Thursday, 16 November 2017


Return to the Madlands is the third and final book in prolific wordsmith Dave Matthes' Mire Man Trilogy. The story picks up with everybody's favourite misanthropic, whisky drinking, son of a bitch, Arlo Smith, a decade or thereabouts after he drove off into the sunset at the end of Paradise City (the second book in the trilogy). Now in his fifties/sixties (his exact age is never stated), Arlo has been living a relatively normal life (by his standards). Shacked up, playing happy families with Beth Jensen - the former teacher he had a relationship with in high school, and the woman who sprung him from his self imposed exile in Moriarty's Institute.

After ten years of normality, Beth has now passed away and Arlo discovers that she had been hiding letters from him. Many letters, sent to him over a number of years, by his former lover, Constance (the love interest from the first book of the trilogy, Bar Nights). Having almost given up on life after Beth's passing and feeling the effects of Father Time on his weary bones, he decides to roll the dice once last time, and hits the road in search of his long lost love. What follows is a madcap adventure across the country which leads Arlo to a destination he did not expect, nor could ever have imagined in his wildest dreams.

Return to the Madlands is the longest book of the trilogy, clocking in at just over 300 pages, and departs from the flash back/memory recall motif of Paradise City. It is much more in keeping, stylistically, with the first and shortest book of the trilogy, Bar Nights. Madlands plays out like a series of vignettes from the open road, documenting all of the crazy, weird situations that Arlo finds himself in during his trip, with all of the strange people he encounters, and the trouble that he inevitably lands in the middle of. At the end of my review of Paradise City I said that I would not be holding my breath for a happy ending for Arlo, and after reading the heartbreaking epilogue after the conclusion of the story, I was certainly right not to! However, heartbreaking epilogue aside, the end was not all together bad for Arlo, in fact I would say that Madlands was very much the redemption of Arlo Smith. I imagine we have not seen the last of this character, as there are plenty of gaps in the story that Matthes could explore, but if we never see Arlo again, then this was a very fitting end for a very interesting character.


Thursday, 9 November 2017


Leftover Pieces / Leftover Press is a very interesting small press run by Billy Bridwell III out of Arizona. The three publications pictured above, 'Without The Words There's No Song', 'Faces', and 'Clouds and Trees & You and Me' are the press' first three publications, all authored by Billy himself.

'Without Words There's No Song' is the most comprehensive, and certainly the most personal of the three publications. A documentation of Billy's time playing in punk and rock bands throughout the 90s and 00s, and a collection of lyrics that he wrote during that time; "To me, the words always meant more than the music ever could. This is an attempt to put it in one place, taken from the context of song." The lyrics, which are "part song, part prose, part story", make for a very interesting and revealing read. A journey through Billy's eyes and a celebration of "twenty-plus years of loneliness and angst, panic and worry, excitement and unity, to true love and hope".

'Faces' is a collection of digitally illustrated... faces. Fifty two different faces to be exact. Drawn using a combination of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Inkscape and Indesign, and each accompanied by a (seemingly) random motivational phrase, which Billy says are "simply a reminder to always stay true to yourself. Be aware of your surroundings and how you fit into them. This world can eat you alive, give yourself a fighting chance". I really enjoyed this zine and was very impressed with the illustrations, and diversity and the detail captured in each drawing.

'Clouds and Trees & You and Me' features a beautiful long form poem about the nature of life, and similar to 'Faces', encourages us to be true to ourselves no matter what. The poem is also beautifully illustrated, each page featuring yet more remarkable digital illustration, closely mimicking woodcut art. This was a quick read, a but a lovely little zine and highly recommended.

Leftover Press have recently released a fourth publication of Billy's short stories, which I am yet to get my hands on, but hope to soon. Please support this fantastic press by purchasing some of these zines for yourself by clicking the image below.

Monday, 30 October 2017


LIT FIEND INTERVIEW #17 is with writer, poet, blogger, avid tea drinker and the guest editor of the twelth issue of PAPER AND INK LITERARY ZINE #12...

First things first, what's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?

My name is Katie Doherty, I was born in Wales and now I live in England. I am a writer, a poet, a collector and a publisher of morbid and literary tomes.

How long have you been writing poetry?

Since I knew what poetry was, I think this may have been in primary school. I was writing short stories and poetry when my friends were out playing; my internal world was so magical. I haven’t stopped writing them since.

What I like about your poetry is that it is very direct, but at the same time very emotive, and wears its heart on its sleeve. What / who are your biggest poetic influences?

