pen fight

queer & feminist zines, books, art, DIY & tiny press.


IZM Interviews: Kirsty (Forever Incomplete / Swansea Zine Fest)

A backlight sign with the text: "Forever Incomplete aka gay fangirl zines"

Hi Kirsty! Happy International Zine Month! How is life going at the moment? For people who don’t know you, can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Hello! Thanks for having me. Things are strange with *gestures vaguely* all this, but I count myself as very lucky to be able to work from home and to live with another human, which are both things which have really kept me going. Enough of thinking about the state of the world for a moment, anyway. I’m Kirsty, I’m 31 and I’m a lesbianish zinester, fangirl and Professional Nice Person (I work in the Third Sector and manage volunteers) originally from near Southampton but living in Swansea for the last almost thirteen years. I’m am both very much and sort of polyamorous, and I am getting into exercise after a lifetime of thinking there could be no joy in it for me because I am uncoordinated as all hell. I make the perzine series Forever Incomplete and I co-organise Swansea Zine Fest with two of my favourite people in the world.

First up let’s do an obvious one – what’s your zinester origin story?

I owe a large part of getting into zines to Cath Elms (of Here. In My Head. zine) who was responsible for introducing me to the existence of zines in like… 2011 or 2012? It was also Cath who I teamed up with (along with my extremely talented illustrator pal Emily) when I had the idea to start Sonorus: Feminist Perspectives on Harry Potter, which was sort of my way of dipping my toe into the water of zine-making. As it was a compzine I think I felt less vulnerable as my role was to put a thing together rather than create a thing entirely by myself.

I was reading perzines by this point and whilst what I liked about them was the fact that they were so idiosyncratic and mundane (in the most wonderful way), I still thought that maybe you had to be a certain kind of person to make a perzine that other people would want to read. The experience of making and selling Sonorus (including going to my first zine fair, Queer Zine Fest London in 2013), gave me the confidence to think that maybe I did have something to say, and I made my first issue of Forever Incomplete a few months later.

What’s your process when you’re making perzines? How do you decide what parts of your life to document, and are there things in your life you keep off-limit from sharing in zines?

It varies, honestly. Some things I know I will usually want to write about, like milestones and stuff. Other things happen and I find myself thinking ‘this would be good in a zine’ and I write about it, or I add it to the Word document I have of things I would like to write about (it is very long and there are topics that have been on there for years). When I am putting an issue of Forever Incomplete together I have usually written a few very current things about stuff that has been going on or whatever, and then I will look back at the list for inspiration about more general stuff I might want to talk about.

I try to keep the content varied in topic, length and format usually, although of course for some issues of Forever Incomplete and for the more focussed perzines I have made that has been a bit different. The single topic perzines have generally come about when I feel like I’ve got too much to say about something to put it in an issue of Forever Incomplete or because what I am feeling is to urgent to wait to go through the process of having a whole issue together – for example, my very short perzine So Unsexy is one of the most vulnerable things I’ve ever published and really came from a need to say the things that were going around in my brain. I’m not sure that if I had written it ready for my next issue of Forever Incomplete that I would have ended up using it. The zine itself doesn’t look like anything else of mine – it’s all black and white even before photocopying and is just text on a plain background. It’s very reflective of how I felt when I was writing it and it just wouldn’t be the same piece at all if it wasn’t its own thing.

It’s so interesting to think about what my boundaries for sharing stuff are! My instinct was to say that I don’t have any but that definitely isn’t actually true, which will be very clear to anyone who has read Forever Incomplete #11, which contains two pieces that are redacted to the point of being absolute nonsense. I don’t share explicit stuff about sex, broadly because I am embarrassed, but also because it doesn’t feel like it is purely mine to tell. I don’t talk about arguments or conflicts I have with specific people for similar reasons, I prefer to talk in more general terms about frustrations or difficulties. I don’t think I would cope well if something I wrote in anger about a loved one then existed indefinitely. That’s not to say I don’t think others can or should do that, that’s just a brain thing for me. I also could never share anything even vaguely related to illegal behaviour because of my OCD, but honestly I am too much of a goody two-shoes for that to be much of a barrier to my writing!

