The North Recommends: Nightjar Press

Nightjar Press has been publishing individual short stories as signed, limited-edition chapbooks since 2009. We publish stories in pairs, but they can be bought singly, or in large numbers (please). Editor/publisher Nicholas Royle picks them and pairs them according to themes or motifs or moods or subject matter that they may have in common, and these conversations between the paired stories are reflected in the covers. Nightjars are designed and typeset by John Oakey of John Oakey Design, who indulges Royle’s photography ambitions by agreeing to work with the editor’s snaps (and is occasionally lucky enough to work with photographs or illustrations by much more talented artists).

Stories tend towards the dark end of the spectrum – uncanny, Gothic, weird, horror etc – with an increasing interest in work that is both uncanny and experimental. Can uncanny effects be created by adopting experimental approaches? This is just one of the questions we are asking at Nightjar. Others include: ‘Why doesn’t somebody set up a fiction-focused alternative to the Michael Marks Awards For Poetry Pamphlets?’; ‘Why has it become virtually impossible to send orders overseas with any confidence that they will reach their destination and not incur extra customs charges for customers?’; and ‘What time does the pub open?’

Nightjar’s submissions window is propped open – permanently. We welcome submissions from writers who have taken the trouble to research what we like, which is code for ‘who have placed a few orders’ and our hearts sink when we open an email to read, ‘Dear Nightjar, please find attached my 32,000-word historical fantasy saga, which I think would be a perfect fit for your list’, or similar. Our shortest stories have been just under 2000 words, our longest around 5000. All submissions should be previously unpublished. Our roster has included prize-winning authors such as Leone Ross, M John Harrison and Alison Moore, as well as writers who work across other creative fields such as singer and musician John Foxx and artists Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat, alongside dozens of other excellent writers, including a number of debut authors.

We try to send orders out the same day, although we may not always succeed. Our widely sourced packaging materials and special Royle Mail delivery service for many customers, especially those in Manchester and London, have become well-known features. The website was designed by Claire Dean, also one of our authors, and briefly maintained, in the manner of a family business, by software developer Bella Royle, before she handed that responsibility back to her dad. The website is here, and Nightjar can be found on Instagram and Twitter.