Launching a Shitstorm

Open Pen Novelette ≠1

is Shitstorm by Fernando Sdrigotti.

This fierce little book hits bookshops in November. We initiate this Shitstorm at Brick Lane Books on Thursday, November 8. Sdrigotti will read from his Shitstorm that very evening, following a short Q&A with Influx Press head Kit Caless.

The book is priced at £4.99 and when you see it, you’re gonna freak at how attractive it is.

To RSVP and for full details:

More on our novelette series. and Shitstorm.

Introducing Tamim Sadikali

This week we welcome a new short story head to the Open Pen unit (P-Unit). And this very day we launch our monthly Short Story of the Month feature, brought to you by that very short story juggernaut, the formidable Tamim Sadikali.

Each month Tamim will give us his favourite story from the world of short fiction. New, old, print or online, if he’s feasted eyes upon it it’s got a shot of being our Short Story of the Month.

Tamim is himself is a writer, currently working on his own short story collection, and even lending himself to that most egregious of formats the “novel” with his debut Dear Infidel (Hansib), released in 2014, and available to buy here.

You can follow him on twitter @TamimSadikali.

Check out his first Short Story of the Month:

Short Story of the Month – “A Polish Joke” by AGNIESZKA DALE



Short Story of the Month:

‘A Polish Joke’

by Agnieszka Dale


Why am I here, you ask? You want to start? Is this your first question? I’m sure I’ve told you before. … I came to Great Britain to mix my blood. This was my only reason, which I gave to the border control guard. Not the benefits, not the work possibilities, I said to him, but sexual intercourses with a Brit.

What? You don’t have that option on your form? … Sorry. Just tick “other reasons”.

In the future, they’ll slow the ageing process down… right down. Men won’t hit their straps until 100. And we’ll all have more sex. Not for intimacy or love or even animal release. Just to… explore possibilities. Combinations and permutations. ‘User-testing’, if you will.

‘So’, I hear you ask (cry), when is this nirvana due? Well maybe, just maybe, it’s ‘now’. Because if we were judged from the past or the future, or even laterally – North, South or Outer Space – we’d be flayed. For all that cocksureness in the consensus mood of our day…we could look like fucking idiots. And that’s the jack-in-the-box of Hello Poland, a story in Agnieszka Dale’s Fox Season – the Polish-born, London-based writer’s debut short story collection. Hello Poland is surreal, absurd even, but funny – very funny, and illustrates something exhibited throughout the collection – the use of a clown-face to mask sober meditations: here, a parent’s love for their child, and the folly of (over-)confidence in our mores. 

There are exceptions. Basic Wash, for example, is an uncomplicated but beautiful story about death. Told through a young boy, we see him observe his father being hit by a wave of grief, on remembering his mother during some mundane moment. And death and dying aside, feminism and in particular motherhood, are strong, satellite concerns. But the core of Fox Season lies not in sex or death or the nurturing instinct, but in the existential nausea of the migrant. And this perspective that Dale brings – of being at home and yet feeling like an alien, of being made to feel like an alien… Of having absorbed a litany of micro-aggressions, and yet finding ‘us’ to be the strange ones – this is the eye of the storm, raging in the centre of this collection. Dale is a far-from-dispassionate all-seeing eye: bearing witness and choosing not to forget; to instead write a barbed love letter to Brexit Britain. And even when a story is not about the Brits, it sort of still is. Making Babies for Great Britain boils down to Polish women having to endure British men, who fail to rise to the occasion / always come in their pants. (Caveat: reviewer could be being paranoid here..)

Despite the course grist to her mill, Dale’s stories are surreal; playful, even. Indeed, the author’s humour works on two levels: superficially, the often oddball jokes work – ‘…It was of course a scary prospect to be on her own, on a farm, with three boys, one of whom was a little girl called Barbara…’ – but the humour is mere obfuscation, masking a sustained attack on her targets: and it’s the British who most often are caught in the crosshairs – specifically, their (perceived) natural-born sense of superiority over…well, everyone. (Dale’s take on the ‘White Other’ category, as seen on the UK Census and other forms, is worthy enough reason to pick this collection up.) 

