Marbles magazine Q + A

In my last post I talked about choosing what you consume and mentioned a couple of magazines that inspire and lift me up (Oh Comely and happiful). Following on from this, today I’m pleased to share an interview with an up and coming magazine which I will certainly be adding to this list – Marbles.

I spoke to creator, Kirstyn Smith.

Hi Kirstyn! First of all can you tell me a bit about yourself and Marbles magazine?

Marbles is a magazine focusing on mental health, specifically smashing the stigma that surrounds talking about mental health. To do this, we’ve asked people to tell us their stories in their own words, with no pussyfooting, and without shame.

As for me, I’m Kirstyn Smith, a writer and journalist from Edinburgh. I live with Borderline Personality Disorder, and am dedicated to mental health advocacy and eating chips.

What is the magazine’s mission, and how do you think you’ll achieve it?

While there has been so much work done to reduce the stigma of talking about mental health, it’s still such a taboo thing to bring up, and this shouldn’t be the case. Marbles’ aim is to get people talking about it in a way that isn’t soft-footed or awkward. Talking about something is the first step towards normalising it, and that’s what we want to do.

The brunt of it is that people die in silence every day, and it’s so important to feel like you can talk about your mental health without judgement. Marbles is a place where people can do that, and readers can see that they’re not alone.

Where did the idea stem from?

Without wanting to sound like I’m selling you a sob story, things were set into motion when my Dad died at the end of 2014. He had been a teacher for 35 years at the same school, and when the school put a post on their Facebook page saying how sorry they were that he had died, it got hundreds of comments and shares.

I read through every one of them and nobody had a bad word to say about him. The outpouring of affection for him really shifted things in my mind. I was unhappy with my job at the time, because I didn’t think I was good at it and it was making me fairly miserable. I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing it was to have made a difference in people’s lives.

So, I changed positions at my job and was working part-time as a freelance writer when I went to Magfest in September last year. The speakers there (specifically Hannah Taylor of She is Fierce, Sam Bradley of Counterpoint, and Heather McDaid of 404 Ink) were so inspiring that I decided to give the idea of a mental health magazine a try.

What do you think of the current magazine scene – is it doing enough to raise awareness and understanding about mental health?

There are so many great magazines focused on mental health, but quite a lot of them focus on fiction and poetry. These are great – there’s room for everything, but I wanted to get right to the point: real people talking about their real lives without shame.

In the first issue, we’ve got an interview with Ruby Tandoh, who was a runner up in the Great British Bakeoff, who has started a mental health zine called Do What You Want, so there’s definitely a desire for it out there.

Over the past few years, more and more people in the public eye have been speaking out about their experiences, so it’s good to know that this is translating into media that’s aimed at people in similar situations.

(mock-up of Marbles issue one front cover)

Can you give us an idea of what to expect from issue one? 

I’m really excited for the first issue – maintaining the calibre of writers and interviewees for subsequent issues is going to be really hard.

We’ve got some great writers involved, including Emily Reynolds, whose first book on mental health was published in February; Laura Waddell, who works for HarperCollins and is such an amazing writer; founder of 404 Ink and Nasty Women editor, Heather McDaid; Arusa Qureshi, who’s an award-winning writer and journalist; Leo Condie, lead singer of WHITE, and so many more. I feel bad not listing everyone, but I could write for days about how blown away I am by the writers.

As far as interview subjects are concerned, we’ve spoken to musician RM Hubbert, rapper Archie Green, author Debi Gliori, ex-porn star and campaigner Michelle Maren, Ruby Tandoh as mentioned above, and MC Shogun.

Where can people find out more (and get themselves a copy!) of marbles magazine?

Our Kickstarter is now finished, but you can still find it here to see a little more about what managed to get the mag funded.

Our website is here where there’s a little more about the Issue One contributors and a shop where you can pre-order the mag (if you want!).

What should people do if they want to contribute to marbles? 

We’re not currently looking for contributors, but we will be for future issues, so the best thing to do is to just look for shoutouts both on our website and on social media (@marblesmag).

A huge thanks to Kirstyn for taking the time to answer my questions! I’m so pleased more and more magazines are popping up in the mental health space – there is still much to do to eradicate stigma, so every time a new publication comes out to support the cause, the closer we all get. 

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