Tired of Christmas chocolate? Try the Short Story Advent Calendar
Last holiday season, with beer advent calendars abounding, writer and journalist Michael Hingston thought that surely there must be a calendar to suit his literary tastes. But with none on the market, he set to work creating the Short Story Advent Calendar with publisher Natalie Olsen. Last year was the first year the calendar was offered. And it's back in 2016, with writers like Anakana Schofield, Daniel Handler, Sheila Heti and Charles Demers contributing.
On the origins of the idea
I had a list of stories in my head from my years as a book reviewer that I thought were brilliant, but the collection they were in didn't reach as many people as I thought it should have. So I started with this list of stories I wanted to bring to another audience. Then I made a list of some of my favourite writers. I Googled them, got in touch and asked if they had a story lying around I could consider. I was surprised how many said yes.
On creating an Internet community
There is a real-time community element to the calendar. Each day there's something to do after you read the story. The great thing about the time constraint in a project like this is that everyone (ideally) is reading the same story as everyone else at the same time. You can join the conversation on social media.
We're going to post an interview with the author of that day's story. The author will talk about it and give you some added context for the story that you just read.
We introduced this last year and it was probably the most rewarding part of the project. Sometimes you put a book out into the world and you don't know how people are engaging with it. We, on the other hand, had dozens of readers talking about the stories they liked. They were chatting with each other! It became a real pop-up community.
Michael Hingston's comments have been edited and condensed.