bonny brooks

Twenty-Three and Me.

“Queen Histrionic (as you have dubbed her) makes you angry, but there are 6906 reasons not to tweet about it. 6906 devotees that have favourited her first tweet; god knows how many more the others. So instead, you throw your rucksack down and slouch against the wall to roll a cigarette. It is dusk in April and you are outside your mother’s block on a council estate in central Bristol, not pressing the buzzer. Feeding Queen Histrionic’s name into Twitter’s search box instead. Anata Lowell-Townsend.”

Is how we kick off Issue Twenty-Three. It’s the opening paragraph to This Is What You’re Not Tweeting About by Bonny Brooks, an absolute stonker piece of fiction, the sort of fiction we’re drawn to, the sort of fiction that can call Open Pen home. Brooks has been awarded the Arts & Humanities Research Council Award for her (just-completed) novel, Names Have Been Changed. So if you enjoy the short story as much as we have, look out for that.

The short fiction continues with The Devil and My Dad by Liverpool’s Michael Holloway, Ball & Chain Thing Going Around in My Head by Californian Dan Cardoza, London’s Anna Orhanen’s The Night Tube Has Come and flash piece Gwen by Helen Merrick of Wales.

As usual resident fictioneer N Quentin Woolf leaves us tapping the page and saying, “Yes, yes, yes.” Treat yourself to his novel “Death of a Poet”, which only disappoints in not being about the execution of Scott Manley Hadley (yeah sure buy his book too).

This will be Sean Preston’s last issue as editor. Sean will be 35 in tomorrow and feels the magazine is better served in being run by someone younger. Sean started Open Pen in 2010 and will be concentrating on the book side of Open Pen (those novelettes that are gonna take over the world).

The younger person is Joe Johnston. He is approx ten year younger. Joe has been working on the magazine for several years and retains tight skin and nauseating enthusiasm. You can follow occasional tweetinger Joe here.

Our guest editorial this issue comes from C.C. O’Hanlon, new editor of The Island Review. Do check out The Island Review here, there’s loads of great writing on the theme of islands there.

You may note that our cover illustration is a deviation from the usual style, the style we can thank Josh Neal for. Josh put his last Open Pen cover together for us last year. Massive thanks to Josh, his covers really became a part of the Open Pen identity. The menacing Issue Twenty-Three cover is provided by Sofia Lucarelli.

What else? Nothing else. Oh, our colour scheme (beige avec dull rose) is Photoshop eyedropped from the garb of Peter Falk’s wonderful Columbo.

To all the writers that didn’t make it in. Keep reading. Keep submitting. Look out for news on our new submissions process soon. Look out for some short stories we couldn’t quite fit into the mag, they’ll be hitting this website soon. But for now, please do pick up a free copy of Open Pen from one of our stockists when it hits shops January 26, or subscribe, and enjoy your Open Pen Issue Twenty-Three.