Publish E D
Publish E D
without whose hard work none of this would be possible
Table of Contents THE EDITORIAL TEAM Editor-in-Chief General EDITORS Poetry Editor Prose Editor Drama Editor Head of design
Vicki Madden Kieran Johns on Matt he w B e ven Emi ly McFarland John He witt Jones Jennifer Al lan Kara D uncan
THE SOCIETY TEAM president VICE PRESIDENT
L iz Eb da le Jining Zhang
A Letter from the Editor
Editor’s Pick: “The Cub with Cold Feet,” Jennifer Hayward
“Time,” Alice Welton; “The Streets of London,” Rachael Murray
“Through the Seminar Window,” “Holyrood Park,” “From my Window,” Francis Shimell
“Waking Up,” Tasha Frost
An Interview with Clara Womersley of Random House “Pawnshop,” Matt Macdonald; “Chronocide,” Lewis Brown; “Ritual,” Matt Blades “Waiting,” Rosie Hopegood
Henr iette K lejs Engelb erg Mar t in Reid
“Red Button,” Kate Smith; “Cascade Canyon, Wyoming,” Matthew Hawkins
Madeleine L au lund C er ys Mat her
An Interview with Lynn Michell of Linen Press Books
O ona Haas
“Princes Street,” Ross McDiarmid
Alex She d lo ck
“Sam and Alan,” Jonathan Ellman
“Recollect,” Belinda Sarstedt; “Thicket,” Maria Elena Torres Quevedo
marketing & pr events
SPECIAL THANKS COVER PHOTO Artist in residence Wise council
Kara D uncan Emi ly L ang L ois Wi ls on
“The Phonograph Man,” Mila Daskalova
An Extract from “Thomas,” Neil Colquhoun
Parting Notes; A Fond Farewell; Upcoming events and competitions
A Letter from the Editor
The seventh issue of The Inkwell comes at quite a peculiar time for this year’s PublishED team. While spring can be a strange time for most, the strangeness seems amplified not only by the impending change-over to next year’s newly-elected committee, but also by the looming prospect of graduation, suddenly very real for us fourth-years on the team, who must now bid a fond farewell to the magazine. As we all move towards uncharted territory, it seems only appropriate that this issue should be themed around “change.” Whether by sheer serendipity or due to some sense of a collective consciousness, a staggering number of the submissions we received were related to time - the passing of it, the change it brings, and the things that remain the same despite the changing tides. With this in mind, we hope you will enjoy this “Changing Times” issue of The Inkwell.
While our spring edition is usually the slower one, with fewer submissions all around, things were different this time. Prose and poetry submissions abounded, and we even got a few drama pieces in at the last minute. What you see in the magazine is the best of a strong pool of entries - the crème de la crème of Edinburgh’s student writing.
Since this is the last issue that the ’12-’13 team will produce, this is no doubt the time for shout-outs and thank yous. To my lovely coeditors, Emily, Jenny, John, Matthew, and Kieran (who has been with the magazine since its inception three years ago), I have loved every second of working with you. To Kara, the loveliest head of design, you were my anchor this year, and this magazine would not be what it is without your eye for aesthetics. To the entire committee, and especially our fearless leader, Liz, it has been an honour working alongside friends.
The Cub with Cold Feet by Jennifer Hayward In the very far North, as far North as it goes, there lived a polar bear, with very cold toes. He sat in his cave looking terribly glum, until: “What’s the matter with you?” asked his polar bear mum. “I’ve got very cold feet, and very cold toes, and my ankles,” said the cub, “my ankles are chilly!” But Mum was in a rush and she said, getting cross, “You’re a polar bear, dear, don’t be so silly!” The two bears set out into the cold and the snow, but the poor little cub didn’t want to go. Mum wanted to find some fish for their supper, and she said to the cub “Whatever’s the matter?” “I’ve got very cold feet, and very cold toes, and my ankles,” said the cub, “my ankles are chilly!” But Mum was in a rush and she said, getting cross, “You’re a polar bear, dear, don’t be so silly!”
A new, younger team is already in place for next year, and I cannot wait to see their fresh spin on what was started three years ago by a bunch of writing fanatics who saw a gap that absolutely needed to be filled at Edinburgh Uni. To next year’s team, I wish the best of luck.
They walked and walked until they came to a rocky peak, and down flapped a puffin with a stripy orange beak. “Have you any fish, Mr Puffin?” Mum asked, hoping they would have some supper at last. But the puffin had no fish at all, and he asked the cub what was wrong, in his loud puffin call. “I’ve got very cold feet, and very cold toes, and my ankles,” said the cub, “my ankles are chilly!” But the Puffin just laughed, and cried, with a flap of his wings, “You’re a polar bear, dear, don’t be so silly!”
The Inkwell has always been a labour of love for those of us involved, and our one hope for the future is merely that it will live on as a medium through which Edinburgh’s finest fledgling writers may find a voice.
They walked on further through the rocks and the ice, and the cub with cold feet tried not to cry. They walked and walked and day turned to dusk, when all of a sudden they bumped into a walrus. “Kind Mr Walrus, have you any fish?” Mum pleaded, just one little fish was all that they needed. But the walrus had no fish in his store, and he asked the cub what was wrong, in his gruff walrus roar. “I’ve got very cold feet, and very cold toes, and my ankles,” said the cub, “my ankles are chilly!” The walrus guffawed, and said with a snort, “You’re a polar bear, dear, don’t be so silly!”
Vicki Madden Editor-in-Chief 2012-2013
They walked on further through the dark and the sleet, and the cub with cold toes tried not to weep. They walked and walked until they came to a cave, and out crept a fox with a bristly white face. “Dear Mr Fox, have you got a fish?” asked Mum, and the fox replied he had plenty of fish. So he welcomed them in, and they sat around the fire, but the cub with cold feet still couldn’t smile. The fox wrapped up the cub in a big fluffy towel, and asked him what was wrong in his high foxy howl. “I’ve got very cold feet, and very cold toes, and my ankles,” said the cub, “my ankles are chilly!”
