Aädenian Ink (AI) is a small publishing house dedicated to bringing you fresh new literary tales and art work, inspired by all things Gothic, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Steampunk.
Today, they release their first publication – a contemporary Gothic art book.
We decided to speak to Hazel Butler, AI’s senior editor, and learn a little bit more about her, Aädenian Ink, and this new release.
Tell us a little bit about you
Must I? I much prefer to talk about books. And art. And books about art. Well, since it’s you …
I’m an archaeologist, an author and a self taught artist. I’m currently finishing my thesis, which is on gender dynamics in late Iron Age and early Medieval Britain. I love books. All kinds of books. I do however particularly love books about fabulous things. I have always loved Fantasy books, even as a child, and recall reprimanding my father severely at the age of about nine or ten for having failed to purchase for me The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. My sister had a baby in January, I have already bought her the special hardback editions. Books, I believe, are far more important than most other things. Except perhaps art. You will find I love my art, in many, many forms. My own bedroom is filled with Van Gogh, John Howe, Salvador Dahli, and Jim Warren (to name but a few) and I have (yet more) books on most artistic styles. I have an irrational fear of garden gnomes, a paranoia that at times stumbles into psychosis about sharks, and I cannot abide odd numbers. Other than that, I’m fairly ordinary.
Err, yes. Ordinary… *clears throat*, Ok, What about Aädenian Ink?
Aädenian Ink is my bookish baby. I’m so proud, already, of everything that has been achieved. Writing is something that has always been very important to me, and very personal, very cathartic. Reading, I find, is the best thing a person can possible do. I’m not ashamed to say that I often feel I like books better than people, for books never let me down. That, I suppose, is what Aädenian Ink is about: providing books upon which people can reply, to bring them stories that transport them to other worlds, better worlds, where strange and wonderful and terrible things happen, but it’s all okay, because you’re accompanied by the best people, and the best creatures, imaginable. Aädenian Ink is about magic and mayhem and that need which never really goes away, for a belief in things people persist in telling us do not exist.
Sounds like our sort of imprint! I think we share very similar values, but what was it that made you start your own imprint?
In 2010 I started writing another novel, one that was very much in the Gothic genre, a style I have always loved, both in fiction and art, and one in which I am often found to be dressed. The more I worked on it, the more I loved it, but the clearer it became that there were very few publishing houses that were willing to look at it. They heard ‘Gothic’ and for some reason were immediately negative. I shopped around, and found there were a few places willing to look at Gothic fiction, but none who were actually dedicated to Gothic fiction, and other similar genres. This displeased me. There are hoards of publishers devoting themselves to Romance novels, yet none—or at least very few, and those very small—for those of the Gothic persuasion. So, I decided to set about creating one.
Why Gothic fiction?
Initially it was out of annoyance. I was so outraged that so few people were willing to even consider Gothic fiction, something of which I am personally very fond, that I wanted to make a home for it. More than that, I wanted to make a safe place for it, where the people looking at it would never be harsh and critical, but would welcome it with open arms. There are many, many fans of the Gothic out there, some of whom don’t even realise it’s ‘Gothic’ that they like, but simply find themselves drawn to certain stories or images. Many other genres have elements of the Gothic in them, in particular Fantasy, so there is considerable cross over in the fan base. I am also a huge lover of Fantasy, so it made sense that Aädenian Ink also work in this genre. The other genre I am absolutely mad about is Steampunk, a very underrated genre which, again, is often dismissed by publishers and, again, shares many of the same fans as Gothic art and fiction. So it became a little trio of interests which, naturally, was joined by Science Fiction in general, because really we’d be cruel to leave Sci-Fi out of such a delectable group. The main focus however has become Gothic and Steampunk, mainly because I feel very strongly that these are overlooked genres, and I know full well there is a vast amount of talent out there waiting to be published, which can’t get looked at for love nor money. Now they can.
‘Out of the Dark’ is a collection of Gothic inspired art. Why did you choose an art book for your debut release?
Honestly I never considered doing it the other way around. So few publishers are truly dedicated to art; they bring out the occasional collection, but they’re not actually focused on the art itself. There are a few notable exceptions like the now defunct Paper Tiger, but generally speaking art publishing houses—and in particular publishing houses that focus on the alternative genres—are few and far between. I wanted to make it very clear, from the start, that we are as serious about art as we are about fiction.
I’ve had a peek at the artwork in the book, and it’s truly gorgeous. How did you go about choosing the pieces from the submissions?
Oh, god that was difficult! There are so many amazing artists out there! Quite a few people were easily weeded out because they just weren’t suitable, for one reason or another. Others I absolutely loved, but they didn’t fit the themes of the book, so again, that was a fairly easy decision. The difficult part came when I had it narrowed down to all the images I wanted to include, and realised there were about five hundred. I knew I couldn’t manage many more than two hundred for this book and that was hard. It came doing to the chapters I was planning and what I needed for them. some chapters—Ladies of the Night in particular—I have literally hundred of other images I wanted to include and couldn’t. I’m quite certain they will pop up in other projects though. Other chapters—such as Lost Boys—there weren’t nearly as many as I was hoping to have; there is a distinct lack of male models out there and it shows in submissions, hence the title. It’s a double reference, both to the eponymous film by Joel Schumacher, and the fact that all the boys seem to have vanished (I suspect they’re in Neverland with that Pan boy).
Why Gothic art?
That is actually a really complex question, as it depends on your perspective. There is classical Gothic art, which developed in the Medieval period in France, then there is revivalist Gothic art which was born out of the Renaissance and went very much with the Romantic movement, and of course there is Contemporary Gothic Art—the subject of Out of the Dark—which is, generally speaking, a blending of the macabre and the beautiful. Most people think of Gothic architecture, grotesques and gargoyles, Cathedrals and Universities. This is, of course, one gorgeous aspect of the genre, but there is far more to it. Contemporary art has become more focussed on certain themes—in particular horror—since the rise of Gothic fiction in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
So what does this collection mean to you?
This collection means a great deal to me personally. For one thing, it is the first project Aädenian Ink has released, and that in itself feels like a great achievement for me, going from an idea to a fully fledged business. More than that however, I have come to know a lot of the artists who collaborated on the project very well; they are friends now, and I truly believe in each and every one of them and the work they create. They are a phenomenally talented, not to mention a generous bunch, who have devoted a great deal of their time and effort to pulling everything together. I cannot thank them enough, and for me the best way I can think of to express my gratitude it to ensure all their hard work pays off and the book is a success.
Will Aädenian Ink open its doors to submissions in the future?
We are currently working on our second art book which will be Steampunk themed, and submissions for that are open until the end of October. We are also open for general art submissions however, and that is on an ongoing basis, so any artists who would like us to consider their work for future projects, do get in touch. Full details of the genres we are looking for can be found here www.aadenianink.com/submissions . We’re not currently accepting fiction submissions. We have two novellas and an anthology coming out this year (details www.aadenianink.com/publications) and once the latter has been released we will be looking to open for general submissions. All The Night-Tide is due out at the end of December (just in time for your Christmas money), so check back on our submissions page in the New Year if you have something you’d like to submit.
Thank you for the interview 🙂
3 examples of art from ‘Out of the Dark’ attached below.