Friday, 28 December 2012

Highlights from the day: a summary

Began the day by proof-reading a submission. Slightly upset to find said submission contained a number of errors in the areas of: subject / object agreement, syntax, verb conjugation, and repetition. Filled with horror at the amount of work said story still required. Had a little cry.

Continued the days' work by searching hard drive for a synopsis. It was a good synopsis, that synopsis; I spent 2 hours on it on Christmas Eve. Synopsis nowhere to be found. Realise must have accidentally deleted synopsis in my haste to get to the sherry. Had another little cry.

Left library to go to bus stop. Searched purse for bus ticket. Could not find bus ticket. Chin wobbled like Claire Danes' chin in every episode of Homeland. Had a little cry. Find bus ticket between coffee shop loyalty card (two stamps) and card reading It's OK, I'm An Anarchist (never used). Had stern word with self re: crying in public. Felt very ashamed of self.

In summary: hormones.

Currently reading

The Long Run Mishka Shubaly
In The Country of Last Things Paul Auster
McSweeney's 38 (A Christmas present, well done, boyfriend)
My Friend Dahmer Derf Backderf

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Fictions of Every Kind

Fictions of Every Kind is a quarterly DIY writers' night based in Leeds, UK. It has been running for 2 years now and is run by a small group of writers, including myself. Our aim is to provide support and encouragement to anyone involved in the lonely act of writing. You can find out more about our planned events by following us on twitter (@fictionsoek), on facebook, or going to our website.

It has recently come to my attention that the Fictions Of Every Kind website doesn't show up in web results, and I'm not really sure why this is. I spent a bit of time trying to find out, but it turns out that when you type "Why doesn't my website show up in Google" into Google, the answers you get back are all a load of two-year old gobbledegook. I couldn't make any sense of any of them.

As a shortcut, knowing that this blog does show up in search engines (oh, sweet mysteries of the internet), I've decided to put a link to the Fictions of Every Kind website here. You can add it to your RSS feed or blogger feed or whatever it is you young people do to stay abreast of things these days. Our next event, themed 'Apocalypse', is on December 11th at Wharf Chambers with the singularly marvellous Anneliese Mackintosh. There will be games, prizes, the writers' open mic (true stories, short and flash fiction and novel excerpts all welcome; please keep your contributions at 7 minutes or under), a DJ, and a short film screening. Entry will continue to be a recession-friendly £3.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Switch off One-Click ordering

Last week, a kind person at work pointed out that there are only 6 weeks to go until Christmas. Crikey on a plate!

If you're anything like me, you prefer to do your Christmas shopping the non-hellish way; i.e., completely online. This way, you can shop in your pyjamas, and without needing to sharpen your elbows before attempting to go through any doorways.

For Christmas 2011, I took myself to It was cheap and sold everything I could possibly want, and I got presents for everybody (including the cat) for less than £100. What a bargain, eh?

This year, knowing what I do now about their frankly shonky business practises and general global evilness, I won't be doing it again. The creeping reach of global corporate supervillains is bad for our economy, and will eventually come to be bad for writers and the literary scene in general. Let me explain.

Like other globalised corporations, Amazon is committed to aggressive expansion and market domination. Driven by a need to generate exponentially increasing dividends for its shareholders, it does whatever it takes to generate billions.

Everybody likes a bargain, myself included, and Amazon's bargain-basement prices attract shoppers by the million. Like the supermarkets, Amazon works with an endgame in mind. Driving prices down will eventually kill its competition - and after that, book-lovers' choices will become limited. You will only be able to buy from Amazon, and nowhere else. We have no way of knowing what this will do to prices, or to what kind of books you'll be able to buy.

For many publishers, deciding whether or not to deal with Amazon is a non-choice. It's the world's biggest bookstore, and many readers don't shop anywhere else. If your books aren't on Amazon, you miss out on selling to those who only shop there. One of the ways Amazon operates is to flatten the supply chain, buying at wholesale prices from publishers, and selling at retail price to customers. This generates a healthy profit for itself, and little for the publisher. It's no stretch to see that operating on such narrow margins could drive some indies out of business. A day may come when Amazon demands exclusivity from its publishers - that they sell only through its storefront, and not through their own. Little publishers, often the houses who publish the most exciting and innovative work, may be forced to the wall; and all will be left will be the big publishers, churning out the kinds of books they know will be a hit. Laugh now, while you may; you'll be crying into your library cards when all you can buy are Katie Price biographies and shit books about vampires.