The fox smiled from pointy white ear to pointy white ear and said, “Don’t worry little cub, I’ve got an idea” And he rummaged around in a dark cavey corner, as the cub by the fire was feeling a little warmer. With a whoop, “I’ve got them!” cried Mr Fox, and he handed the cub a pair of red woolly socks. As the cub tugged the socks over his paws, they all heard two knocks at Mr Fox’s front door. The fox opened the door, and who should it be? Why the puffin and the walrus, come for their tea. They all sat eating their fish around the fire, and the cub’s smart paws everyone admired. Mum leaned over to the cub and whispered quite softly, “How are your feet now you’ve got those fine socks?” “I’ve got very warm feet, and very warm toes, and my ankles,” said the cub, “my ankles are hot!” 5
The Streets of London Grip her waist on the streets of London and let her kiss you while she needs to, anything to squeeze out the hours that come before the dawning of day and the realisation that a mistake is a mistake if nothing is sacred all are blazing pyramids. Take her picture on the streets of London hold those eyes in mind and on film a flicker of your time together, darkroom of black and white fingerprints smeared across your back, eyes that wonâ€™t always be looking at you. For now the photos are yours and they are true. Hold each other in the city of London orphan hearts sink deep and a lost home is a danger that must be waded through. In waters that sting tread lightly with hope the sands at your feet will glow.
The mirrors have mauled a reflection that once seemed so sweet. Her nose is long and fat as a sausage, her eyes are soulless blobs. A reflection of a smile sails away, feather light on the wind, yet it weighs still like an ominous albatross and swings back and forth across my pendulum mind. Alice Welton
And when the boys are done, when all hearts have been broken and the crystal bullet shell chain remains hung around your neck, after tragedies have hit you will suck the sweetness out of your scars and smile and say thank-you, now I know. Know- Itâ€™s not wrecked her but fixed her and like a snake shedding its crackled drying skin she walks out the other side more flesh than she has ever been.
And flesh is warm and full and volcanic.
Waking Up Sometimes she doesn’t intend to do things, and they happen anyway. After wards, she bathes in the wave of apathy that laps about her. Knees hauled to her chin, fingers twisted miles away between her toes. She has no body, only territor y to be claimed or reclaimed. The banks of her back cur ve and shake, silently. She wills herself away, eyes shut, dissolving into the morning glow. Each grain of trampled sand, each particle, each electrical impulse pouring through her becomes more and more disparate. Disconnected from herself, she grows translucent. The dawnlight comes through the gossamer of her skin, filtered and condensed to a harmony of white. There is a melody in pale yellow chasing her browline. She lifts her chin, slightly, allowing the sun to caress the underside of her jaw. Swallowing slowly, she feels the pulse of her throat muscles, concentrating on the passage down her oesophagus. She takes a deep breath, and her teeth involuntarily chatter together. Startled, she opens tear-bright eyes.
Her extremities uncurl, each joint taking an eternity. Legs stretch and flex under the sheets, and vertebrae realign horizontally. Taut and vibrating, she snaps back like elastic, foetal beneath the duvet. The thin white sheets let the daylight into this new fort. Bringing her nails before her eyes, she inspects the cuticles, then the fingertips, then the wrist-bones. They belong to someone else, and are folded away between two cream-white thighs. There is total stillness. She relishes not being part of the world, just for now, these few moments.
The alarm clock forces her re-entr y into herself. She re-assumes command of her ner vous system, bullying muscles into submission, and sits up. Frowning slightly, concentrating on each movement, she hits snooze. Her walk to the window is fluid, and she shiv-
Through the Seminar Room Window
ers at the press of the metal frame on her bare stomach. There is no one on the street, so she pushes the window wide open. Looking down, an idle urge to fall tugs at the edges of her consciousness, nagging her to just lean that one inch too far, and continue the deliciousness of disconnection. This urge is almost comforting to her; she won’t fall today, but the option remains. There is always a choice. She will never be trapped. Her gaze turns inward, to the gentle depression of the mattress that suggests two bodies once lay where only one woke up. She taps a fingernail to her teeth and sighs. The sound surprises her, and she shakes herself from head to toe. She notices the puckering of her skin in the cool air, and realises she should shut the window. Catching her own eye in the glass, she practices a smile. Seeing her grimace, her eyes widen a fraction, and she laughs with the rattle of a Gatling gun. She puts on music that was famous before she was born and sings along quietly. She pulls a floral dress over her head and then gently smoothes the creases along her hips. She wonders if she will ever feel the same way as she did during that summer of shared glances and stolen moments by the river. Humming, preparing breakfast, she has to sit down. For a few moments, her face is cradled by her hands. Her throat catches on the opportunities missed, and she wishes for the could-have-beens. Collecting the pieces of what is left, she draws breath and continues. That’s the way it always is – she continues. She sends some work-related emails. All her colleagues say she’s a joy to work with, always so upbeat. Funny, too. Tasha Frost
The weather is rainy, Her hair is tossed up by the strong wind, In the shapes of a hazel flame.
1 Green and gold and different shades of green; Yellow flowers. 2 Tiny slugs Strew the path. Why are they all so young? Oliver Benton
From my Window Back-lit clouds slide on slowly Into the grey hills. Somewhere.
