. “The bulk of the money will be paid on authors and translators fees, and after that we need to build a website, a bit of production cost and a certain amount of fees incurred by Kickstarter and a bit of contingency for the wrinkles of web development. On the team, we try to keep things very abstract so we can define Prioritize our budgets to get the best writers and artists,” Leah said.
In terms of technology, the team is working on developing a “sleek and bold design that will enable people to immerse themselves in text.” Lea added: “The majority of web traffic is on phones, which is very important but we are working on a responsive design so it will look good on a laptop or tablet as well, which is critical so people can find us any way they want. ”
He is also keen that podcasts play a major role in expanding the magazine’s reach. “The podcast is going to play a very important part of it because it’s a subscription based site so people can read stories just by subscribing but we’ll reach out more broadly to the podcast – an interview with a contributor – and a blog with issues that come to our mind and we might have contributors from other places as well.”
While he hopes that Kickstarter will succeed, he is also willing to try other means if it is not. “We’re really excited about the project, so if that doesn’t work, we’ll find another way – there’s a lot of enthusiasm when we talk to people about it.”