West Midlands Readers’ Network links regional writers with readers’ groups across the West Midlands with the aim of facilitating new writing. In the Spring of each year, numerous reading groups, varied in their geographical spread and make-up, apply to take part in our short story commissioning process. After a long selection process, six reading groups are chosen. Groups from the heart of the city, from the Black Country, from north and south of our region are featured, and the commissioning process begins.
We pair a regional writer with a regional reading group and fix a date for them to meet. During that initial session the group discuss a wish-list of themes and ideas they want to see in their completed short story. Then, after tea and cake and some gentle haggling we set the clock ticking as the writers produce the bespoke short story.
Then, at the end of the Summer when six short stories have been written and the writers have emerged, we publish them in a gorgeous anthology. The anthology is showcased at our Seven Minute Stories event at Library of Birmingham where the writers read extracts of their stories, and talk about the process of writing them.
To celebrate this exciting strand of work, the stories and their writers, we commissioned Birmingham based sound artist and musician Duncan Grimley, to record a collection of audio stories and compose music specially for them. We have worked with a wonderful team of Midlands actors with backgrounds in radio, theatre, and film.