Interview: Nutshell Magazine, London's Newest Lit Mag

By M@ Last edited 118 months ago
Interview: Nutshell Magazine, London's Newest Lit Mag

It's got a pigeon on the front, and everything!

We need a new coffee table. Our magazine space is already sagging with issues of Smoke, One Eye Grey, Mustard and Litro. This week sees the launch of another excellent independent publication in the shape of Nutshell. This new publication serves as a compendium of literature and art inspired by city life. And they're looking for contributions from the likes of you. We spoke to the creative pentet behind the venture, Faye, Emma, Becky, Ian and Helena.

So tell us, ahem, in a nutshell, what your magazine is about?

Nutshell is about words and creative thought, art, illustration, urban inspiration, parks and dark alleyways, work and leisure. The cover features the interior of a bus where the passengers - a pigeon, a fox, a rat, two people - are all reading an engrossing little book. We want to reach a variety of urban characters and entertain them on their journeys.

How does Nutshell differ from other London literary publications such as Litro and Smoke?

I think Smoke is specifically London-focused, Nutshell is more global. Nutshell focuses on new talent and new creative work, so it doesn’t feature book reviews or excerpts. Nutshell is free and full of really exciting artwork and writing, and it has a much more indie feel to it, in its design and content. We don’t think of Nutshell as a rival to any other literary magazines though; we believe there should be a wealth of magazines focusing on words and art. Nutshell is special because it embraces the quirky side of city life.

Where can people get hold of a copy?

The best way to receive a copy is to email us at editorial [at] We will also be distributing copies at the launch on Sunday, 3rd of May, at the Lexington Pub on Pentonville road, and leaving them in various little cafes and bookshops around the city - there will be more details on our website after the launch. However, with an initial print run of 500 copies, issue #1 is extremely rare, and copies will be numbered - you could be holding a collector’s item!

You give it away? Completely free!? So how is it funded?

Yes, Nutshell is free, which we feel is very important. Nutshell is a dream - that a free literary magazine would be able to find its place in the folds of the city as well as generating a good following. Generating a good following and attaining sponsorship are our next steps: the most important thing was getting the magazine up and running ourselves. We funded issue #1 ourselves, putting in the money and hours of labour to make it happen. This is our debut, the unveiling of our work, and we hope to get sponsorship and external funding in the future.

Why a magazine, rather than a website?

Websites are useful and provide an easy way to gain access to important material, and blogs are also terribly popular right now. However, we always wanted Nutshell to be printed. The writing and artwork featured in Nutshell are precious works, and we wanted to present them in a format that shows just how much love and work has gone into their creation.

What would you say are the highlights of Issue 1?

For issue #1 we commissioned work from artists and writers we already knew and loved, but we also started receiving great submissions from all around the world, which was very exciting. So, in a way, one of the best things about issue #1 is its variety. All the pieces are very unique: bucolic poetry from Daffni Percival, next to Maria Ilieva’s grey cities…the ramblings of a racist dog from Michael Ferrari. Our featured writers come from all over the world. We are also very proud to include in the first issue an interview with Blake Morrison, a writer, journalist and Professor for whom we have great respect.

You’re having a launch party on Sunday. Can anyone come?

Yes, of course! Ideally we would like a wide range of age groups and cultural backgrounds to attend. We tried very hard to make both the magazine and the party universally enjoyable, that’s why we’re alternating readings with live music. It will be a very special event and hopefully there will be something for everyone.

And the Londony questions...Which London writers (past or present) do you find most inspirational?

London has been a place of literary inspiration for over 700 hundred years, and any book that talks about London opens your eyes to a whole new city. However to name a few favourites: Martin Amis, Hanif Kureishi, Tim Wells, Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf, Blake Morrison…

What’s your favourite bar/pub?

Becky: The Black Gardenia in Soho, or the Grill Room at the Café Royal.

Emma: The Hookah Lounge on Brick Lane is a great place to relax and unwind. Also, The Windmill on Clapham Common is brilliant for those lazy, summer afternoons.

Faye: The Good Mixer in Camden is an old favourite of mine.

Have you ever been sick on the Tube?

Faye: No, but I was sick on the 390 bus, on the stairs, and that was a long time ago.

Ian: nope.

Becky: I was sick just getting off the 149 at Liverpool street at 1 pm on a Sunday. Nice.

Helena: Yes. But I was young. And drunk. And I never want to think of it again.

Emma: No comment.

To contribute to Nutshell, check out the submission guidelines. And pop along to their launch party on Sunday to find out more.

Last Updated 01 May 2009