I guess my rule of thumb is that I don’t include anything in my zines that I wouldn’t be happy for my Mum or my boss to see, although I am very open with both of those people about a lot of things, although in different ways. (My boss very early into knowing me said “It seems like you’re a full disclosure kind of person” and I have rarely felt so thoroughly called out.)

Many of your zines talk about either mental health or polyamory – is working with those topics therapeutic at all, or is your aim more to spread awareness and share ideas? Or are they just things that come out more organically?

I guess to some extent writing about my mental health is therapeutic, particularly in zines where I have little revelations, like in The Common Cold, where I started to understand that being ‘better’ could look however I wanted it to at a particular time. There is an element of awareness raising with talking about mental health stuff but overall I think it is just organic – I’ve had OCD for like 18 years and it is so much a part of my life that it is too big to write about in isolation and is just kind of there in everything.

With the polyamory stuff, writing zines has definitely helped me to process and take stock of how I have felt about it at different points, though awareness raising and normalising is also a lot to do with why I write about it. I’ve wanted to take people along on my journey of understanding non-monogamy and my place within it, which I think happens quite nicely in Poly/Not Poly and Still Poly/Not Poly. Obviously there is an element of it which is organic too, like in writing about my life I will naturally write about my partners.

Fandom is another common topic through your perzines – have you ever made a more straight-forward fanzine?

It’s interesting that you asked whether writing about other topics was therapeutic because actually writing about the things I am a fan of is probably what I find most therapeutic of everything. I have had strong, overwhelming obsessions with fictional characters and relationships for as long as I can remember, I was imagining my own stories about characters I loved before I knew what fanfiction and fandom even were. Fandom is my safe place and is deeply personal and precious to me and having places where I can write unselfconsciously about things I love, like I can in zines, is really important to me. I’ve spent a lot of my life berating myself for not liking things ‘normally’ and whilst I am generally better at not doing that these days, being able to bask in the weirdness and share my intense fangirl words with others feels great.

Anyway, though, to answer the question – I have made a few straightforward fanzines. There are the five issues of Sonorus (we decided to take a break from it after issue five because JKR was starting to be a bit much on Twitter … little did we know that was the least of it), and me and Rebs co-edited Death Becomes Her, which is about gender and related politics in crime narratives, which actually started out as a way for me to do something with my Rizzoli & Isles obsession and the resulting rage but turned out to be a zine I am really proud of.

Me and Cath made an Orphan Black fanzine called Variation Under Nature, and I made a made a silly zine called Ways In Which My Girlfriend Is Like Bob Belcher, but after an early zine of Orphan Black fanfic I made got taken down from Etsy for copyright violation I haven’t felt confident to put anything in any way similar up on there so neither of those have sold many copies.

Booo Etsy!

You seem to be an incredibly prolific zine maker – what keeps you so motivated? Do you ever deal with creative block?

Honestly, a lot of my motivation just comes from obsessive determination – once I put my mind to something I can’t really manage if I don’t finish it, but I also know that my attention and interest can be a bit fickle so when I want to do a thing I usually feel compelled to make myself get going with it quickly. In life in general that is something I am trying to let go of a bit because it isn’t always healthy (I constantly have to remind myself that it is okay to do one thing at a time, even if that one thing is watching TV), but it can be helpful because it keeps me working on things.

I definitely get creative block when I’m writing – usually the longer I have wanted to write about something the harder it is to do it. In those situations I tend to try to write about something completely different and come back to it to see if I have any more success, which in all honesty I often don’t. I don’t buy into ideas of writing being this magical process, but I do feel like sometimes I’m just not quite ready to write about something at a particular time, like my thoughts aren’t organised enough, and I try to be okay about that.

A table at a zine fest. It is covered with roughly 35 different issues of zines laid flat.
Kirsty’s table at a zine fest.

What’s your personal favourite of all the zines you’ve made so far?

