Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In the Guardian G2 today is a long article on new names in fiction. In amongst it, is comment from book journalists and editors - Joel Rickett of the Bookseller is one and he says that literary fiction is the hardest category, as books tend to be one offs, and writers do not repeat themselves, unlike thriller writers for example.

This got me thinking. If this was really true, we would not have managed to establish a single writer from this house, since I really do find most thrillers so similar that I cannot be bothered to read them - let lone publish them. So, if Joel is right and I am wrong, then I have to re categorise our successes as a publishing house.

So here goes -

Hubert Selby Jr writes about poverty, lust, guns and self destruction - so he must be a sadistic thriller writer - a kind of hunt the morality instead of the killer book (although he does have characters kill people - quite satisfactorily sometimes - for example, using Coca Cola).

Hong Ying is definitely a historical romance writer - everyone knows that Julian Bell was a hunk. And The Concubine of Shanghai has a woman rise through the ranks using her beauty, seductive skill and of course, involvement with Triad gangs in 1930s Shanghai - perfect. Or maybe she isa Mills and Boon type romance writer. I'm in a dilemma here.

Elif Shafak - well, it is getting tricky now. Family saga does not really represent what happens in a multi occupied house in Istanbul (The Flea Palace). But it will do - and the dwarf and the large woman is The Gaze are also in a relationship so that makes is OK.

And what about Sadomasichism for Accountants by Rosy Barnes - maybe we will just have to invent a new genre - completely intoxicatingly funny but does not fit in any category novel.

One up to Joel.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer time!

A little while ago, we thought we would give an idea to Waterstone's - I used to be a production manager in a very large retail design company, and I remember with great fondness a trip to Munich with two Debenhams executives to pass on press their new carrier bags when the chain was re launched. We visited a Fairground after a lively session at the famous beer festival, and I went down a helter skelter on a rush mat sandwiched between these two execs. very, very fast.

We have not heard from Waterstone's about their reaction to this bag design, but if you see it around this summer, you'll know where it came from!

And Vulpes Libris have a stonking review of FEATHER MAN, posted today by Lisa - so THANK YOU! (http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Back blogging

I haven't blogged in ages, strangely enough in inverse proportion to the amount of time that I've been spending in the office. The reason for both is that I have been doing extracurricular work which Catheryn has kindly allowed me to do here. It's fair to say that it's been something of a departure for me: I now know the difference between a cinnammon and a blue teal, the varying pitfalls of black and red kites (always my favourite bird - possibly due to the proximity of our names) and the many different ways that inserting pictures into text in Indesign can throw all the page alignments out of wack. It didn't help that the late night work coincided with the best weather of the year so far. On one occasion during a particularly nice sunset, which I was missing, a member of the general public knocked on the window to insist that I stop working and come out to enjoy the summer.

But now I'm back and doing other things, like blogging. And this should begin with news - we have, as some will already be aware, contracted an exciting new book by Rosy Barnes: Sadomasochism for Accountants, which it now strikes me I should have done a web page for – I will do tomorrow. We're already enjoying working with Rosy, the whole project should be a lot of fun.

The Streets Of Babylon
has begun to get some attention in the US: in the Library Journal , Kirkus Reviews and blogcritics.org.

We've received our first actual copies of Victoria and Lucinda's Flavour of the Month and, to everyone's great relief, they look wonderful. This means that I've spent much of my time recently phoning up the major magazine conglomerates to check that I have the right names for our mailing lists - my relationship with the various receptionists at the big magazine buildings has gone from 'Sorry, what do want?' to 'Oh it's you. Which mag do you want this time?'. A great leap, I think.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm just back from a sales conference in New York, and found the city very up and full of energy. Not all of it good - for a country which claims to have a policy on energy reduction, you find a cinema on 42nd Street by Times Square where, to get to the auditorium (Number 20!) you go up five escalators. Each one passes by a floor of pumping rock music and a different fast food restaurant - all full on a Sunday afternoon - and all built in the expectation of many customers. The carbon footprint of that building alone would be the equal to half a high street in the UK. It's all so calm here, in comparison - OK , we are maybe a bit bland, but we have the same films (Forgetting Sarah Marshall - a good way to recover from the tension of presenting), and much of the same culture.

Bookshops - Barnes & Noble had more magazines and CD's and very little fiction backlist - they used to have rows and rows. The independents are flourishing, but the chains are cutting back on their stores. Amazon is the fastest growing customer of our distributors.

Our books - they loved Victoria & Lucinda's Flavour of the Month - our yummy mummy cookbook, with game, table design and entertaining. Thank goodness we did the conversions! Also very keen on Horribly Awkward, and I watched a little of the American version of The Office on the plane home - full of Dwight's and introversion. The American version of introversion just happens to be, well, loud....