Terra Incognita: Cover reveal

Over the past decade, the publishing industry has become risk averse. The words “genre-defying” and “original” make agents and editors break out in a cold sweat – or so we’re told. The industry is constantly described as conservative. Manuscripts are rejected for being too cerebral, unsellable in a market that wants only apple pie. An alternative publishing model has grown up around writers looking for new routes to readers. However indie publishers are often (unfairly) percieved as exploitative and the work produced by them as subpar.

It is in this climate that Short Story Day Africa was formed and, in the four years since inception, the SSDA team has developed a survival ethos: to subvert and reclaim. To reclaim the place of the short story. To reclaim a space for nonconformist writers. To subvert ideas about what it means to be a writer in Africa. To subvert ideas about African stories.

The theme for our latest anthology was one of subversion, this time of speculative fiction. Introducing Terra Incognita: nineteen new speculative stories from all over Africa.

Terra Incognita’s cover continues the theme of subversion. When Nick Mulgrew, the newest member of the SSDA team, was tasked with designing the cover for Terra Incognita, he took to re-appropriating old ideas about Africa:

“All of the elements of the visual design come from centuries-old material that I found in the Cape Town Central Library, which all really came to life when paired with humanist type with a slight sci-fi edge. I’d like to say that the design is about subverting colonial cartographic tropes, and as well as about undermining ideas of Africa as a dark, impenetrable continent, in order to reclaim and reposition them in a more modern, Afrofuturist context – and, sure, it is about that – but mostly I think it just looks nice. “

Which sums up the real reason for all our subversion this year at SSDA. We just want to produce great work, and read great stories.

Terra Incognita. Uncharted depths. Africa Unknowable.

Feast, Famine & Potluck: Cover Reveal

"A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends."  – Friedrich Nietzsche

That Nietzsche quote has come to pretty much sum up the nature of Short Story Day Africa. In the three short years the project has been running, every element has been collaborative – and all its resources supplied by a community of writers, publishers, booksellers, readers and artists from all around the globe. The Feast, Famine & Potluck anthology is a physical representation of that spirit – a quick glance at the acknowledgements will tell you that.

The beautiful cover of our anthology is no different. It's the result of two great creative minds, Nick Mulgrew and Candace di Talamo, putting their heads together. This is what they have to say about their creation.

We wanted a cover design that reflected the stories in the collection, something layered, verdant and crawling with symbolism; something that, like the stories, didn't pander toward typical "African" narratives and established its own, inclusive aesthetic.

But really, great art speaks for itself. We love it, and hope you do to.

Nick Mulgrew is a writer and part-time creative director. His story "Ponta do Ouro" is included in the collection.

Candace di Talamo has loved art and illustration as long as she can remember. She has worked for the Moving Picture Company as a 3D artist and technical director. Movies she has worked on include Alien vs Predator, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter. Illustration works have appeared in Destiny and Destiny Man, and  her inks have been exhibited in group shows in Salon 91, Cape Town. She lives in Hout Bay with her husband, two children, a dog, three cats and a tortoise. Other works can viewed on https://www.facebook.com/ArtistCandaceDiTalamo?fref=ts

Feast, Famine & Potluck is available on Smashwords as an e-book, and soon from MegaBooks in print.