Oh, deciding on my favourite zine is hard! I think it is probably Forever Incomplete #10, which was an alphabet zine, partly because I like how it turned out but also a lot because I worked my butt off writing it! It took six months to write the text which is a long time for me – I’d say from deciding to make a zine to having the writing done it usually takes me a couple of months, and often much less time – and I had to keep myself motivated that whole time. There are others I like for different reasons, like Forever Incomplete #11 which is about my 30 things to do before I’m 30 list and Lipstick & Jellybeans which is a split zine I made with Emily about being best friends.

 You’re part of the team that runs Swansea Zine Fest. What’s that process been like in previous years? And this year you had to switch the event to being an online zinefest [due to Covid-19] – how did that go? Did it allow you to learn anything new that you’ll be able to take back to future IRL events? What does the future look like for SZF?

It is such a pleasure to organise Swansea Zine Fest, and I am consistently overwhelmed by how successful it has been. It started as something we just wanted to have a go at but didn’t expect to be particularly well-attended – our early plans assumed it would just be the three of us behind a couple of tables and that if even one single person we didn’t already know turned up we would count it as a success – but we have had around 40 tablers and 100 visitors join us on both years we have done an in-person event.

It was disappointing to have to cancel the physical event this year but we were really pleased with how the virtual zine fest went. We learned loads from it, as I think many people are learning from the necessity of doing things differently which has come from the situation around Covid-19. Our plans for next year’s Swansea Zine Fest involve having a physical day and a virtual day because what this year has definitely shown is that zine fests aren’t just one thing which can only be accessed physically. We’re also going to be providing two funded places including travel expenses for people of colour, with priority for one of the places being for a Black zinester, because we know this is an area we can definitely do better in. If you are interested in donating to that get in touch with us on or on Twitter @swanseazinefest

Do you have any tips you can share on making zines?

Oh goodness, I definitely don’t feel in any way qualified to give tips! I guess the only thing would be to give it a go if you want to – the lush thing about zines and zine culture is that there is a place for every voice. I guarantee you that if you make a zine someone will read it and relate to it and know that they are not the only one who feels that way, whether that is about big emotional stuff or your favourite ice cream flavour or whatever!

Can you share some of your favourite things from the zine world?

I am just accepting that I will remember someone or something else once this is published and panic a bit! Aside from Swansea Zine Fest, the zines fests I have attended the most are Weirdo Zine Fest and Swindon Zine Fest and I’ve always had a lovely time. Oh, and Kansas City Zine Con in the US, which I have led my very people-averse girlfriend around twice and is just amazing (it is very hard to look cool at the same time as scrambling around with a bag of coins you can’t recognise quickly to pay the person whose work you’re buying).

For distro-ing I love Pen Fight and Vampire Hag Distro, and I have also worked with Neither/Nor Zine Distro who I met at KC Zine Con. I usually think of Rebs McCormick and Laura Price as my favourite zinesters, mostly because I read their perzines really early on in my zine reading (and before I knew either of them) and really loved them, but honestly the zine community is so full of talented, interesting people that it is hard not to just name everyone!

Do you have any recommendations you want to share?

Honestly, my brain is just Alanis Morissette lyrics and fictional lesbians, so like, listen to her new album when it comes out and give me a shout if you are the one other person in the world interested in The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco fanfiction recommendations.

Is there anything else you’d like to promote?

My Twitter is @MsKirstyFace, feel free to follow me! My zines are available on Etsy and at as well as through Pen Fight.

Also, my platonic life partner and fellow Swansea Zine Fest organiser, Morgan, is currently crowdfunding for his top surgery. If you donate before 31st August and send me a screenshot on Twitter I will send you a free copy of one of my zines.

A screenshot of the crowdfunding page. There is a photo of a person (Morgan) sitting and smiling. The text on the rest of the page reads: We're raising £7,000 to Morgan's Top Surgery. They have raised 37% of their goal (£2,620).

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IZM Interviews: Lou Viner (Our Victory Line / Lincoln Zine Fest)

Lou is a 30 something zinester and zine fest organiser from Lincoln, UK. She’s been writing zines for around 10 years, and currently writes a perzine called Our Victory Line, and has put out a collaborative zine called Yr Faves Are Problematic. Lou’s zines are open and honest accounts of her life and her mental health, work, and losses, but also document the joyful things – like being a music fangirl, her travels, trips to zine fests, and fat empowerment.

