A local publisher has released a collection of short stories written during the pandemic

Joshua Azizi
12/10/2020

The Prince Rupert-based publisher Muskeg Press recently released a short story collection that features stories written during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The book is titled Influenced: Stories from the Lockdown, and it features ten short stories written by authors from Canada, India, Ireland and Scotland. Three of them were written by authors from Prince Rupert.

Chris Armstrong, the owner of Muskeg Press, said the idea for the book came to him when he was thinking about Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, a collection of short stories written during the Black Death.

"I thought, okay, well there's a bunch of different short stories in this collection, and there's probably a bunch of people in their apartment doing nothing, and they've probably all got a story they want to get off their chest, so I put out a call for submissions. And I received over 700."

Although the stories were written during the pandemic, Armstrong wanted the authors to write about other topics.

"We didn't want any stories that had the subject matter of COVID. We wanted the book to be a distraction from all the horrible news we've been hearing over the past few months."

According to John Farrell, who edited the collection, the pandemic was able to give the authors a lot more time to focus on their writing.

"There were some people, some authors, who literally got their way through the pandemic by setting 1,000 words a day, or they were trying to get ten stories written within six months."

One of those writers was Conar Rae Harris, who lives in Prince Rupert. His story, "Inheritance," was selected for the book.

"When you're done all your chores and any pressing things you have to do by noon, and you have another full 8-10 hours to do whatever you want, it opened me up to have a lot more free time to do this kind of stuff."

Muskeg Press was planning to throw a launch party for the book at Eddie's News in Prince Rupert, but it was cancelled due to provincial restrictions on indoor gatherings. Nonetheless, Armstrong said the feedback on the book has been positive and that it's a favourite on his bookshelf already.

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