Saturday, November 04, 2017

A personal short story anthology

Jonathan Gibbs invited me to contribute to his fantastic weekly project (which you can sign up to to receive by email) in which a short story fan picks their own "personal anthology" of 12 short stories, sometimes on a theme, sometimes not. I really enjoyed putting my personal anthology together, and picked 12 stories that are all available to read online, ranging from 400 to 4000 or so words, and from the US, UK, New Zealand, Ireland and Israel. Here's a taster:

When I started compiling my personal anthology, at first I thought it would be more of a Desert Island short stories, the ones that have stayed with me for years, the stories I use over and over again in workshops and which leave me reeling each time I read them (my requirement for a great short story). But then I stepped back and noticed a theme running through: Family. Not just the one we are born into, but the families we choose, be that in romantic relationships or friendships. This is something that crops up in my own work again and again – my first collection turned out (unplanned) to be about different ways to approach parenthood, or non-parenthood, and all my stories (as perhaps all stories of any length are) address the difficulties of relating to other people. These are 12 of my all-time favourites, varying in length from a few hundred words to a few thousand, and moving from the UK to America, New Zealand, Ireland and Israel. I would be very happy with them on a desert island – and they are all available to read online too. I hope you are left reeling from some of them too.

'Mother' by Grace Paley, First published in Later The Same Day (FSG, 1985), included in Sudden Fiction, edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas (Peregrine Smith, 1986), and available to read online here

This is one of the first very short stories I ever read, in an anthology of “sudden fiction” edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas and published by Norton in 1983, and I was knocked sideways by it. How is it possible to do all this in just over a page?...

Read the rest here!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

My writing week - an audio diary

The Royal Literary Fund, my employers and a wonderful organisation supporting writers, asked me to keep an audio diary for a week, about my writing. I picked a week when I actually did some! If you'd like, you can listen to it here...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Quantum shorts competition 2017

I'm honoured to once again be on the judging panel for the excellent Quantum Shorts competition alongside Brian Greene, oh my! So, what do you need to do to win? Well:

You have from now until 1st December 2017 to send us a story up to 1000 words long. We challenge you to open your imagination to the strange ways of quantum particles and anticipate a new era of quantum technology

There is much inspiration for your stories on the website, do check it out - looking forward to reading your quantum flashes!

Saturday, October 07, 2017

God Glows short story

My nuns & biochemistry short story ‘God Glows’, from my new short story collection, is For Books’ Sake’s Weekend Read this weekend! Here’s a little taster:

Mother Superior agrees to fund Emmylene’s equipment.
    “Science is so soothing,” she says, her deep voice making it sound biblical.
    Soothing? thinks Emmylene, almost tempted, once again, to blaspheme. Memories of frogs’ bodies slit open for prying fingers and the shrieking of one girl who vomited violently. Not so much, she thinks.
    “Pouring from one test tube to the other, the elements of life,” says Mother Superior. Emmylene sees that faraway look in her eyes.
    “Yes,” she says. “Soothing. I’ll go and place the order.”
    “Thank you, Sister Morris. Bless your endeavours.” Mother Superior sits back behind her desk and Emmylene goes to phone the supplier.

Read the rest of the story here >>

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

There's No-One In the Lab But Mice - On Radio 4 again!

BBC Radio 4 just re-broadcast my short story from last year, There's No-One In the Lab But Mice (produced by the excellent Sweet Talk Productions) in which I imagine what might happen when all scientists go on strike... And they allowed me to read it myself, for the first time! It's now available on iPlayer for those of you in the right regions to get that sort of thing - until Oct 22nd.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My excellent publisher, Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press, asked me to write a blog post about one of the poems in my collection, and the poem that came to mind was 'After Seeing Monet's Waterlilies And Then Hearing the News'. Here's an excerpt:
"When asked to write a blog post about a poem from my collection Terms and Conditions, at first I didn’t know which one to pick. And what to say about it? But when I leafed (on my Kindle, electronic leafing) through the book, this one stood out, the longest title and the feeling behind it still so raw, so present. And about what came after, what I discovered.