Our Victory Line 5 (Lou Viner). A picture of Lou's zine. It is printed in bright pink ink, with an image of a woman in ancient-style dress looking out to sea, next to an anchor.
Issue 5 of Lou’s perzine Our Victory Line

Hi Lou! Most of the zines of yours I’ve seen have been perzines, what do you enjoy or find rewarding about making them? How did you get into zines generally?

I think the main reason I write perzines is because those were the only zine I knew of for a few years – the people who I discovered zines through mainly wrote perzines, so when I started, that was the natural path for me. I got into zines from Livejournal – someone I followed made a beautiful, full colour perzine with their words and photography. I was also part of a swap and sell community, and people on there were selling zines there too so I bought some and so it began. I googled and found some distros in Canada and bought some other zines, then found distros in UK and off I went.

I find them rewarding in a way I am not sure I can explain. I feel like writing my words down is cleansing and also validating. When people pass that pound coin to me over a table or press that ‘buy’ button on etsy, it does more for me than I think I know. People want to hear what I have to say. It’s a strange thing really.

A few years ago I saw you doing zine reading from one of your perzines at Northwest Zine Fest – what was that experience like for you? Is it something you’d like the opportunity to do more of?

Oh my, I remember that! Gosh, it was a weird experience. Everyone else who spoke before and after me read these amazing, happy and weird stories and I chose something really depressing, if I remember correctly, and told everyone to be safe and look at pictures of cats afterwards! That is the only reading I have ever done, for some reason. I would love to do more. I am a bit of a natural performer, but I think reading my own words always stops me from speaking. I much prefer people to read them in their own time!

Yr Faves Are Problematic (Lou Viner). Lou's zine, which has the title, plus an image of a snake, and the words "a compliation zine"
Lou’s compilation zine, Yr Faves Are Problematic, a zine about the complicated feelings people have over cultural products people love, but know have issues.

You’ve also made a collaborative zines called Yr Faves are Problematic, how does that compare to making other types of zines?

So far, there’s only been 1 issue because of how hard it is to do a collaborative zine! So many people so interest in writing for it, but life is busy. At this point, even I haven’t written anything for the second issue. But then it sells so well!

What kind of style do you have as an editor, do you try and push a zine in a certain direction or are you more hands-off and let it be dictated by the people taking part and their submissions?

As an editor, I try not to do too much; I did choose not to include some submissions to the first issue as after reading them, they went above being problematic faves and veered into just down right bad people! Also, one story was about a family member so I felt it didn’t really have a place in the zine. I didn’t have a huge amount of submissions though, so there wasn’t much editing to be done thankfully.

Your Faves Are Problematic (Lou Viner). Image reads: Call for Submissions. Your Faves are Problematic, issue 2. A zine about your faves being bad. Tell us your stories - from the slightly troublesome to the full on cancelled. Submissions to - by August 31st.
Call for Entries for Yr Faves Are Problematic, which is currently open for submissions.

Aside from making zines you also run Lincoln Zine Fest – can you tell me a bit about the experience of organising that?

It is a love/hate relationship! I had always wanted to do a zine fest in Lincoln and when I got wind that someone else was possibly going to be doing a similar event, I jumped at the chance to get in there first. I can be a bit controlling so I tend to do it all myself – with a little help from my partner and my pal Bettie, who runs Sheffield Zine Fest.

Images reads: Lincol Zine Fest. Underneath there is a cartoon illustration of 3 people. They are holding zine making equipment: a stapler, pens, scissors, glue in their hands.
Lincoln Zine Fest artwork by Emma Thacker

It’s tough, I’m not going to lie – it’s difficult when you can’t get funding so have to pay for everything yourself, which thankfully, in the past, I’ve had to privilege to be able to do. I asked for help from people in the local zine/art community but when they found out there may be a monetary aspect to it, they lost interest. It’s also tough not sharing the work out, but I’ve made my zine bed, so I am going to lie in it, you know?