In Fox Season, Dale makes her (British) reader walk through a Hall of Mirrors and have a good laugh at all the weird and wonderful distortions, before exiting and realising that, sans mirrors, the distortions remain. But for all the tipsy humour, her points are consistently sober: that as a woman and a mother, life would be complicated enough. And that the experience of migrancy, of being a Pole in London, has been akin to soured cream poured on top. Very occasionally, she lets the funny-mask slip – ‘…will the world ever laugh at British men, collectively, the way they laughed at Polish men in the twentieth century?’ – but mostly the message is well wrapped up in riddle, and her sing-song is entertaining, pleasantly distracting, to the point where one could almost miss that the joke is really on ‘us’ (you). ‘There’s a white man, a black man, and a Polak…’, begins a set-piece within the same story, the stellar finale to the collection, A Polish Joke. And you’ll have to read it to see how that one ends… Suffice to say though, that through filters of prose and humour, Dale is earnestly paying back the ‘compliment’ – and with interest.

o          o          o

Reviewed and recommended by Tamim Sadikali

Fox Season: and Other Short Stories (Jantar Publishingby Agnieszka Dale was release in October 2017. Buy now.



Tamim Sadikali is the author of Dear Infidel (Hansib, 2014), and has recently completed a short story collection. Twitter: @TamimSadikali.


The world is at sea, and there are tales to wail, we say. And here they are, they are the stories of

Open Pen Issue Twenty-Two.

Our cover is blue and amber and on closer inspection you’ll see the land mammal; a leopard. It is most likely Josh Neal’s final illustration for Open Pen before he goes off to conquer the world as the finest living, breathing illustrator colour has known. We thank him for his wonderful illustrations over the years that have become synonymous with Open Pen. Where do we go from here?

Fortunately we’re just as into the fiction in our pages as ever. The leopard you see is the visual interpretation of our cover short story, ‘Margot and the Leopard’ by London based Nicole Adams.

N Quentin Woolf returns after a short hiatus with ‘Independent Thought’, and Limehouse Books editor Bobby Nayyar provides the guest editorial.

The fiction continues with shorts from Anita Goveas with “Undercurrents”, Simon Marshland with “The Anniversary”, “Barcodes” by Gene Farmer and Open Pen guilty pleasure Mat Woolfenden closes the edition with “Deathbed”.

Look out for Open Pen Issue Twenty-Two, it’s free and it’s hitting your indie bookshop September 29.

Also worth keeping an eye on is our online presence. We’re keen to put out as many short stories we believe in and enjoyed as possible, so as has been the case over the last few issues, we’ll be extending the issue across our website, giving you more scowling, frowning, naughty clowning fiction than ever. More, more, more.

If you can’t hit one of our stockists, consider subscribing to Open Pen.


How The Light Gets In  by Clare Fisher (Influx Press, 2018)

Order How The Light Gets In direct from Influx Press here.

How The Light Gets In (Influx Press, 2018) is a collection of short fiction written by Clare Fisher (@claresitafisher). Although she has previously published a novel (All The Good Things, Viking, 2017) this is her first collection of short stories, and it’s great. 

The world (perhaps that’s the wrong word) that Fisher evokes is very familiar, is very relatable, and on the two or three occasions when a piece veers outside of that, it’s pretty apparent (not that these off-theme pieces are bad, just different). Ironically, this is the opposite of what ordinarily disappoints me when I am disappointed by a short story collection, i.e. a lack of variety, a failure to change tone, setting or pace. In How The Light Gets In, though, I-

Gonna start that again. How The Light Gets In offered a different reading experience to what I am used to when reading short fiction, quite possibly because – and I haven’t mentioned this yet – this is a collection of flash fiction, as in hyper short stories, as in stories of such a minimal length that that that there are literally almost a hundred stories here, even though the book is only 200ish pages long. 