There are many nefarious strings to Amazon's bow when it comes to cheap pricing. These include (but are not limited to) union-busting, using precarious or temporary employees to avoid providing employment rights, and bullying publishers into breaking anti-trust laws. These tactics alone are good enough reason to stop giving them your money.

But for British writers, the biggest reason to boycott Amazon must be for its tax-avoidance scheme. Last year, Amazon generated sales of more than 3.3 billion in the UK. It paid no corporation tax. Let me repeat: into the UK tax system, Amazon - despite having generated enough sales to build six hospitals and a dozen schools - paid not one penny.

With an austerity drive in full effect on our public services, and the axe swinging over our libraries, we should be concerned about this. The narrative in the mainstream media is that the UK is in debt, and that there's no alternative but to cut back. Yet single-issue protest group UK Uncut suggests that corporate tax avoidance has cost our state up to £95bn a year. In crude terms, you could say that if Amazon paid its taxes, our libraries wouldn't be closing their doors.

Writers working a day job in the public sector might find themselves doing the work of two people due to cuts in their departments, and coming home at night too exhausted to work; they may be appealing a benefits decision, for themselves or somebody else, with all the attendant stress and man-hours that such a thing takes; or they might find that local NHS or social care services have closed down, leaving them bearing the brunt of caring, and thus with less time to write.

These things aren't isolated from the tactics of corporations like Amazon. They're very much intertwined. Were Amazon to pay their taxes, perhaps we might be subject to fewer cuts and less stress. And for that reason, I'll be going independent this Christmas. Why not join me?

Currently reading
The Country of Last Things Paul Auster
The Quiet American Graham Greene

Monday, 29 October 2012

Frightfully free halloween giveaway

Photo by Ricky Adam

"We didn't talk about Auntie. Her name never remained on my parents' lips long. If by accident she should be mentioned Mother and Father glanced side to side, like criminals, and swiftly drew their lips closed..."

'Tis the season to be gory, and to celebrate I'm giving away a story completely FREE!
Bad Blood is a gory tale of family secrets and concealment, all wrapped up in mordant black humour. It's perfect for reading in a darkened room on a night of dark spirits and horror...
I'm distributing the story on DRM-free ePub format (which should work on your Kobo) and PDF format (which should work on your Kindle).
The story is free but I do welcome donations. Details on how to donate are at the end of the book.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the story.
Bad Blood DRM-free ePub (Kobo)
Bad Blood PDF * (Kindle / Kobo)

* Fonts used in the PDF version are open source Double Pica, digitised by Igino Marini at Fell Types Revival fonts; and Junction by Caroline Hadilaksono at The League of Moveable Type.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Type: A Collection

Type: A Collection is a micro-anthology of stories and poems by the writers Claire Massey, Nasser Hussain, Zodwa Nyoni, and Saul Franks. The result of many months' hard labour in the print room, Type brings together stories and poetry connected to the title. Genealogical types. Literary form types. Biological specimens. "Your sort".

The writers involved each asked to contribute specifically to this little 'zine-style chapbook. It was really exciting to see their contributions come in. Four diverse viewpoints range from the homely to meta, highbrow and fantastical - all within the space of six pages.

The run has been extremely limited, with only 75 having been made. The body text is set in Perpetua and Goudy Italic; with second-colour text in Gill Sans Bold and Bembo Roman type, all set letter by letter in movable type and printed on a Peerless platen letterpress at The Print Project. There won't be a second reprint of this book, ever - it's totally unique!

You can get one from the Print Project's etsy shop.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Legendary Wakefield Bands

I was recently invited to make a series of postcards to celebrate the work of legendary Wakefield DIY bands of yesteryear. A series of letterpress postcards featuring the lyrics of bands such as Dugong, and Pylon are to go on show at the Wakefield Orangery between 17th September to 2nd November as part of Wakefield Literature festival.

Currently reading

Junot Diaz Drown
David Gaffney The Half-Life of Songs
Charles Bukowksi Post Office

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Things I Saw On My Holiday.

