Pop Writers


Rippl_The_Detective for essay

(Painting: “The Detective” by Jozsefs Rippl-Ronai.)

Why pop short story writers?

Because in the days of Jack London and O. Henry, the short story was THE popular American art form. Any renewal of literature starts there.

It’s begun!– particularly with various styles of “flash” or short short fiction, which puts an emphasis on brevity, clarity, and punch. But there’s no reason why entertaining and accessible stories can’t be longer, as they once were.

Recently we published a fairly long pop story by Norbert Kovacs, “The Fight,” which gives a hint at what’s possible.


We’ve published several writers who skirt the line between pop and pop lit, often through different twists on genre fiction. Among them is Ian Lahey, whose most recent story for us, from 2016, is “What I Don’t See.”

Ian Lahey





Ian uses a genre style and setting of agents conducting an interrogation to throw the reader off balance– making us see in the situation what we otherwise might not see.


However, the best pure pop story we’ve run to date is a new one by Alan Swyer, “Country Sweetheart.”

Alan Swyer photo one

What makes Swyer’s story work is its sense of humor, along with the affection Alan Swyer has for the characters and for the often-quirky world of country music. It’s an entertaining story about entertainers– and about other things like authenticity. Authentic art. The main character may in some ways be a fraud (to put it mildly!) but at the same time his feeling for the music, his colleagues, and his audience is thoroughly genuine. The suspense comes from the question of how long he’ll be able to get away with the imposture. Or, how will he be caught?

The tale is quintessentially American in a variety of ways. Not least of them is the theme of reinvention– that, contrary to what Scott Fitzgerald once said, there are second acts in American life. (Why people came here in the first place.) But also the story’s love for the land and people, combined with a sense of good old fashioned fun-loving ballyhoo. The American quality of finding yourself through being an entertainer. Entertaining through singing, or entertaining through storytelling.

Our interest here is in the latter. . . .


Next up in this series: “Underground”

NPL Author Ian Lahey Featured in ‘Short and Happy (or not)’

by Lloyd Poast

Short stories are becoming increasingly popular in today’s fast paced lifestyles. Between careers, family, social life, and the latest episode of The Walking Dead, not everyone has the time they’d like to devote to a full length novel. In an attempt to help those looking for a quick literary fix, S&H Publishing, Inc. has released a new anthology entitled Short and Happy (or not), featuring 36 stories by such authors as Rob Johnson, John Byk, Ellen Barnes, and New Pop Lit contributor, Ian Lahey.

Ian has two entries in the anthology, both exploring the relationship between a subdued assistant and an authoritative professor, which showcase his penchant for humour, adventure, and killer endings.

The first, Coprolith, is a light-hearted romp into the Chilean rain forest where Hikari Sukei, a paleontologist from Osaka, and Dillings, his displaced and mildly annoyed assistant from Leeds, go chasing after a dream. This tale of dreams and dinosaurs has a surprise ending that’ll leave you smirking well into the next story.

Doesn’t Matter explores the lighter side of advanced physics when a scientist attempts to change the world, but his assistant fears he will not only change it, but effectively delete it.

Ian initially thought that he would only have one story in the anthology, but fate had other plans. “I had originally sent just one story, Doesn’t Matter, and then I got into an email exchange with the editor, Dixiane, so I sent in a second story, Coprolith as well, more to justify the fact I was using her “submissions” mail address than anything else. When I found out both had been accepted it was a double surprise. I hope readers will enjoy reading the stories as much as I did, writing them.”

Able to be equally enjoyed lying on the beach or curled up in front of a fireplace, Short and Happy (or not) is a fun read flowing with the energy of writers truly in love with their craft. Featuring both new and established authors, as well as a variety of genres including science fiction and fantasy, this internationally flavored anthology is a recommended addition to anyone’s reading list. Short and Happy (or not) can be purchased from Amazon or directly from the publisher’s website.

Catch Ian Lahey’s interview with NPL here, as well as his stories Matt Murphy: Private Eye and The Janitor.