n quentin woolf


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.


Open Pen Issue Eighteen is out Saturday, February 4. You can find it at one of our stockists, or if you can’t get to one of those, you can subscribe.

It’s front cover story is The Jungle by Josephine Bruni. Josephine is late to writing, but her short story feels like a classic Chekhov unravelling. The Jungle is about African Violets and internet forums, it’s about the treachery of devotion.

OP18_1Booker long-listed Wyl Menmuir‘s guest editorial looks at the importance of writing counters narratives which seek to isolate and divide, and in what is of equal privilege to Open Pen, The London Short Story Prize winning story is printed in full. Congratulations to winner Foye McCarthy for his Oh No, a Bank Robbery! Fuck!.

N Quentin Woolf returns of course. His residency is as much a part of what we do as Josh Neal’s exquisite cover illustrations, which return with a timely colourful bang (Issue Eighteen is otherwise charcoal, in colour). And it wouldn’t be Open Pen without discovering fresh, young talent. And that’s where William Kraemer’s playful contribution Answering Zeus comes in and ties the whole issue together.

Enjoy the read as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together (minus the stress, natch).

The Open Pen Anthology – Out March 10th

Published by Limehouse Books, The Open Pen Anthology is out March 10th. You can pre-order here:

A celebration of five years of Open Pen, the book contains the fiction of thirteen Open Pen authors, and micro-fiction from twelve more, meaning that we’ve got a whopping twenty-five authors in its pages.

The Open Pen Anthology packshot front cover colour2

Edited and compiled by Sean Preston, the Anthology takes much the same shape as the fifteen issues of Open Pen. It feels like Open Pen. It looks like Open Pen (thanks to Josh Neal for that much). But we wanted our Anthology to be more than just a “Best Of”. So the exciting thing about this sizeable paperback is that it sets out to give the reader a unique insight into the creative minds of its contributors. It’s more than just an anthology. We’ve got a new piece of fiction from each of the Open Pen authors selected. In doing so, we’re able to present a story of the authors themselves. Where they’ve come from, where they are. How they’ve grown as writers and people is clear to see in each read. It’s the progression of these writers that provides the motivation for each issue of Open Pen. We’ll be releasing extracts from this rewarding collection of fiction in the lead up to publication.

Introduced by N Quentin Woolf, and with a foreword by Paul Ewen’s Francis Plug, The Open Pen Anthology feels like a worthy testament to Open Pen Magazine’s first five years of putting out short stories with something to say, giving it to you for free, and doing our best to support independent bookshops.

Stay tuned for launch nights around the country.


If you are a bookshop looking to stock The Open Pen Anthology, please contact our distributor, Turnaround.

For press enquires and reviews, please contact us at the normal address, info@openpen.co.uk