RMMW: Do you both have any artist rituals before beginning a new piece?
GJ: I don’t really have any rituals but I do have a lucky sweater that I wear when I write. I’ve had it for 12 years, it’s ugly and full of holes.
RMMW: Which writers inspire your muse?
GJ: I am inspired by a vast number of writers, including: Edgar Allan Poe, James Herbert, and Charles Bukowski. The list goes on and on though. I’m a big fan of the late Scottish poet, Edwin Morgan. His words are very inspirational to me.
RMMW: Do you remember what your first poem was?
GJ: I’ve been writing poetry from as far back as I can remember. I had my first poem published when I was twelve, it was called My Friend the Sparrow. I still remember it by heart. Here’s a few lines:
Oh sparrow up there
In the sky
So mysterious and wonderful
How can you bare such small wings
Can you bring me back
And all the things
I’d love to try?
RMMW: How long have you been writing?
GJ: I’ve been writing from a very young age. I started taking it more seriously when I was eighteen; that’s when I decided I wanted to make a career from writing. I finally quit my day job and started writing full-time back in 2013.
RMMW: How do you find social media has shaped how you share your work?
GJ: I think social media has had a big impact on how I share my work. Back in the day, I spent a lot of time printing my work in the library and sending it places with the hope that someone would read it. Using Instagram and Facebook has made it much easier to get work out there and to build a solid fan base. And on sites such as Instagram, you get a lot of valuable feedback from actual readers.
RMMW: Please tell us a little bit about Manic Raven's mandate?
GJ: As a writer, I know how hard it can be to get your work published. I also know how easy it is to get sucked in by scams that rip you off. I like to think of Manic Raven as a small press for writers, by writers. The aim is to create a foundation in which writers can believe in, and help them from manuscript to publication, creating an end product they are proud of. A percentage of the revenue generated through sales will be donated to mental health charities, including SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), which is a charity that is close to my heart.
RMMW: What kind of books would you be querying at Manic Raven Press?
GJ: I want to bring back novellas and make them popular once again, primarily in the horror genre, including subgenres. I’ll also be looking for poetry and short story submissions. The first Manic Raven publication is my own book, Typewriter Tales. The second book we will be publishing is by a very talented poet from Florida, which is exciting! I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but the book is scheduled to be published just before Christmas this year.
RMMW: What was the process you went through to get the press up and running?
GJ: The first thing I done was write a business plan to figure out if I had a viable business idea. The next step I took was applying for funding from my local arts council. After I secured the funding I required, I started going through the steps of registering a limited company, creating a website and Facebook page, printing business cards and flyers. I am currently organising a business launch night in Glasgow which will be a lot of fun as there is going to be live poetry readings and live music. The whole process has been a huge learning curve for me as I’ve never done anything like this before, but it has been an exciting journey so far.
RMMW: What advice would you have for anyone looking to begin their own press?
GJ: I think finding a gap in the market or a specific niche is a good place to start. But most of all, I think you have to believe in your idea for it to be successful. If you don’t believe in yourself and your vision, then nobody else will either. Determination is key. Work hard and don’t give up!
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, what do you do to get those creative juices flowing?
GJ: I have never been creatively blocked before. I seem to get the opposite of blocked and end up with too many ideas floating around in my head at once! I think you need to write every single day to avoid getting blocked. I guess it’s like training your mind.
RMMW: We all have to contend with our inner critics constantly judging us, how do you contend
GJ: I have a lot of inner demons constantly telling me that I’m not good enough, and to give up. Meditation helps me remain positive, but I think sometimes you just need to take a break, drink a coffee, smoke a cigarette, and breathe.
RMMW: If you had a super power what would it be?
GJ:That’s a tough question! I’m going to say teleportation. How cool would that be?