That’s right, I shit you not Open Pen readers: this slim volume of short fiction contains about 100 stories. That’s an estimate, I haven’t counted, but certainly it was a lot, probably about that amount, and it allowed me to slip into a dense web of fictionality that wrapped me up, battered me about and made me laugh, made me weep, made me think about life tens and tens of different times. This is realistic, contemporary fiction, and the book contains a deep and – finally in prose – ubiquitous relationship with smartphone technology. How many times have I checked my phone while writing this review? How many times have you glanced towards yours while reading it? In Fisher’s stories, social media and smartphones are everywhere, but not in the clunky, unrealistic way they can exist in fiction, but as a believable and accurate representation of how technology forms the background to our lives now. Much like how fiction from the 19th century included industrial smog, poverty and slums as an unremarkable backdrop, and Renaissance texts contain (to a modern reader) an excess of references to the Christ child, the internet is what life is now, and Fisher captures that elegantly, captures it true.

Fisher’s stories are often frank and often visceral, with lots about sexuality and relationships and human interactions, painted with a clear emotionality. There are some great turns of phrase, some gorgeous vignettes, and there are recurring characters and narratives throughout, often with a twist of perspective or a clear change in time. For example, we meet a young woman shamefully recounting being the victim of a violent knife attack while she was intoxicated, and much later in the book we find her finally coming to terms with the facial scarring this left her with… We meet a family grieving for the loss of a mother/wife, where some of the children try to steal possessions from their rapidly ageing father, while later on we see the father gaining a new lease of life by finding an online community of people who care as much about documenting potholes as he does. These are just two of the connected pieces, and though not everything recurs, a lot does, and as this became more apparent towards the final section of the book it made me wonder if I had a) missed connections that I should have noticed, or b) presumed some that weren’t intentional. I’m a self-critical reader, though, whatever I’m reading (or doing more generally) I will find a way to judge, critique or otherwise insult myself. Fisher’s stories engaged me, and maybe I saw all the links, maybe I didn’t, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself whichever way round this was.


Like Influx Press’ smash hit short story collection of last year, Eley Williams’ Attrib. and other stories (my thoughts here), How The Light Gets In discusses contemporary British life with a focus on family, on work, on responsibility, and on relationships. However, both of these books have distinctly different styles. While Williams’ work contains a complex engagement with the nuance of language (i.e. the structure of words and sentences themselves and the “real world” repercussions of the gulf between what we need to express and what we can express using the linguistic tools we possess), Fisher instead evokes beautifully complex scenarios, relationships and identities in crisp, swift sentences. This is an emotionally potent and often arresting volume of stories, and it uses lists and thematic repetition to drive its points firmly into the psyche of the reader.

One story, ‘trying’, stuck with me: “London is a city of trying. / Trying to be faster, funnier, quirkier, cleverer […] But trying is hard.” The rest of this piece is then a list of distinctly contemporary events and how hard they are, including “It’s hard when you’ve just been dumped and when you’re comfortably single and when you’re so comfortable in your relationship that you don’t always remember to shut the door when you go to the toilet.” Yeah, as Fisher writes in the final paragraph, “It’s hard being human”, and there is this thread of truth, of wisdom, I suppose, throughout the book. Fisher is my age, my generation innit, and the way she evokes the life lived by youngish literary types navigating complex adulthood in the millennial age is accurate and engaging (to me anyway). The stories here feel like things that have, will, might and could happen to my friends, to me, to my peers, to my own family and to the families of people I know. Life is complex, life is hard, life is full of difficult decisions and confusingly complex events, we are all part of other people’s stories as well as our own, and How The Light Gets In manages to capture this by using the reappearance of people and places in the background of other lives. 

That is what real life is like – a minor interaction between people can be thought of in different ways: for example, one story details a young woman taking a photograph for some tourists on a bridge over the Thames, only for these people to reappear much later as the centre of a story about adoption and quasi-incest. Fisher flips the focus of this chance encounter, and this reflects reality. This is a cacophonous and complex collection where echoes and shadows constantly exist: the cracks of light, the cracks of darkness.


