Call for Submissions
Strange Fiction of Scottish Descent
Edited by Chris Kelso and Hal Duncan
Glaikit, mockit, droukit, drouthy, couthy, scunner, thrawn – the Scots language is rich with words too gallus not to glory in, dialect terms that deserve better than to be boxed away as precious oddities. For us, those words aren't quaint parochialisms of a past preserved in amber; they're wild wee beauties, straight razors slashing keen to the quick of meaning. We want stories that wield them as weapons for today, for tomorrow. We want you to pick up one of these words and flick it open to gleam in the light of the 21st century. Play with it, work with it, give us a story that riffs on it with relish – the sound, the sense. Run wild with it, ye ramstouger rannigants, and send us the result.
- Length: 1000-12,000 words. Query if you have something longer but perfect.
- Payment: fixed-rate token payment, equal shares for each contributor, £15-20 per story.
- Electronic submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, as attachment.
- Format: .doc or .rtf.
- Cover email should include your chosen word and a brief definition.
- Deadline: May 31st, 2013
What sorta words are we talking about?
There's a good glossary here: http://mudcat.org/scots/display_all.cfm.
This is also a good resource, with illustrations for each word use: http://stooryduster.co.uk/stooryduster-archives. You'll be missing the point with words that are just English in a Scots accent. And the familiar and twee – e.g. braw, bonny – may be a hard sell. Other than that, if it sparks an idea, have at it.
What do you mean by strange fiction?
Fiction that is strange. Fiction that exploits strangeness in any of its flavours: the absurd; the experimental; the fabulous; the fantastic; the marvellous; the modernist; the surreal; the uncanny; the weird. Forget marketing categories with nominal labels. Forget the codification of tropes into Science Fiction and Fantasy. We're talking from Franz Kafka to Charlie Kaufman, from Bradbury to Burroughs by way of Borges. All literature is literary. All fiction is in a genre. It's just that some of it excludes the strange in the aim of realism, (hah!) while some refuses to eschew a tool as valid as any form of metaphor. The latter is what we want.
What do you mean by Scottish descent?
We mean that a story born of a dialect word will necessarily be born of the discourse, of the culture. We mean that Scottish culture is not contained within the geographic borders and genetic bloodlines, but reaches out into the world, an international legacy. We mean we're less interested in the tartan-clad identity of a national literature, more interested in works which embody the impact of Scottish culture at large, from Northern Ireland to South Africa, New Zealand to Nova Scotia. We recognise that impact was not always benevolent. We gave the world Robert Burns. We also gave it the KKK.
So do I have to be Scottish?
By birth... no. By heritage or residence, adoption or initiation... that would count too. And when we say initiation... look, you've seen A Man Called Horse, right? The movie where Richard Harris joins the Navajo Nation by undergoing a gruelling ritual that involves dangling from hooks in his nipples? Same principle... except instead of hooks in nipples, our ordeal involves booze and blether. If you've ever enjoyed Scottish hospitality and suffered for it the morning after, that's honorary membership, mate. Welcome! And on a darker note, we're all too aware of the Scots role in colonialism and slavery; if the connection is a surname born of racist subjugation, we're explicitly and especially keen to hear from you. The past should not be whitewashed. Neither should a table of contents.
What don't you mean by strange fiction of Scottish descent?
We don't want some tired old Shaggy Kelpie Story, as told in a Glasgow pub. We don't want generically pseudo-strange fiction that just grabs some depleted trope of folklore and dances a Highland jig with it. We don't want Rapey Mormon Space Whales in fucking Brigadoon drag. Or Trainspotting drag, for that matter. It’s forty-odd years since the New Wave, for the love of Cock. Don't be writing like it never happened.