Paul Beech, commenting on the publication of Original Sins, suggested that I write a blog post about the art of putting together an anthology. It is an art, not a science, that is for sure. I know of no guidelines, though I’ve invented a few for myself over the years.
I’ve decided to do a two-part post, starting with a brief account of my own work as an anthologist. I got started after suggesting to fellow members of the CWA’s Northern Chapter that we put together a book of our stories. They were enthusiastic – provided I found a publisher and did the putting together. I remember a planning meeting at the Whitley Bay home of Ann and Tim Cleeves, with Robert Barnard, Val McDermid and Chaz Brenchley, as we kicked around ideas. The result was Northern Blood, a book that was very well received, and I was proud to be associated with it.
Over the years, two more Northern Blood books followed, and I was even asked to help the East Anglian Chapter with a book. In the mid 90s, the CWA committee asked me to take over editorship of the national anthology. My predecessors since the 1950s had been distinguished, but invariably encountered the problem that publishers tend to be less than enthusiastic about anthologies from a commercial perspective.
I found a publisher – Severn House, with whom I’ve just become reunited – and Perfectly Criminal was the first of three books they produced. We’ve been involved with several publishers over the years, but the aim is always the same – to produce a great book that showcases the talents of CWA members, famous and not so famous alike.
More soon on how I go about the editorial task.