Please note: there is no prize for guessing where I went. NO PRIZE, PLEASE NOTE. NO PRIZE.

Things with actual fleas, from the actual flea market.

Many skulls. Not at the flea market. Somewhere else.

No thanks! :

The insides of some very beautiful churches.

This man was supposed to be guarding the art! He seemed to have fallen asleep.

This was some of the art. People were very interested in getting their pictures taken in front of it.

Well, it would have been rude not to, wouldn't it?

Books read on holiday

The Lighthouse Alison Moore
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins
Twenties Girl Sophie Kinsella
Dr Rat William Kotzwinkle

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Type: A Collection

Here is a picture of something I'm working on at the moment in the print studio. The words pictured are an excerpt from Nasser Hussain's poem, Obliterature.

For the past few months I've been collating and printing a collection of poems and micro-fiction from writers I admire, to put together into a tiny chapbook called Type: A Collection. Naturally, everything is hand-set and letterpress printed using movable type, on the Peerless platen press. The work is still in progress at the moment, but should be finished and out in about a month's time.

On this, more soon.

Currently reading

Dracula Bram Stoker
The Dog of the South Charles Portis

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Social networking for writers

As you may have noticed, there have been quite a few weeks' break between my last blog post and this one. Part of the reason for this is that I have been busy working on a new social networking website for writers. It'll launch in January, most likely, and here's how it'll work:

1. To join, writers apply to the website's 'social networking panel' IN WRITING. All applications must be in Times New Roman, double spaced, and with 2 inch margins. Writers who check our existing network of personalities to see whether theirs will be a good 'fit' stand a much better chance of succeeding.

2. Our reading period will be open six months a year. Applications open from 1st April until 31st October. Applications received outside of this period will be ceremonially burned to keep us warm in the winter.

3. Our turnaround time is roughly 4-5 months. All applications are catalogued and considered. We do not accept simultaneous submissions. During the consideration period writers are requested to refrain from submitting applications to other social networking sites.

4. During the consideration period, although you will not be able to gain access to, you are very welcome to browse the front page of our website, where pictures of our existing social network of writers who are all younger, more attractive, cleverer, and more successful than you, will slowly alternate with a picture of Martin Amis pointing his finger at you, with a caption under him that reads, "HA HA!"

4. If you have not heard from us within 4-5 months of your submission, you may assume that your application was unsuccessful. We are unable to give feedback upon any unsuccessful applications. In general reasons for rejection would come under one of the following categories:
i. There were typos / spelling mistakes in your application.
ii. We looked you up on facebook and decided we didn't like the look of you.
iii. We have enough of 'your sort' on our site already.
iv. A dead spider fell out of the envelope when we opened it.
v. There was just something indefinable about you that we didn't like.

5. Should your application to be rejected, we would urge you not to become discouraged. There are plenty of other social networking sites available, and it may be that you can find a place on one of those. Rejection from is not necessarily a comment on the value of you as a person or your work. We would like to thank you for thinking of us and wish you all the best with your social networking in the future.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A True Story From My Life.

"Clumsy," you might think; "That's hardly anything." There you go, with your graceful hands, and your easy ways. It's no stretch for you to carry things from one surface to another. Easy for you to say, you who have never broken an ironing board with a breadknife.

For the clumsy, every task becomes torturous. A quick sandwich can become a lettuce-themed ordeal lasting twenty minutes or longer. Allow me to illustrate.

Recipe for sandwich: a normal person

Make sandwich.
Eat sandwich.
Put plate in sink.

Recipe for sandwich: a clumsy person

Begin sandwich. Drop lid from peanut butter jar under counter. Pick up lid. Lid has cat hair all around rim. Go to rinse lid in kitchen sink. Knock over glass standing on side of sink. Be too slow to catch glass before it breaks on the tiles.

Shoo cat away from broken glass. Do not allow cat to meow for treat. Shut cat in other room. Find dustpan and brush.

Drop dustpan and brush on kitchen floor. Cut fingers on cut glass breaking up dustpan and brush. Swear somewhat.

Drip blood on newly clean clothes. Use kitchen sink cloth, which stinks, to dab uselessly at the blood on clothes. Find plaster in bottom kitchen drawer. Put plaster on finger. Clean up broken glass. Finish rinsing peanut-butter jar lid.