I love it though, on the day, and after, when I see all of the work come together and with the support of both the local community and from those further afield. Lincoln has a growing zine scene, which is mixing with the growing arts, spoken word and music scenes, so I can only hope it continues to grow.

How do you go about making the zine fest accessible to more people?

I always ensure firstly, that the location is accessible, which I have been lucky with, in the fact that though Lincoln doesn’t have many independent venues, those it does have are accessible. I’ve also made use of the local library and arts building at the University, which are of course accessible as a requirement.

Regarding other aspects of accessibility, I’ve ensured that other than giving preference to people who are part of marginalised groups, I’ve also given preference to Lincoln and Lincolnshire zinesters and creatives over ‘out of towners’. This ensures that a bigger community is reached, and introduces new people to the world of zines. By embracing the arts community in the city, it brings people who may not know a thing about zines into a free space, where they can discover something new.

Like most events in 2020, Lincoln Zine Fest isn’t running this year due to Coronavirus, but can you share any news about what might be happening in the future for LZF? And if the sky was the limit – what would your dream future for it be?

LZF 2021 will be at a completely new venue within the city, where we are going to be working in close conjunction and partnership with the organisation. I’m not sure I can say much more at this stage but I am very excited to be working with them and look forward to the event! If the sky was the limit, I would have as many tables as I could fit in the biggest venue in the city, all for free, with visitors coming from far and wide, but alas, that is just a dream!

Over the past decade the biggest shift in zine making has probably been social media. Zinesters used to get their work out in very different ways – listings in other zines, pen-paling, distros, local activist centres and then later personal websites. How do you think this shift has affected zine culture?

I think it’s changed massively – both in a good way and a bad way. I miss reading the little snippets about someone’s zine, sending some pennies over paypal and waiting for a week or two for a zine in the post from a far away country. I often hate the way zines have become somewhat commercialised – every one is making a zine these days. There is a fine line between gatekeeping and protecting the community though and this is something I really struggle with personally. On the other hand, social media has opened the zine community up and let in people who wouldn’t have known about zines otherwise. It’s a slippery slope. I am not a brand, I don’t even really refer to myself as writer, even after all these years!

Can you share some of your favourite things from the zine world?

I could go on for hours about my favourite zines and zinesters but I’ll try to be short

Some of the best zines I’ve read, not by people listed above are: Fucked – on being sexually dysfunctional in sex-positive queer scenes, Working Class Queers, Pansy, and Telegram. I have over 100 zines in my collection so I would struggle to tell you all my faves! (I’m sorry if I’ve missed anyone! It’s not intentional)

What else have you been enjoying, or been inspired by lately?

I am a self confessed fan girl – with my main focus being the band Deaf Havana. Their music is a massive influence for me. I hear their lyrics and I hear the words of a perzine being sung to me. Other influences are my friends, their work, their lives – I try to surround myself with people who I am in awe of.

I’ve been reading less and less to be honest – with COVID19 and lock down, I’ve found it tough to focus. I’ve been working from home so after a day sat in front of a computer in my house, I like to just switch off and watch something that I can either completely focus on or completely lose myself in. I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries, mainly things like Anthony Bourdain – Parts Unknown and other food and travel shows. I’ve also been watching I may destroy you on BBC iplayer. Though dark, it’s absolutely amazing and Michaela Coel is faultless.

Do you have any projects you’re working on right now?

I have started writing my ‘Guys with guitars’ zine, my ode to my fan girl nature, but as I said before, sitting in front of the computer at home, whilst I’ve been having to do my job from home, has meant I don’t like to sit and write too much on my laptop. But it’s not going to be a rush job, I am going to take my time. I’ve written a few bits for the next issue of my perzine but again, I am letting the words come out when they can and not letting myself get too bogged down with it.

Where should people go to find find out more about you?

My zines can be purchased from Pen Fight distro or from my etsy shop – and my social media for Lincoln Zine Fest, which is on facebook, twitter and Instagram.

A graphic that reads: Brown Recluse zine distro. For and by people of colour. PO Box 22281 Oakland, CA 94623. Snail mail and online orders.
Brown Recluse: a zine distro created to support and centre zines made by queer and trans people of colour. See more about them at

Any final words?

