An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Leicester
This morning we released a brief statement on Twitter to say that we are withdrawing our support for this project.
We realise that this decision will be incredibly disappointing for those of you who were due to have your pieces published.
It was our preference to deal with this matter privately and sensitively. However, some new information has come to light which has compelled us to release this further statement.
When we were approached by Jon Wilkins to publish this anthology we turned it down. At Dahlia we had already published Lost and Found and Welcome to Leicester and didn’t feel there was a gap in our list for such a project.
However, we realised that there were benefits to a project such as this, and that good things could come from it. In our current divisive times, such an anthology would (the hope was) create a sense of community and harmony among the writing community. There would be a chance to reflect on the city and the stories it harbours.
Dahlia Publishing is a tiny company run from the corner of a kitchen. We don’t have the time and resources to work on such community projects when they haven’t been commissioned by us. On occasion, we do work with groups to support their funding applications so they can account for our costs, pay artists for leading workshops, and the project lead.
After our initial meeting, we suggested to Jon that we would be happy to work with him on this basis. We would provide an editorial overview of the project, type-set the work and print 100 copies for a fee. We would support a funding application and asked him to think about book-ending the project with workshops and a launch at Everybody’s Reading.
Following a review of the draft manuscript we arranged to speak to Jon last week and made some editorial suggestions, raising concerns about the overall feel of the collection. In our view, it didn’t tell us anything new about Leicester’s story and felt too nostalgic. We also informed Jon that given the scale of the editorial work involved we would reduce the number of copies to 75.
Jon mentioned that we had agreed for him to receive 200 copies, which would have been impossible since this would exceed our printing costs. He then followed up with a lengthy email which suggested that our editorial input was an imposition. As publishers this put us in a difficult position.
Earlier this week we received an email raising concerns that Jon was asking contributing writers for money. The writer wanted our assurances that this wasn’t a vanity project. We were genuinely surprised because it is not something we had approved or spoken about and certainly not how we work. It made us deeply uncomfortable. We wanted to raise the matter with contributors in private to reassure them.  When it became clear that we weren’t able to deal with this matter privately, we felt that it was right to withdraw from the project, especially given the earlier concerns we had.
We wrote to Jon last night about this and again earlier this morning ahead of our brief statement to inform him of our decision. We have also arranged for any funds paid to be returned to Jon immediately.
Should any contributors wish to speak to me further please email me on f.shaikh@dahliapublishing.co.uk.

Reading Short Stories by Amira Richards

Writing short stories can be hard and surprisingly reading them can require the same kind of effort. From a personal perspective, knowing what to look for, what works about a story and what doesn’t is a process that one must discover for themselves. Everyone reads differently.

For my placement I have had the opportunity to read many submissions for Short Story September. I have really enjoyed learning what people like to write about and what urges them to produce a piece of work that will be read by other people. I have learnt that people like to write about the mundane but also the extraordinary and the little things in between. There are stories that captured my attention straight away, and others that left me feeling a little unsatisfied.

However, the most important thing I have learnt is that stories – especially short ones – need a purpose. They need to illustrate a clear message to the reader, which doesn’t have to be personal but nevertheless allows the reader to understand why the story was written. I found that the stories with a clear aim and purpose were the ones that were the most pleasant to read. I understood why the writer decided to send the story in and what they were trying to convey through each carefully formulated sentence.

“The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something that feels important to the reader.” ~ John Steinbeck

So when you write a short story, think about what you want to convey. I would love to see stories that not only show me something but also make me question myself as a reader. And while short stories can lack the detail and intricate backstories of longer works, in my opinion, a good ending makes a short story. Think about how you want to end your story and how it relates to the content as a whole. After all, they are short for a reason. But short doesn’t mean lesser just as long doesn’t guarantee better. I look forward to reading more short stories in the future and urge writers to never stop practising.

Amira Richards is currently reading English at University of Leicester. 


We’re delighted to be sharing news that we are working with Susmita Bhattacharya to publish her debut short story collection.

I’ve been a big fan of Susmita’s writing for years. Her short stories always have an impact on me – like all good short stories do – of transporting me to another world. More importantly though, they are written with neat observation and an international perspective, one which succeeds in finding the common ground. Susmita’s an important, emerging voice who is massively under-appreciated and I have been talking to her for some time about publishing a collection which will showcase her writing to a wider audience.

Dahlia Publishing has previously published Susmita Bhattacharya’s writing in Beyond the Border and Love Across a Broken Map anthology.

Susmita said: “The stories in Table Manners explore the diversity in people’s mindsets, life stories and heritage. But it also brings to the forefront how we are all tied by the same threads to a universal humanity. I’m delighted to be published by Dahlia – I have always respected Farhana’s strong and supportive presence in the publishing world.”

Susmita Bhattacharya is from Mumbai, India. Her short stories and essays have been widely published, and been commissioned for BBC Radio 4, Commonwealth Writers and Mslexia. She won the Winchester Writers’ Festival  Memoir prize in 2016, and her stories have been shortlisted in several literary prizes and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian), was published in 2015 and by Bee Books (India) in 2017. She lives in Winchester, and works with young writers for the SO:Write project, Southampton.

Table Manners is scheduled for publication this autumn. You can follow updates on the book’s journey and receive exclusive content by signing up to our mailing list. We promise not to email you about anything other than Susmita’s short story collection.

I’d like to receive updates on Table Manners


We’re thrilled to be publishing C. G. Menon’s debut short story collection. We’ve been in discussion with Catherine for some time now and are really excited about working together.

I first read Catherine’s work when she entered (and subsequently won) The Asian Writer Short Story Prize 2014. Catherine’s short stories have a wonderful magnetism to them, that gently draw you in to the world she’s created. She’s an exceptional talent and we couldn’t be more delighted to be working with her. Dahlia Publishing has previously anthologised Menon’s short stories in Love Across a Broken Map and Leicester Writes Short Story Prize anthology.

Subjunctive Moods will feature many of Catherine’s prize winning short stories alongside her most recent work.

Catherine is equally excited about working with us: “The stories in Subjunctive Moods are based around those tiny moments of missed connection and of realisation: the heartbeats by which we all grow up,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be working with Dahlia Publishing to bring this collection together, and these stories couldn’t have found a better home.”

C. G. Menon was born in Australia and now lives in London. She has won the Bare Fiction Prize, the Leicester Writes Prize, The Short Story Award, the Asian Writer Prize, The TBL Short Story Award and the Winchester Writers Festival award. She’s been shortlisted for the Fish short story prize, the Bridport prize and the Short Fiction Journal awards, as well as the Willesden Herald, Rubery and WriteIdea prizes and the Fiction Desk Newcomer award. Her work has been published in a number of anthologies and broadcast on radio, and she’s also been a member of several prestigious short story competition judging panels. She has a PhD in pure mathematics and is currently studying for a creative writing MA at City University. She’s also working on her first novel, set in 1980s Malaysia

Subjunctive Moods is scheduled for publication this summer. You can follow updates on the book’s journey and receive exclusive content by signing up to our mailing list. We promise not to email you about anything other than Catherine’s short story collection.