5 Questions with Jared Shurin on THE BOOK OF THE DEAD and the Shirley Jackson Award

[NOTE: This is part of a series of Q&As with the Shirley Jackson Award nominees.]

Jared Shurin set up the publishing house Jurassic London in 2011, and has edited or co-edited 9 anthologies of original fiction in conjunction with not-for-profit partners such as English PEN, Tate Britain and the Royal Observatory. In 2013 he was selected as one of the Guardian/Hospital Club’s top ten Pioneers and Innovators in publishing. His work as an editor and a blogger has been nominated for several prizes, including the British Fantasy, BSFA and Hugo Awards. He is on Twitter at @pornokitsch and blogs at www.pornokitsch.com.

Jared kindly answered a few of my questions…


Kristin Centorcelli: Congrats on the Shirley Jackson Award nomination! Will you tell us about the nominated anthology and what inspired the collection?

Jared Shurin: The Book of the Dead is nineteen brand new tales all about mummies. It was inspired by – and published with – the Egypt Exploration Society, the UK’s older independent funder of archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt. (The EES was founded by Amelia Edwards – who was also one of the great Victorian writers of the supernatural – a perfect fit.) We were very proud to combine forces to bring the most fascinating of all the undead back into the light.

KC: As an anthologist and editor, and of course, reader, what do you look for in a good story?

JS: I’m going to steal from China Miéville here, but he once said that he likes fiction that “begins and middles and ends”. A great story needs all that beginning and middling – the setting, the characters, the plot, the conflict – but it needs to do so with powerful concision. And the ending is especially important in a short story, where it is all too easy to mail in a weak conclusion (or worse, a gag). So basically, a good story needs to contain everything. And in a small space. No pressure then.

KC: If you could experience one book, or story, again for the very first time, which one would it be?

JS: What a terrific question. I’m going to go with Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon. It is an extraordinarily heart-breaking book, and knowing everything that happens – and how much it hurts – I’m not sure I can read it again. I will someday, but not just yet. But The Panopticon absolutely stunned me the first time, and I distinctly remember the sensation of being swept through it page by page. I’d like to have that again, please.

KC: What does it mean to you to be nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award?

JS: Tons! The recognition of an award of this calibre means a lot to me, but, more importantly, it rewards the authors, artist and Egyptologist partners who made The Book of the Dead what it is. We’re a tiny press – and a non-profit – with the goal of bringing attention to writing and artistic talent and great causes. Getting a nod from an award that we all respect so much goes a long way toward helping us achieve that.

KC: What’s next for you?

JS: My next anthology, Irregularity, is out on July 24, in partnership with the National Maritime Museum. It is all about the Age of Reason – that era where very bright, very brave people were scurrying around trying to classify and name and bring discipline to the physical universe. Except, of course, the universe didn’t always play along.

One thought on “5 Questions with Jared Shurin on THE BOOK OF THE DEAD and the Shirley Jackson Award”

  1. I loved The Book of the Dead. It was a fine anthology showing Jared and Anne’s hand as editors as much as the quality of the authors stories themselves.

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