I’m pleased that we are on track to finalize Volume III of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet for a fall publication date.
The series arose from an idea I presented to Press 53 back in 2013, one that I’d been kicking around in my head for some time. As a world-traveler myself, I am drawn to fiction set outside the United States. An anthology of stories set around the world, I reasoned, would certainly appeal to me. Surely other people would be interested, as well.
We opened submissions for the project that fall and were overwhelmed. I had about 800 short stories to sift through. I selected 20 stories set in 20 countries for the first volume and, optimistically looking toward a possible second volume at some point, held on to another 10. I think it was my idea to put a world map on the cover, but it was the publisher who found the map we eventually used and secured the rights. He added red dots to mark the countries covered by the stories in the book, and Volume I appeared in October of 2014.
We were very pleased with the book, the theme of which was “It’s a dangerous world.” We included stories set on every continent, including Antarctica, and the response was uniformly positive.
A year went by and we decided to proceed with a second volume. I had the stories I’d reserved from the first submission period, but in the fall of 2015 we reopened to new submissions. Once again we had a great response to the submission call and I was able to assemble a collection of 20 fine stories set in 20 countries. (We decided we would not repeat any countries except the United States, and within the US we would shift the setting to a different state for each volume.) We used the same cover image but tinted the background a different color to differentiate it from the first volume. Our theme for Volume II, which came out in October 2016, was “It’s a mysterious world.”
Both the publisher and I were pleased with the response to both volumes, and so after a year, we made plans for a third. Last fall we reopened submissions and I spent several months sifting through hundreds of stories to select 20. Again, the only country we’ve repeated is the U.S. I’m nearly done with the editing of the 20 stories—it’s been a real pleasure to read the stories again closely—and we’ll soon move into the production phase of the project with a view toward fall publication. Same cover, different tint. Theme? The world is still dangerous and mysterious, but it’s also surprising.
Will there be a fourth volume? We will have covered 58 countries in the first three books, so there are about 150 more countries in the world that we could find stories for. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Too soon to say.