I’ve never read a collection of flash pieces before, but I’m really glad to have done so, because – at least here – the patchwork, quiltlike, mosaic world created is a deeply human one. Because we enter into and then out of so many different experiences, moments, identities, we are collaged into an understanding of a wider existence. There are – and I suppose this is the most significant thing about a collection of flash fiction – roughly 100 stories here. Yes, one hundred whole narratives, and though some of them do connect, it is not 100 chapters of one story, it is not a “novel in flash”. At first I was worried that I was going to find How The Light Gets In kinda tiring to read – not having read a book like this I was uncertain how to approach it. Should I read every piece slowly and closely like a poem, savouring each word, or should I instead read them like I would ordinarily read prose fiction, i.e. more quickly? 


For me, the difference between how I read verse vs prose is that – in prose – I expect characters, images and narratives to demand the most attention, rather than – as often in poetry – the way the work is constructed. I think, to be honest, this book would be appropriate to be read in both ways. Fisher’s short pieces are elegant and precise, but they are also characterful, witty, moving and insightful at the same time. Some of them are tragic, some of them are uplifting, and some of them are very funny (for example ‘things smartphones make you less likely to do when in a private place, with or without other people’, which is exactly what you expect). Because every piece is short, but cohesive, Fisher has a freedom to move from idea or tone or topic easily. She uses lists, she uses juxtaposition, she uses the quotidian and the rare, she writes about tired relationships and good relationships with equal clarity. How The Light Gets In is a pleasure to read.

Maybe, in this, the digital age, flash fiction is due the kind of ascension that people have been saying it’s due for years, maybe 600, 800 words is the right length for a story now. It isn’t unsatisfying to leap up and down the country, from children to old people to lovers to siblings to friends, from the city to the countryside, from happiness to its opposite, because this is the way we experience the world now. In the past, people didn’t: in the past, life was a lot more like a traditional novel: we were born, we grew up, we started work, we got married, we had children, we got old, we died, all of it in the same place, for the vast majority of people. If there was sadness in our lives it was a constant, if we were content then it didn’t vary much either. There were less surprises, and when surprises did happen, they were catastrophic, they were destructive of generations and economies and lives. Surprise was all the more colourful and dangerous because it was so rare. Now, we are all over the place all the fucking time. I am in Barcelona as I type this review that will be published by a London-based magazine, this morning I was on the phone to a lover in a different timezone, yesterday I had a job interview via Skype with someone in China, and in between that I read a book of poetry from 100 years ago, I watched an episode of a TV show about aliens, I read news articles about the Middle East and half of a recent issue of Viz; I saw tweets and Facebook posts and Instagram posts from all over the fucking world, with all sorts of messages. I encountered depressed Americans, ecstatic writers, disgruntled comedians sharing their own bad Edinburgh Fringe reviews [review submitted to Open Pen in August], all sorts of moods, from all sorts of people. Like How The Light Gets In – a melange of lives and ideas and feelings and places, images and language and tones that are as disparate as it is possible to be. Every single possible emotion is being felt by someone in the world right now, some people are even feeling more than one. How The Light Gets In reflects what it is like to be in the modern world, where every glance at our phone offers us a different journey. Flash fiction, done well – as it here is – has the potential to reflect the tapestry of digitised, online life, by drawing attention to the short narratives that we encounter every day.

Fisher – using a variety of language and an array of well chosen phrases, characters and images – has created a book that captures, through a COLLOSAL amount of stories, an accurate representation of real life, and the real world. I, for one, really enjoyed it, and I’d be very keen to read more [good] collections of flash fiction, so please recommend me some via @Scott_Hadley. There’s also lots of use of the second person, which I am always happy to see.

Order How The Light Gets In direct from Influx Press here.