Make sandwich. Lift sandwich to mouth. Miss mouth. Drop sandwich. Be too slow to catch sandwich from falling face-down onto floor and shoes. Clean peanut butter off shoes with stinking cloth from sink. Clean peanut butter off floor with mop. Rinse mop and cloth in sink. Weep for lost sandwich.

Begin sandwich. Use only margarine as last bit of peanut butter went into the lost sandwich. Stand very carefully close to kitchen worktop, allowing nothing to come between you and plate. Hold bread very carefully between fingers.

Make sandwich. Eat sandwich. Put plate in sink.

Currently reading

We need to talk about KevinLionel Shriver
Shipwrecked Mishka Kubaly

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

How Do? Magazine

This month, Bradford's cultural carrier pigeon How Do? magazine features guest artwork by your very favourite letterpress slow-coach grassroots cultural activists and mutterers, The Print Project. Those of you who don't live near enough Bratfud to get a copy can look at How Do online here.

I'm hoping to get back to blogging regularly soon, once things calm down a bit. For the time being it's impossible, but that's likely to change once summer is upon us.

And oh, in case you hear of one, I would be very glad of an all-expenses covered writing residency or fellowship in Cuba. Smashing away at the typewriter by day, rum and dancing by night. You know the sort of thing. A girl's got to have a dream...

Currently reading

We need to talk about Kevin Lionel Shriver
Back in the world Tobias Wolff

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Where to buy Cutaway Magazine

(image from Cutaway Magazine blog)

On Thursday, it was a real pleasure to come home from a busy seven hours at the day job to find the first issue of Cutaway Magazine on the doorstep. Aiming to "blur the boundaries between literary and genre fiction", the magazine publishes work by writers and poets who write "the slightly weird but well written". There aren't many British magazines publishing high-quality work that treads the narrow line between genre and speculative fiction. Editors Dave Schofield and Craig Pay have identified a much-maligned gap there, and I take my hat off to them.

The first issue contains one of my stories, I Want You Around, as well as work by Claire Massey and Max Dunbar.

Cutaway magazine is available through Lulu here and, should you wish to order it through a book shop, the ISBN is 9781471647758.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Publication, soon!

I'm breaking my blogging hiatus to make a pleasing announcement. A new short story of mine, I Want You Around, is shortly to appear in issue 1 of Cutaway Magazine. The magazine will also feature a story by the extremely marvellous Claire Massey.

You can read about the inspiration for the story, as well as poet Lauren Coulson's contribution to the magazine, on the Cutaway blog here. The magazine should be out in a couple of weeks. (more details on the launch event to follow!)

Currently reading

All My Friends are Superheroes Andrew Kaufman
The Sense of an Ending Julian Barnes

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Recently, I haven't had time to keep this blog updated. This is probably going to carry on being true for the next few months. I am a very busy lady, more often by accident than by design as I am the sort of person who can't stop herself getting involved in things. At the moment I have very little free time, and what free time I do have needs to go on writing, rather than blogulating. I'm sure the writers among you will empathise.

In between now and the next time, please feel free to enjoy this picture of a nice cat.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Affordable, co-operatively run writers' retreat

Having spent several days looking at writing retreats on the internet, I've come to a realisation: church-mouse poor writers like me don't get to go on writing retreats. Most of the ones I've seen look lovely, and fancy, and they all cost too much. Since I haven't yet written a best-seller, I've decided that the only thing for it is to have a go at organising a writing retreat myself. This way, I figure, it should be cheaper, and more fun.

Being of the self-organised mindset myself, the retreat will be co-operatively run. I'll take the responsibility for booking the bunk-house, and for giving everybody the information beforehand, but I won't be "in charge" once we're on the retreat. Everybody will take responsibility for their share of the cooking/housework rota, and for organising their own day. The retreat will probably be of particular interest to anybody who's used to being involved in organising things in a collective way. That's not to say you can't come if you've never done things in that way before - but if you haven't, you will need to be prepared for the fact that this retreat will demand more of you than a more expensive, professionally-organised retreat.

Everyone coming will need to commit to taking part in the housework and shared cooking rota, and to organising their own time once at the retreat. The idea is that there will be agreed 'quiet work times' during the day, and agreed 'social time'. Aside from sticking to those, you will be welcome to organise your time as you need to. The retreat will likely take place somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, so there will be plenty of scope for long walks and soaking up the beauty.