Francis Shimell 9
An Interview with Clara Womersley PublishED’s Oona Haas chats with Random House’s Clara Womersley
PublishED: Please tell us how you got into publishing (emphasizing your transition from university, in particular). Clara Womersley: I went to St. Andrew’s University where I read Geography, which is quite unusual for somebody in publishing. I really enjoyed reading while I was at uni and I’d read a lot — I was involved in lots of book groups and societies and that kind of thing. When I left university, my dad was the one who suggested that maybe publishing would be something interesting to arrange. So I applied to Random House, Hodder, Little, Brown, lots of different publishers. I was in the lucky position where my grandmother lived in London, so I set up six weeks worth of work experience and stayed with her. […] At Hodder, I went through the ‘slush pile’ in editorial; I gave feedback on unsolicited manuscripts. At Little, Brown, I did some work in the publicity department and lots of general admin type [work]: photocopying, organizing and filing, etc. Luckily, while I was at Little, Brown, a job for a publicity assistant came up and I applied for it and got the job…. I know a lot of other people – now particularly
“We really try here to engage as much as possible with work experience and it tends to work. A lot of people who work at Vintage have done work experience at Random House.” – find it quite difficult to find jobs but I fell into it, I have to say. And I have to say that, even now, a lot of the people who do get jobs here have done work experience. It really does work. [At Random House,] we mentor for work experience, so people feel like they actually have someone who they can ask questions to. We really try here to engage as much as possible with work experience and it tends to work. A lot of people who work at Vintage have done work experience at Random House. 10
So I started… at Little, Brown, which was Time Warner at that point. We merged and then I moved across to work at Random House. I started off as the press officer for Vintage Paperbacks. Then I moved around the department working on different imprints and then was promoted to publicity manager working on The Bodley Head. In 2011, I…worked in Delhi for three months in the [Random House] publicity department there and then last year, a position came up in Vintage, giving me the opportunity to spend a year in editorial. I’m due to go back to publicity in May, so I’ve jumped around a bit in my role here at Random House. As far as publicity is concerned, my job includes working in craft campaigns, reading submissions, setting up events, all kinds of digital and traditional media. In editorial, I’ve been responsible for Vintage Paperbacks, so second incarnations of books, new jackets, new copy, quite a lot of corrections and sometimes commissioning e-publications of any originals. We do have something called Vintage Originals which are ‘one-life’ paperbacks rather than going into hardbacks. […] It’s quite a big, all-encompassing job. And I run Vintage’s twitter account with one other person; [it] has 31,000 followers. PE: Wow. CW: Yes, a lot of people! So I spend my time between doing normal editorial work and publicity stuff. PE: Has there been a significant shift in your duties from editorial & print to digital & publicity? CW: [We] certainly do e-books with pretty much all of our paperbacks now. We [also] do a lot of talk around digital projects. We just bought the prequel to Warm Bodies, [for] which we will release an e-book before we do a paperback. There’s a lot of talk about doing things with different formats and, while we stay true to the hardcopy paperback life, because at the moment, we can, it’s very much about what we can do to extend the digital life of our titles. […] We do as much as we can to promote our authors, when we can, on digital platforms. Nigella [Lawson] is a really good example of that, where we [launched] The Quick
Clara is currently an editor at Vintage Books
Collection App, an app about how to get Nigella’s recipes. We use Nigella to reach that digital platform that she might not reach from her books. We have an entire digital team upstairs [working] with the digital side of things; it’s a very open platform actually. For the bigger books, like Play It Again, which is a book about [The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger’s, decision to] teach himself the most difficult pieces of Chopin on piano, we’ve started the extended e-book where you can listen to the music section while reading the book. So it depends on what the books are and how they dress themselves. PE: So, logically, the digital platform of a Vintage title is determined by its content and promoted in the process? CW: Exactly. Quite often, crime sells incredibly well as e-books. It tends to be those sorts of brands that lend themselves to a digital format. But, at the same time, we’ve still sold a substantial number of copies of just books as well. So it’s important to make digital platforms available. But, [on the other hand], Julian Barnes is a great example of a paperback that sold really well because it was a beautiful thing . . . PE: For aspiring writers, how important would you say self-promotion is (through social media, blogs, etc.)? CW: Well, I guess the more you could do the better. I mean, I certainly think there’s something to be said for every single platform. At the same time, it’s never going to be a bad thing if you’re going to promote yourself and put yourself out there and meet other authors online. I think ultimately it’s one of those things where you get more of an idea of the market you would like to publish in if you are on a social media platform in some way, if you do tweet or you do go to other author’s talks. In Edinburgh in particular, you’ve got the Edinburgh Book Festival, so that’s a really great platform to meet other writers and to get inspired that way. You can’t NOT put yourself out there on the Internet because that’s a huge platform to discover ability, and it’s all about discoverability.
“You can’t NOT put yourself out there on the Internet because that’s a huge platform to discover ability, and it’s all about discoverability.” PE: Are there other ways that you’d suggest? CW: Certainly, there are opportunities to get your manuscript read. For people who don’t know [how it’s done], it’s a submission of three chapters, a synopsis that you send to publishers, agents. There’s a great company in London called Cornerstone who look at manuscripts before you go to agents where you pay a one-off fee, which is quite a useful, cheap way of getting your manuscript somewhere. But ultimately it’s about putting yourself out there as much as possible. If you’re a poet, for example, I would go to readings as much as you can, [as that’s] a really important platform for poetry. Just explore a niche market where you can meet other like-minded people. I also think, if you’re trying to get published, it can be terribly disheartening and, if you are on twitter or other social media platforms, suddenly you can find that there are other people who are experiencing pretty much the same as you, and it could give you encouragement. PE: MFA & Masters blogs are encouraging for that reason. CW: Yeah, exactly! Blogs, anything that requires some kind of dialogue and interaction, I think is a really useful tool to make you feel less alone. That’s why you find a lot of freelance journalists on twitter quite a lot. Because…they go from working with nobody else at home all the time…to talking to other journalists, discussing issues, looking at different topics, sharing blog posts, sharing ideas, and suddenly, it becomes easier. For writers, you can start ‘following’ agents and publishers, so you can know what they’re talking about or what they’re looking for. There are quite a few [publishing-related] advertisements on Twitter, certainly by Random House. A huge thank you to Clara for her time and willingness to answer our questions!
Hidden halfway down memory lane there is a shop with dockleaves for curtains where I turned the thought of you into cold coins of silver and gold banknotes made of spiderwebs and dust
Chronocide, the act of killing time, an abhorrent, self-destructive crime, the murder of minutes, the slaughter of seconds, is a particular habit of mine.
Now, other people can own the envelopes from all the letters I never bothered to send to you all smeared ink and the space where the second class stamp would have sat; the ring that lived in my pocket untouched by your skin a band of woven truth, a black diamond and the condensation of a smile; a lock of hair from a child who died before she ever lived wrapped in tartan made from crow feathers and the first leaves of a willow in June; scraps of clothes you never wore the hems and sleeves and straps thick with rust the creep of dry rot, the smell of hydrangeas; a pocket watch, scratched by river water and stones where you can hear the echo of my heart like the knowledge of a gap in the fence where foxes gather to scream in the night; and a book, bound in the smell of midnight and the cold steel of kitchen knives and fingernails an atlas to countries that never existed where your heart and mind were etched in silver ink and bloodwine and the filaments of a thousand burnt out lightbulbs as the cities and landmarks I could never recite from memory
Clocks talk themselves in circles, The world turns and time marches on The world turns, and clocks talk themselves in circles. It troubles me, this habit of mine, the murder of minutes, the slaughter of seconds, but then I have committed greater crimes, than Chronocide, the act of killing time. Lewis Brown
Break with ancient, soil-wet fornication, Arise with rooted extremities That will force the steps of time Across the face of earth In instant lines of wisdom. Twist cloudless storms about The plains that kneel, surrounding, With the first exhale of rebirth. Take the form of sun-descendants And balm a shadowy colossus over Every scouted hemisphere, That we may remain above The final, brutal moments Of the disembodied sky, Now soon to break upon the earth In fractal bleedings, swelling to A final dissipation of the wares and toils Of all creation. Matt Blades 13
a rubble of pictures that spread across the world. The earth cried out. By this time you were swaying, singing, throwing your arms up in the air and rejoicing, but still you were waiting. You liked the church, this latest one. You thought this time it might happen, you might be filled up with the spirit, but still you remained an empty vessel.
