Look. Here's the thing. Let me be honest here. I kind of resent Martin Appleby. I like him. A lot. But I'm also very petty. This is my problem: he’s a doer. He does all these things that I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to. Take Paper and Ink Zine. Paper and Ink regularly features a bunch of my favourite writers - and introduces me to a load of others too. For the longest time I’d been thinking about getting a magazine going. I’d tell my girlfriend I wanted to put something together that could include people like Dean Lilleyman and Joseph Ridgwell and Hosho McCreesh (all in issue seven of Paper and Ink Zine). Of course, I never got round to it. Martin did. I didn’t even have the nerve to start interviewing people for my site until this year, something Martin has been doing for a while now.One of my original questions for Martin was whether he had considered putting out stuff that wasn’t part of Paper and Ink Zine. In the time it’s taken me to get these questions over to him, he’s started putting out Joseph Ridgwell’s The Cross in three parts, and has also taken on single-poet projects. The guy is always one step ahead.Luckily, cowards like me don’t have to worry too much about not following through on our plans, because people like Martin are out there actually doing it and ensuring we all have good stuff to read.
Do you remember the first moment where you thought that Paper and Ink was something you’d try and get off the ground? I don't think there was one particular “A-ha!” moment. It was an idea that developed over time with roots in a number of places. I got really into Bukowski in my early 20s and remember reading stuff about him being published in all these underground newspapers and counter-culture magazines in LA and NY and what not, and I remember thinking, “Why is there nothing like that around at the moment?”. Nothing that I could find, anyway ... I got into zines a few years later through the punk scene and always wanted to make one myself, so when thinking of subjects and things I could make a zine about, it seemed logical to combine my love of outsider literature with the DIY, punk ethos of zines and thus PAPER AND INK was born.You’ve had a number of great writers in Paper and Ink. Do you approach writers to submit or by this point do you tend to attract submissions from the sorts of writers you want to include? I do still approach the odd writer now and then if there is someone that I really want to be in it, but I am in a fortunate position at this stage that I am getting enough submissions that I don't need to do that. Because each issue is themed, obviously some themes are more accessible than others and thus attract more submissions. The childhood issue had 150+ but the following one, the hangovers issue, only had 60+. And it was actually harder to select for the hangover issue because the pieces that I received were of an overall higher quality, or rather, were more to my taste than a lot of the stuff I received about childhoods. I am looking forward to seeing how many subs I end up with for the current theme, first times. I have a feeling it will be somewhere in between.You’re a big advocate of the zine scene. What sort of zines do you read? How do you go about finding new ones? I mainly read literary zines. Since creating PAPER AND INK there have been loads that have popped up. The obvious ones being PUSH and HAND JOB, which started around the same time and seem to be intrinsically linked to PAPER AND INK. Since then there have been others that have come up like IN REGARDS TO, THE FRACTURED NUANCE and SHIFT and across the pond there is WONDERLUST and NEGATIVE ASSETS to name a few. I love the small press community, everyone is so passionate and supportive of each other. From the creators, to the writers, to the readers, there is no hierarchy like there is in mainstream publishing, we're all on the same playing field just doing our thing. No hustling, no bullshit, and no competitiveness whatsoever, well, other than in a friendly “banter” sense. It really is awesome to be a part of such a thriving and passionate scene. I've met some wonderful people because of running this zine and I have made many great friends along the way. Long may it continue, and I hope many more lit zines and small presses pop up and continue to do well.I’ve seen more and more of your writing appearing over the last year. Do you see yourself continuing to publish other people’s work (be it with Paper and Ink or single-author projects) in the future, or do you hope to focus more on your own writing? I hope to do both! I have a pretty hectic year mapped out for myself, which involves releasing a zine every month. That includes off shoots to the regular PAPER AND INK issues, such as the three part Ridgwell novel, THE CROSS, and some stand alone poetry collections by various poets. I don't know if I will be able to pull it off without running out of steam but I will give it a damn good go! As for my own writing, I still plug away at that here and there. One of the poetry collections I am releasing will be my own poems, and I am also writing a novel, which is proving to be a very slow process but it will get there eventually. I'll sleep when I'm dead.Finally, what was the last thing (book, song, artist, place etc) that you totally fell in love with?Book – Paradise City by Dave MatthesSong – Poems & Songs by The King BluesArtist – Vanessa Jean Speckman (VanessaJeanSpeckman.etsy.com)Place - Edinburgh