I want to take this opportunity to highlight the amazing zines and outreach people like Queer Zine Library, Tender Hands Press, and Brown Recluse Zine Distro, are doing right now. As with most communities, even the zine community has a race problem, a privilege problem, and we should listen to marginalised voices more, lift them up and give them the space they deserve.

Zines forever, Lou

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IZM Interviews: Janet (Brick / Barren / Someone Somewhere + many more)

This International Zine Month I’ve been interviewing a series of zinemakers so we can get to know them and their zine making process a bit better! The first one is from the excellent Janet of [too many zines to mention!]

Hey Janet! Happy International Zine Month! How is life going at the moment? For people who don’t know you, can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Hey Vicky! I’m currently living in Leicester – I was in the process of moving back home to West Yorkshire when Covid hit and everything got delayed. I’ve been making zines for 25 years (or rather, I started making zines 25 years ago and then had quite a long break in the middle before returning to them about 8 years ago). Outside of zines, I like books, cats, solitude and sunshine, so I’ve been managing pretty well with lockdown all things considered.

Janet’s perzine, Someone, Somewhere.

How did you originally get into zines? I remember you mentioning to me once that you made a lot of zines back in the ’90s, can you tell me a bit more about those? And what inspired you to get back into zine making? Do you feel zine culture has shifted much?

When I was 15/16 I got very into alternative and indie music, which made me even more of a weirdo at my Bradford comprehensive. Wanting to not feel so isolated, I started sending off for the music fanzines I saw advertised in the back of NME and Melody Maker and once I’d read a few, I thought “I could do this!” And so I did. It’s quite weird to think of how self-confident I was capable of being back then: I’d somehow found out that if you wrote music zines, you could get free records and gig tickets so I started phoning up the PR departments of record companies and asking to be put onto guest lists… and it worked!

I was this strange teenager in Yorkshire doing her A Levels and with maybe 30 people buying each issue of my fanzine, but London music PRs would be like “yeah of course you can go and see Ash for free, fancy interviewing them too?” It was every teenage music nerd’s dream, and I pretty much stopped working on my A Levels and spent two years going to gigs, meeting bands, and then writing about it.

Janet’s 90s fanzine, Venus

And in the meantime I also started a perzine, which in retrospect was mostly standard teenage whining about no-one understanding me. It was all done by post in those days (“those days” ha I sound like a right grandma!) so I’d put an ad in the music press or on Ceefax and then people would send their pound coin and self addressed envelope, and I’d send them a zine back. And quite often they’d end up writing back and you’d become pen pals; I met so many people that way who ended up becoming friends.

Then I went to university and gradually stopped making zines for various reasons, and it was only in my early 30s that I returned to them. I’d become friends with Laura through blogging and she’d made zines in the past and wanted to get back into it, and so the two of us were sort of “ok let’s do this” and planned a trip to Sheffield Zine Fest. We came home loaded down with zines and fired up with inspiration, and the following year we went back to table and sell the five zines we’d made between us in the intervening year.

One of the biggest shifts in zine culture is how the internet enables the promotion and distribution of zines, and also makes organising zine fairs easier. Maybe there were zine fairs happening in 1994 but I just didn’t know about them. But now that’s a central part of my zine making; going to zine fairs and meeting other zinesters. And perhaps it’s because I mostly made music fanzines in the 90s, but the scene seems much less male-oriented now. In the 90s it was pretty evenly split but now it’s predominately women and non-binary people who you see selling at zine fairs.

Your zines are often about very personal topics (your experiences with abortion, being childfree, being a child of immigrants and your family’s history). Are you generally an open book day-to-day or are zines a kind of outlet for that?

I am not at ALL an open book usually! While I’m happy to be open about having an abortion, for example (and in fact think it’s really important to do so to help normalise it), I won’t generally talk about the messy feelings that go along with it. Even with my partner or my best friends I can be quite closed off about my emotions, so I do think zines are an outlet for working through complicated feelings about important events or elements of my life.