You go to church, and not just sometimes; not just at Easter and Christmas like the pinkfaced young families who press in at the carol service, filling the place with wet umbrellas, filling the place with whispering warmth. You go every week, usually twice.
You learn a Sikh prayer, ‘life is shortening, day and night,’ and you know it, you feel it as you sit stooped over in church (back where you started, back on the pew that hurts the bones in your bum). You know it as you walk, slowly, down the familiar park path filled with a mulch of autumn leaves, rotting; your body worn down and creased by the journey of life.
You sit on the hard pew that hurts the bones in your bum. You watch the congregation come and go, you watch new hymns rise and fall from favour. You see young vicars, old vicars, a woman vicar. You see christenings and funerals and marriages; lives play out before you as you wait.
And still you wait. You read The God Delusion. You hate it. He is there somewhere; your faith in that, at least, is absolute.
You sit on the hard pew that hurts the bone in your bum, and you wait. You are always waiting, open, ready, for the thunderbolt that will shoot from the sky, for the holy spirit that will fill your soul. You want it, you really do. You want the joy, the warmth, the comfort that you imagine will come from believing, sincerely believing. And yet you are still waiting, open, ready.
As you draw your last breath, you wait.
As a child you sat on that same hard pew as the bombs rained down, red rain on London. You prayed as you lay curled around your sister in an underground station, listening to the sirens and the sound of destruction, as the red rain rained down on London. You prayed hard and you waited. You walk through the park on the way to church, every Sunday, twice a day. You walk through the snow that squeaks beneath your feet, and you look for His footprints beside yours. Is it now that He carries me? you ask. You walk through the park on the way to church, every Sunday, twice a day. It rains and rains but no ark comes. Instead a swampy puddle forms in a hollow, small white gulls gather there, like tiny paper boats in the pool of steely grey. By the time of the Cold War, you were thirty and growing restless. Something was wrong, it wasn’t right. You were waiting, you were open, you were ready, but where was He? So you tried something new. Aaah, the Catholics, they knew how to do it! The smell of candles, burning low; the guilt, the delicious guilt that made you ache so hard that you forgot the truth. The swinging incense holder as it came up the aisle was the ticking pendulum of time; it was time’s chariot hurrying near. As the world lined up its weapons, there you sat, there you stayed: waiting, open, ready. You watched the aftermath of Chernobyl on the news, and frustrated, you took the next step. You removed your shoes, you bound up your hair, you whispered prayers in an exotic tongue, and still you waited in the spice filled air. You tried, you waited, you really did. The Twin Towers were hit; an explosion of images,
Cascade Canyon, Wyoming by Matthew Hawkins
by Kate Smith
Her thighs melted low into the dimples of the sofa. Red button pressed: on turned her glass and light eyes. The company’s noise, its conversation, gnawed with appetite at her desperation, until it overwhelmed every self conscious flicker. Its pictures spoke through her lips, forming with
them the breaches of a smile.
She had given her mind to her eyes.
An hour ago, with Mike The Hunting Guide whispering steady careful steady careful into my ear, I pulled the trigger and the elk spit streamers of blood. 1,000 pounds of muscle collapsed, blanketing dust over the wildflowers (purple and yellow, Indian Paintbrush). Ellen—the mastermind of the Trip, the great birthday-present-giver— stifled a yell with the report of the rifle. She began crying, weeping quietly. “It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem like the right way to kill such a beautiful thing. From so far away, ” sniffling into our guide’s tan, PFG shoulder, one hand scratching his back. I guess she thought I hadn’t seen that. Again, I am beginning to see more clearly. They—Mike The Hunting Guide, and Ellen My Wife— do not see me, 400 yards up the valley. They are valuing their privacy, next to the dead beast. An hour ago, minutes after the kill, I volunteered to hike back to the campsite; I told them I would bring lunch, a bottle of wine to celebrate and relax while we prepared the steaks. Mike volunteered to lead Ellen down the steep canyon pass, and show the proper way to begin peeling elk skin from elk muscle. We split ways, planning to reunite in two hours. I am not bringing back lunch. I am drinking the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, looking down this beautiful canyon in Wyoming with a gun in my hands, musing on a raspberry. Wishing I had one to mash between my molars.
I see them now: sweat beads on Ellen’s neck as she leans over to unzip Mike’s pants; a grin on Mike’s sandpapery face not so small that I cannot see the ends curling through the red lines of the cross hairs. Ellen is wearing a light blue flannel shirt, lightweight khakis, and brand new Scarpa hiking boots that I bought her in preparation for this trip—all will be worn this once, never again. Mikes eyes, a little close together and weighed down by his looming, perpetually sweaty forehead, are most likely closed. I wonder how the kissing was, on this bed of pressed flowers. I’ll have to check her white checks later to see if his scruffy, sharp facial hair cut her face. She is a spider, sprawled out, head on his lap. I am a bird of prey, though a little drunk. I swing the cross hairs back towards the elk and his antlers look like knives, his glazed marble eyes winking at me. There are many things that only happen once: a first kill, a first step, a first marriage, wearing brand new clothes for the first time— birth, and death. The first stain on a new white tuxedo and the first time you realize you hate the woman you have just committed your entire life to (careful, careful, god damn it). And I am beginning to see these things clearly now, these firsts, these onces. I am seeing Mike finish (probably not the first time in his career), bucking and squirming in his flowery bed. My wine bottle careens off the edge of the rock when my shoulder moves and splinters into crystal dust pollinating the wild flowers whose name I knew once, and I like the sound.
