Writing and Designing Short-Story Books for Adults

By Robin L. Fetherston.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Over the last twenty to thirty years, there has been an explosion in book art, especially as technology advances and challenges the traditional format of the book. Many times in these creations, written language is used as part of the design with a de-emphasis on meaning. This trend ignores the desire of people everywhere for story—the narrative in whatever form that delves into the human’s multifaceted relationship with an ethos or a world. For readers, there is a particularly poignant sense of loss when words and language are used time and again without the formation of ideas. This essay examines three groups of female university art and design students who pursued a project designed to question, even redress, the current imbalance between book art and narrative or textual meaning promoted by many in their own fields. Each student functioned in a triple role: first as a writer among a community of writers of an original short story; second as an editor among a community of editors; and finally, in a “real world” role as a book designer and illustrator who produces a handmade book, not for her own story, but for that of a peer. The end product was a non-traditional story-book for adults. Each student documented her reactions and the process of her thinking as she gave over control of her story to a designer/illustrator and in turn took over someone else’s text as a designer/illustrator, which compelled her to juggle the relationships among her own imagination, her own reading of the text, and the author’s own interpretation.

Keywords: Story, Story-Book, Short Story, Book Art, Handmade Books, Narrative, Deconstruction, Illustrators, Book Designers, Graphic Designers, Writing, Qatar, Middle East

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.25-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.252MB).

Robin L. Fetherston

Assistant Professor, English, English Department, Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha, Qatar

For Robin Fetherston, becoming a teacher of writing and literature was the result of an evolutionary process beginning with an undergraduate degree in learning disabilities with an emphasis on behavioral science. After nearly twenty years as an educator during which she worked with every age group from preschool through adulthood, she took a position at Virginia Commonwealth University’s satellite arts and design school in the Arabian Gulf. Since arriving five and a half years ago, she has taught research, writing, and literature to Arabic-speaking students. Her writing has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and business publications in the United States as well as in both English-speaking and Arabic-speaking local and regional newspapers in the Gulf. A recent essay, “Books as Elements of Pleasure: Establishing a University-Wide Reading Program in an Oral Society in the Middle East” appears in volume four of _The International Journal of the Book_. Photographic works of hers have accompanied some of her publications and have been exhibited in the VCUQatar Gallery. Her areas of current research are in Victorian studies, the teaching of writing, and culture.

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