Short fiction reviewed

Today I’m talking to Tania Hershman, who has launched a new project which is very interesting to those who write short stories. Her background and the way she got to this point is fascinating too, and this is what she told me …

You used to be a journalist - how did you get into writing fiction?

I've written fiction since the age of six - beginning with a novel about triplets that fortunately never saw the light of day. I never ever dreamed I'd be able to be a "writer", so I went into journalism as a way to earn money from some kind of writing. It was a great job, but in the end it didn't satisfy the creative part of me.

What's the best thing about being a fiction writer?

Getting to know all the new characters that pop into my head.

And what's the worst thing?

Not being able to get a story down on paper the way it sounded in my head.

What made you decide to start The Short Review?

My short story collection is being published next June, and so I started looking around for places where it might get reviewed. What I saw was very disappointing, with novels getting many more column inches, and I realised that most people don't read short stories not because they're not being published but because they are not being reviewed. I wanted to do anything I could to redress the balance.

What are your aims for this new project?

The site is called "The Short Review - where short story collections step into the spotlight." That's all I am aiming for. I am not trying to sell books - all I want to do is help people find something good to read, and for that "something" to include short story collections and anthologies as well as novels. For readers to see that "short stories" means anything and everything from literary fiction to horror, thrillers, magical realism, comedy, chick lit, new voices and classics. There's something for everyone.

Who do you most admire as a writer, and why?

I have to cheat and name two: Lorrie Moore and Ali Smith. Their stories are a great inspiration to me - reading them showed me that short stories aren't "mini novels", they are an entirely different beast, where every word is vital. Their stories are perfect examples of how you can do so much in such a short space.

What advice would you give somebody who wants to be a reviewer for The Short Review?

Right now, all my reviewers are short story writers themselves, they have a love for the short story and a desire to see collections and anthologies reaching a wider audience. I may take on non-writers too, but passion for the short form is a prerequisite.

And what advice would you give writers hoping to get short stories published?

Having faced a great deal of negativity over the years from people who thought short stories were just practice for writing "the real thing", the novel, I would say, Don't let anyone put you off, and don't let anyone tell you what you should be writing. Don't worry about what the market wants or doesn't want, write what you love to read, what you feel compelled to write, and you will always find people who will share that love when you are ready to send your stories out. Don't be crushed by rejection - it's a necessary flipside to the elation of acceptance. Without one, the other wouldn't be half as sweet!

You have a collection of short fiction coming out soon – how has that influenced the way you look at anthologies and collections?

I am very very lucky to have found Salt Publishing, a small press with a great love for short stories. Contrary to what I was told on my MA in Creative Writing, Salt didn't need my stories to have a "theme" or be "linked" in order to be more commercial. They just liked them. That's the way it should be.

If you were abandoned on a desert island, with just one book for company,what would it be?

Oh god! Difficult one! An anthology with many different voices. Something like The Best American Short Stories of the Century. If there was a British equivalent - but there isn't, to the best of my knowledge - I'd take that!

And issue two The Short Review has just gone live!

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