Belly down on the ridge, looking down the alpine meadow through a high-powered riflescope at the bloody scene of my first kill, I am reminded of the raspberry mashed onto the fibers of my white tuxedo on my marriage day with Ellen: a hole smashed through muscle and bone, an elk, not quite an hour dead. That day she had said: “Be careful god damn it. Please try not to ruin this day for me.” I stayed silent then. This is three years later, and I have a gun and a perch (shall we call it perspective?). I see things as they come to me, as the scene plays out 400 yards away, in a field next to the snowmelt river.
An Interview with Lynn Michell
PublishED’s Alex Shedlock has a chat with Lynn Michell PublishEd: Could you tell us a little about Linen Press Books? Lynn Michell: Linen Press Books is an international publisher of women’s fiction, based in Edinburgh. It has been going since around 2008, and is run by myself and several interns. I spend every night on my sofa reading submitted manuscripts. We get up to four a day, usually - if it weren’t for my interns I’d be lost! PE: How did Linen Press get started? LM: It started out of the blue. I didn’t mean to start a publishing company, I had no experience or background in publishing; I was an academic, a medical sociologist. I used to work in Glasgow, and my work was listening to teenagers then writing down their life stories, trying to build a picture of what it was like to be a Glasgow teenager. So I was doing all that- but then I got ME (chronic fatigue syndrome). And I was out of action for a very long time. When it got better, I started a writing group in Edinburgh at the Salisbury Centre, an alternative health education center on the South side. So I was running this writing group that was always full, and a 93-yearold woman came along called Marjorie Wilson, and I found out that she had written the most beautiful memoir about Edinburgh at the turn of the century. Her carer brought her along, and she was just wonderful, she had this wonderful, lyrical writing voice. We read it at the writing group, and all decided that it had to be published. But she had sent it to every publisher in the UK and every publisher had rejected it, so I just decided to publish it myself.
also because they are so underrepresented: only 4% of the winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature have been women; 38% of shortlisted Man Booker writers in the past ten years have been women; and prior to the Orange Prize, which really stirred things up, only 11% of the author’s shortlisted for the Booker, were women. Even if you look at books reviewed, over the last few years, in really serious papers like The New York Review or The Guardian or The Times, 25% of books are reviewed by women, and 75% are by male writers. I think it’s coming down from the powers that be: if you look at the main editors, that’s still a male stronghold. Hopefully this will change with the next generation, with the movement towards women. It’s definitely more uphill for a female author to get published, to get accepted to be published, to be reviewed, then to find her way to a shortlist for a bigger prize. I’m trying to redress the balance, and I just love working with them. PE: On the business side of things, how do you feel independent, small publishing compares to the big publishers? LM: I’ve never worked for a larger one, but I think the key difference is that a large one has a marketing department. Whereas it’s just me here! What I’ve been told by a couple of really well-known writers that I know is that big ones are not editing anymore. The emphasis is on sales and marketing, and that is where they put a lot of their resources and their talent.
Lynn is a writer and editor at Linen Press Books
five hundred, so a book costs me about three or four pounds.
want to move books off the shelves. I’m way off at the other end of the spectrum.
PE: How do you get around this?
The quality is what I’m going for, always. If I put one priority right at the top, it’s beautiful writing, writing that really surprises you. I’m looking for beautiful writing, I don’t really care what the topic is, as long as it’s relevant to women, and if it’s beautifully written and it gives me goose bumps I’ll consider it for publication. I’m just passionate about good writing.
LM: What I do is I depend a huge amount on my authors to look for local events, festivals, libraries. Social networking is terribly important for women’s writingmy intern Katie is indispensable to me, she handles all of this. We’re managing really well, selling from our website, organising events, attending festivals, getting articles, getting a lot of online reviews, so while we’re kind of going around the periphery, we’re selling the books. This year we’ve done really well, despite the climate of treading or going bankrupt. We did very badly in 2011 because we hadn’t really grasped marketing mettle. In 2012, by choosing slightly more commercial books, and by making it clear that the authors have to do a lot of footwork, and making sure they were happy with that, we’ve done well. We’ve actually made a profit. PE: You’ve said that there’s an inverse relationship between big publishers and micropublishers between marketing and editing priorities; how do you feel that you handle the editing side of things differently? You mention online that you have a feedback loop between editors and writers, writing and editing.
PE: Just to end on, you know, a fun note, are there any books which you’re enjoying at the moment? LM: Just last night I started on Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, having put it off for a long time. Because I read so many submissions, I’m quite weary at night. I was worried it would be a hard read, but it’s not, it’s wonderful, I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great big epic book by a female author, and it’s in a class of its own. And I just ordered the next one, Bring Up the Bodies, so they’ll keep me going for a long time. I’m enjoying them, I’m so delighted because she won the Booker twice! That’s a turnaround from what I said before about male writers dominating. PE: Thank you for your time! For more information on Lynn Michell and Linen Press Books, please visit www.linenpressbooks.com
PE: So there was a specific decision to focus on women’s writing from the beginning? If so, why?
LM: It’s a challenge. You have to find the diverse, creative ways of doing it. We can’t just go to Waterstone’s and get a 70% discount. And if I go down the main Amazon route, they take 60% of my main retail price, plus postage. So for every book I sell on Amazon, I lose four pounds.
LM: Editing, at Linen Press, is absolutely at the top of what we do. We spend 3-6 months working through the novel with a writer, whether the writer’s emerging COMING SOON FROM LINEN PRESS BOOKS or established or is even learning English as a second language. We go through the book, chapter by chapter, Nothing is Heavy by Vicki Jarrett batting it back and forth. We edit at a structural level, at a meta level, at a sentence level, we shift things around, check tenses, make sure it’s all working. If I have one single skill, that’s the main one, to be able to look at a piece of prose and assess its strengths, its weaknesses, what needs work. I’m all about editing- I’m not sure the larger publishers are.
LM: Yes, I had it in mind from the beginning to focus on women’s fiction; I had always worked with women writers in the creative writing group. It was a definite choice not only because of this history with female writers but
But the difference between us and the mainstream publishers, the big guys, is they do runs of, oh like a hundred thousand, so each book costs them a pound or less, whereas I do a run of no more than four or
Big publishers definitely go for lowest-common-denominator works these days. Publishing is now Tesco. The guys who choose the books are salesmen; they are anti-literary, they are anti-intellectual, and they just
That’s how it all started. It was a huge learning curve, but it did really well; Blackwell’s on South Bridge took it on board and they sold out. So we reprinted.
