Tuesday 28 August 2012

The Big Issue Fiction Edition 2012

As part of this year's Melbourne Writers Festival I was lucky to be able to attend the launch of the 2012 fiction edition of The Big Issue.

Melissa Cranenburgh, co-editor of The Big Issue

The Big Issue is such a fantastic concept. A fortnightly magazine, with great content, sold by vendors who often don't otherwise have any income- people with mental illness, drug or addiction problems or other tough circumstances. The vendor keeps half of the $5 cover price. Becoming a vendor helps not just with income, but socialisation, confidence and many other benefits too. The Big Issue started in Britain in the early 90s. The Australian edition was launched on the steps of Flinders Street Station in 1996. Since that time over 7 million copies have been sold, giving more than $15 million to the vendors.

There are no vendors where I live but I always buy a copy when I'm in Sydney or Melbourne.

Sir Andrew Motion launching the issue

2012 is the 8th year for the fiction edition, which has 12 short stories, 6 are commissioned by the editors and 6 are the result of a submission process- over 400 writers submitted their work. One contribution is getting a lot of media attention (including a lovely radio piece on Radio National today) this year because a Hollywood actor, James Franco (of course I had no real idea who he actually is) wrote it. The other commissioned authors are Margo Lanagan (I'll finally get to read some of her work! YAY), Tony Birch (new to me, but he sounds really interesting), Sophie Cunningham, Wayne Macauley and James Bradley.

The launch was a really interesting session. Sophie Cunningham and Tony Birch were there, as well as one of the writers selected through the sumbission process, 22 year old Rafael SW. They all spoke and read from their stories. Although at the end Chris Flynn asked about the other writers who had come through the submission process, and I think all of them were in the room! A big moment for them all.

The 2012 fiction edition is on sale until September 10. I hope you get the chance to buy one too. Now to just get time to finish reading it.


Sim Carter said...

What a lovely idea! And not to name drop but my hubby Mark worked with James Franco on Tristan & Isolde. He's very bright - was enrolled in two top colleges (NYU and Columbia) simultaneously. As well as acting, directing and apparently writing stories! He also teaches a class at short filmmaking classs at NYU now. BUT HE did a TERRIBLE job last year cohosting the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway.

Louise said...

Oh I'm glad someone out there knows who he is! And boast away Sim. I haven't read his story yet, will report back after I have.