Words That Bite...

22 Feb 2021

By Joe Smith

When presented with the choice, who wouldn’t relinquish all the ill-gotten gains of an international best-selling millionaire ‘crime-writer’, in order to play even a peripheral role in a cutting-edge, independent literary magazine? What kind of human being would choose not to throw a global publishing empire into the sea, just to be known locally as co-editor of a magazine that brings new fiction into the world? I would like to meet the kind of person who would turn down the opportunity to sell the equivalent of an entire boy-wizard franchise, to sit on the selection panel of one of Scotland’s premier indie publishing titles.

I don’t know if Jules Danskin and Heather Parry have traded their kingdoms, sold their souls, or indeed their own grannies, in order to have the ultimate pleasure of co-directing Extra Teeth, but they have, somehow, managed to earn a seat at the table of one of the most enviable literary publications in all of Scotland.

… and on Sunday night, we were treated to three of their featured writers in the forthcoming Extra Teeth #3, scheduled for publication 22nd May 2021.

After goading the audience with accounts of their guilt edged lifestyles as co-editors, Jules and Heather handed the spotlight over to London-based writer and publisher Alice Slater. Taking the audience through each chapter of her poem, the titles of which are - Poppy Seed, Lentil, Blueberry, Kidney Bean, Grape, Olive, Fig, Lime, Peapod, and Lemon, Alice recounted a very tasty story you could really get your ‘teeth’ into (groan, sorry). Look out for her soon-to-be-finished novel!

Next up was Bhavika Govil an emerging Indian writer who studied at Edinburgh University and who has, as Heather pointed out, already achieved some amazing accolades. Bhavika read her story Black Cat Magic. Here is how the story begins:

“The cat disappeared more often than it arrived. She was drawn to it from the second she first found it: dark, little, hanging by its tail like a question mark around the electricity pole.”

Who could stop there and read no further after such an opening?

Ross McCleary, introduced as an ‘incendiary performer’, is well known on the Edinburgh literary scene. His story Can I have a Word? is a Kafkaesque tale, detailing the quiet horror of the minutiae of capitalist work experience as an office ‘temp’. This brilliantly crafted story bodes very well for McCleary’s next novel, which, he hints, is a development of the same theme of ‘temping’.

A well-earned round of applause was due for all three contributors.

Before taking questions, Jules and Heather discussed the joys and challenges of producing indie publications in the midst of a global pandemic. Seriously, if mainstream television wasn’t dedicated to the relentless reproduction of mundane mediocrity, I would fully expect these two to have their own TV show before the end of the year.

I could have listened to them talking about literature related matters all day. They both agreed that the third edition of Extra Teeth was the darkest yet. We also heard that they receive around 500 submissions per edition, with only a tiny fraction making it into the magazine.

Every edition has its own illustrator giving each publication its own distinct look and feel. The Guest illustrator for issue 3 is Japanese artist Ryoko Tamura (now living in Edinburgh), and we were treated to a preview of some of her inspired designs. Each artist selects four colours with which to do the illustrations, a creative limitation that adds a distinct uniqueness to every magazine.

I sincerely believe that no matter how glamorous you think your life is, no matter how cool you think you are, or the riches you possess, if you don’t work at the cutting edge of indie publishing in literary Scotland, you’re just… not … it.

If you haven’t seen this event, watch it here. You can order issues 1 and 2 and pre order three on their website here (if you’re quick you get a 24% PBF discount – until Monday 22nd @10pm)

There's still time to register for tickets for Paisley Book Festival events here