PE: How does the marketing side work for you?
Nothing is Heavy is now available in both print and digital format. 19
Princes by Ross McDiarmid
Sunrise. His imaginary staff holds fast as his wreck orbits, almost rolling not quite standing. His head cast back on a tired neck, mouth wishing-well wide, forcing out the coins in cackles.
Over his shoulder he hears a swarm on the Coke with Lemon giveaway, a million teeth throwing back freebie potions in Jeykll-like glee.
With a swig and a stumble the Riverbank Sage drools his teachings down the grotty bars of his chest, fingers waving wildly at the parting river of eyes, muttering, “Let my people go”.
“HERE! HERE! A have ay tale tae tell!” Light fingers clasp at his other shoulder, a lonely one-eared charity worker greets the Sage’s slipping face. “A’m being ironic”, proclaims the Sage. “........” “Well a’m definitely makin some sort ay statement, ken?” “.......” The listening side of her face has gone, sneaked away, wishing only to hear thicker pockets, as they plod too close. “Here, ah bet, if ya look, thir’s an age-limit on tha dress o’ your’s?”, he says dreamily. But she is gone now, off charging down in bounds the ones with dull eyes. “WOLF, WOLF!” he cries. “.......”
His trembling head and twisted body make steady progress up the flooded street. The canyon walls of sheer glass and great nets of mesh fence channel the unrelenting deluge. He sees the shops as they are, rows of prone giants - those warnings long forgotten, lessons un-learned - their gaping mouths spewing and swallowing in tidal breaths the marching mutton and lamb. Each one spilling out dressed more individually than the one before. “GARDYLOO!” cheers the Sage. Through his empty looking-glass he spies a feather star. All of his muscles rip to their limit to ensnare this rare floating seed. With one last rasping grasp he cradles the captured wish. As he falls he glimpses Edinburgh’s stalwart castle through the haar; spires with scores of flags sailing on a high wind, a stone sanctuary, the city’s stronghold, a fleeting fantasy before the flat of the floor.
Clawing himself world-weary from the torrent to his grimy alcove, whispering, “Where have all the gid Sage gone, For, well a day! their date was fled His tuneful brethren were all dead”
Lying now beneath the locust legs, the wish still nestled safe, the Sage witnesses strutting Snow Whites attended by scurrying dwarves, profligate knights with blood stained swords, and insidious Rapunzels trailing teasing tassels. The flesh boiling down in a bubbling cauldron to the mere birds and bees - this is bliss? Tears are foaming behind his red eyes. His body convulses, choking and retching. He slopes on shaking struts, face hanging over the reflective pool of bile. Facing him, a Jester, wears a face forgotten. The fragile wish is smashed, and he sees it…the roach of an old joint. “Better than serving in heaven”, he says sparking.
Back in the hovel on the river’s bank, a storm of leaflets fill the gutters like snow. He tentatively picks up one and reads aloud the hieroglyphics, “THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT!” In a fury he forgets himself and hurls empty bottles at the river. “Here’s White Lighting for’e, ya bastards!”
“Here Princesses, HERE! Why sae eurly oot ay bed? Eurly bird gits the worm is tha it?” gobs the Sage. “.........” “Here Princesses, ave got ah pea in ma pockit tha’ll keep yoos up aw night”. “.......” With no swords drawn the Sage reclines back supine below the mist of pure imagination. His visions are of a great insect-like plague of ‘CATERPILLAR’ growing fat, chewing through the ancient buildings of stone, exhuming the main street leaving their tracks without trams. But only foul things live in the deep places, gemstone bread-crumbs lead only to Balrog’s.
Holding his last and drip-dried medicine bottle above the drought in front – the senseless choice. “Paper, paper everywhir but nae ah drop tae drink”, he says in shallow breaths. His sad shadow cut in the dirt, a nick forgotten through time. “Cud yie nae spare ah few coins?”, he pleads to the ones that walk-by, that do as they wish, their plastic-bags wilfully filled with pounds of flesh ready for repayment. Kicking rocks back at the raging river as it digs its own grave, his knowledge plagues, as he only wishes for bliss in this natural disaster.
“If you want to view Paradise, simply look around and view it” he drones, while sinking his sighing eyes back through the fog, to the failing fairy-tale of glossy beings airbrushed in hurricanes, following their rainbows in the land of muzak louder than song.
“NO!”, shouts the Sage, “Keep yir fuckin golden ticket”. Magic may have left his veins and there may be no dragons left to chase but the Sage is still courageous. He draws a crowd and lifts his arms ready for the fall, the last one to take the plunge, and our ever-clicking heels wish away the Sage. Gone and long forgotten.
“Ah see you!”, glowers the Sage, “But yose cannae see aw this, ay.”
by Jonathan Ellman
It shouldn’t mean anything
We can’t stop, either of us.
Point to me.
If we can help it
Nothing is meaningful.
Neither of us can stop.
I was distracted.
Which is why we do something.
Until death do we prattle on, and on.
Oh well played. Point to you.
But not at all costs
No, we can’t force it
An act of evasion.
It was nothing.
Evasion of what?
Insofar as we can.
No, it was.
Meaninglessness must come by itself
Insofar as we can’t.
Yes, it really wasn’t.
Quite. If we force it not to come it will.
Ah. Otherwise we’d just stand here all day.
And people would start to think, and worse, to finish.
We can. [Affirmatively] We can!
Up to a point.
We’ve done that
But no further
Too much. Too painful
To me it was. It was gracious, and that is something, if nothing else.
This is terrible.
We have little else.
Too too boring
Let’s go on, it might get worse.
It means a lot.
Too too too boring.
It’s our only hope.
Yes. You’re right, it does.
Too too too too boring
Don’t let’s get started on hope.
Meaninglessness and hopelessness.
Too late. Meaningless hope.
Go on, you to play.
You’re such an optimist
I’m not sure I can.
But you can’t stop.
[Turns away from Alan and chuckles silently to self]
We’re after fun
That would merely distract
From the distraction
[In agreement] Alan:
[Confirmatively with finality]
And boredom is meaningful.
We’ve been distracted.
But do you think they have?
[They look towards the audience then at each other.] Alan:
Let’s find out.
