Submissions: Our Next Showcase


New Writers’ Showcase: LA NOUVELLE ESPIONAGE

Espionage: The practice of spying or of using spies

The next Comma Press New Writers Anthology will present a new kind of challenge to emerging and previously unpublished writers. We want you to write a short story which centres on espionage. This is your chance to breathe new, contemporary life in to a genre which has is increasingly blighted by clichés and stereotypes. Comma Press have spearheaded a new wave of genre writing in the short story form; from updating the grand old tradition of the horror story with The Uncanny to putting the science back in to science fiction by partnering writers with scientists in Beta-Life, Litmus and Bio Punk. Now, in partnership with Creative Industries Trafford and ACE, we think it’s time to tackle the spy story with fresh new writers.

Let’s start with what we DON’T want: We have a rough set of guidelines for submissions and general pitfalls here. But for this project in particular, we want writers to avoid the many and well worn clichés of the genre. The era of the Cold War thriller is long gone, of course, but it isn’t just a case of re-pinning the badge of enemy or ‘other’ onto the presumed ‘bogeymen’ of the day (as defined by the media – terrorists, extremists, etc). We want stories that are more intelligent than that, more politically savvy. We are of course living in the age of Google (owning all our data), WikiLeaks (exposing government wrong-doing) and PRISM (allowing one government to spy on another), not to mention bizarre politics-culture crossovers like the North Korea/Sony debacle… the watchers and the watched no longer fall into neatly partitioned groups.

What we DO want: Tension, suspense, compelling mysteries, and a redefinition of what modern spying actually is! Espionage can, of course, take many forms and we hope for a broad swathe of spying-types; from the political to the domestic, corporate to state-sponsored, private interest-led to cellular fanaticism. But remember: always avoid the clichés and well-worn tropes; if it’s been done before, ditch it. We want to meet characters we wouldn’t normally meet in a spy story, to find ourselves in settings the genre has barely visited before, and to be compelled from the first word to the last. Comma is also perennially concerned with structure: for this project we want writers to play the different shapes a spy story can take, and to find new ones. Plot is everything in the thriller genre, so even when nothing seems to be happening, in the background, everything has to be.

In conjunction with Creative Industries Trafford.

Creative Industries Trafford (CIT) is an arts development agency offering events, commissions & creative opportunities for visual artists, designers, writers and theatre-makers. CIT runs the annual Northern Lights Writers' Conference and is based at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, Manchester.

Submission Rules:

1. Stories must be between 2000 and 6000 words,  presented in a Word doc (compatibility mode, readable by PCs), double spaced, 12point, with the author’s name, email address, and postal address included at the end of the story. They should be emailed to both and with the word ‘ESPIONAGE’ in the subject.  A hardcopy of the story should also be sent to Comma Press, Studio 510a, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester M4 7JA.

2. Authors must include a short cover note, stating where (if anywhere) their work has been published before.

3. Authors who have previously published a full book of their creative work before (novel, short story collection or poetry collection) are NOT qualified.

4. The story submitted MUST have been written specially for this project, must not be previously published, or submitted elsewhere, or under consideration for publication.

5. Authors must NOT use any copyrighted material longer than 15 words in length in their stories (e.g. quotes from films, songs, other books, etc, published by authors living or dead within the last 70 years). Any story that does so will be immediately disqualified.

6. The best 15 stories will be published in a Comma anthology (hardcopy and eBook); authors will be paid for the publication. By submitting to this competition, authors are agreeing to grant a license of 12 months’ exclusivity on the publication of their story (in any format) from the anthology’s date of publication.

7. Authors can only submit one story each.

8. The deadline for entries is 29th February 2016.