If you like this review and love poetry that isn’t shit, please pre-order Scott Manley Hadley’s debut poetry collection, Bad Boy Poet. It’s poetry, but it isn’t shit. 

Is Miggy a real angel?

Open Pen has been seriously chatterboxing this week. It’s almost as though there’s something to promote.

For a magazine that doesn’t do poetry things have got pretty versey around here. Here, Sean Preston continues to embrace our elegiac friends in a convo with Nottingham based South Londoner Miggy Angel, who, you may not have heard, will be reading for us at aforementioned something to promote, The Open Pen Summer Party, this Sunday.

Is Miggy a real angel?

Absolutely. I was first sighted sat in a tree in Peckham Rye by a young boy named Billy.

So was Billy an early influence? If not, what did influence young Miggy?

Billy Blake is both an early and present influence – in the sense that Billy provides steadfast unapologetic permission to revel in one’s own visions and impulses and not be cowed by consensus interpretations of reality – also to embrace/court obscurity and neglect as an artist and to not allow fears of either to affect the foundations of your own creativity. My early influences were also the Beano comic, south London spiel, dual-heritage identity-crises and crack cocaine.

So many creative influences to draw from. It’s easy to see some of Gnasher and crack cocaine in your work. How does it all feed into Extreme Violets, your new box set collection released recently by Hi Vis Press?

Since I finished writing it I’ve realised that Extreme Violets is definitely a sister book to my first book Grime Kerbstone Psalms. Though E.V. is definitely darker. Extreme Violets is intentionally epiphany-free. I was aware of the light being squeezed out during the writing of it. Death and hopelessness are real. Not everyone made it out alive. Not everyone got an epiphany anecdote, or a recovery story. People we love are dead. I wanted to honour that, to not sugarcoat or sanitise. Some of the pieces in E.V. were written a while ago, five years and more, and it’s both a relief and a joy for the book to finally be out in the world. It’s like a weight has been lifted. As a Londoner, the only way I can describe what has happened to the city over the last twenty years is to say that I am fucking heartbroken. I don’t even have the words. I will never, ever get over it. A part of me is fucking dead. The violence of gentrification and displacement is devastating, the damage to the psyche is overwhelming. We have yet to develop a language for what has happened, for what has been wrought on peoples and places, and that is intentional, also. It’s part of the design of gentrification – a physical, spiritual, cultural, historical, ancestral, domestic assault committed in broad daylight under cover and sanctity of the law. I’ve referred to the area where I grew up, the Elephant and Castle, as a crime scene, for the past twenty years. As in Grime there is a section in E.V. that touches upon gentrification. I suppose Extreme Violets is my blues for the city I love.

The Elephant has undergone violent land-theft and social cleansing on a massive and devastating scale. Like I say, the area’s a crime scene in broad daylight. I don’t really name specifics such as places in my poems and leave them open. I’ve been writing/making art on gentrification for almost twenty years. Back then, I can tell you, no one gave a flying fuck about what was happening to working class neighbourhoods like The Elephant. Over time, people just watched it happen.  The first poem I ever put on the internet back in 2009, on a blog I had, was called Watch Your Purse – which angrily advocated street robbery as a form of social resistance! That poem was also made into a song on a musical project I made with YABYAD called We Bleed Ink – the album is called Gentrified Times.

You mention there that you grew up in Elephant, which is undergoing massive “regeneration”. That gentrification becomes a cultural and spiritual gentrification as well, if not an appropriation of working class culture. I see Doc Martens on all the lovelies. I see basketball trainers too. Nothing new there. Got any poems about that?

My star-sign is South 
London, and my birthmark, too, for 
I am The Lamb 
of Lambeth, The Mouth
of Southwark, Blake 
spoke about. Black beak 
bleating like a loon, tongue
bluing like a bruise 
turned plum upon 
the violence of apocalyptic 
syntax. Apocryphal 
juvenile, tall tales tailored 
the myth to the suit. Creation lore 
foretold of how South London 
council-estate children 
invented the origins 
of all poems. Crack 
house, blistered Zodiac 
of pipes alight. Singing. 
Listen: no one’s 

Burning House Press is something that keeps turning my head. Am I right in thinking you’re the hand behind it?