[With a hint of a knowing nod, both exit] 23
Thicket I thought of you the first time
In a world tied down in recollection
I tunnelled through the twisting
Scarves wrapped around old wounds
Tumbling tree trunks of this city
Weeping children remember themselves
In hope of losing you
How their breakfast cereal went
Amongst the sounds of stories left impressed
Snap, crackle, Pop!
In deep-rooted walls; clinging to passers by
Malnourished in the bleak of winter
Sowing new stories soon to grow
When stories of monsters hidden under beds
But your memory outran me
Were all too near, all too real
The beauty of the city roared your name
To remember how nothing ever changed.
And together they pollinated my brain So here I am, writing of you again.
Belinda Sarstedt Maria Elena Torres Quevedo
The Phonograph Man The life of a phonograph man like me is no more different than that of other people: I wake up, work, from time to time I go to the movies, and in the evening, I crawl back home exhausted, yearning to curl up under the warm duvet and to fall asleep. Of course, if you take a closer look, my days are full of peculiarities. But I guess so are everybody else’s.
by Neil Colquhoun CHARACTERS
Getting up is always hard and my morning routine is always a pain. Every morning I have to clean up my brass horn and to prepare my records, every one containing a specific phrase. Don’t be so surprised, have you ever seen a talking phonograph? Just as I thought... So, I have to choose carefully the expressions that I will need the most throughout the day because I can’t carry all of them. I dare say that I have quite a rich collection though a huge part of it has never been used. “Hello” and “goodbye” are my everyday hits, as usually I don’t need to say anything else. As a tradition, I take “thank you” and “sorry” too, just in case. Then I leave.
DETECTIVE ALAN MOORE – A middle aged Scottish detective. Dressed in an old, two piece suit. Filled with a barely contained rage.
When I reach the library, where I work, I make myself comfortable behind my huge desk and dedicate a few hours to doing the daily crosswords in the newspaper. This activity, I won’t lie, doesn’t amuse me anymore. However, as I’ve read all the books on the shelves throughout the long years I’ve spent as a librarian, I don���t have an alternative.
PLACE: Edinburgh 1920’s. The spectre of the Great War hangs above the city.
Just like any other phonograph man I adore music and, trust me, I could listen to Gershwin all the time without getting sick of it... but right above my head there is this screaming sign, saying “Silence please!” Also, I am the one whose job is to shush at people if such are present and if they make a noise louder than breathing. That’s why I stay in the dark and quiet library all day, bored and alone because usually I’m the only one who passes through the doorway. Going around the city is always extremely unpleasant. Quite often the dust circulating in the dirty air scratches the record I’ve put on and my fine needle always gets caught on people’s clothes and bags, especially when I’m on the bus. As a result, it’s not a rarity to see me completely deprived of speech, unable even to express my discontent with the chaotic crowd. I’m used to all that, though. The only pain that still pounds under my ever-changing record is the memory of one afternoon too long ago to be forgotten. I was going home after work, cheerful like never before because for the first time in years the library had been visited by people other than the cleaners and me. However, my joy was extinguished the second I got on the crowded bus. Thirty minutes later, I got off, or rather I was spat out by the monster on wheels, with my needle broken beyond repair. I couldn’t even make a sound to express the fury rumbling in my horn. My frustrating helplessness was about to grow into a nervous breakdown, when I heard the most magnificent melody in the world: “You dropped your records.” The most graceful violin woman was standing before me with her stretched, lustrous strings. In the middle of that gloomy October, her voice washed over me like warm rain in July. It was capable of erasing completely the pain of my broken needle. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by a yearning to reply with at least a polite “thank you,” but unfortunately, I couldn’t. Hastily, I picked up my records from the pavement and left, feeling with every step that I made the little crack making its way in the centre of my turntable. Mila Daskalova 26
THOMAS – A young, slight boy. Wears either a simple school uniform circa early 1920s, or hospital pyjamas depending on the scene. NURSE – A young woman dressed in uniform.
SCENE THREE. INTERNAL. Lights come up on THOMAS sitting up in a hospital bed, looking into the distance. His face shows the marks of a violent beating. NURSE stands beside him with needle in hand. DETECTIVE enters. NURSE: This’ll only hurt for a minute. She prepares THOMAS’ arm for an injection. THOMAS: But I don’t want an / injection DETECTIVE: Interrupts / Excuse me, nurse. NURSE: Quickly turning around, putting needle in her pocket. Who are you? What the hell are you doing here? This is / a hospital DETECTIVE: Interrupts / My name is Detective Alan Moore and speak to me like that again, I will have your pretty little head on a platter. Do you understand? NURSE: Yes sir, sorry sir. DETECTIVE: Good. Now ... piss off. NURSE: Yes sir. As she passes DETECTIVE he aggressively thrusts his head at her, making her flinch. She darts across the rest of the stage, but before she leaves the stage, she turns to stare at DETECTIVE and THOMAS. Exits. DETECTIVE: Hello Thomas. I’m Detective Moore. I’m a policeman. I’m the one who found you. THOMAS: Yes sir. I think I remember. Um, people call me Tom, sir. No one but my Grandfather calls me Thomas. DETECTIVE: Tom it is. I want to ask you some questions about yesterday. Now, I want you to answer honestly, Tom. I’ll know if you lie.
THOMAS: I don’t know! I don’t know what happened! Stutters. It wasn’t me.
DETECTIVE: Doesn’t matter, you’re too bloody late. Besides, Tom and I sorted the problem. Didn’t we, Tom?
DETECTIVE: Alright, alright, calm down. What can you tell me? Pause as THOMAS does not answer. Tom, answer me.
THOMAS: Yes sir.
THOMAS: I woke up early. I’d had some bad dreams. Pause as he looks down. I had breakfast and got ready for school. DETECTIVE: Where is your home? THOMAS: With my Grandfather. At his house on Henry Ave. DETECTIVE: And what does he do for a living?
NURSE: Oh. Then, I’ll continue my rounds sir. DETECTIVE: Aye, see that you do. NURSE exits. Get some rest, Tom. I’ll be back in a few hours. We’ll talk more then. THOMAS: Yes, sir. Lying down and turning his back to DETECTIVE. DETECETIVE: Goodbye. Turns and walks towards the exit. Before he leaves, THOMAS speaks.
