At the Mechanics’ Institute Review HQ (the music room, Tavistock Square), we are bubbling with excitement because we have now finalised the list of stories for the forthcoming MIR9, and we have a real treat lined up. We hope you will agree!
We’d love to show you a sneaky preview but we’re not quite done. Over the next few weeks we will be working with our talented bunch of writers to help them add the finishing touches to their work.
However, it has been a busy few months already and we can give you a snapshot of what we’ve been up to.
Whilst the submissions were trickling in (and later storm-surging in) we had some serious issues to discuss and in particular, what to put on the front of the book.
We trawled through hundreds of images trying to find the perfect one for our cover. It was a decision not to be rushed. Well actually, I think we all fell in love with our winning image within minutes of seeing it, but we wanted to give the other images a fair chance. Week after week we turned the music room floor into a mosaic of potential covers and one by one whittled down the list until we were left with only a few survivors. There was no contest really, we were clearly going to discard the steering wheel and the boy with the caravan and go with a pair of skeletons tying the knot.
A bit of morbid choice, perhaps? No, we think not. For the MIR9 team, the Mexican Day of the Dead festival epitomises the anthology entirely. It’s not only the bringing together of culture, friends and family, it’s also about celebrating, and it’s about embracing something new. Most importantly, the image of the festival tells a powerful story.
But alas, our decision was still not made. We had to choose between a slightly more sinister looking pair of skeletons on a greeny-grey background with an eerie shadow, and a simpler image on a warm pink background. Would the boys buy a pink book? Would anyone?
This dilemma led to some impromptu market research whereby members of the team took the images into bookshops, coffee shops and even prisons, yes really, to try and get a general consensus of what people would pick up in a bookshop. One member of the editorial team was so keen for the pink, aka ‘salmon’ image to be the chosen one; he started handing out homemade marmalade as bribes. Although assured the only ingredients were oranges and whisky, it made us wonder about the faint taste of almonds...Fortunately, none of us died of cyanide poisoning and, in the end, we all agreed that the salmon skeletons would be more likely to ‘jump out’ from the bookshelves.
Before we knew it the submission deadline was upon us and, with almost ninety submissions to read in just a few weeks, we certainly had our work cut out for us and our social lives—simply cut out. For once, I didn’t feel guilty about shunning my friends and family in favour of locking myself indoors and having a good old read. My house slowly morphed into MIR9 as piles of manuscripts made their way into the kitchen, the living room and sometimes the bathroom. Our only communication with the outside world was to ask ‘salmon or green?’ to passers-by.
A jar or two of marmalade later, the team reconvened ready for the battle of the stories. There are seven of us on the team so we had a variety of opinions and perspectives. However, the seven opinions were, on occasion, seven entirely opposing ones. But as the quality of the submissions was extremely high, the tough bit was deciding what to leave out rather than what to put in. Sadly, we are only producing one book and decisions had to be made. Thanks to all who submitted, we loved reading your work and wish you success in the future.
Sarah, Antonia, Sue, Natalie, Marlowe, Dane and Zoe
MIR9 Editorial Team