‘After Seeing Monet's Waterlilies And Then Hearing the News’ is exactly what happened. Let’s examine this like a journalist (which I used to be): Where, What, Why, When, Who.
Where was I? In the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon.

What was I doing there? I was in Portland taking a poetry course (with Sharon Olds. Yes, SHARON OLDS. I wanted only to sit at her feet. Oh my.)

Why the Art Museum? A few of us, my new classmates and their friends, decided to take time off, go into the city, see some art.

When? Now this is the question...
 Read the rest of the blog post here...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Carpool Poetry - and Much Giggling

Clive Birnie, poet and publisher, who runs the brilliant Burning Eye Books, has a venture he calls Carpool Poetry, in which he drives around one or more writers and videos him talking to them about their writing. So, here we are, talking very very seriously about my new books. (Warning: there is giggling. It's mostly me.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

My poetry collection published today!

So happy to officially become a Nine Arches Press poet, with my first book of poems, Terms and Conditions - out today! Here's my 'Happiness' poem - more about the book here.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

More on permission - to go straight ahead and follow diversions

Four years ago, I wrote a blog post for Writers & Artists on the subject of "permission" - a very important word to me, in writing and in life. I've just written a new post for W&A, a follow-up, talking about the new permissions I needed to move from short story writing into poetry, something that scared and daunted me! An excerpt:

This year sees the publication not just of my third short story collection, but also my first poetry collection. POETRY. When we last met, I was not a poet. Don’t tell anyone, but I didn't like poetry. I didn't understand it, I liked my words to stretch from one margin to the other. Line breaks? Why would anyone want to do that? How do you read them? What is a line? Where are my sentences?
So, how did I get from that to complete adoration of the line break, an insatiable appetite for reading poetry, and even to calling myself a poet?

Very slowly. And with many shots of permission along the way.

Permission to write poetry came differently from short story permission. I had always been writing prose (I never called it “prose” until I started hanging out with poets, for goodness’ sake!). I read stories as a child, so I knew roughly what one should look like on the page. After a few years, though, I needed permission to take myself seriously as a writer – and then the largest permission injection to propel me to my next stage: taking risks in my writing, experimenting...

Read the full article here:  Permission To Go Straight Ahead and Follow Diversions

Monday, June 26, 2017

June TaniaReads

Hello! In the run-up to the publication of my debut poetry collection, Terms and Conditions (see the gorgeous cover on the left, by artist Hollie Chastain), I'm delighted to read you four new poems from the book - and to give you details about my launch events in Manchester (July 27th) and London (July 31st), do head to my website to find out more. Here is this month's audio - happy listening!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book launches in the North & South!

Please do come and celebrate my books with me at one of my launch parties in July, in Manchester or in London, where I'm immensely delighted to be joined by some truly amazing special guests as part of a cross-genre celebration - of poetry, short stories, novels and non-fiction!

July 27th - Book Launch & Cross Genre Celebration, together with Jo Bell and Kate Feld, at Waterstones Deansgate, Manchester. More details here.

July 31st - Book Launch & Cross Genre Celebration, together with Jacqueline Saphra, Melissa Harrison and Zoe Gilbert, at Waterstones Gower Street, London. More details here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Today is publication day for my new book, Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, that rather handsome looking devil above, published by the excellent Unthank Books! There are more details about the book here - including links to some of the stories and where you can get your hands on one (or electronic hands). Thanks so much to my wonderful agent, Kate Johnson, without whom this would not be happening. I am dazed and grateful!

