24th November 2018
Interview with Stewart Storrar
Good evening Mr Storrar and thanks for your time. Could you tell us a little about Lore Publication?
Lore Publication is an online publisher that I started in order to share stories with the world. I originally wanted a place that I could share my own stories but did not have a platform that I could use to do that. I considered a blog or a Tumblr page for my own writing but I wanted to create something that goes beyond just me. With that concept, Lore Fiction was born under the Lore Publication name. I wanted to create a place where stories thrived and people could read quality content on a weekly basis. Right now our schedule is to publish every second Monday.
Have you always wanted to be a writer or is it something that developed over time?
Being a writer is more a way of life than anything. I mean, yes, it did develop over time but more how I write. I have always been a writer since I was a small kid but it took me a long time to realize that was my natural skill set. Up until a few years ago I never took it seriously. I remember writing my first ever ‘book’ when I was in Primary school. It wasn’t much of a ‘book’ but it was my first ever recollection of sitting down and writing something from beginning to end. I wrote it in an old cloth covered notebook by hand and it took me the best part of my 6th year in Primary school - spanning 70 or so A or A6 notebook. I remember the sheer joy I felt bringing my first ever characters to life.
Lore Fiction focuses on publishing speculative fiction - sci-fi, horror and so on. What made you choose those genres?
Originally, we were going to focus just on SciFi. The reason for this being that I started with the intention of sharing my own writing but, like I stated, I wanted to build something more. In order to do this, I knew I couldn’t just focus on one genre but equally Lore as an online publisher couldn’t accept anything and everything. The genres picked, we felt, reflected what we personally enjoy at Lore as well as what we are best equipped to evaluate for the publication.
Do you have a favourite speculative fiction book?
Of course! What writer and reader wouldn’t? My favourite book of all time thus far is written by a Scottish author named Iain M. Banks. He was famous in the Scottish and British writing circles as he published both general fiction, like thrillers and crime novels, as well as Science Fiction. He published all his science fiction novels under Iain M. Banks and his general fiction under Iain Banks - which was a cool wee trait. He penned a book called ‘The Player of Games’ back in 1988 and to this day, since I first read it through, it has always been my favourite! One could argue that it is closer to Science Fantasy but I will never forget its ending - it made me throw the book across the room! Definitely worth a read for any SciFi or SciFa fans out there.
Which is better: Consider Phlebas or Use of Weapons? I'm afraid there is a correct answer and you may not confer with other interviewees.
Consider Phlebas by far. In terms of technical aspects, I feel that the book is better written over all and possibly one of the best written SciFi works by Banks. Not only that, Consider Phlebas was years ahead of its time a space opera but more so with the concepts it introduced. A prime example is the gender fluidity it exhibits and introduces in the novel; the concept that in this alien civilization, gender can be swapped and altered almost at will. When we consider that the book was written in 1987, only fifteen years after Anne Oakley first defined the gender sex deviation academically in 1972, it was both a new, bold and brave concept for modern literature. For me, this aspect alone trumps Use of Weapons. While Use of Weapons is an outstanding book by its lonesome and introduces revolutionary concepts of its own, I don’t think it does so to the same extent that Consider Phlebas does - it was ahead of its time philosophically and morally.
Good answer! What do you think is the essence of a good short story?
For a short story, there needs to be some kind of kick. It needs to grab your attention within the first few lines and build to a significant ending; something that has a lasting emotional impact. Even if it just makes you think twice about a subject or creates a lasting empathetic reaction for the next few hours of your day.
Stories that connect people and stories that last a lifetime are important. They help give life a meaning and a structure as well as help us learn and grow as human beings.
It is difficult to do this with a short story but for me personally, it is always a twist in the ending or a really gripping beginning that makes a short story stand out.
Some of my interviewees in this series have said that stories are driven by characters and others have said that they’re driven by plot. What’s your take?
I think neither are entirely correct. A story needs interesting, intriguing and relatable characters for people to be drawn in but equally, what they are doing and why they are doing it go a long way to how a reader will feel about that character and a plot. Something unique about this question is that it comes down to perspective also. Plot is subjective to the point of view the story is being told form. A villain can be a protagonist, just like a hero can be an antagonist.
A classic example is when readers enjoy reading a villain more than a hero. In some cases, the villain tends to stand out opposed to the hero because their motivations for doing what they are doing are relatable, whereas the hero is doing ‘good’ for the sake of it being good. I think what makes great novels stand out from decent novels is a healthy balance of character development as well as the healthy development of a consistent plot.
I feel that stories are driven by both, if not equally, then at least in some part one aspect more than the other but never one aspect over another.
What have you found to be the challenges of setting up a new publication?
The main challenges of setting up a publication relate to time management and making that jump from online publication via website and blogs to the publication of books (either online or in print). Managing time effectively is vital when doing pretty much anything in life but when dealing with other people’s work - their pride and joy - that is when I feel it is the most vital.