I don’t think I can necessarily track where my voice came from, it has just naturally evolved into what you read today. I grew up on the poetry of Dylan Thomas, I fell in love with the words of Emily Bronte, Anais Nin, Shirley Jackson, Bram Stoker, M.R James, Anne Rice, Anne Sexton, Nick Cave, Charles Bukowski and many more. Growing up as an only child enabled me to live in my own world, rather uninfluenced. I was always intrigued by psychology, death, religion and art and luckily I had very open-minded parents, so much so that my Mother and I often took long walks through the local graveyard to gather our thoughts.

Your anthology, Your Black Opium, has just been released. Tell me a little about it...

Your Black Opium is made up of fragments and lost objects. Ghosts and predictions. Love and loss. It was written over a long period and wasn’t actually written as a set piece but somehow it all came together. I cannot say my work has a theme but if there was a genre I would file my work under hauntings.

You also publish zines and magazines yourself, how long have you been doing that?

I started publishing my own zines back in 2007 and then I opened up my own little distro a couple of years later - I brought this around with me as I moved from place to place. As a child, I always dreamt of being the editor of a magazine and I don’t know where that came from. Alongside my distro I would create zines but then I published an online magazine and after a few years of that I vowed never to do that again so went back to print in the form of Obscurum. Paper is wonderful and it should be printed on with deliciously morbid things.

As an editor, I always feel like it is cheating when I put my own work in to an issue, is that just me or do all editors who also write feel that way?

I did put my own work in the last issue of Obscurum and I don’t feel guilty about that. It isn’t a vanity issue, I just had a piece I felt would fit in with the theme of death. I can see why people may feel like you are pushing your own work on others but you know, sometimes it’s nice to see the work of an editor, gives them a sense of being at one with the contributors rather than the big bad editor!

You are guest editor of the next issue of my literary zine PAPER AND INK, which is a women only issue, due to the always unequal ratio of female to male submissions that I get. Why do you think it is that less women submit their work to publications than men do?

Without working for The New Yorker or a publication like that, I’m not sure I could comment on the ratio of male to female submissions they receive. Of course women do submit and probably get ignored but thankfully there are many women-only publications about. This is brilliant that a space has been built but for us but we shouldn’t have to build a space because work should be accepted on merit and not what gender you are. With regards to Paper and Ink, if this zine was run by a woman, would this help get more submissions? Maybe. I am hoping that being the guest editor will help this.

What do you look for from submissions? What kind of writing impresses you the most, and what kind of thing annoys you?

People who try too hard. People who attempt to be like someone else. People that write rubbish to shock. These are things that annoy me. I love a real voice and I love to feel something. I won’t look at your name or if you have been published; I will just read your work and if I get that feeling, you’re in. It is a simple as that. You may write the most wonderfully technical poem that I will applaud you for but if it lacks soul then I won’t like it.

What was the last book you read that blew you away?

I buy so many new books and none of them touch me, I end up going back to the old faithfuls but The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton blew me away. It had lots of good press and sometimes I think that’s a bad sign but gave it a go. It was so compelling, so wonderfully crafted and it was consistent until the end. I even wrote a piece about Jessie on my blog and she sent me a wonderful message on Twitter to thank me.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which three books would you want with you?

As an avid reader this feels like a cruel question. This will of course change from one week to the next but for now…

Henry and June by Anais NinDark Tales by Shirley Jackson and a collection of poetry by Dylan Thomas. Is it cheating to have compilations?

If you could get drunk with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be?

There are so many people I would love to get drunk with but at the moment I would have to say Nick Cave, Dylan Thomas and Salvador Dali. I think choosing the muse, a Welsh poet and a surrealist would make for an excellent pub crawl.

Lastly, what does the future hold for Katie Doherty?

More tea drinking, writing in journals, reading and buying more books than I will ever manage to read in my lifetime. I will keep on writing, running my blog and publishing tomes of the macabre kind.


Monday, 23 October 2017


Budget Press is a no nonsense small press run by johnnie b. baker out of California. I first encountered the press when johnnie submitted a short story to my own zine (Paper and Ink Literary Zine), which went on to feature in the eighth issue. I have been following the press ever since and recently bought a copy of johnnie's zine 'Let Your Fingers Do The Walking', and he was kind enough to also send me some other zines that he had recently published, 'Москва девушки' a photography zine, also his own, and 'About Last Night: A Dream Zine' by Robyn Joy. 