I also wanted to thank the amazing, tireless literary magazine editors and small presses who first published many of these stories - they are the lifeblood of the short story community and they give writers both joy and, vitally, the permission to keep on doing this thing we do. So, thank you: Ambit magazine, Bare Fiction, The Binnacle, Butcher's Dog, Catapult, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, Edgeways anthology (Spread the Word), The Fiction Desk, Five Dials, kill author, Comma Press, The Lonely Crowd, Metazen, National Flash Fiction Day,  Nature Futures, New Flash Fiction Review, New Scientist, Out of Place (Spineless Wonders), Prose Poem Project, Red Room anthology (Unthank), r.kv.r.y., ROOM magazine, Salt Book of New Writing, Schemers Anthology, Synaesthesia magazine, STILL anthology (Negative Press), the Stinging Fly, Stories for Homes anthology, Timber journal, Wales Arts Review, Words with Jam, and World Literature Today.

Over on Twitter, I did a thread with #TenThingsAboutMyBook, and I thought I'd post it here too, in case you're curious:

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 1. The cover's glowing jellyfish refer to the discovery of green fluorescent protein which revolutionised mol biology!

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 2. 'God Glows' was written at Hawthornden Castle - my nun sits looking out over the valley near Rossyln Chapel.

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 3. 'Octopus's Garden' was inspired by a profile of a woman who works as a diver for the Paris city council.

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 4. 'War Games' was begun during an Arvon workshop run by my co-tutor, , on plotting (which I never do!)

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 5. 'And What If All Your Blood Ran Cold' was inspired by a article about a brand new medical procedure.

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 6.'A Shower of Curates' - first published in Red Room - has the first lines from all of the Brontes' novels in it.

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 7. 'Empty But For Darwin' was inspired by a programme about a person whose job is to paint chess pieces.

#TenThingsAboutMyBook 8. 'Experimentation' was the 1st story I wrote while I was writer-in-res in a biochem lab. It's FICTION :)

#TenThingsAboutMyBook' 9. The Plan' was inspired by a article about the pitfalls of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory.

#TenThingsAboutMyBook and finally, 10: I never thought I'd get an agent & I NEVER dreamed I'd have a THIRD short story collection.

Monday, April 24, 2017

TaniaReads - April


Hello! This month I'm reading you a short story from my new collection, published next week by Unthank Books! Pop over to my website to find out more. Launch events coming soon!

So, here is my audio recording, I hope you enjoy it. (If you'd like to read the text of the the short story, it is online here, and the poem is here). Have a lovely rest of the month!
Best wishes,

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Truth" & Science on The Verb

I was one of the guests on the wonderful Radio 3 programme about language and literature, The Verb, which aired last night - they commissioned me to write a new story using "found scientific language" to fit with the programme's theme of "truth" - alongside Simon Armitage on truth and poetry, Jude Rogers on truth and pop music (there's a Spandau Ballet theme!) and Richard Gameson on truth and medieval scribes! You can listen to us discussing it all here - it's available til May 20th, I believe!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Coming May 2nd from Unthank Books. My third collection. Never would have believed it. Farrah Jarral, doctor and broadcaster, says this about the stories (warning: may scare you!):
This beguiling collection of writing defies categorisation and is unlike anything I've ever read before. Some Of Us Glow More Than Others is like a 21st century Edgar Allen Poe meets Margaret Atwood, with a sprinkling of Ursula Le Guin. The bright and sometimes eerie thread of science runs through it, reminding us of our fundamentally biological nature, and illuminating the boundaries between us and technology. Hershman's masterful, crystal clear hand weaves together satire, poetry, ethical commentary and science fiction into a tender, faintly dystopian treatment of the human condition. Science is Hershman's muse, but Some Of Us Glow More Than Others is never sterile, and teems with the possibilities that she invites the reader to consider. Her lyrical vignettes and fragments of intriguing stories leave the reader wondering: is this the future, or an imaginative counterfactual past / a reimagination of what could have been? She reframes the familiar by tweaking small details to create unexpected and unsettling scenes that stay with you for hours, from quotidian domesticity to complex human relationships. Her lucid prose sparkles with the most evocative words science has to offer. It's almost as if Philip Larkin rewrote Black Mirror. Science and art, genetics, religion, ecology and the animal world all come together in this extraordinary collection. I found myself constantly surprised by Hershman's deft storytelling, perfectly captured details, and the way she drew my attention to the alien things of everyday life. Hershman navigates the complex relationship between the modern scientific world, and the soft, living creatures subject to it, with tenderness, elegance, and wit. Whether chemistry and poetry or genetics and sexuality, Hershman infuses science into her stories with a lightness of touch and great tenderness. I will be re-reading it - and not just once.

