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Matthew Stott Interview

Tales From Between is putting together a new line of mini-collections for the TFBPresents series. Each book features stories by one author along with author notes and an interview. It’s a great way to find new writers to love or dive into a little collection by a writer you already adore. This week, we talked to Tales From Between’s Matthew Stott about the TFBPresents books.

Read the full interview below.

How did Tales From Between start and what inspired you to create the TFBPresents series?

The initial idea for the press came during the first Covid lockdown, when I was looking for creative things to focus on. The initial thought was just to be an online home for very short pieces of new fiction, but as is always the way with me, I soon started thinking of ways to expand past that.

Two things brought about TFBPresents itself: first of all, I think most short story collections are too long! I understand the reasons, such as wanting to reach a certain word count and so be eligible for awards, but phooey to that. I’d much prefer an author put out two short collections rather than one whopper. I’m much more likely to actually work my way through to the end then, too! The second reason is that I’d started a more conventional lit journal, one that features work from a variety of authors, and thought it would be cool to have one that focused on just one author per edition. So that’s TFBPresents, it’s sort of a very short short-story collection, sort of a lit journal. Falling between two stools and pleasing no one.

How long are the collections? Roughly how many stories appear in each?

I ask each author to deliver roughly 15,000 words worth of fiction, but it’s not a super strict number. I would have thought that would mean probably 4-to-6 short stories per edition, but in the case of Ai Jiang, it meant 10. Or 11. Ai’s has a lot of smol tales, anyway! But really it can be split up in anyway an author likes. If a future TFBPresents author hands over a single, 14000 word story, then that will be what we release.

So far you’ve featured mini-collections from Samantha Kolesnik (Lonesome Haunts), Ai Jiang (Smol Tales From Between Worlds), and Elin Olausson (Shadow Paths). How do you choose authors for TFBPresents?

In the first instance, I just looked at authors who I’d already worked with. I’d featured both Ai and Elin on our site and in some prior releases, enjoyed their work a lot, and so reached out. With Samantha, I was actually just musing on Twitter about who I should approach in possible future editions, someone tagged her, and she said she was interested. Well Samantha is a terrific writer, so I’d have been an idiot to pass up that opportunity!

Does the author decide what order to put the stories in or do you work on that together?

I leave it entirely up to them. I’m not keen on meddling too much in what an author wants. It’s their collection, not mine, what do I know?

Is promoting a mini-collection different from promoting other work?

It’s certainly challenging, as it’s outside of the norm. It basically means hustling through social media as much as possible. They’ve been selling well, but no one is going to get stinking rich off these things.

What’s your favorite thing about working with a writer on a single-author collection?

Nothing beats that email dropping into my inbox with the stories attached for the first time. It feels exciting, it feels like a privilege. An author is trusting me with their work. Utter fools, the lot of them.

Are there any dream writers you’d love to collaborate with in the future for the TFBPresents series?

Oh, just a ton. From the possible to the there’s-no-freaking-way, stop-dreaming, loser. I’d consider Nathan Ballingrud, if he begged. I mean really debased himself. Lucie McKnight Hardy would be amazing and improbable. Katie McIvor is a great up-and-coming author who had an even teenier collection than a TFBPresents put out by Ram Eye and it was terrific. There are just so many talented authors out there, especially working in the indie sphere, I could list fifty I’d love to work with.

I love the covers for these books. Each is different but there’s a uniform look that makes it feel like a really special collection. Who did the design and artwork?

Well thanks, because the design was entirely down to me! Being cheap, I just select images from Shutterstock and then fiddle with them. I don’t have a design background, and what I’m capable of doing when it comes to image manipulation is basic in the extreme, but I think the covers are working well so far.

Does Tales From Between have other work coming out this year you’d like to tell people about?

A fourth edition of TFBPresents has been announced for later this year, written by the incredible Ivy Grimes (one of my absolute fave current writers). There will also be more short stories, either on our site, in issue three of our other journal, or both. Currently in two minds about the best way to move forward with that, but yes, more short stories, and more, and then even more after that. Just a relentless deluge.

What’s your favorite recent read? Any genre or category. It doesn’t have to be horror.

At the time of writing this, I’ve just finished Boy Parts by Eliza Clark, which is dark, hilarious, and vicious. It’s a good one.

Thank you so much for talking to Frightful!

Check out all the titles in the TFBPresents series here.

Matthew Stott is a writer and publisher. His published novels include A Monstrous Place, The Identical Boy, and Hexed Detective. He runs Tales From Between, which publishes horror and fantasy fiction. Matthew is also an experienced scriptwriter and has written for BBC television & radio. Originally from Carlisle, he currently lives in London with his partner and two children.

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