These zines are old school, lo-fi, cut and paste publications. In a world where zines seem to be getting more and more artisanal and pretentious; expensive paper stocks, fancy binding and embossed typography etc, it is refreshing to see these zines made the traditional way. 'Let Your Fingers Do The Walking' tells the true story of johnnie's battle with an eating disorder in his younger days (or in his own words: "a little true story about being a fat kid on drugs with an eating disorder whose guts eventually explode. Yay!"). It is important that these stories are told, and especially by men, as people often forget that it is not just women that suffer from body image issues, and they can spiral out of control if they are not addressed properly. Hopefully the tale of johnnie's exploding guts will be enough to prompt any young men that are facing similar issues to seek help ASAP. 'Москва девушки' is a zine of photographs "taken without looking", which is a very interesting concept and provides a candid collection of shots of people going about their day to day lives. Most certainly a zine for the people watchers out there. And finally 'About Last Night' is a beautifully bright and colourful cut and paste zine by Robyn Joy - a collection of brief descriptions of her dreams, which span the years 2011 to 2015. Robyn's dreams range from incredibly dark and disturbing to lighthearted and whimsical. A very interesting read, which made me wish I had kept a diary of my own dreams throughout the years.

Budget Press also has a number of other publications available, which are all very much worth your time and money, so please show your support by clicking the image below and buying some rad zines!

Thursday, 24 August 2017


Lit Fiend Interview number seventeen is here! Featuring a writer whose work has previously appeared in Paper and Ink Literary Zine Issue #10, and now also in Issue #11 - The Punk Issue.

First things first, what's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?

My name is Hannah Joy Graves. I don't really feel like I come from anywhere. I've been living in Berlin for the last five years but was born in the UK. Southampton is the last place I lived before I came here. I'm also not sure what I do! Until the end of last year, I ran a tattoo studio and gallery here. I'm now working in an office and a bar whilst co-editing a tattoo book. I also freelance as a social media manager/content creator. Could I have made that any more complicated?

Berlin is one of my favourite cities, what prompted you to move there?

It's the perfect backdrop for anyone who thinks they're different I guess. I've always valued a sense of freedom, longed for it and Berlin seemed to offer that. I first came here in 2010, and I was hooked. I was also sick to the back teeth of the UK and looking for an escape route from the life I'd boxed myself into there. I landed a job here in 2012 and moved with one suitcase full of inappropriate clothing and 300€.

I am going back there in September, can you recommend anything I should check out whilst there? Any poetry/literary nights? Any good bars or gig venues?

Honestly, there is just so much going on it's always so hard to make recommendations. It usually depends on when exactly you'll be here, venues and bars vary a lot here depending on what's going on on any specific night so the best I can say is let's get coffee when you're here and I can point you in the right directions! I have to give a shout-out to Franken on Oranienstrasse. It's the first bar I ever went to in Berlin and is somewhat of a spiritual home for me, it's also directly opposite legendary music venue S036, in the neighbourhood I call home. Schwarze Café, once a haunt of Nick Cave and cohorts, is also worth checking out. It's one of my favourite places to drink coffee and read or write.

Your piece in Paper and Ink #11, 'Loving Yourself Is A Riot', deals with a lot of issues stemming from your time fronting a punk band. Do you miss playing in a band?

I do. I absolutely do, but I also feel like it's something that belongs in my past. I never feel done. I always go to shows and think, shit, I should front a band again but as with most things in my life I want all of the gratification without actually doing the work. I want to play shows but I can't be bothered to practice. I recently passed up the opportunity to try out for a band here, the more I thought about it the more I just couldn't see it. I think it's the writing lyrics aspect of being in a band that was a big part of the appeal for me, feeling like you're speaking to and relating to people, so I'm focusing on that at the moment. Or moving into a headspace where I can at least think about it.

The piece makes reference to what your life may have been like had you not discovered punk. What do you think non-punk Hannah would be up to now?

I'd like to say, she'd be better educated, she'd probably be married, she'd probably have more stability but as I say that I can say one thing with absolute certainty. If she was still alive, she'd be completely miserable. I have been a weird kid my whole life. I tried hard to fit in. I never felt as if I had anyone fooled and non-punk Hannah would have been crushed by the effort. Punk Hannah very nearly didn't make it, so she would have had no chance.

Sticking with punk for a moment, what are your current favourite artists/albums?

