TWO Tynedale authors have set up a new, alternative publishing house which they hope will provide a platform for niche writers to publish their work.

“We’re looking for what the mainstream publishers reject, meaning the strange, surreal and cult” co-founder of BAD PRESS iNK, Zion, from Kirkhaugh said. “We want that something special which makes a book not what mass-market publishers are looking for.”

BAD PRESS iNK was the project of Zion, who like Madonna and Cher has no surname (which does occasionally give him some problems in passport control), and crime-fiction writer Iain Parke from Carrshield, who is most well-known for his series of crime fiction novels, the Brethren MC biker series, which is currently being considered for a television adaptation.

“I met Zion by absolute chance,” Iain said. “I was stuck in traffic in Hexham one afternoon minding my own business, when this hairy, tattooed creature banged on my window demanding to know if I was a publisher, because he’d seen my bumper sticker which advertised my latest book, and wanted to give me a copy of his novel.

“We continued to stay in touch from there, and only a few months later we were in discussions about creating our own publishing house.

“With years of experience of navigating the literary industry between us, we felt confident that we could guide budding authors, once like ourselves, on how to get their work out into the world.”

Iain has self-published all six of the Brethren MC novels, which centre around a gang of outlaw bikers who terrorise the North-East, but he has also seen great success through several business books under the name Mark Blayney, which cover everything from investment, employability and company restructuring.

“During the day I’m a business man,” Iain said. “But when evening comes, I’m a criminal outlaw who imports industrial quantities of Class A drugs, murders, and lies (a lot) for a living.

“For me, that is what it means to be a crime fiction writer, you live two very different lives.”

The Brethren MC series has since built Iain a fan base in the thousands, but he has also seen success with his first novel The Liquidator, a crime-thriller ser in East Africa and his latest book, Best of Enemies, a historical Second World War thriller is one of the first to be published under BAD PRESS iNK.

Zion’s first book, a memoir called A Life Amid Crisis, rocked to fame in 2017, and depicted the last 15 years of his life as the front-singer and founding member of glam punk band SpiT LiKE THiS.

In his memoir, Zion speaks candidly about the ups and downs of the life of a rock star, including what it was like to play on stages across Europe to thousands (including in a line-up with Alice Cooper), work with the legendary rock music producer Chris Tsangarides, known for his collaborations with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath, and all the comradery (and disputes) that come with living in close quarters with a band.

When the band broke up in 2012, Zion dealt with his feelings of loss and confusion by writing his thoughts and emotions down in a journal, which unbeknown to him at the time, would later become A Life Amid Crisis.

“It was a form of therapy,” he said. “A way for me to express whatever thoughts or feelings I was going through, and writing felt like a method of releasing them.

“It was never meant to become a book, but once I’d re-read all the wild experiences and intense emotions I had recorded, it felt like it was worth putting out into the world. It discusses what my life was like being a big fish in the small pond of music which is glam punk.

“It is not your typical rock biography, because it the main focus is my psyche, and how it changed during my time playing in the band.”

Life Amid Crisis jumped to number three on Amazon’s best-selling music biography chart, but the book had been passed across multiple mainstream publishers, many of whom saw its potential, but felt its topics were too niche and unconventional for them to publish.

“Both me and Zion know the struggle of breaking into the literary market,” Iain said. “Both of us faced rejection from the mass market publishing houses – even though our respective works received great feedback, our stories didn’t appear to their tastes.

“That favouritism leaves many niche and cult novels slipping through the fingers of these mainstream publishers, and that’s a real shame, because these writers are sitting on some great stuff, much of wide would appeal to a wide audience if it were given a chance.

“BAD PRESS iNK was born because we wanted to bridge the gap in the market for the quirky to survive.”

Iain and Zion are not the only creatives behind BAD PRESS iNK, with Iain’s wife, professional copy editor and proof reader Pat Blayney, and Zion’s partner Vikki Spit, a founding member, co-writer and bass player of the band SpiT LiKE THiS working in the team.

Both Pat and Vikki work as the gatekeepers of submissions, and are first to put novels on the yes or no pile.

“We have a huge mix of skills on the team,” Iain said. “No grammatical errors or spelling mistakes get past Pat, and Vikki has over a decades experience in brand building as part of the band, including running our merchandise site.”

Between them, Vikki and Pat have a wide range of literary tastes (apart from romance, which they both outright object to reading) and are both open to prospective to works of various genres, including graphic novels.

“What we’re ultimately looking for is simply great writing, along with a vivid imagination,” said Iain.

Before any manuscripts reach Vikki and Pat however, applicants must undertake a rather unconventional submission process, by completing an online survey on the publisher’s website – which will gauge whether writers fit the bill with what the BAD PRESS iNK team are looking for.

One of the bonuses of working with a small publishing house Zion said, is the personal and direct experience authors receive from the team. “You aren’t one of the masses here,” he said. “We build a relationship with each of our authors, and offer one-to-one guidance which is tailored to that individual and where they see their work going.”

For more information on BAD PRESS iNK, or to submit work, go to