Do You Remember The First Time? a compilation zine about virginity

You’ve also made a few zines collaboratively (like Mixtape and Do You Remember the First Time?) – how does that experience differ for you from making a zine on your own? I really love Do You Remember the First Time? in particular because the stories of people having sex for the first time vary so much, what inspired you to put that together?

Making collaborative zines is not my favourite to be honest! I was that kid at school who hated group projects because I like to be in complete control, so working with another editor, like I did on Mixtape, is a challenge for me. But totally worth it because the finished zine is different to anything I’d make on my own (which is sort of the point). I’ve learned that I manage better with a zine like Do You Remember The First Time, where it’s just me putting it together but taking submissions from other people.

And I’m glad you love Do You Remember The First Time, because of all the zines I’ve made it’s the one I’m most proud of. I can’t even remember what inspired me to start collecting stories, but I always had a really clear vision that I wanted the zine to examine the notion of ‘virginity loss’ and how problematic that is from a feminist perspective, from a queer perspective, from a trans perspective… It’s incredible that so many people were willing to tell their stories – the good, the bad, the funny, the sad – and I’m so pleased that it represents a variety of experiences and bodies and sexualities. It’s the zine that I always “talk up” at zine fairs because I love it so much!

You sent me your zines very early in my distroing days (and you were the very person whose work I printed other than my own too!) Before that we didn’t know each at all – and getting to know you online and chatting at zine fests since has been one of the highlights of starting Pen Fight for me. What have zines been like more generally for you as a means of connecting with new people?

Ah I didn’t know this! And yep totally agree that meeting you has been one of my highlights 🙂 For me, the people are what make the zine world so special. As a general rule zinesters are socially awkward, shy, anxious (and lots of us are neurodiverse too) so zine fairs, where we have to be sociable and talk to people about our work, are pretty weird. But I always have such a nice time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Most of my zine pals live in the north and so I’ve not always been able to hang out with people other than at fairs, so one of the things I’m most looking forward to about moving is being able to have IRL hangs with zine friends (well, that’s if Covid allows for it…).

Do you get people reaching out to you after reading your zines often? I can imagine it can be quite liberating for people to read your zines (in particular Brick which is a very open account of your getting an abortion). Is this something you had in mind when you were making Brick?

It’s something that happens a lot with Brick, but not with my other zines. I think because abortion is still considered a taboo subject, I’m often the first person outside of those closest to them that people will talk to about their abortion. It’s beyond humbling to have people contact me to say how much it resonated with their own experiences.

I always say that regardless of what I do in my career (I was a teacher, am now an education researcher), Brick will be the most important thing I’ve ever written because it seems to have that power to resonate with readers. Which was never my intention! I started working on it because the #shoutyourabortion movement was just beginning and I felt that talking more openly about abortion was important. And I also had some residual emotional stuff to work through, and making the zine helped with that.

The fact it’s so popular is really nice, and I get messages from people from all over the world about it. If I recall correctly, it was you who sent a copy to Mumbai Zine Library years ago, and Brick even ended up being featured in the Hindu Times newspaper!

Do you have any zine making tips you can share?

Oh gosh I feel like I’m such an amateur (which, I guess, is sort of the point of zines). I still make everything using cut and paste sheets of paper, rather than doing digital layouts! I think my biggest zine making tip is to just do it… don’t worry about it needing to look perfect or professional because to me that’s the antithesis of what zines should be.

Can you share some of your favourite things from the zine world?

Eek, I’m definitely going to miss someone important out! I need to shout out some of my favourite zine fests – Weirdo Zine Fest, @sheffieldzinefest, @nwzinefest, @lincolnzinefest, @overherezinefest and @bradfordzinefair and all of their organisers. Presses and distros I love include Synchronise Witches Press, Black Lodge Press, Easter Road Press, Vampire Hag Distro and, of course, Pen Fight Distro! I’m also really loving the output of Irregular Zines – the Sew Irregular zines are brilliant and their recent Five Things I Wish I’d Learnt At School About Empire is essential reading.

Do you have any projects you’re working on right now?

I’m currently seeking submissions for a zine about Joanna Newsom (to be called Heartbroken & Inchoate) so would love it if people got in touch with me about that at

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