Friday, February 24, 2017

TaniaReads February

I managed to record the February edition of TaniaReads just before the end of the month! Here it is below - sign up here to get it in your Inbox every month...

Hello! Apologies for the delay in sending out this recording, I had a very heavy cold, the hazards of audio recordings! Above is the cover for my forthcoming poetry collection, which will be published by Nine Arches in July. This month I'm reading you a poem from this book, and a longer short story from my forthcoming story collection. Here's the audio recording, I hope you enjoy it! (If you'd like to read the text of the poem, it's here, and the short story is online here.)

See you next month!
Best wishes,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Terms & Conditions... coming soon!

I am so in love with my cover - what do you think?? The artwork is by Hollie Chastain, and inside you will find my debut poetry collection, coming from Nine Arches Press in July... 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Tania Reads

I just sent out the first of my monthly 'Tania Reads' audio recordings of me reading poems and stories from my two collections, coming out later this year. Here's this month's, do sign up here to get it straight to your Inbox!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Alice Oswald on Writing, Rhythm, Unlabels

It's been a very long time since I've been moved to post about an interview with a writer or poet, but this video interview (and reading) by poet Alice Oswald - whose new collection, Falling Awake, just won the Costa Prize for Poetry - is utterly wonderful and inspiring, I think, to those who write prose as well as poetry, especially her thoughts on rhythm and on length. Here are a few quotes I posted on Twitter:

As soon as you say that you do one thing, you end up wanting to do something else
A poem could be a..sonnet until the last minute when I just find it's too polite & suddenly I'll smash it
A short poem has to last as long as a long poem. That's what I love. It has to be infinite in the same way

If you haven't ever seen her read, the first 30 minutes are a joy, less of a reading than, as the interviewer says, some sort of invocation. And then there's a Q&A. I went out after watching this and have been thinking about what she said about her own poems and her writing - and rhythms. She says: "The stronger your rhythms, the more disturbing things you see...You can navigate around your own brain by means of rhythm". This speaks to me because I have tended to write my own poems aloud - they are both a bit song-like, to me, and also a completely physical experience. I always read my short stories aloud too, but getting them on the page happens first. Rhythm is always important to me, and I will be thinking for a while about what Oswald has said about rhythm and my brain - and perhaps rhythm and the reader/listener's brain!

I feel she has also has given me a shot of permission - something I will always need as a writer but especially as a quite new poet - in terms of the legitimacy of the short poem. I love short poems, but wondered (perhaps an echo of the battle I had to fight over flash fiction and its place in the world) that they seem unsubstantial. Yet look at this short poem I just read in the New Yorker, which is sublime, and would you want more? It's about allowing me - and perhaps you? - to say what I need to say in as many words as I feel I need to say it.

I also like what Oswald says about not wanting to be called a "nature poet", which she very very often is.
"I think it's important not to sit too comfortably in a category, and that's why I get annoyed when people call me a nature poet. I mean, it's so tempting to be a nature poet. Then you know what you are writing about, you know what you think, you just do it and roll it out. For me, it's important not to know what kind of a poet I am, and each time I write... could be a science fiction poem. It hasn't yet been, but it could be!" 

This gives me another shot of permission on the road I have been travelling for a while now, of not labelling anything I am writing - poem, flash fiction, prose, story, non-fiction... I like her twist about how tempting it would be to feel comfortable under one label! But do we want to be comfortable? I don't think that's where the real work gets done. What do you think?

Here's the full video - enjoy!