Projects, Team

Kick-Starting #QueerQuarrels

A lot has happened since Knight Errant Press was established in March last year. We have been slowly growing, improving and figuring things out.

Of course, the biggest project that took up most of our time and focus was F, M or Other: Quarrels with the Gender Binary. Ever since we opened our submissions, we have been trying to be a constant presence in your timeline with various updates and our most recent, and the biggest so far, has been the launch of our Kickstarter campaign.

The Anticipation

If you’ve ever planned a big project, then you might know that there is a lot of anticipation that builds up over the course of making preparations and putting things in place. The excitement, mixed with a good dose of stress, kept us on our toes the entire time. Tackling one thing (and sometimes more) at a time made it seem as if the end goal was miles away.

The team got together one day to work on blads which were to be distributed during our launch. Blads, while strange sounding, is a very straightforward concept, it serves as a sample or a taster of an upcoming book.

We mused over the right pieces and parts to include, stared intensely at a screen trying to judge whether the cover’s font should be a point smaller or bigger and tweaked all the little details while consuming large quantities of tea and snacks. I, personally, also got distracted by Rhi’s adorable cats and had to indulge in some cuddles.

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Working on the blads at our Edinburgh base (basically, taking Rhiannon’s spare room hostage).

 

A lot of us are very familiar with being stressed out over intense work. What is harder to describe is what you feel once everything you have been working on is suddenly out there, for everyone to see and scrutinise. Suddenly the thing you have poured all your energy into isn’t yours anymore, you put it out there and wait for the reaction.

The Event

Knight Errant Press hit two significant milestones at once. On the 8th of February we organised our first ever spoken word event and launched our Kickstarter campaign.

We were caught off guard by how quickly it sold out (thank you so much for that!) so expectations were already in place. We arrived early on the day to prepare as best as we could and while we were trying our hardest to be completely cool beans, we were decidedly not. The nerves definitely made themselves known, but once I was standing in the ‘green room’ (i.e the one room in the bookshop that was sort of blocked by a plant for privacy) surrounded by the team and all the authors who have so generously agreed to give us their time and performances, I felt like I was floating from joy.

Seeing our contributors together in one room, nervous, but excited and so supportive of each other was an amazing experience. Hearing them preform and utterly captivate the audience with their words made my ears tingle from all the happiness I was feeling.

There is something really special about the moment when a creator connects with an audience, that moment when their words manage to shake something up and I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to be a part of that.

I was so happy that I must have been grinning like a fool the entire time, sorry not sorry.

We have received an incredible amount of love and support for our work and the project. It is incredible to see that there is so many of you out there who want to hear these stories and believe in their importance. Every time we get a donation to our campaign or someone tweets about it, we get the warm fuzzies that fuel us to keep on working.

So thank you, again, for all the support we have received. Thank you for sticking by us, we cannot wait to share even more with you soon.

Your friendly neighbourhood Marketing Assistant,

Lenka

The Team
L to R: Lenka, Nathaniel and Rhiannon – chill beans!
Contributors, Interviews, Projects

Meet the Humans: Douglas Bruton

UPDATE: On Tuesday 13th February Kickstarter selected us as a “Project We Love” and we went over £1,000 in funding! That’s 15% in less than 5 days. Exciting times. You can now find us in Publishing > New & Noteworthy.

As part of our campaign we will be introducing you to our contributors – the fabulous, creative and talented people we’ve recruited for this project.


Douglas Bruton is a teacher in a high school in Scotland. He hopes he is a teacher that the children will talk about fondly when they are grown up and remembering. He writes, too, because he has stories in his head. Sometimes his stories have something to say, about life and love and universal compassion – and those are his best stories.
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He has been published in many nice places and by good people including Brittle Star Magazine, The Irish Literary Review and Fiction Attic Press and Freight Books. 

[Knight Errant Press]: Is gender identity a theme that comes up a lot in your writing? If not, what pushed you to explore it this time around

[Douglas]: Gender identity is something I cover in classroom discussions at the school where I teach. I am no expert, but I try to cover the topic with an openness and an honesty.

[KEP]: Has exploring gender affected your worldview and your writing and reading habits?

[D]: The subject has not affected my worldview – I approach everything in life with a need to understand and a desire to live in peace and love and with a universal compassion – yes I am that 70’s hippy.

[KEP]: Was there a particular book, short story, poem or event in your life that inspired you to write your own?

[D]: Fell in love with books when I was 11, Stig of The Dump and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Borrowers… but no one book turned me into a writer. The late and great British film producer, David Lean, in a TV interview once said that he had no great message to impart in his films; he just told stories. I think this may have been a bit disingenuous, but it turned me into a writer… I had been sitting around for years waiting for something important to say and this gave me permission to just tell stories. However, I hope that my stories embody a universal compassion and if there is a message in anything I write it is this.

[KEP]: What author or book do you think is most underrated? And why? (Prime time for some reading recommendations.)

[D]: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. I think it is an incredible and magical read. It would be in my top ten… and I rarely hear people talking about it. I also want to yell from the rooftop that everyone who writes and takes writing seriously should read George Saunders’ short story ‘Escape From Spiderhead’… it is absolutely stunning and perfect. It appears in his collection Tenth of December. Go read it now!

[KEP]: Is there any book, written by someone else, that you wish you’d written? Would you change it, if yes – how?

[D]: The Coward’s Tale by Vanessa Gebbie – deserves to be more widely read. I’d change the title, which I do not think serves the book well and would not tempt me to pick it up. Also, the author chooses to bookend the novel with one story, teling half of it at the start and returning to it at the end of the novel to finish the story. In principle this is a neat idea… but the story (which is incredible and wonderful) loses some of it’s power by being split in this way in my opinion.

