Pandril Press – Weird Love Launch

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Pandril Press began as an idea hatched in the minds of seven students from Manchester Metropolitan University’s MA Creative Writing course in 2010, and since then published their first anthology of short stories, Panopticon, in May 2011.

Since then, founders Paul Beatty, Dave Chadwick, Lucia Cox, Ros Davis, Iris Feindt, Nicky Harlow and Alison Jeapes have just finished work on their second collection of stories, Weird Love, launching on at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester this week.

Featuring eight new writers Weird Love is an anthology of short stories covering love in all of its strange, wonderful and, sometimes, sinister forms. From its cover, beautifully illustrated by Phil Davis, depicting a lone woman sitting at a bar, to each of the stories within, Weird Love skillfully captures the strange mix of ambiguities and nuances of love in its most diverse, startling and destructive guises.

Alumnus Megan Taylor reading ‘The Woman Under the Ground’

The launch event got started with a reading from Daithidh MacEochaidh’s ‘Under the Fitful Winter Sun.’ The evening was followed by more readings from Sarah Atkins-Navas’ ‘How to Paint a Kylix’, and Ahmed Jameel’s ‘Winding Down’, which gave us our first experience of a darkly comic tone in the anthology. Megan Taylor – another MMU Writing School MA graduate, read from her tale ‘The Woman Under the Ground’, which, she pointed out, is about many things, but “mostly about people having sex in the woods.”

A question and answer session rounded off the event, offering us some insight into the forming of the anthology. Dave Chadwick, one of the editors, said that the best part of the editing process was “seeing so many different brilliant and talented voices coming together.”

Nicky Harlow, another of the original editorial team, said: “We’ve seen a lot of the authors’ work quite a long time ago, and the kind of stuff they were producing then, against what they’re producing now- the transformation is amazing and I think that’s one of the real joys of this- when you see people growing with their writing.”

Iris Feindt signs copies of Pandril Press

Iris Feindt, another founding member of Pandril Press and Associate Lecturer at MMU added, “It’s also a great incentive to keep writing as well as create variety in what is being published. A lot of big publishers shy away from publishing short stories because they claim short stories don’t sell and nobody reads them anymore.”

This small group of independent publishers have shown what can be achieved by a dedicated team of writers and editors producing work of a standard to meet the large publishing houses. As Daithidh put it during the Q&A, “The cover, the way it’s put together, the run of stories, the varied mix of voices- this is a commercial product, and will stand alongside anything that’s been produced out there.”

Weird Love joins a number of independent publications that started life, or are still living, within Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing School, including the recently launched Timelines Anthology.

Speaking shortly after the event, The Manchester Writing School’s James Draper said:

“The Manchester Writing School at MMU is really gearing up to be the leading university-based creative writing publisher, with projects like our Timelines anthology, which Iris is also involved in. It’s great to see our students and graduates developing their own publication projects independently, too. These books are filling a gap in the market and offering a much-need platform for new voices at a time when major publishing houses are tending to play it safe with big names and established blockbuster series.

“It’s a chance, too, for our Creative Writing students to gain professional experience of having their writing edited and published – and, in some cases, gain work experience behind the scenes, editing and producing a book and then taking it to market.”

“We really value this ongoing and unstinting commitment from the Writing School,” said Dave Chadwick at the launch. “It’s a hugely valuable morale boost and a tangible demonstration that what is taught at the Writing School goes way beyond the course itself.”

Going up against the big publishing players is not easy task, but in a burgeoning world of independent publishers, be it online or in print, perhaps Pandril Press can make a commercial, as well as an artistic, impact upon the publishing world.

Either way, Nicky Harlow was keen to stress the importance of writing and independent publishing.

“I think it’s important that we do stuff like this, I think it’s important that writers get published, even if you’re not going to end up in the bestselling charts. It’s important that we all carry on and we publish, and we try and be as professional as we can, because otherwise those big guys always win!”

Weird Love will be available for purchase on Amazon shortly. In the meantime Pandril Press can be contacted through their Facebook group:

Alex is an English student at MMU. She is passionate about good coffee, boring films and ridiculously long books. She would like her writing to be seen and hopefully one day published. You can read her blog at

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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