If I were giving the hard sell of myself I could say that I’m the personification of Neil Gaiman’s dandelion marketing strategy – throwing creative seeds into the air, letting the wind carry them, and seeing where they fall. Someone less charitable might argue I was more of a butterfly. Or simply someone who never made up their mind what they actually wanted to do.
Having taken the decision to self-publish in 2008 before the Rise Of The Kindle, and being naturally outspoken, I found myself becoming a de facto spokesperson first for self-publishing and then for the more avant garde side of literature as a whole. In that capacity I contribute regularly to the Guardian Books Blog, have had a column for writers’ magazine Words With Jam since 2009, work on the Open Up to Indies campaign for the Alliance of Independent Authors, and am a regular around the internet and on panels such at the one above at Birmingham’s Pow Wow Litfest. I’ve even found myself at Waterstones in Piccadilly chairing a conversation between two very stoned icons of the Alt Lit movement
My own creative efforts are every bit as diverse and outre. I have written a number of literary and experimental novels including one written entirely on Facebook, for which social media bible Mashable rather flatteringly listed me among the top 100 writers on twitter. Another, much less experimental, novel was voted “favourite Oxford novel” by Blackwells readers in 2011. My prose, which encompasses four novels and a collection of short stories deals almost exclusively with the pain of those marginalised by the technologisation of the modern world. It’s a mix of grit (I once headlined a fabulous Brighton event called Grit Lit) and sentiment. As well as using experimental forms to explore this (my most recent novel is written wholly in numbers), I sometimes write in the transgressive mould – as with the story I’m reading in the photo above, The Last Fluffer in La La Land, which won the international spoken word show Literary Death Match in 2010.
One of the things I love best is running literary events and groups. In 2009 I started the collective Year Zero Writers, a group of 22 self-publishers of experimental and literary fiction from 8 countries. Having started by posting daily excerpts from our work, we got the live performing bug after our lanch event at Rough Trade in Brick Lane and ended up gigging all over the place, including the above event at the Poetry Cafe. I’ve been running Not the Oxford Literary Festival for 4 years now, and have my own spoken word ensemble show The New Libertines, which has played to festivals and fringes in London, Mancehster, Oxford, Birmingham, Woodstock, and Chipping Norton. I have also tried my hand at publishing, with 79 rat press and eight cuts gallery press, with some significant critical success for the likes of Penny Goring’s The Zoom Zoom and Andy Harrod’s Tearing at Thoughts. I still run eight cuts gallery, a platform for overgrounding outstanding underground literature online and in real life.
Finally, I write and perform poetry. I’ve won a couple of poetry slams and was a finalist in the 2012 UK Slam Finals, and have performed at some wonderful events across the UK such as a wonderful open air gig at the Faringdon Festival, above. In 2013 I premiered my first solo show, Some of These Things are beautiful, at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.