Andrew Kenrick & Freya Dean’s foreword to UEA’s 2022 Biography & Creative Non-Fiction MA anthology, published by Egg Box and available HERE
It doesn’t seem so very long ago (six years, in fact) that we were in the same position as the authors featured in this anthology, coming to the end of an intense year of reading and writing, saturated with words and stories. So much so that, at the end of it all, many of us felt reluctant to return to the ‘real’ world, we wanted to remain immersed in all these wonderful stories – but how?
One of the things students often struggle with as they arrive at the end of a course is ‘what to do next?’ As writer-students this question of what next features heavily, but takes a slightly different form: the pressing concern is what next for the work you have just completed. The manuscript that you have spent 12 months or more honing and shaping and re-working until it really says something in exactly the way you want to say it and, as such, deserves a life of its own out in the world.
With fiction, it always seemed to us, this route to publication was clear: there were ample (paid) opportunities for the submission of short stories, allowing writers to build a reputation (and perhaps a career) before aspiring to publish their first novel. However in the UK there were far fewer opportunities of this kind for writers of non-fiction, and certainly no dedicated venue for short, creative non-fiction pieces. And that’s how our magazine, Hinterland, was born; first conceived in emails sent between essay deadlines and hurried conversations in the Enterprise Centre between seminars, given a life of its own as funders, bookshops and – most importantly – writers started to take us seriously. Our intent: to provide a platform for new and upcoming writers of non-fiction to submit and see their stories published – and get paid for it too. When we started the magazine we looked ahead to the first four issues, hoping we’d make it to the end of a year. Thousands of submissions, a nationwide reach of stockists as well as our own webstore, an ever-growing community of subscribers and upwards of one hundred published pieces later – many by first-time authors – we have just released Hinterland’s eleventh issue. And it’s this latter group – the writers, both published and unpublished – who really fill us with encouragement, whose trust that Hinterland might be the right home for their story makes it all worthwhile.
We are, of course, biased in saying so, but for us no other genre possesses creative non-fiction’s potential for storytelling and experimentation. Whether memoir, essay, psychoscape, food or travel writing, or work that straddles genres and can prove deliciously impossible to define, there are stories within non-fiction more compelling than even the most outlandish works of fiction. There is no creative material more wonderful, more powerful than the truth.
And just as truth is the animating force behind many of the stories featured in a typical issue of Hinterland, so it is with the stories presented in this anthology. Between them they showcase the range and power of creative non-fiction to translate the raw material of the everyday into something that sings on the page.
So how will these authors answer the question of ‘what next?’ Well, we don’t think they will have to wrestle with that question for long – we look forward to reading more stories from them over the years to come: whether as full-length books, online articles and essays, or perhaps even as features within the pages of a non-fiction magazine.
Andrew Kenrick & Freya Dean Founding editors, Hinterland