A Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Issue 32.

One of the writers published in this issue told me recently that they felt that StepAway Magazine is needed now more than ever. They explained that our publication offers a vital stimulus to all those who dream of walking in cities.  I was deeply touched and at the same time saddened by this comment – touched because I am glad that our humble journal can offer some respite at this difficult time and saddened because for some the dream of freely exploring the streets of a city currently seems impossible.

There are those who continue to commute to work observing the restrictions. For them, the feeling of walking in the city is not so unusual (apart from the fact that they now wear a facemask).  Others may not have left their homes in almost a year, due to health restrictions or personal choice. I fall into the latter of these two categories and I dearly miss urban walking. The last time I walked in a city was on a visit to Florence February last – an unacceptable hiatus for the editor of a walking journal! We do, however, live in hope that the vaccine will prove effective and we will return in time to the life to which we were once accustomed.

As I write this editorial, the avid walker William Helmreich is in my thoughts. A professor of sociology at CUNY, Bill was known for writing The Manhattan Nobody Knows (2018) the research for which involved him walking every block in Manhattan – a total of 6,163 miles. I corresponded with Bill for a number of years and he read my PhD thesis with interest. One of the great excavators of city life, Bill passed away in March. This issue is dedicated to William Helmreich and all those we have lost to this cruel disease.

On a lighter note, I’d like to draw attention to new books published by writers whose work has featured previously in StepAway Magazine. Caroline Hardaker, a great supporter and friend of the magazine who featured in our #Lockdown issue has recently published her first collection of poetry, entitled Little Quakes Every Day (Valley Press, 2020). Here readers will find “tales of human evolution and natural laws, of technology, of the world’s problems and the twisted inventions we create”. Caroline also has a debut novel in the pipeline, Composite Creatures (Angry Robot, 2021), which is “a speculative literary take on a world where self-preservation is as much an art as a science”. This book will be published in April 2021, but pre-orders are now open.

Murzban F Shroff, whose short story we featured way back in Issue 7, is also about to publish his fourth book, Third Eye Rising, a collection of ten full-length stories that “makes visible the lives of the invisible and showcases the spiritual strengths of India”.

It is always wonderful to share the successes of StepAway writers. Turning attention to our current issue, fourteen writers feature: Jan Ball, Penny Blackburn, Alan Cohen, Philip Davison, Thomas Elson, Laura Glenn, Amlanjyoti Goswami, David Linklater, Abi Loughnane, Sinéad McClure, Martin Potter, Annette Skade, Marc Swan and Andrea Ward.

Some poems address our struggle with the epidemic, whereas others hark back to freer times. Regardless, there is some great writing here that reminds us of the city life many of us are missing. Wherever you are, and whatever your situation, I hope you can find the opportunity to sit back, pour yourself a glass of something comforting and enjoy our Christmas issue. Here’s to better times ahead.

With the warmest of festive wishes,

Dr Darren Richard Carlaw