I'm a massive Alkaline Trio fan. That band. I've only recently got into Against Me! I can remember everyone being like HOLY SHIT THIS BAND but I sort of missed them, so I'm really enjoying them at the moment. I get a lot of life from seeing friends of mine be creative and succeed so Southampton heroes Creeper, who just got home from Warped tour are my current favourites. I also like to keep a loving eye on Itch from The King Blues, he's putting out a poetry book soon. There's so much stuff on regular rotation with me, Jimmy Eat World, AFI, Danzig, Ghost, Dolly Parton. I'm learning to be open to new/different stuff too. I really like Sia for example, and Kesha's new stuff is incredible. Minus twenty scene points.

If you were stranded on a desert island which three albums would you want with you?

I have always wanted someone to ask me this question and now I can't answer it. The temptation is to pick three obscure, very "cool" albums but I'm going to have to take the route of radical honesty and say-

1. Alkaline Trio/Hot Water Music Split Ep

2. The Get Up Kids - On A Wire

3. Heavens - Patent Pending

What books are you reading at the moment?

I'm reading Tranny by Laura Jane Grace and learning tarot with Michelle Tea's amazing new book, "Modern Tarot". I also have a well-loved copy of Tea's "How To Grow Up" on the go at all times.

Which writers/artists/people/whatever have been the biggest influence on your own writing?

Well, speaking of Michelle Tea, I don't think any writer has been more helpful to me in so many ways. I'd like to make How To Grow Up, compulsory reading for everyone. Nick Cave is such a wonderful writer. Sick Bag Song is a masterpiece. Again, it's in my nature to try and think of cool stuff to list off here now so people will think I'm cultured and interesting but honestly, the thing having the biggest influence on my writing right now is my recovery from alcoholism and the community that has connected me to. I get to spend my time in rooms full of incredible, moving, stories and I am learning more about the art of storytelling by figuring out who I am in recovery more than I have anywhere else. Hemingway said, "in order to write about life, first you must live it" and I just adore that quote because it reassures me that I've been doing research all these "wasted" years.

I have really enjoyed both the pieces you've had in Paper and Ink so far and would love to see more... What are your plans going forward, writing wise?

Thank you. I'd love to write more. I'm in this intensely transformative time in my life but I feel I've had a calling since I was a tiny kid. I used to write pages and pages of stories in a handwriting that no one could read, but I could read them to you, and at some point, a long the way, I lost that. But I feel like I'm starting to uncover it now. I'd like to work with other women on a project I'm calling "Dear John ", which I can't really tell you too much about yet as it's just an idea. All I know is that it's driven by a desire to empower female voices. I'm hoping to host some reading nights, maybe make a zine. I don't know. I know that at some point I'm going to have to sit down and open this door I know I've kept closed for a long time because I know it will overwhelm me when it opens. I can also tell you that I'm fucking angry. I'm disgusted that I live in a world where our governments are actively poisoning us, killing us and making a profit from that whilst running anti-drug campaigns. I'm tired of seeing my friends die from alcoholism. Raising some awareness of addiction as a disease and trying to shine some light on the quality of life that is possible in recovery, and how much more effective we can be in instigating change with the clarity it brings is going to be a huge priority for me now and I hope that's something I can do through my writing.

Thank you for answering these questions. Follow Hannah on Twitter and Instagram @hannahjoygraves and buy Issue 11 of Paper and Ink Literary Zine from here or here.

Thursday, 17 August 2017


This Is Sarah is the debut novel from writer and poet, Ally Malinenko. A duel protagonist narrative about the titular Sarah. A teenage girl from a small town in Colorado, who goes missing. The duel protagonists are Sarah's next door neighbour, and boyfriend, Colin, and her younger sister, Claire. The story follows the year in their lives after her disappearance, and how they each deal with the pain of their loss, and the frustration of not having any tangible answers about what happened.

I wasn't too sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I partially expected a lighthearted YA mystery, where the heartbroken boyfriend and the plucky younger sister team up to uncover the mystery of Sarah's disappearance, Paper Towns-style. However, this is not that. At all. Sarah is no Pixie McQuirkyname and there is no intricate trail of breadcrumbs that lead to her whereabouts. She is gone. Taken. Probably murdered. She has left a gaping hole in a lot of lives, and nobody really knows how the fuck to deal with that. This is a character study. A study in love, loss and the absolute kick in the bollocks that is ambiguous grief.

There are not many books that truly hook me, and force me to keep reading when I know I should be going to sleep, but this was one of them. I have always hated the term "page turner", because I so rarely come across them, but This Is Sarah is one of them. 100%. A gripping story, about everyday people, attempting to deal with a fucked up situation. Highly recommended. Before this, I had only ever read Ally Malinenko's poetry, but I will now be awaiting her next novel with bated breath.

Follow Ally on Twitter @AllyMalinenko