Please have a look at the idea so far. Some details can't be confirmed until I know who will be coming, but please have a look and see what you think.

The group We'll need a group of between 6-8 writers to make it workable. This many people is a nice number for a cottage or bunkhouse, and should make the housework rota fair.

When & for how long For 2 weeks, some time in the 6-week summer holidays between 16th July and September 3rd 2012 (exact dates yet to be confirmed).

How it'll work Everyone will have their own working space, though some people may need to share a room. There will be agreed quiet 'working times' during the day, and agreed 'social times'. There won't be any exercises or work-sharing, unless that is what people want. Everyone will have to take part in the housework / cooking rota, with everybody doing at least one days' cooking and perhaps also half a days' tidying or food-shopping a week. This should give everybody at least 11 days' solid uninterrupted writing time during the retreat.

How much it'll cost The aim is to keep the price of accommodation under £300 for the fortnight (cheaper, if we can manage it). There will also be the price of ingredients for shared food (which will hopefully come in at under £100 per person for the whole fortnight), and the cost of getting there.

Conditions for coming You can come if you need a writing retreat. You must be committed to taking part in the cooking / house-work rota, and to having some say in how the retreat should work. This retreat will probably particularly appeal to people interested in organising things in a collective / DIY way.

How to express your interest If you're interested in coming along on this retreat, please either email me on s dot j dot bradley (at) hotmail dot com, or find me on twitter (via the tweet-deck link on the left hand side of the page).

Currently reading

The Heart of the Matter Graham Greene

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hop hop

I realised the other day that this blog has been terribly serious and hair-shirt lately. So here's a picture of a bunny rabbit in a tank top.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Great political writers of yesteryear: Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) Writer, reformer, activist, radical

Charles Dickens enjoyed the sort of success in his own lifetime that would be the envy of many writers. Beginning his writing career at the age of 15 as a parliamentary reporter, Dickens went on to write social commentaries and serialised fictions that were hugely popular in his own lifetime. His works are still loved today, and seem to constantly be getting adapted for the telly.

Dickens' works are built upon themes of poverty and injustice. He grew up in a Britain where there was no welfare state, where orphans and the poor were sent to the workhouse to break rocks and unravel rope. Crime and illness were rife in the London slums; cholera and pickpocketing rocketed through the overcrowded housing like wildfire. As a young child, and even throughout adulthood, Dickens was given to wandering the streets of London at dawn, observing the lives that his contemporaries led.

The Dickens family fell upon hard times during Charles' childhood. His father, who was later portrayed as Mr Micawber in David Copperfield, had a period of struggling for work. The financial difficulties of the family saw Dickens' father and younger siblings being sent off to the debtors' prison at Marshalsea. The episode put an abrupt end to Charles' education. He was taken out of school and put to work in a bottling factory. That his schooling should come to such a sudden end left indelible marks on Dickens' character, and perhaps contributed to his wish to portray the plight of the poor to the chattering classes: he never forgot it. " early hopes of growing up to be a learned and distinguished man, crushed in my breast. The deep remembrance of the sense I had of being utterly neglected and hopeless; of the shame I felt in my position; of the misery it was to my young heart to believe that, day by day, what I had learns, and thought, and delighted in, and raised my fancy and my emulation up by, was passing away from me." He was later to use this experience to portray the hopeless situation of orphans Pip, in Great Expectations, and Oliver, in Oliver Twist.

Throughout life Dickens retained his strong social conscience. It informed his work from the popular 'London Sketches', short columns which he wrote for the paper as a young journalist, to his great novels. His work as a parliamentary reporter gave him access to knowledge about the terrible conditions in which child labourers worked, and he was also very aware of the plight of 'fallen women'. Despite the considerable commercial and critical success of his novels, Dickens never stopped with his political and activist work. He devoted considerable energy to setting up and running a rehabilitative home for women who had fallen into prostitution and petty crime, and was involved heavily in its running for at least ten years; and spent a couple of years donating anonymous articles to the radical newspaper The Examiner.

