Presenting: WARRIOR, an anthology

Over the past few months, Ink & Locket Press has been busy putting together a collection of short stories. We have read through many fantastic submissions and chosen the best stories, and we are now in the final stages of editing what looks to be a fantastic book!

We asked for warriors—in any shape or form—in stories that included one or more LGBTQIA+ characters. As always, we did not want the diversity to be the main plot point. We wanted all manner of brave warriors, cowardly warriors, social-justice, science-fiction, fantasy and real-life warriors—we just also wanted them to be characters who identified within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

"WARRIOR": Introducing our LGBTQIA+ anthology!

[Image: Text reads “WARRIOR”, with a rainbow-hilted dagger]

We are so excited about the collection we have gathered! Here, you’ll find a Roman gladiator, a London werewolf, a futuristic mermaid, a retiring legend, and countless other exciting characters we can’t wait to introduce you to! The stories span several genres, thousands of years, and way into the speculative landscapes of fairy-trolls and manticores. And all of them feature LGBTQIA+ characters who are woven beautifully into the narratives.

Over the next few months, we will be introducing you to the authors right here on our blog. We will also be giving you sneak peeks at some of the stories, and keep you up-to-date as we gather perks for the crowdfunding campaign. When the campaign launches in September, we are sure you will feel as passionately about this project as we do!

This brings us to our next piece of news:

We have finally set up a newsletter for you to subscribe to! We will get in touch with you once a month, summarising what we are doing behind the scenes of the publishing house. This will be a great way for you to find out when our new calls for submissions open, when our crowdfunding campaigns launch (and when we’re almost at our goals!) and when we are arranging or taking part in community events.

We promise, with our hands on our hearts, that we will never send you more than three emails a month—and usually, we will only send you one! You can sign up quickly and easily by clicking right here!

We are so excited to have you in our community, and can’t wait to share this anthology with you! How about you? Let us know what you think!

Antonica and Amelia
Ink & Locket Press

On representative writing, and an update

It’s time for an update on what’s been going on at Ink & Locket Press.

Next week, we will be announcing our upcoming short-story collection, which is all about warriors and has an LGBTQ+ focus! You’ll start to see some author profiles of our contributors popping up on the blog, and we’ll be sharing some of the experiences we’ve had throughout the project.

We will also be announcing our two upcoming picture books. Both of them feature children with queer parents, but the stories could not be more different. We can’t wait to share them with you!

On top of this, our next call for submissions is right around the corner. Our next short-story collection and picture books will have a focus on disability, and we are excited to see where your stories take you! Own-voices narratives are, as always, strongly sought after. Just remember our motto: diversity shouldn’t be plot, just reality.

And on to a task of ‘representative writing’ that many seem to forget…

The way we see it, if you’re writing representatively, you have a job to do. Your job starts out like this: take an inventory of the stereotypes and presumptions you hold. You might not know you have some of them before the inventory, and most probably, you won’t know about all of them afterwards. Inventorying sucks like that: even after you think you’ve caught them all, there are probably stacks more hidden away in closets that you’ve missed. You might not be trying hard enough to find them, or you might not want to find them—hell, if someone points to the closet and says “you have a ton more in there, man”, you might be offended at the insinuation that you’re hiding them away!—but the fact is, that closet probably exists, and it’s just going to make your job harder. So open the door now, and round up what you can.

Your next task for the day is to file those stereotypes and assumptions away somewhere with a big ‘warning’ sign hanging over the cabinet. The next time you’re writing representatively—or, in fact, writing at all—interrogate the contents of that filing cabinet. If your main character is of colour but she’s been tokenised, turned into the “sassy, big-bootied African queen” without agency while the rest of your characters have more fully developed personalities: you’re not doing your job.

You are not doing your job if the only underrepresented character in your story is a gay woman who gets killed off in the first scene, while the straight people go on fighting. You are not doing your job if all your successful characters have some form of disability but at the same time, you describe all of them as skinny, beautiful and fair-skinned, while all your bad guys are described as overweight and grotesque-looking. That’s not what representative fiction is about for us!

"If you're writing representatively, you have a job to do." Blog post: On representative writing, and an update

[Image: Text reads, “If you’re writing representatively, you have a job to do.”]

At Ink & Locket Press, we want exciting, engaging stories in which the good guys can be fat and fine with that. We want non-magical black women rescuing the damsels in distress. We want bad guys that aren’t the only characters of colour in the whole story, and mentally ill bad guys who are bad not because they’re ‘broken’, but because they’re, well, bad.

We want you to actively examine your writing to see your own subconscious bias. Of course, we do not mean that every character should represent some sort of minority or underrepresented group—not unless that’s what you’re going for. But as a representative writer, whatever that means to you, it’s part of your job to make sure your work is not negatively contributing to dominant cultural presumptions. We know you can do better than that!

This is just one small part of our job as representative writers (or editors, or artists, or filmmakers…), but we believe it’s a part that can’t be overlooked.

Antonica Jones, head editor

But aren’t you discriminating against…?

This question pops up with high frequency, and is almost exclusively finished with some combination of the following words: straight, white, people and men. Somehow, our focus on diversity in fiction is often perceived as harmful and discriminatory. Harmful towards the freedom of speech; discriminatory to those whose stories we do not aim to publish.

When I grew up, I recognised myself in every book I read. I read about families like mine (mum and dad, brother, sister) who looked like me (white, blue eyes, two arms, two legs), who celebrated the holidays I celebrated (Christmas, Easter, summer vacation), and did the things I liked to do. My family is a book-loving one, and by the time I was 12, I knew I could become just about everything, do just about everything, and that I was normal and fine and interesting. I only had to find myself a prince, and life would be grand. None of my childhood books prepared me for the idea that I might fall in love with a princess.

If I have children, they will very rarely see families like their own (two mommies) in their books. And if they are born with a disability, or lose a limb, or struggle with mental health, or are of colour, most of the heroes they will find in their books, and in the wider media they consume, will not look like them.

Ink & Locket Press seeks to publish against the traditional publishing bias. The traditional bias leans towards publishing and highlighting stories by and about men (especially white men), straight people doing ‘straight things’ and white people doing ‘white things’. We are not seeking to eliminate or change these stories. A large portion of the market wants these stories and should have easy access to them.

But we’re working towards everyone having easy access to stories they can identify with, and towards every voice with a story getting the opportunity to be heard. We are not here to discriminate against male authors. Male authors who are queer, who are of colour, who are trans or who have a disability—you are all welcome to submit to us. Likewise, we do not discriminate against straight authors, nor white authors: we just want stories that focus on other things.

"But aren't you discriminating against…?"

[Image: Text reads “but aren’t you discriminating against…?”]

When it comes down to it, though, we are not even discriminating against straight, white men who write stories about straight, white men. We are just not actively striving to tell those stories. Those stories are already being told, have been told for hundreds of years, will be told for hundreds to come, and every big publishing house in the world will consider those submissions with a favourable bias. And we will gladly read them, and support the authors, and participate in good literary debates about their works and legacy. Those stories and authors are simply not our focus.

We want every child to grow up knowing they can become just about anything, do just about anything, and that they are good, and fine, and interesting.

Where is the harm in that?

Amelia, managing director