[KEP]: What’s the most famous book you haven’t read?/play you haven’t seen?/album you haven’t listened to?/film and TV series you haven’t watched?

[D]: It’s a bit of a bad joke now, having been an English teacher for many years, but I have not read Orwell’s 1984. I was saving it for that year, but 1984 must have been a very busy year for me because it just passed me by… and then it was like history! I know I should read it… maybe when I retire.

[KEP]: Do you ever feel like you have book FOMO (fear of missing out) because of a famous title you haven’t had the chance to read, if so, which one?

[D]: Not really. I have hundreds of unread books piled up on shelves and on my bedroom floor. I used to worry that one day I’d die without having read them all or that I’d die in the middle of a book and never know the ending. I used to finish every book I started reading even if I was not enjoying it. Now I am less anxious about the books I have not read… a little more anxious about dying though.

[KEP]: Tea or coffee?

[D]: Tea. Can’t even eat coffee flavoured chocolates. I know, my loss… but I just can’t.

[KEP]: Early morning or late into the night?

[D]: Late into the night – especially if I’m not working the next day.

[KEP]: Digital or analogue?

[D]: Analogue watch, digital alarm clock. Go figure!

 


GetFileAttachmentWould you like to support #QueerQuarrels?

Here are a couple of the ways you can do so:

  1. pre-order the book (and other perks) on Kickstarter
  2. boost us on Thunderclap
  3. support us by sharing and retweeting on Facebook and Twitter!
  4. if you’re in Edinburgh, Scotland – pick up a copy of our preview booklet @LighthouseBooks
TCFW

Exquisite Corpse #2

Here is a little warning before you are plunged into the story below:

  1. These flash fictions are developed during our They Come From Within workshops and their many permutations.
  2. They are a hive mind effort, developed and written by a number of individuals in tandem – not all of our writers are mind readers so sometimes the stories come out a little Frankenstein but are no worse for being a little disjointed.
  3. We will be uploading these stories one at a time,  once a week during November-December 2017 – to fill in the gap that our hiatus has inadvertently created in your life. After December updates will be more or less in synch with our workshops.

Now to the story –


 

Days in the greendomes were good, nights even better. With the lights low, to replicate the solar rythms of a sun nobody remembered, you couldn’t see Yellowstone billowing around in its new home in the sky. Just weak LEDs along the walkways, the white of the apple blossoms glowing sweetly as J went along pollenating by hand, bit by bit, one by one, one to the other – doing the work of animals, because this was what happened when people only saved themselves.

The first whispers of the spawncall tickled the back of J’s mind, a distraction in the first days building to a babble that teased their thoughts apart. Work became difficult, distracted, and J found themselves spending unthinking hours standing in the dome’s vestibule, staring at the doors and waiting for the blinking red lights to flick to constant green. Once the doors opened then the hot, organic pressure building in their body would be released. J shuddered at the thought.

As ever, the signal came at a painfully inopportune moment; this time, when J was hunched over the centrifuge, eyes focused on the tiny gauge. The work was sensitive and vital, but there was no question of continuing once the light glowed fertile green. J shut down the equipment, their shaking hands fumbling over the sharp-edged switches. Out in the corridor, a thrumming echo of feet started to swell.

J was compelled, by a force that outweighed their reason and one that overpowered even their most basic instinct, to join the growing shoal of humans slowly gathering outside the greendomes. First, however, they were to equip themselves in gear that protected their fragile lungs and eyes. The air outside was nippy but the shoal was safe and retained much of the tepid heat of the greendomes as it progressed, at an unrelenting pace, towards a pulsating, lilac light in the distance. Eventually, J saw the familiar pyramid outline of the Temple with its smooth surfaces perpetually covered in ash and airborne debris.

Hunger pangs of every kind pinged in each of them, identical by design and irresistible. J could feel it stacking, accelerating and synchronizing through the shoal – their steps falling in ripples through the ash and blasts on the ground – leaving a pattern of waves that’d only last a minute in the world outside.

It’ll only last a minute, J told themselves.

To the moment, the airlock door was whipping open and shut, admitting them in uniform waves to the Temple. To home, technically. Though as the door zipped shut behind J, the only feeling was of stepping into a trap.

Saliva flooded J’s mouth, turning quickly to drool as sane, rational thought decayed into pure, unthinking action. The warm, humid air of the Temple crackled with a static that made clothing confining, stifling. Strips of rent fabric, partially recognizable as shirts or trousers, lined the hallway that led to the Spawnpit. J barely realized that their own clothes had fallen away, lost at whatever point their hurried walk had turned to a frenzied run.

Down the hall, through an archway, hardly aware of the jostling masses. Then weightlessness and falling and a euphoric loss of self that went beyond pain, beyond death.

Until the impact, where they and countless others were momentarily swallowed by the elastic, slightly slippery membrane of the pit. Silence pervaded. There was a brief moment of confusion, as always, where bodies struggled to render themselves apart in order to fall back together, fitted, like pieces of a massive jigsaw puzzle.

A grip was taken. Limb slid along limb. J yielded to their place in the knot, and let their gaze drift to the pyramid’s apex, where the lights dimmed for comfort, as they were programmed to. The less that could be seen, the better. In slick increments, the process advanced. Step by step, like the pollination of the apples. Because this – this – was what happened in order for people to save themselves.

 

660 words

Written by many, typed by Eris Young

25/11/2017 at Woodland Creatures, Leith
Hell Panel from “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch