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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The Face in the Frost and The Obsessed

The Face in the Frost
The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs
(1969) is an oft-overlooked fantasy classic. Two elderly wizards - Prospero and Roger Bacon - meander across the North and South Kingdoms in search of a cure for some ill-defined metaphysical curse that's plaguing the land. The evil is deliberately vague, and all the more horrifying for it: an ancient tome is being read by a dark-hearted wizard, and badness is spilling forth. From damp moths to off-putting mists to an ominous sense of malaise, Bellairs excels at conveying an implicit wrongness that is more atmosphere than overt threat.

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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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Jyn, Rey and The Star Wars Experience

Leia

As with all great debates, this began in Forbidden Planet as a discussion about which Funko Pop! figure Jared should buy for his desk at work. We take Funkos very seriously here (an discussion for another day), and, before we knew it, a simple Rey/Jyn decision had spiralled out of control.

Also, contains spoilers for Rogue One, The Force Awakens and, in case you're Kimmy Schmidt, the original trilogy.

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We're looking for... Small Presses and Book Reviewers

Pornokitsch-800wiWe're restarting our series of small press interviews. The last batch was around 18 months ago, and we're keen to support the UK's amazing small press scene.

If you're a small publisher, please get in touch at editor@pornokitsch.com, we'd love to profile you and hear about your books. Our primary purpose is to showcase British presses, but we're happy to hear about publishers from anywhere in the world. Don't be shy!

On a similar note: if you are a blogger or reviewer, please leave your details in the comments here. We direct all review requests to this page.

Publishers and authors - hint, hint. The above is a great list of reviewers, keen to talk about your work. 


A Planet for Texans and The School for Good and Evil

A Planet for Texans

Lone Star Planet (A Planet for Texans) by H. Beam Piper (1958) has been skulking on my shelf for ages, and, I'm pleased to say, there's (slightly) more to it than just a goofy cover. In the far future, the entire population of Texas has picked up to go settle a frontier planet - they're keen to get away from the rules and regulations and gov'mints and such. Our hero, the plucky ambassador from the Solar League, has been tasked to woo them back. There's an alien invasion on the horizon and New Texas would be better 'in the tent pissing out'... at least, so the League think.

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Two Dozen 'Five Star' Comics

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I use Goodreads weird (bear with me, this is going somewhere, eventually). I like the site as a way of tracking my reading... and that's it. I don't use it to track 'want to reads', I don't use it to discover new books, and I never, ever use it to share reviews.

And to double-weird it: I don't rate books. Except, as a visual shorthand, if I think 'this book is interesting, and I'd like to talk about it', I'll slap five stars on it. That makes it easy to sort, and leaps out when it is buried in a long list. If someone misconstrues that as an endorsement of perfection... eh... no harm done.

ANYWAY, this is all really interesting - or at least, relevant - because that has always been the way I use the site. There is, however, one notable exception: comics. For some reason, my 'five stars' for a comic book is a lot less complicated. I read a ton of comic book collections. And I stick five stars on the stuff that is really good. You know, kind of like the rest of the world uses Goodreads. Go figure. All my deeply-rooted biases against 'objective' reviewing come crashing to a halt.

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