Thanks for visiting the original Speak to Strangers site. Since the online project was completed in 2010, and the book published in 2011, I’ve continued to create new live, online and print-based writing projects.

If you’d like to know more please visit www.gemmaseltzer.com.  Alternatively, I run early morning writing workshops in London & online. Ideal for those of you keen to meet friendly & interesting strangers! See www.write-and-shine.com for more details.

Gemma Seltzer

Image by Rachel Cherry (www.rachelcherry.co.uk)

We’ve built a dedicated minisite for Speak to Strangers to ensure it has a life beyond the WordPress site, and to collate all the elements of the project it all its different forms, including the blog, book and follow-on projects in Manchester and Birmingham.



Typewriter by Rachel Cherry

The blog you see here has been re-crafted into a book by Penned in the Margins. It’s been a fascinating process, working out how an online project can be presented on the printed page.

We’ve stripped the idea to its essential parts, keeping only the 100 blogs; removing all the maps and tags. You can see all the extra elements on this website, but we liked the white space around each story for the book. The cover has been designed by artist Henry Simmonds and is looking very good indeed.

London is a city full of strangers and Gemma Seltzer wants to meet them all.

Originally conceived as a daily fiction blog, Speak to Strangers is a funny, provocative and elegant series of one hundred hundred-word stories, which chart a journey across the city through its inhabitants.

“Fantastic, evocative miniature masterpieces” – Josie Long

Speak to Strangers is now available to buy from Penned in the Margins. Click here for further information.

Scrolls of each blog post were made and given away during the 100th day of the project – 10 March 2010 – at a live event as part of London Word Festival.

photograph by Jenna Foxton (www.jennafoxton.com)

And now it’s all over! What fun I’ve had talking to the marvellous folk of this fair city. I ventured far and wide and to west London once. I spoke to a couple of kids and lots of shop assistants. I met strangers in cafes and on trains, pubs and offices and a couple of people just wandering around.

Please keep reading the blog, speaking to strangers and adding your own hundred-word stories for the site. Right here in fact.

Finally, thank you to everyone who advised, supported and contributed to this project. It’s been a real pleasure.


Day 100

Tonight, I think of my younger self with eyes of endurance and focus, eyes wide and credulous. You take a handmade scroll and draw it open. For you, this evening is veiled in a fog of revelries. You tug at the gold ribbon, unwrap the printed paper. You’re reading and I’m by your side marvelling at my own work. I lose my cool though I probably never had it, or felt it once and took it held it watched it vanish again. What I don’t have within me by this age, I choose to lack. And you’re the final stranger.

Day 99

My thoughts leap from here to there. Happily, for relief, there are gossip magazines. I watch as you select an armful of brightly coloured publications telling you all that’s necessary about Cheryl, Jordan and Jennifer. I flick through one and say aloud, Sex Text Saga. You reply, Excuse me, reaching for one more. I scoff but here I am admiring the free shampoo offer with Glamour. I ask you about Tess and Vernon. And then real life walks in through the double doors and says, now then you two. There it is asking, Who is right and who is wrong?

Day 98

A stranger as a challenge. You are on the telephone but I need to communicate with you. A gesture, then. You ignore me. A wave. Can I pass, please? You avert your eyes. I lean over you to order my sandwich. I hear the tinny voice from your handset. Someone is crying. What I say is this: Don’t go. Or do go. Stay with him, or don’t. Eat well, or not. Settle in this country, or don’t. Be ridiculous, but sometimes don’t be. The only place from which you don’t have to come back from is the journey to yourself.