Whee, a balloon

Far Off Blog

With a Wake and a Wave

It’s been a long, delightful road, but even the best trips have to come to an end eventually. As planned, our just-released issue (the aptly-and-inevitably-titled But There Is No End) of Far Off Places will be our last. It’s a truly lovely issue (that we hope you’ll sip with care), and we’re definitely going out on a high. We’ll be celebrating its launch, toasting our authors and illustrators, and drowning our own tiny sorrows at a wake (a wake!) on Thursday, 22 November. 7:30, at Lighthouse Books in Edinburgh. As with any wake worth its salt, there’ll be poetry, storytelling and plentiful homemade wine, as well as some pretty great suits. Plus, we’ll have a limited number of print issues for sale — something a fair few fair folk have asked us about. If you can’t make the wake but have put in your name for copies, not to worry: we’ll be in touch!

Speaking of toasts: Far Off Places has always been a tremendously collaborative effort; a project to help shine a little light on up-and-coming writers of all stripes & sizes. We couldn’t have done it without our astonishing authors, our illustrious illustrators, and — of course — you, our uncommonly handsome and winsome readers. Ceris Aston helped us through our first few volumes, and without her Far Off Places would never have gone beyond the “hey, wouldn’t it be great if…” stage. We’ve also had help along the way from some terrific guest editors & proofers: Jessica Johanneson Gaitan, Adam Ley-Lange, Jess Orr, and Gillian Hamnett have all polished their respective issues into shiny, beautiful assemblages of words & wit. None of our print runs — consistently satisfying, but always too few in number! — would have happened without master binder Nicky Davidson. And once upon a time, to our surprise and delight, we had an intern, Eleanor O’Neill, who we trust has gone on to bring her mix of whimsical competence to further and greater things.

And finally: we’re going to take this winter to sneak in some much-deserved hibernation, but we’ll be looking to re-launch the Far Off Podcast sometime in the spring. Gone but not forgotten, and maybe soon to rise again.

With our warmest, wordy, whimsical wishes,

— Annie, Beth, and Trevor

But there is no end!

I always loved the sound of mornings in Far Off HQ, with its quick-tempo pencil scratchings and percolator pops. It was such a relaxing atmosphere; a harmonious blending of art, editing, and design (what is the sound of one hand copy-editing, anyway?) punctuated by the occasional giggle or snort.1 It’s been rather more frenetic lately, with more rushing about and whooshing of deadlines and dropping of walloping great big stacks of paper. Not relaxing at all in other words, nor terribly productive. Work and life and other distractingly cool projects2 have gradually crept in and taken over, forcing us to push Far Off Places deadlines back again and again.

Bluntly put, we’re just not as slick at putting together a magazine as we once were, and rather than slowly slide into less-than-greatness we’ve decided to shut down the magazine as a regular3 publication. We’re aiming to release our next issue, Trespassers Beware, before the end of this summer; the still-untitled issue after that will be our last regular issue of Far Off Places.

We’re going to do something a little different for that one: instead of an open call for submissions we’re asking the authors and illustrators who’ve published work with us before — from Fairy Tales Retold in 2013 all the way up to Trespassers Beware in 2017 — to submit pieces for our 10th and final issue. No theme, no title, no grand unifying plan — just great work by the writers and artists who have graced our pages in the past and from whom we’d like hear one more time.

You’ll still hear from us from time to time, too — we’ve got other projects under the Far Off Places banner that we’re not quite ready to let go of — but this will be our last regular magazine. Keep a weather eye on the horizon though, because we’ll still be here, still looking to the camera, messing around, and pulling (silly) faces.

And there’s always time for one more coffee.

  1. Mostly giggles, but on occasion I have been known to laugh like a tiny elephant. No apologies!
  2. Like Beth, who is knee-deep in her first comics anthology, or Annie, who’s been quietly running Scotland’s biggest poetry festival, or Ceris, who’s scavenging roof tiles and distributing serenity.
  3. Ok, a semi-regular4 publication.
  4. Oh, all right: periodical.

Partying in different languages: join us on 30 September

Do you hear that noise? It’s the sound of French articles trying on their little black dresses, and Russian verbs wondering which conjugation suits them best. (It’s got to be the first person present. Just saying.)

