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Small Press Shakedown: Christopher Teague of Pendragon Press

Bric-a-Brac-Man-Front-Cover-small-e1435060454931 9781906864248The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week, our guest is Christopher Teague from Pendragon Press.

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Pendragon are one of the classics of the UK scene, and you've given 'first breaks' to everyone from Gareth Powell to Mark Charan Newton. Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

For nigh on 18 years, Pendragon Press has been part of my life – but I’ve been involved in the small press as a reader for over 20 years ever since I discovered Chris Reed’s BBR catalogue in the mid-90s.

I initially started out as a wannabe writer, with two stories to my name and plenty of rejections. It was when I got bounced from Nasty Piece of Work after about the third or fourth time I thought, “just how difficult would it be to put together an anthology?” And Nasty Snips was born.

The rest, as they say, is history. . .

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Small Press Shakedown: Martin Appleby of Paper and Ink

Paper and InkThe UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked& a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week, our guest is Martin Appleby from the literary zine PAPER AND INK.

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Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

My name is Martin and I edit, design and distribute PAPER AND INK, which is a submission based literary zine. I also publish various other zine-based literary treats, such as poetry collections and novels.

What are the stories or the novels that you want to publish?

My personal preference is to look for stories that have a basis in reality. A grounding in day to day life. I tend to lean more towards working class stories, as that is my background, but I like anything that has bite. I like stories that will kick you in the teeth and then buy you a beer afterwards. Snappy, concise prose doesn't go amiss either.

What have you recently published, and what's coming soon?

Aside from the regular issues of PAPER AND INK, last year I published a serialised novel (over three parts), that was kind of an experiment to see if the format would work and it turned out to be pretty successful. I am not actively seeking more novels to publish but if the opportunity arose I would consider it. I also published two poetry collections last year and will be publishing another two this year.

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Small Press Shakedown: Dominic Stevenson of Listen Softly London

Gary from LeedsThe UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week, our guest is Dominic Stevenson from Listen Softly London.

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Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

Listen Softly London started out as a creative arts night. We'd have poets, storytellers, comedians, and so on and we'd all get together and perform and critique and eventually the press seemed like a natural extension of that. 

To me the press is an opportunity to speak to people who may otherwise not access an arts event. It was a way of expanding beyond the echo chamber.

What are the stories or the novels that you want to publish?

I believe in using words powerfully, and that means I want stories and other works that really look beyond the obvious. We all hate racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, but how can your writing get that message to an audience who may not agree? How can it be persuasive?

It's easy to sell books to likeminded people, but how can we get them beyond?

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"Dream Sequences and Dream Worlds" by Oliver Langmead

MetronomeFor a guy who's just about to have a book about dreams published, you might be surprised to learn that I'm not a great fan of dream sequences.

A lot of the time, they feel a bit unnecessary; one of the weaker parts of the narrative they're trying to enhance. Usually, it's the attempt at adding depth by using a combination of psychoanalytic metaphor and (more often than not) prophetic foresight which seems to fall a bit flat (with cunningly crafted exceptions, of course – take Twin Peaks, for example). As if, while attempting to add subtlety and depth, the writer has instead ended up making their narrative a bit obvious and shallow, or far too obscure to interpret. 

All of this being said, I am quite fond of dream worlds. It's a niche belonging to portal fantasy, in which the portal is the simple act of falling asleep, and it has a history of producing classics. Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz (film!), and even more contemporary essential pieces of reading, like Neil Gaiman's Sandman, have their own dedicated realms of dreaming, and each is considered important.

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Pornokitsch's Absolute and Definitive Guide To The Best of Everything in 2016

Dark Souls 3

There are a lot of 'Best of 2016' lists coming out now, but they're all flawed and wrong because they don't include the things we wanted them to include. More importantly, they weren't written by us.

As our gift to the internet - and therefore the world - we've put together the Absolute and Definite Guide to the Best of Everything. It is conclusive and final, and should be used as a reference to settle all arguments.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Reviewed

Rogue One

Eggy. Rogue One (2016; directed Gareth Edwards)

[Warning: this review contains traces of eggs. Also many spoilers]

Plenty of movies nowadays contain easter eggs, something particularly true of movies that are part of a larger franchise or sequence. These nods and winks to the knowing audience members are, at root, a reflection of the way DVD, TV and digital copies of movies have changed the viewing experience. To see the original 1977 Star Wars seven times would require schlepping out to your local cinema every night for a week. A fan can watch 2015’s Force Awakens seven times over the weekend without ever leaving her couch. Naturally, this has resulted in a change in the logic of movie-making. Directors, designers and SFX teams now craft their visual texts full aware that fans will watch them over and over, sifting the image for every little nugget.

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Arrival - of what, exactly?

Arrival

The imaginary must be imagined, accurately and with scrupulous consistency. A fantastic setting requires vivid and specific description; while characters may lose touch with their reality, the storyteller can’t.

Ursula Le Guin, review of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Is there any more point to science fiction?

The history of a genre is driven in part by the dynamic between convention and invention; science fiction, though, seems to have an extra feature. Its USP is meant to be its inventiveness, assumed to be found in a given story’s idea or set of ideas. Fans believe that this is proof of the genre’s vitality as compared to others. Critics believe it’s an excuse for what they see as science fiction’s otherwise more general conventionality.

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"Hey guys, it's me again, stuck in a hole.” - An interview with Ryan North

Romeo And/Or Juliet

Jared: Romeo and/or Juliet! It is an amazing feat! How do you even set about writing something like this?

Ryan Q North: I tried to write a non-linear second person style book before I did To Be Or Not To Be and I got nowhere. I literally did not know where to start. It's like what am I doing? This is a waste of time. I should never do this again. And I stopped; and then, when I had the idea for To Be Or Not To Be, the backbone of the Shakespeare play gave me a place to start with, a place to bounce off of, a place where, if I wasn't sure what would happen next, I could at least have the canonical version of the play to see what Shakespeare did.

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Alex Spears on "Dodo Ink and Risk-Taking Fiction"

Eleventh Letter front coverDodo Ink are a new publisher of fiction set up in 2015 by the novelist Sam Mills, book blogger Thom Cuell and myself, with a mission to publish innovative, risk-taking, imaginative and experimental fiction.

We had each had experiences that lead us to believe that there was an audience for novels that didn’t fit neatly onto mainstream publisher’s lists: Thom, on The Workshy Fop, as a champion of fiction from indie publishers; myself, having worked in the industry for several years and seen an ever-increasing focus on acquiring highly commercial properties, at the expense of what is termed the ‘midlist’, authors who are popular enough to command a steady readership and remain profitable to publish, but often not deemed commercial enough to them the tailored sales, marketing and PR attention that could help them develop their careers creatively and commercially. Sam, as a novelist and writer, experienced this first-hand when trying to help her friend Tom Tomaszewski secure a book deal or agent for his novel, The Eleventh Letter, which was deemed interesting, accomplished and original, but not commercial enough in today’s publishing climate.

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Fantasy needs more parasites

(C) Christopher Taylor-DaviesIn 1998, Spanish neurologist Juan Gomez-Alonso caused a flurry of bad science journalism by speculating in an academic journal that vampirism originated as a fictional extrapolation of human rabies. The traits were all there. Hypersensitivity to strong stimuli, like bright lights, garlic, and mirrors. Insomnia. Hypersexuality. A tendency to bite, potentially killing their victims or passing on the condition. Furthermore, the peak of vampire fascination in Europe came soon after a well-documented epidemic of rabies in Hungary.

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