Two of his works were conceived with the express purpose of awakening peoples' awareness to the difficulties of the poor. A Christmas Carol, for which he had the idea in October 1843, was directly aimed at encouraging its readers to practical benevolence. Despite being less than two months from conception to publishing, the book was a massive critical and commercial success. Oliver Twist (1838), which begins with the birth of an illegitimate child to a woman who dies in childbirth, was written to awaken its readers to the realities of life for orphaned children, who lived their lives at the mercy of parish councils and workhouses. Unlike children with parents, there was little prospect of an orphaned child ever improving his lot through education (which had to be paid for), or through being indentured to an apprenticeship (which called for respectability and connections).

In later life Dickens appears to have devoted his work increasingly to political change. Little Dorrit and Bleak House both satirise social injustice and the irresponsibility which pervaded most of Britain's national life at the time; and Hard Times was a topical tome about profiteering: "My satire is against those who see figures and averages and nothing else - the representatives of the wickedest and most enormous vice of this time".

Most of all, though, Dickens' work was concerned with the little man: the guy who was poor & unlucky; the orphans who were born into hardship and cruelty; the families whose poor luck in work condemned them to the debtors' prison or the workhouse. "His goods are distrained, his children are crying with cold and hunger, and the very bed on which his sick wife is lying, is dragged from beneath her. What can he do? To whom is he to apply for relief?"

Currently reading

The Heart of the Matter Graham Greene

Saturday, 11 February 2012

DIY: Protection Racket

Image by The Print Project

Today I had an interesting conversation with a couple of friends about DIY - and not the sort that involves drill-bits and rawl plugs. It got me thinking about the DIY nature of Fictions of Every Kind. When Sam & I started Fictions of Every Kind in September 2010, I don't think it occurred to either of us to try and run it in anything other than a 100% DIY way.

"Do It Yourself" culture is hot these days. Everybody wants a bit of it, from bloody-minded diehards like me, to big business. A lot of people seeking careers in creative industries like to misuse the DIY label as a means of getting a 'foot on the ladder' upwards into their chosen career, whatever that might be. It's a much-overused and frequently misused term, and I'm not here to try and write the rule-book on what it is and isn't. All I can tell you is what first interested me in DIY, and why I think it's important.

Back in the late 90s, there was a very active emotional hardcore & punk scene in Leeds. Much of it centred around the LS6 area, where there were a lot of interesting bands. The scene was lively and diverse: gigs in basements and living rooms, sold-out all-dayers in 300-capacity rooms in Joseph's Well, as well as 3 or 4 busy gigs a week in tiny upstairs rooms in The Packhorse. There was always something to do, and you could lose a couple of decibels of your hearing every night of the week in one place or another.

What was really interesting about a lot of these gigs was the way they were organised. They were never run for profit. Promoters put shows together because they wanted to see the bands; they wanted to bring a band from Europe or the US, and they'd bring them to Leeds as part of a tour, pairing them with local bands. The bands weren't trying to make their living from it - they would usually be happy to get their petrol money, and an even split of the door take. The promoter usually took nothing, and nobody went home feeling aggrieved that they'd been ripped off.

Neither were the gigs arranged for career gain. Many of the bands (though not all) were committed to the DIY ethic of putting out their own records, organising their own tours, and of staying firmly in the underground. The reason a lot of bands did this is because staying DIY allowed them to play whatever music they liked. It meant they could work towards making their own sound without worrying about whether it would 'sell', and in the process be truly in control of what they did. It allowed bands to create the sort of innovative music that could never possibly have existed under the corporate interference of a major record label.

The atmosphere at these gigs was often very different from that at mainstream gigs. There was often a feeling that everyone had a 'stake' in the night; the audience were as important at the night as were the bands. It made everyone feel included. Put simply, DIY at those gigs meant doing something for love, not money; for fun, not career. It meant inclusion and community.

The ethics Sam & I learned in those late-90s days in the basements of LS6 are the ones we carried over into the way we organise Fictions of Every Kind. We do it because we care about it, and we will always try to organise our nights in a fair way. We are:

Not for profit Everyone who organises Fictions of Every Kind - myself, Mason, and Ian (no longer Sam, sadly, as he's moved away to London) is a volunteer. We don't make money from it, and we don't ever intend to.