Put on your gladrags and join us for a shindig at Forest Cafe in Edinburgh on Friday, 30 September, from 7pm till 8pm, when we’ll be celebrating the well-travelled word and unsung heroes of literature: translators. To mark International Translation Day, we’ll be working with the lovely folks from Glasgow Review of Books (go check them out!) bringing together writers, translators and artists who make words travel in the most surprising of ways. Come join us and listen to:

  • Kevin Mclean and Katie Ailes of the Loud Poets, performing Alexandra Smith’s translation of The War Hasn’t Started Yet;
  • a new look at Google Translate, from Juana Adcock;
  • a musical translation of poetry by Tim Cooper;
  • German words interwoven with English from JL Williams;
  • translations of poetry by Ken Cockburn;
  • and something unexpected by Flavia D’Avila.

We’ll also have the lovely Sarah Morton on board to translate the event into art.

Look forwarding, mesdames et messieurs, euch willkommen zu heißen! До скорого!

Hello lovely people, happy world book day!

We hope you’re celebrating in style today and are enjoying:

  • Public Library by Ali Smith, with a large mug of black coffee—Annie

  • The Revolving Door of Life by Alexander McCall Smith with a nice cuppa (coconut oolong)—Beth

  • Hamilton by Ron Chernow, with a shot of untaxed whiskey—Trevor

(And if you live in Edinburgh, do pop by to the tardis nearest you and pick up a literary gift or two. We’re quite excited about this ourselves!)

We’ve been a bit quiet the last wee while, we know. To reassure you that we’re still alive and kicking (ouch!), here’s what we’re up to in the Far Off Places HQ:

  • Annie has almost finished editing Found in Translation. Two more pieces to go, and then she’ll be on to proofreading. (Yay!) She’s also busy planning all of the other little bits and pieces that make up the magazine—gathering the authors’ and translators’ biographies, coming up with a table of contents and pondering a letter from the editors.

  • Beth is illustrating the cover image for Found in Translation. It’s top secret at the moment, but she’s promised us it’ll be weird and wonderful.

  • Trevor is making all of our shiny widgets even shinier.

We’ve also been spring cleaning. And while spring cleaning we found:

  • A make-your-own-snowman kit the size of a matchbox.

  • That cheque we spent last week looking for.

  • And a bunch of handbound copies of Far Off Places!

That makes it sound like we’d lost the handbound copies of Far Off Places. It’d be closer to the truth to say that they were just too high up to reach… We tend to print and bind copies of the magazine to sell when we have a stall or an event somewhere, but as a World Book Day treat, we wanted to offer copies to YOU, dear reader.


That’s right: we have a (very!) limited number of print copies of The Epistolary Edition, Sartorial and The Second Breakfast for sale!

Great! How much do they cost?

£4.50 plus postage for one issue, or £8 (plus postage) for two. Or if you’re an author in one of those issues, you get it at a discounted rate of £3 (plus postage).

Me! Me! Pick me!

Just send an email to annie[at]faroffplaces.org, and we’ll figure out payment methods and the rest from there.

New editors!

JessYou might have heard that we’ve been working with a couple of new editors recently, Jessica Johanneson Gaitan and Adam Ley-Lange. Adam and Jess came on board as guest editors for The Epistolary Edition, and we’ve enjoyed working them with so much that we persuaded them to stay with us for at least a wee bit longer. We’re really quite excited that we’ll be working on the issue following The Epistolary Edition in collaboration with their website The Rookery in the Bookery. More details about that soon…

For now though, we sat down with Jess, Adam, a pot of coffee and a tub of ice cream to find out a little more about them.

Which fairy tale character are you?

Jess: Automatically I’d say the little mermaid! That sounds horrible, but I was obsessed with that story as a child. I like the idea of turning into bubbles.

Adam: As a kind of Rorschach split second answer, the first person I thought of was Bluebeard. Adam But I don’t want to be Bluebeard! And I’m vegetarian, the idea of chopping up a body is repellent.

Which far off place is next on your list?

Adam: My next far off place is Moscow, where we’ve been invited to play a gig. But it all sounds a bit suspect…

Jess: Yarm.

If you had to have a fragment of poetry tattooed on your body, what would it be?

Jess: I’d like a quote from the Swedish poet Sofia Stenström’s book Venus Vanish: ‘Någon går in i en annans mörker. Här lyser för alla en sol.’ The literal translation is: ‘Someone goes into another’s darkness. Here a sun shines for all.’

Adam: I’m more of a short story person. I’d take a line from George Saunders’ story, 10th of December. The protagonist is about to die, and he hallucinates back having piano lessons in the sun room as a child. There’s the line, ‘Don’t die just yet, there are plenty of people who wish to judge you harshly in the sun room.’

What’s your ideal lazy breakfast?

Jess: Pancakes.

Adam: Kilimanjaro’s vegetarian breakfast, please, but delivered to my home.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Adam and Jess: We really, really like corvids.