Found Fiction began in 2013 when author Steve Clarkson decided to hide tiny envelopes containing his friend’s stories around the city of Leeds. It started as a way for Clarkson to help his friend, Wayne, share his fiction but he was unaware of what a huge movement the secret stories would make. He printed the stories, placed them in small envelopes marked with ‘read me’ and the tag #FoundFiction, and hid them around Leeds and York.
After waiting months for any sign that someone had found and read one, a story was found in Leeds Art Gallery. The lucky reader tweeted with the tag #FoundFiction to say how wonderful it was and that they wanted to add to the fiction themselves. Soon it snowballed and the friends were inundated with submissions- 6,000 submissions to date, and happening all over the world.
The Found Fiction project has grown into a serious literary and publishing company that runs workshops and installations across the UK, including many summer festivals, but this year the viral pandemic has cut short any further Found Fiction fun. Speaking to the Telegraph, Clarkson explained:
“The next three or four months were going to be a super busy time. We had about a dozen festivals and a series of workshops we were going to be running in schools. Then Covid-19 hit and everything was cancelled, quite unavoidably.”
Like so many others during this time, Clarkson turned his work digital in order to still reach people with short stories.
The new launch of the digital project began with an email campaign called Stories for Solace. Readers sign up to receive a free short story every day throughout the month of April, along with a personal note from Found Fiction that offers a little insight into the story. More than 100 writers worldwide have sent Found Fiction their stories, and over 350 people have signed up so far to read them.
Along with the shared stories, Clarkson has been attempting to digitise his writing workshops with the help of popular video communication tool Zoom. He chose that platform rather than YouTube or Facebook Live as workshops work better when there is interaction, rather than passively watching a video.
Clarkson told The Telegraph:
“People can share their work easily in real time. For instance, you can set a writing challenge, and we can discuss their work through them sharing their screens. That’s exactly what would happen in a physical workshop setting. We just started these digital projects to keep people creative and their minds occupied.
“Among other upcoming events, we’re going to be teaming up with an arts collective in Kenya, who are staging a virtual lock-in festival. Making connections on another continent probably wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t in this situation.”
“No one would have asked for this to happen, but I always encourage everyone to look for the blessings first. You’ve no choice but to try and transform it somehow. It’s forced us to adapt and innovate and that can only be a good thing. We’ve been pushed to reach new audiences. We’re picking up a lot of new contacts who are helping us to deliver different kinds of creative events.”
To sign up as an author or a reader visit Found Fiction.