An anthology celebrating twenty years of Tindal Street Fiction Group came out in 2003, which I edited. I think the introduction explains the raison d'etre of the book, see below. On the next page you can see a picture from the launch and read reviews of the book.
Going The Distance Introduction
Going the Distance celebrates twenty years of Tindal Street Fiction Group, a remarkably successful collective of writers that meets fortnightly in Balsall Heath,
Many of these stories, then, are set in the West Midlands, but the reader can also expect to visit places such as
The commitment and respect shown to the short story by these writers is not, however, reflected in English literary culture as a whole: the short story appears to be in crisis in
Last year an Emergency Summit was called at the
So, in this context, it seems appropriate to celebrate by publishing an anthology of stories from TSFG because, although some are novelists and poets too, all group members are storywriters, intensely interested in and excited by the (good) short story. The story’s possibilities tantalize and we all chase the elusive perfection a story seems to want and mustn’t quite achieve. We are drawn to the form’s intensity and focus and the variety of its effects, which can be as subtle and long lasting as a novel, but also have an immediacy and an enchantment difficult to sustain over the course of longer material. At TSFG meetings there are no rules or manifesto to conform to – we all look for the story that delights or grips or stuns with its beauty, economy or vitality; the one that sticks with us; is more than the sum of its pages. Attending meetings is like subscribing to a good literary magazine, two stories a month, and it is a privilege to be in on the first readings of so many fine examples of the form. OK, not every piece works. Some come back again and again for further comments and adjustments, some never quite make it, but many do, going on to be published or broadcast, a feat cheered and discussed – and the whole group gains confidence and learns from that individual’s success.
Tindal writers got the exposure they deserved, slowly at first. In the 1980s stories appeared in London Magazine, Iron, Panurge and Sunk Island Review. Then in the 1990s Critical Quarterly, Bete Noire, Malahat Review, the European, Main Street Journal, Metropolitan, Ambit and Fantasy Tales among many others were added to the list. Stories were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and appeared in anthologies such as Best Short Stories, Telling Stories, Heinemann New Writing, Signals: London Magazine Stories, Darklands and The Mammoth Book of Dracula. They were winning prizes such as the Tom-Gallon, and She/Good Morning awards. Collections came out from Alan Beard (Taking Doreen out of the Sky) and Joel Lane (Earth Wire), along with novels from Alan Mahar (Flight Patterns), Lane (From Blue to Black), Jackie Gay (Scapegrace) and Gul Davis (A Lone Walk) – which also won the JB Priestley Fiction Award, and Annie Murray began a series of novels with Birmingham Rose, followed by Birmingham Friends.
The ‘noughties’ – so far – continue in the same vein: appearances in anthologies and magazines such as Pretext, Neonlit, The Ex-Files and Groundswell, second novels from Mahar (After the Man Before), Lane (The Blue Mask) and Gay (Wist), and more from Murray (including Poppy Day and Chocolate Girls). Julia Bell joined the ranks of novelists with Massive and will follow it up with Out There. TSFG members have also been editing short-story anthologies, among them Hard Shoulder (another award-winner), England Calling and Birmingham Noir.
The 1983–2003 anniversary seems a natural point to mark this long-term success. Members suggested stories they’d like to see in an anthology representing the group’s staying power. We certainly wanted to acknowledge past landmarks; for example, Godfrey Featherstone’s innovative and moving piece had to be included in any celebration of TSFG. However, we also wanted to show that the group is still going strong – indeed in its most productive phase yet.
The reader will find, therefore, highlights from the first three TSFG self-published anthologies: Tindal Street Fiction (1984), The View from
We can confidently say that here in