THOMAS: He used to write books, but he doesn’t anymore.
THOMAS: None of the nurses will come near me. That one crosses herself every time she passes. She says I’m evil. She thinks I killed Oliver.
DETECTIVE: Hmm. And where was he that morning?
DETECTIVE: Still facing the door. Did you?
THOMAS: He was in bed. He’s always in bed. He doesn’t get out much. Not since he heard that Father died.
THOMAS: Pause. I told you, it wasn’t me.
DETECTIVE: Was that in the War?
DETECTIVE: I’ll come back later, Tom.
DETECTIVE: We all lost someone in the War, most of us carry on. Slight grimace of pain. You left for school. Then what? THOMAS: Oliver was waiting for me. He was always waiting for me. DETECTIVE: How often did he wait for you? THOMAS: Every day. I don’t know why he hates me so much. He and his friends used to beat me all the time. DETECTIVE: That would make me very angry. I would want to do something. Hit him back. Quietly. Maybe even / kill him. THOMAS: Interrupting / It makes me very angry. But he’ll leave me alone now. DETECTIVE: Pause. So Oliver caught you and started beating you. Then what happened?
DETECTIVE: Tom! Calm down Tom! Grabbing THOMAS and trying to hold him down. Calm down! Nurse! Nurse! Oh for God’s sake! Strikes THOMAS across the cheek and shocks him into awareness and silence. Listen, you’re safe here. Pause in dialogue as THOMAS calms down. NURSE enters running. 28
NURSE: What’s happened, sir? What’s wrong?
THOMAS: He was hitting me. I hit my head on the ground. It started to throb. Pause. And then I felt so safe. And warm. Like I was at home in bed. But I opened my eyes and saw the blood. It was everywhere. And I saw him ... and ... and ... He begins to shake violently. Following speeches overlap. He was covered in blood I couldn’t get away my legs wouldn’t I couldn’t move he was staring at me his dead eyes I wanted him to stop! Stop! Stop! STOP!
Parting Notes A Fond Farew ell The seventh issue of The Inkwell marks the last for the current committee, who will be handing over the PublishED keys from late March. We’ve had another great semester, and I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank all our members and readers for their unfailing support. As always, none of this would have been possible without you guys and to have people tell us that they loved the last issue, or that they got something valuable out of one of our workshops makes all the work so worthwhile. We still have a few more workshops and speaker events lined up, so keep an eye out for details of those, but for now my personal thanks also have to go to the current committee for their dedication. Being president of this society has genuinely been an honour, and I’ve enjoyed every minute working with this team; you’ve all done so much for PublishED this year, in some cases going above and beyond what I would have ever expected, and I think it’s shown. Of course, particular thanks should certainly go to Vicki, our Editor-in-Chief. PublishED
Visit the website at:
And find us on Facebook, of course! 30
It’s always sad to say goodbye, of course, but I am also confident that next year’s committee will drive the society and magazine from strength to strength. Many of the current committee will be graduating or leaving Edinburgh to go abroad, so there are a lot of new faces for next year, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what fresh ideas and changes they will bring. I’m sure they’ll start sending around information soon about what they’ll be up to for Freshers’ Week 2013 and beyond but for now, all the best of luck to Toby and the whole of the new team – I’m sure PublishED will grow and thrive for years to come.
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exists to provide a high-quality platform to showcase new student writing, and Vicki has at times worked herself almost to the point of exhaustion to ensure the magazine achieves the standards we desire, so a huge thank you and massive congratulations to her!
Liz Ebdale President 2012-2013
A Few Parting Words PublishEd started as an idea. And though since its inception three years ago the magazine and the society have changed in countless ways – the name, the people, the contributors - the idea itself remains the same. That idea was to showcase the wealth of literary talent of Edinburgh’s students, and to that effect I’d say it’s always done a fine job. It would, of course, be nothing without the writers, who I thank on behalf of the whole team, past and present. Having been there from the beginning I’m sad to let it go, but excited to watch it continue to evolve and travel the parallel paths of continuity and change. Keep writing. Kieran Johnson Co-General Editor (Issues VI-VII) Former Drama Editor (Issues I-V)
We like to keep you up to date on what’s going on outside the student bubble. There are so many chances to get your work published and even win cash prizes. All you have to do is find the information. Here’s just a few upcoming competitions to get you started!
Remember, when one door closes, another opens. Don’t get disheartened by one instance of rejection - having to work for your rewards only makes them sweeter in the end. Then, when you’re sitting on your first hit novel, you can finally sit back, relax, and have a nice glass of wine.
Poetic Republic Deadline: 30th April 2013 Prizes: Winning Poem £2,000 http://www.poeticrepublic.com/ Highlands and Islands Short Story Association Deadline: 31st July 2013 Prizes: £400 for first place Open theme Max Word Count: 2,500 http://www.hissac.co.uk/CompetitionDetails Promises International Short Story Competition 2013: A Dozen Promises Deadline: 1st October 2013 Prizes: e-publication of winner with a view to Turning the winning story into a film script Theme: Promises http://www.janmoranneil.co.uk/promisescomp.html. For more information on competitions, please visit http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-andreading/short-stories/prizes/ Carol Duncan
For 2013-14, the Department of English Literature is offering three exciting opportunities for writers who wish to explore their talents, foster their craft, and learn about publication. All programmes are taught by experienced teachers who are also well published writers.
MSc in Creative Writing This one-year, full-time taught MSc offers students the opportunity to focus in depth on their own practice - of poetry or fiction - and develop both creative and critical skills through a combination of weekly workshops and seminars.
MSc in Creative Writing by Distance Learning This three year, part-time course enables students to focus in depth on their own practice from the comfort of their own home. It offers tutor and peer support and provides a clear framework with which to monitor development. It aims to develop awareness of process, to further craft and to raise writing and editing skills to the highest possible level.
MSc in Creative Writing for Theatre and Performance This is a unique practical playwriting course and will appeal to aspiring playwrights, performance artists, directors, dramaturges and critics alike. Taught through seminars, writersâ€™ workshops and practical workshops with actors, directors and other theatre professionals, it will focus not only on the craft of writing for performance but also on how a script plays out in real space and time, and in front of an audience. For more information about these and other MSc programmes in English Literature visit www.ed.ac.uk/schoolsdepartments/literatures-languages-cultures/english-literature/postgraduate/taught-masters