Another challenge is learning how and when to say no thank you. I hate sending rejection emails out, especially when you can see the person cares a great deal about their writing. It is almost always never to do with their story but rather the story not being the right fit for Lore. I always encourage people to keep on refining their craft and submit elsewhere if we do not accept their story.
What are the most common mistakes that cause work to get rejected from Lore?
Initially, bad spelling and grammar. If someone doesn’t take enough care over their work to correct such mistakes, why should we? Obviously, if English is not the first language for a writer then that is taken into consideration - hence why we usually ask where a writer is submitting from (one, for this consideration and two, so we know when best to reach them).
Another common mistake gets that alarm bells ringing is ‘telling, not showing’. For example, for introducing a fear aspect: ‘Ben shook, his hands quivering, his breathing staggered.’ opposed to ‘Ben was scared.’
A lot of publishers have very specific criteria for submitted work. Can you describe Lore's requirements and why they are important to you?
Lore’s requirements are down to a few basic principles. The first being our current format. Our current format allows us to publish short works of fiction only. Primarily this is due to the fact that we are still a small team and we do not have the resources to handle larger submissions - in terms of word count. In terms of originality, that is simply due to copyright and intellectual property reasons.
Mostly, our guidelines are only that: guidelines. We don’t want to limit a person’s creativity but at the same time we want to convey the kind of fiction we are looking for. I have often found that this allows us to tap into that unexplored potential in writers to tell their story their way. As long as your writing does not infringe on the rights of others; legally, morally or otherwise, it will be considered. I feel this open nature of our requirements allows for a mixed bag of submissions, including genre-defying work.
For us, that is paramount.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing? I know a lot of people are struggling to get themselves heard on platforms like KDP.
Self-publishing can be a minefield. There are a lot of people that publish well crafted, thought-provoking stories that never get seen. On the other hand, there are people that publish shit that has lines of grammar mistakes and somehow scrapes a fan base together.
I also find a lot of writers evaluate their self-worth via their success in self-publishing. It seems like a good idea and for some people that have the right resources to hand (aka, a decent marketing team), it will be. That is how you get trashy romance novels with a cult fan base following; it is all in the marketing.
I tried self-publishing a short story and it fell under the radar. It wasn’t so much the fact I didn’t earn from it, I still don’t earn from my stories; it was more the fact that it didn’t get seen at all. That was what bothered me. That was why I started Lore; to get people published and get their hard work seen.
How do you go about marketing Lore so that people’s stories get seen?
Marketing is something that, without a lot of money, is difficult to get right. Currently, we are a small publication and all our costs come directly out of my own pocket as the founder. Our main channel of marketing the short stories we publish is our wonderful Twitter community as well as the small Medium community we have.
Currently, we are also working on an anthology and for that we are currently vetting marketing teams. These teams will no doubt assist with the promotion of Lore as a brand in the future. As of right now, due to monetary reasons, our promotion is via social media channels. We are also currently in the process of setting up a Tumblr and we are also considering a Wix website until we get the appropriate team together to run an independent website.
You’ve said that Lore Publication is founded on trust and integrity. What do you mean by that?
What I mean is we aren’t in the business of being assholes. You have a story you want out there? Awesome! Send it right through and we will get it out there if it is right for the publication. If at one point down the line your story helps us make money you get your fair cut of that; no two ways about it. You own your characters. Your own your story. You own your part of the money that comes from that (if it earns any). No back-stabbing. No idea stealing. No bullshit. Just good stories by awesome writers for inquisitive readers. Simple as that.
The people that have already published with us will know that when we send agreements out, they are entirely flexible. You don’t like a part of the agreement? Sure, let’s re-evaluate it until everyone is happy. You don’t understand some of the legal stuff? Ask away.
One last thing, for any writers out there, always email or post yourself a copy of your stories first. Ensure that proof of concept!
What are your future plans for Lore?
We have a lot in the works. Currently we are working on:
A Lore Anthology of released publications
Developing a marketing team to meet our promotion needs within our budget
Accumulating an appropriate budget to take Lore through its next steps
Setting up a Tumblr
Setting up a Wix Website
A short story series ‘Maven’
Another untitled short story series that can currently be described as a space survival narrative
Accepting longer submissions (currently got a long submission of up to 12k words in consideration).
Facebook page revamp (however, we are considering shutting the Facebook page)
The concept of a new contest for 2019
Developing a poetry account on Instagram for Lore
Most of this is still preliminary and is subject to change but a roadmap is planned for release come Jan 2019 - to outline where the publication aims to head over the course of 2019.
If people want to interact with you online, what's the best way to do that?
Twitter, without a doubt. We run a Twitter account and post usually a few times a week - daily if our schedules are not jam-packed. We have built the community we have through Twitter and it is our basis. We also have an email account and an Instagram but, currently, our Instagram is on the back burner - we are dedicating all our time to submission and our contest right now (as well as other aspects mentioned in our future plans).
Thanks for your time.