Not careerist Everybody involved in the organising party is a writer. We started the night because we know how lonely it can be, and we wanted to give writers the chance to socialise. Literary events aren't always organised by writers - many are organised by 'arts professionals', whose job it is to organise 'arts events'. We run Fictions of Every Kind because we love it and because we care about it; we don't do it because it's 'part of our job', and it's not intended as a stepping stone to greater things for any of us.

Affordable and for the benefit of the community We keep our costs low by seeking out affordable venue hire, and by not selling tickets. Where there's a door charge, people pay on the door. When we do have fliers and posters, they're photocopied or letterpressed as they're needed. We keep our door prices low because we want Fictions of Every Kind to be accessible. Sometimes we do have to charge on the door, and when we do charge it is always either to pay for the cost of venue hire, or to pay the invited speakers or sound engineer.

Inclusive and fun Dammit, we started this because we were fed up of having nobody to talk to about our work, and we were sure that there were writers all over the city who felt the same way. We don't want our invited speakers to be a bunch of middle-class, overly-educated white guys, because life isn't all about middle-class, overly-educated white guys, and we don't want to perpetuate the idea that it is. In fact, we're almost aggressively inclusive. We want you to feel at home. We're the anti-clique.

Being DIY is integral to Fictions of Every Kind. It means that we can operate in a way that we think is fair and ethical, and be completely non-corporately driven. We always strive to put on good, entertaining nights, and do our best to treat everybody well. If you clicky this link here, it'll take you to a nut-and-bolts blog post on how we organise things. (You're welcome).

Thanks for reading, and I'll meet you over by the self-tapping screws in B & Q.

Currently reading

All Quiet on the Orient Express Magnus Mills

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Leeds Print Festival 2012

Last week, myself and Nick - collectively The Print Project - did 'some stuff' for the Leeds Print Festival 2012. Nick had worked really hard letterpressing their invites and talk tickets, and we had prepared some live printing demos for the opening on Friday night, as well as a stall for the fair on the Saturday.

It was an excellent weekend and our thanks must go to Amber and Aran for organising the whole thing. It was a really intelligently programmed weekend, and the exhibits and stalls all were superb.

Those of you who couldn't make it might be interested to see the pics in the Storify collection I curated below. The pics and links are from various twitters, instagram accounts and wordpress accounts. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Donna Parker Goes to Hollywood

As before, with second hand books: I think they are brilliant. This one - Donna Parker in Hollywood - was bought as a gift by somebody who knows me well, and who knew what a kick I would get out of the trashy cover. It was written by Marcia Martin, and published in 1961 by the Whitman Western Publishing Company.

Now, though I have never read this book - my to-read pile of books is about 15 books high at the moment, and rising - I like to think it's a tale of a young woman moving to Hollywood in search of glamour, and getting herself into all sorts of bother with boys and drugs, like in Valley of the Dolls. "From the moment the handsome boy sat beside her in the plane", the blurb reads, "Donna knew this trip was going to be special".

Here she is sitting thoughtfully next to her suitcase as she prepares, tearfully, to move away from her childhood home.

This is what all the glam folk in Hollywood get up to of an evening: a spot of crafting and make-do with their old clothes.

Not really sure what is going on in this picture. Maybe this is one of the boys she gets into trouble with, trying to give her a comforting clothes-on back rub.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Alice in Wonderland

There's nothing - well, apart from a good library, maybe - that I like better than a second hand book shop. The best ones are the kind managed by full-scale atomic book-nerds. These have books everywhere. I went in one once where the shelves reached the ceilings. Every shelf was full of paperbacks of every stripe: fiction, poetry, fantasy, horror, the classics. In the corner, they had a display case with old classics with trashy covers. At some stage, a publishing company or two must have liked the idea of putting out editions of Bleak House with a picture of a maiden, her bosoms out, swooning into the arms of a shovel-jawed gentleman in his undercrackers. My eyes, readers. My eyes.

Those close to me know about my secret (not at all secret) love of old books, and ply me sometimes with gifts that pander to my obsession. This was how I came to be in possession of a 1971 Bancroft Classic reprinting of Alice in Wonderland, with some rather spectacularly creepy illustrations.

Here's the rabbit in court:

Here's Alice upon discovering the 'drink me' potion:

...and here she is getting angry in court:

Currently reading

Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith