Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone this year, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It's been a fantastic year for Exclusively Independent, with the project growing from strength to strength each month.

A big thank you to View From Here for enabling the scheme to showcase author blogs and project updates. Also a big thank you to the panel: Steve from The Book Depository, Debby from London Libraries, Roz from Review Bookshop, and Irene from Bookgroup Info; for their ongoing support and lending the project their knowledge at every panel meeting!

Exclusively Independent thrives on the committment from independent publishers and bookshops, without whom, we wouldn't have a the project at all.

So many people are involved that I could spend all day saying thank you, so last but not least a big thank you to the dedicated readers, who recognise talented writers, and show support by purchasing these copies in store.

Watch this space in the New Year where we have lots of news plans for EI, including events up and down the country!

Once again, Merry Christmas, and see you in the New Year!


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Duncan Little's Blog

Duncan Little's book, Allies in Auschwitz (Clairview) will be featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent. Here is Duncan's blog, giving us a great insight into his work, how he came to writing, and ultimately becoming published.

The idea for the book, “Allies in Auschwitz,” began following a chance find of wartime documents at the National Archives in Kew, London. I discovered various papers describing the terrible abuse endured by a number of British Prisoners of War (POWs) during their imprisonment in Auschwitz.

These POWs had been sent to a special facility on its outskirts. Their prison huts became known as E715 Auschwitz.

Documents showed that the majority of the British soldiers were not Jewish and that they maintained their POW status. The men, however, were daily witnesses to concentration camp inmates being beaten, starved and killed.

I interviewed three survivors from the camp and their testimonies became central to the book.

The documents showed horrendous violations of the Geneva Convention. One British soldier was shot, another was stabbed and a third man was flogged. Others were forced into slave labour and the survivors had to march hundreds of miles to liberation at the start of 1945.

I approached Clairview in 2009 and am delighted that they have published the book as I feel the story of the British POWs in Auschwitz is an important, but little known, part of history. The book itself has generated substantial media interest - from “Exclusively Independent” to newspapers and radio.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christopher Vanier's Blog

Featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent, is Caribbean Chemistry by Christopher Vanier, from Kingston University Press. Here's a few words from Christopher, describing how he came to writing his book.

I bore in mind two warnings when I started writing my memoir. The first came from a famous American novelist who was asked how young graduates should go about becoming published writers. “It’s simple,” she said. “There’s only one imperative: don’t smoke! That way, you will increase your chances of living a long life. And perhaps, in the latter part of that long, eventful life you will find an interesting jewel to relate, a story based on experience.”

I satisfied this criterion, since I waited until retirement before beginning my memoir about life in the Caribbean fifty years ago. But later, my son – journalist – tried to steer me away from autobiography. He pointed out that I was not a famous (or infamous) politician, that I had never killed anyone, and that I had not even been to prison. Who would want to read about a happy life? I decided to ignore this.

I picked up my pen and set down on paper the mischief that a growing boy gets up to on a small island. I discovered that what I had lived as games and excitement were really dangerous escapades, from fighting with monkeys to breaking out of boarding school at night, to getting lost on the slopes of a volcano, to rocketing down a sugar cane chute, to assaulting vehicles, to being thoroughly caned, and finally to making serious explosives. Were it not for a warm and understanding family environment, plus a dollop of luck, I might not have survived.

Looked at from another angle, my book is a voyage of discovery about growing-up in a small, exotic community, shut off from most of the world, a tiny speck in the Caribbean ocean. The encircling island shores are at the same time a wall of protection and a prison. My young protagonist thought that the world was against him, hiding its secrets, whereas the real secrets were inside him – his search for identity. His skin reflects the diversity of the region: neither black nor white but brown, in a world where the debate about colour is ever-present. He learns that he has inherited Carib blood from Guyana, but on his island the Amerindians were brutally exterminated by the colonists three centuries earlier. Which ethnic group should he cleave to? He also has French blood in him, but unfortunately French is the subject he dislikes most in school. There remains a mixture of English and Danish genes going back to the usurping colonisers, and some African heritage, from the slaves who painfully replaced the rebellious Caribs. He is rooted in the sun-drenched tropics, knowing only St. Kitts-Nevis, Antigua, and Barbados, but the books which shape his mind are all about wintry England and America, places that he has never seen and of which he sometimes doubts the existence.
As he reaches his teens, the challenges become more intense. The colonial system in the Caribbean is breaking down and the sugar industry is coming to its end. His father, a lawyer working for the planters, is embroiled in labour strife, and as politics turn black he will soon lose his job. His tries to push his children out into the wider world. But how can his son escape from his island jail if his family does not have the resources to pay for him? And where should he go? And, above all, why? The protagonist has a foretaste of exile when he unexpectedly wins a Lincoln essay contest that takes him to Washington and confronts him with American racial politics, quite different from those on his island.

At any point, from examination intrigues with his friends, to his personal struggle over religion, to his passionate sexual blossoming, his future may take a different direction. Behind the conflicts, I hope that this book radiates the warmth of Caribbean life that I felt. It is a hymn to the emigrant, or why young people leave their beloved countries and families for the unknown.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

January Selection of EI!

After a two-month long cycle, a new year brings a new selection of independently published books. Due to launch into bookshops from the start of January, here's the list of what to expect!

ALLIES IN AUSCHWITZ by Duncan Little (Clairview Books)
SEA CREATURES by Val Harris (Cava Books)
CARIBBEAN CHEMISTRY by Christopher Vanier (KUP)
JULIA AND THE BAZOOKA by Anna Kavan (Peter Owen Publishers)
FOREIGN STUDIES by Shusaka Endo (Peter Owen Publishers)
WINTER OF MAGICAL LETTERS (Seven Arches Publishing)
GLASSHOPPER by Isobel Ashdown (Myriad Editions)
HISTORY OF US by Philip Leslie (Legend Press)
EATING BLACKBIRDS by Lorraine Jenkin
PSYCHOTIC ESCAPING JUSTICE by Mark Hayhurst (PaperBooks)

We tried to include titles from all different genres, so we're really pleased with the final ten.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Legend Press launch IndieBooks!

FireworkspurpleIt's been a challenge to develop this fantastic idea, if we can say so ourselves, so promptly, but it's done and IndieBooks - the UK's first collective independent publisher retail site - is live!

With a wide-range of books offering something for everyone, this site is for the many millions of book lovers on the lookout for memorable, even life-changing book - and we strongly believe that independent publishers offer that quality of book in abundance.

The system is almost as beautiful as the books - there will be 50 books on offer from a vast array of publishers and each month the 25 bestselling will remain along with 25 new titles. That way publishers have the chance to showcase and the public can influence the selection by voting with their purchases. All orders will go to the publisher who will dispatch within two working days.

This is truly the alternative place to buy your books and we are hugely excited by this project - it's now down to the customers to make it a huge success.

To go to the site, simply visit