I’m glad to hear BHP has got your head turning! I started Burning House Press two years ago, published the first edition of The Arsonist Magazine last year, will be putting out Rob True’s first book of stories, Gospel Of Aberration this year, and the guest editor feature has meant that I’ve been able to collaborate throughout 2018 with some of my favourite writers/artists/creatives/thinkers/humans – and am already booking guest editors into 2019…

Grand. Looking forward to that book by Rob True, and more from BHP, and I couldn’t be more looking forward to your reading this Sunday at The Open Pen Summer Party.

Limited copies of the absolutely gobsmackingly drop-dead guljus Extreme Violets (Hi Vis Press) will be available to purchase at Miggy’s reading this Sunday.


Poem above is “Zodiac” by Miggy Angel.

More about Miggy –

Tickets for Open Pen Summer Party 2.

Best of Booth Worlds (HA HA PUN)

Owen Booth is the author of ‘What We’re Teaching Our Sons’ (4th Estate, October 2018). His short stories have featured in The White Review, Gorse Journal, Hotel, The Moth, and Best British Short Stories 2018, among others. He won the 2015 White Review Short Story Prize.

So it was obviously at least 99% Sean Preston’s honour to chat him up for a bit, in an impromptu interview that has absolutely nothing to do with Owen’s upcoming performance at The Open Pen Summer Party 2, this Sunday!


Owen is a really nice name. Where did you get it from?

It was borrowed off a poet, I think.

They’re a good bunch like that. Is Owen Booth ever a poet? Or is he always a fictioneer?

I’m all over the place. It’s all words, isn’t it, though? The last poem I wrote was about Vin Diesel’s sleeves. You can read it here.

Ok, ok, so you can do it all, Owen Both. Poems are fine, just fine, but I really like fiction, and I really like your fiction. I read ‘And You Will Stand On Windswept Beaches’ (available to subscribers to the Influx Press Patreon here) last week and honestly it was the best short I’d read in some time. Or at least it resonated more than anything I’ve read in quite a while. Is it what we can expect from your forthcoming book ‘What We‘re Teaching Our Sons?’

I don’t know if I can do it all *well* though. And also: thanks! Hopefully ‘What We’re Teaching Our Sons’ (which is published this October by 4th Estate!) will also resonate with you as well, in that it’s – hopefully – funny and experimental and real and emotionally true and also made-up. Like all the best books. Or, at least, the only ones I know how to write. It’s been described as “a series of ‘life lessons’ exploring the joy and absurdity of raising boys”, and “a novel somewhere between a philosophical tract, Oulipean constraint, and a consoling, self-deprecating guide to fatherhood’, and also “a self-help book that won’t help at all”. All of which is true.

You recently tweeted that writers are stealing your problematic masculinity shtick. You are obviously being 100% serious and should sue. Before that, though, what drew / draws you to that subject? Like, is Owen Booth a Vin Diesel apologist but also an as well poet with feelings?

Hey, Vin Diesel needs no apologies (and he’s a writer too, although I don’t know if he writes poetry). As for writing about masculinity, problematic or otherwise: what else, really, do I know about? Plus, these are exciting, interesting, scary times to be a man – the whole edifice is potentially crumbling – why would I want to write about anything else? As long as I’m not wallowing in male crapulence – blokey writers have been doing that for years. Also: I just threw away 25K words of a very clever book that I was trying to write about algorithms, when I realised someone else could have done a much better – and cleverer – job. So I’m probably stuck with this shtick.

Interesting (to me) that you see it as an exciting time. I haven’t really thought of it like that. Mostly I’m just scared like I’m worried that it’s too late for me. Maybe my brain is too toxically male and I’m destined to live out my life staring at A1 wall posters of Hulk Hogan as I lift really heavy weights and not even crying when cutting onions. Or is it just exciting for boykind in general? Are our sons going to be actually happy (even though they won’t have sweet guns)?

My ideal project-after-the-project-after-next would be to do a book of interviews with 1980s and 90s Hollywood action stars, Hulk Hogan included. I bow to no man in my expert knowledge of Sylvester Stallone films, as problematic as that may or may not be (there’s actually an amazing, insightful interview that Susan Faludi did with him in the late 1990s about being a man that you should totally track down) (and, like Vin Diesel, Stallone is a writer too). But beyond that: yes – burn it all down. For Goodness’ sake.

You’re going to be at the Open Pen Summer Party which this impromptu interview clearly has nothing to do with, what are you going to be reading and are you a fantastic performer of fiction/can you read out loud?

Well now you’ve been so nice about it, I might read a bit of that story which was given away to subscribers to the Influx Press Patreon (which everyone should subscribe to, because Influx are great), and which features naked, vulnerable, middle-aged men, which everyone likes to read/ hear about, don’t they? So a good time is guaranteed for all. Although please note that there won’t be any author nakedness – I am quite good at entertaining an audience, but I have to draw the line somewhere.



Well now he’s mentioned it, if you’d like to come along to The Open Pen Summer Party 2, at The George Tavern in East London this Sunday, you can buy tickets online (Just £4.78!) or pay on the door on the day.

Novel ideas that aren’t novels

They’re novelettes. According to one of the first links suggested by Google, a novelette is:

What Is a Novelette?
7,500 – 17,000 Words

A novelette is also a narrative fictional prose. Back in the day, the term “novelette” referred to a story that was romantic or sentimental in character. To be honest, in modern times, the term is rarely used, and novelettes are rarely published singly.

A novelette is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella. The word count is usually between 7,500 words to 17,500 words.

Well it’s not back in the day anymore. In fact, it’s the day, and here we are, Open Pen, announcing a series of novelettes. Beautiful little paperbacks for just £4.99 that you can fit in your (larger) pockets. We have five novelettes coming up in quick succession. You can buy them as a bundle here for just £20. The first three to be released:

Shitstorm – Fernando Sdrigotti


Dr Walter Turner is a wealthy nobody until he accidentally slays a protected lion on the plains of Africa. This niche fallout spirals out of control when global news agencies latch onto the story and celebrity outcry coupled with public uproar cultivates the perfect social media shitstorm.

Will Dr Walter Turner ride this one out? Will he face a public execution? Will tomorrow’s fresh shitstorm save his pants? 

One thing’s certain: no one is coming out of this clean.

One Thing – Xanthi Barker


The one thing Len wants back is his wife, but today is her funeral, they divorced decades ago, and besides, he’s not invited. So equipped with a screwdriver, bad memories and a fixing of desperation, Len sets about reclaiming the one part of her that’s still his. It won’t be easy. But then nothing has been easy for Len.

One Thing is a novelette and working class tale of regret, loss, and the hope of redemption.

The Prick – Mazin Saleem

Holidaying with his girlfriend, Will has the fortunate misfortune of having his life saved by Roland, a giant prick. Falling into a friendship with his rescuer, Will is consumed by how irritating he finds Roland. At the cost of everything else, perhaps, Will is hellbent on working out exactly what makes Roland not just a giant prick, but The Prick.


#4 and #5 in the series to be announced soon.

Summer Party 2


Readings from novelette debutants Fernando Sdrigotti, Xanthi Barker, Mazin Saleem, as well as Clare Fisher, Owen Booth, Max Sydney Smith.

Open Pen Summer Party 2 is an all day party featuring live fiction, music, and comedy from Open Pen. Kicking off at a family-friendly (yeah we’ve got kids now) midday, closing with the pub at around midnight, you can come and go as you please with an early bird ticket £4.78.


The George Tavern boasts an outdoors area, as well as an excellent range of drinks, including non-alcoholic options. Pizza is available all day, as well as bar snacks.

See you there, we hope.


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