Congratulations on this year's Michael Marks Award shortlisting: marvellous! You're going great guns. What gave you the confidence to think you could do it? You obviously worked closely with Rachel Piercey, your co-editor and first published poet, from the start. Was that friendship crucial?
I don’t think it was confidence initially so much as frustration with my options in 2012. There weren’t any interesting and challenging jobs in publishing for me to even apply for, and my skillset was so specialised I wasn’t sure what other industry I could enter. A lot of large companies depend on the narrowness of the job market to keep young people in their low-paid, prospect-free roles, and I didn’t want to be trapped.
When I started the Emma Press, I had a hunch that I could create things that people would want to buy. I wasn’t particularly confident in my ability to run a business, but I got a lot of encouragement from friends as well as people I met up with in the publishing industry – everyone seemed to think this was an interesting, open period for publishing and that there was no absolute correct way of running an imprint.
A lot of people say small press publishing is a lonely business, but I’ve never really felt alone because Rachel Piercey has been such a brick from the very beginning. I run the business on my own, but we do all the editing together and she’s always there for me to talk through ideas with and rant about the various frustrations of small business ownership. Our friendship is the foundation of the Emma Press, which is why it feels peculiarly fitting that our next publication is about female friendship: Best Friends Forever, edited by Amy Key and coming out on 4 December 2014.