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Rhiannon Wood - Editor in Chief

When I first read through our selection of stories for this issue, what struck me was that all the authors had picked up on themes that were very much the reason for starting this anthology. Themes such as identity and finding your true self, what that means, what it looks and feels like. Or how you find love when finding yourself seems impossible. What does it mean to be different, isolated, misunderstood, unrepresented? We wanted A Coup of Owls to be a place where voices that aren’t always heard can tell stories that aren’t always told. Stories that will surprise and connect with people in unexpected ways. When you are marginalised, it is always important to have your voice heard and to read other voices that might be calling in a similar voice to your own.

The themes explored in these wonderful stories are all things the authors and the readers we hope to reach are feeling and that the Coup editors themselves have felt in their own lives. Writing is a way of exploring our psyches. It helps us figure out who we are, what we want to say, and how we want to be seen. Reading stories also connects us, makes us realise we are not alone in the malaise of the modern world. Lockdown has, of course, affected us all in different yet similar ways. Suddenly people who had never felt isolated were left feeling alone, and people who had never even questioned leaving their house became fearful of the outside world. Others found themselves wondering why everyone was making such a fuss about things they deal with on a daily basis.

This made us all, at least we hope, take a look around and realise that actually, we have a lot more in common than we don’t. Humans need to connect. We are a social species. We need human contact. What happens when we don’t get it? What happens when who we are prevents others from wanting to be with us? When the only person who understands us is a dragon? How does it feel when a cat rubbing up against your leg on a sunny terrace is the only thing that gets you through your day? Or when an old friend from childhood who always felt different too, but never to you, unexpectedly reappears in your life and throws you a lifeline you didn’t even know you needed? Or when the memory of an old flame that never went out ignites something inside you that just might help you get through this thing called life? What happens when your loneliness manifests itself as your only friend and helps you take that scary step you know you need to but have always been too terrified to take? Despite being very different from each other, the stories written for this issue all explore the basic human need to be seen, to be understood and accepted. These were not themes we mentioned to our authors, yet they connect them through the societies and parts of the world they are in.

The marginalised, underrepresented voices that long to be heard. We hope this magazine will reach out to those voices, just like that haunting hoot of owls you hear in the darkness of the night, calling out to each other. ‘Let’s form a coup,’ they might say, ‘let’s all sing and shout and hoot together so that everyone in the dark, and also those in the light, can hear us and understand us.’ So, join our coup, read the words of voices you might not have heard before, and find yourself in the darkness. We will be here waiting…

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