INTERVIEW: INKYLAB | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: InkyLab editor, Gareth Bartaby

For every Stephen King or George R. R. Martin, there are thousands of writers left by the wayside unable to get a word in edgeways at publishers unmotivated to take a risk on potential. Seeking publication can be a disheartening process for any writer, but Newcastle-based publishers InkyLab sought to make life a little easier for North East creatives with their refreshingly welcome attitude to storytelling, as editor Gareth Bartaby explains.

Publishers generally aren’t prepared to put something out there that they don’t know exactly where it would fit in a niche. People are smart enough to know what they like, and they read it. If we want to read it, we’re prepared to take a chance on it.”

Since its establishment in 2019, InkyLab has been proactive in its methods to provide platforms for aspiring and out-of-the-box writers, and getting the creative juices flowing with regular opportunities. In keeping with their eschewing of genres and definitions, they began a tradition of anthologies in which any local writer of any discipline can apply to appear. Each edition gets a theme, which acts as its title as well as pretty much the only submission criteria.

The themes are very broad, they’re basically just jumping off points. Our first few themes were what defined us as InkyLab: the North East itself, writing and reading, and being off the beaten track. Now, it could be anything really. At the start of each anthology we’ll have a quote… it could be anything that anyone has said that we’ve found interesting. They’re not necessarily anything profound, just something that’s made us think.”

With each anthology theme acting as a springboard of inspiration, the pool of talent from which InkyLab draws is rich indeed

With each anthology theme acting as a springboard of inspiration, the pool of talent from which InkyLab draws is rich indeed. The latest edition, Science vs. Superstition, leaves a lot to the imagination. It has its roots in an unusual conversation between parents on the school run, and the revelation that many still look to supernatural reasons to explain what others would chalk up to coincidence. Origins be damned, however, because it’s up to InkyLab’s contributors to do with this theme what they will. They are, as ever, up to the challenge.

It’s been great to have a theme to spark my creativity,” explains emerging writer Jane Carnaffan, “Being a writer for InkyLab has also given me the opportunity to read fellow writers’ work on the same theme and to see where they’ve taken it.”

Fellow contributor Chris Miller speaks as highly of Inkylab: “They practice what they preach. Knowing that they are genuinely open to a very broad range of styles and genres means that you can focus on trying to make your writing as interesting and good as you can without worrying about trying to make it fit a particular market or tickle the fancy of an unknown gatekeeper.”

K Weissman, a being of few words outside of his published works, offers brief but still powerful praise, calling the anthologies “an impetus to actually sitting down and writing.”

This is a publishing company driven by the desire to showcase compelling, unique literature, rather than a concern of what will or won’t sell. Thanks to InkyLab, we will continue to read stories that might otherwise never see the light of day, but which will now be open to an audience who can truly appreciate that which is indefinable.

Science vs Superstition is released via InkyLab on Monday 28th February.

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