Monday, 15 November 2010

Exclusively Independent

For two years, Exclusively Independent has been highlighting independent talent, showcasing fantastic titles and building on the relationship between Independent Publishers and Bookshops. We feel it has had the impact originally strived for, and decided not to proceed with the project in the New Year.

We would really like to thank all of those who have taken part - from publishers' submissions, to author blogs and events, which has
greatly benefited the project.

It has been great to work with such a variety people from across the industry, and we are glad that we have achieved what the project was created for: highlighting Independent talent that so often goes unnoticed.

Lauren

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Guest Blog from Michael Nath

Michael Nath is the author of La Rochelle, a literary fiction title published by Route. Described as 'stylish, very funny and discreetly surprising' by London Review of Books, this title was a strong favourite for the new selection of Exclusively Independent titles.

Here's a brief word from Michael...

People like saying, ‘X, Y, Z is dead!’ Maybe it makes them feel bold. There’s nothing like a new start, is there? Or a revolution. But what often happens after they’ve said X, Y, Z is dead is that the new start actually consists in settling for less, and making a smaller effort. This seems to have been the case with readers and writers, ever since a smart Alec called out, ‘Modernism is dead!’; which brings us to the subject of a new book by Gabriel Josipovici, called Whatever Happened to Modernism? Professor Josipovici argues that the English novel has become caged in recent decades, and that its famous practitioners have been putting on a tame show, for all their swaggering. This has annoyed the literary reviewers and metropolitan columnists, who’re in the habit of making a fuss of certain big names, and don’t appreciate being told they’ve been cheering cows; but it happens to be true. The ranking writers and the prize-winners make it solely because the idea has caught on that ‘Modernism is dead’; the consequence of this is that contemporary writing can prowl about quite safely in its cage, or not prowl at all but just peep through its fingers.

In La Rochelle, with the critical support of Route, you could say I was trying to break out of the cage; I may have failed, but I’ll keep trying. I don’t think Modernism is dead. What is the authority of the claim? I don’t think novels are obliged to demonstrate ‘narrative drive’ either. All this little phrase tells us is how contemporary fiction and the creative-writing schools bow to capitalism; for why is the novel obliged to behave like Grand Theft Auto? Nor do I think the best style for prose fiction is the ‘starve-the-reader’ one they teach you on the writing courses; for why should the novel count calories? Let’s have the baroque back in the novel. Let’s have a banquet on every page. Let us mix it with the philosophers, the scientists and the priests...

Amen.

Many thanks to Michael and Route Publishing for the blog. Readers can purchase a copy by visting the Route website.

Lauren

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Guest Blog from Paul Burman

Paul Burman is the author of The Grease Monkey's Tale, which is featured in the new selection of titles. Published by Paperbooks, this title is Paul's second novel with the company, not to mention also being included in Legend Press' fifth collection of short stories, 10 Journeys, with At the Rawlings' Place. Here's a piece from Paul, giving us a rare insight into what it takes to be a published author.

This morning, I was held responsible for someone’s house being a mess. Instead of doing housework across the weekend, they’d got caught up with The Grease Monkey’s Tale and hadn’t been able to put it down – things had slid from there. They’d needed to know what was going to happen to Nic the mechanic, and so the cleaning and tidying, the vacuuming and polishing, had gone to scratch and they’d spent too many hours on the sofa reading.

It was the finest of compliments and made my day. And it capped a great week for The Grease Monkey’s Tale with over a hundred sales (that I’m aware of), a number of people describing it as a thriller and a page-turner (which I’m thrilled by), and the announcement that it’d be one of six titles in the forthcoming Exclusively Independent promotion.

Very often, though, such compliments are followed by a conversation about writing and one question in particular: How do you go about the process of writing?

For many years, the answer would have changed from one manuscript to another as I experimented with writing the best novel I could – a compulsive read for the reader, a compulsive buy for the publisher and something I enjoyed being involved in from go to woe.

This question of process was not something I’d really tried to articulate before, but frequent attempts to answer it recently have helped me discover a response. Finally!


On the whole, I prefer to have more than one writing project on the go at once. It’s an approach that grew out of writing The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore and The Grease Monkey’s Tale, which I didn’t so much write back-to-back as write alternately – a couple of drafts of one and then a couple of drafts of the other, draft after draft – at the same time as trying to make them as unlike one another as possible.

With Number Three and Number Four, however, I’ve allowed myself the freedom to do this to a greater extent: I’ll spend a couple of hours on one and then a couple of hours on the other. It’s a process that keeps me excited with whatever words I’m tapping away at and looking forward to returning to the story-in-waiting. Far from making the process disjointed, it allows time for ideas to settle and for new ideas to grow – sharpens the focus in deciding what to pursue and what to leave alone.

In terms of drafting, the real sense of beginning lies, for me, in mapping out pages and pages of dot-points, exploring who the characters are and what motivates them; about location, mood, atmosphere, the different layers... trying to discover the voice that might tell the story. It’s only when that voice finally begins to reveal itself that I might start the first paragraphs for Chapter One – a matter of testing the voice and listening to it.

From there, it’s a matter of redrafting those opening paragraphs and maybe adding another couple of paragraphs, before drafting the lot again; playing with the words and phrases as I go. In this way, the story is built in blocks, tier upon tier, until eventually the first full draft is finished and I can begin working with it as a complete text – cutting, moving, adding – polishing until I can see the reflection of its narrator.

Many thanks to Paul for writing a blog for the site. Both The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore and The Grease Monkey's Tale, are available to buy direct from the Legend Press site.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Guest Blog from Ruth Dugdall

Featured in the new cycle of Exclusively Independent is the award winning The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall - Legend Press.

This book tells the story of one woman's devotion, and investigates the boundaries between love and obsession.

How can we escape what others have created? We all become what our pasts make us. Whether it’s in replication or rejection, rebellion or duty, our life’s journey is written on our skin like a tattoo, the map to the heart of us. What has the teacher learnt? What does the barrister wish to defend? Those who hold others under lock and key, what do they seek to control?

The Woman Before Me


We are all just one event away from the loss of love, of the status quo, of the illusory balance in our lives.

The characters in The Woman Before Me are ordinary people made extraordinary by an unusual situation or an unusual choice. I am interested in extremities, situational and emotional, which would include crime but also madness, sexual deviance, and obsessive love….


Happiness is a fragile, transitory thing. In some ways only when it is gone can we truly discover what we are made of, the very essence of our self: integrity, courage; or the opposite. Whether or not we can be survivors. I’m compelled to explore human emotion (especially grief, jealousy, anger) and the tentative grip any of us have on our lives.


I spent years working with criminals, including murderers and sex offenders, and every novel has been inspired by a true event. Although there is often a crime or violent incident at the core of my writing, my novels explore the real consequences of crime. In much genre crime fiction, when the perpetrator is successfully caught, natural order is restored. If anything, my writing is the opposite of such escapism.


The Woman Before Me is (I hope!) a reflective novel. A careful exploration of loss and love, an emotional insight into ourselves. I want the reader to close the book and hug their child a bit tighter, kiss their lover more softly. To feel they have actively participated in the journey, arriving with a different view of their own surroundings…

…If only for a moment.


Many thanks to Ruth for putting this blog together for the site - The Woman Before Me wond the CWA Debut Dagger Award, as well as the Luke Bitmead Bursary leading to it's publication with Legend Press. To buy a copy for £7.99, head to Legend Press site.

Friday, 3 September 2010

EI Relaunch - New Selection Announced!

WBM cover As previously mentioned, Exclusively Independent is now being relaunched, and we have a fantastic selection of titles to get the ball rolling! There are six titles chosen, including Legend Press' very own The Woman Before Me and from Paperbooks, The Grease Monkey's Tale. The final selection is as follows:

Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi - Andrew Stott (Canongate)
Crossing Jerusalem, Journey at the Centre of the World's Trouble - Nicholas Woodsworth (Haus Publishing)
La Rochelle - Michael Nath (Route)
The Grease Monkey's Tale - Paul Burman (Paperbooks)
The Accident - Ismail Kadare (Canongate)
The Woman Before Me - Ruth Dugdall (Legend Press)


The titles will now be sourced by Gardners, distributed to independent bookshops and libraries, and displayed for the extended period of time of six weeks.

Lauren


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Submission Call now Closed!

The call for Exclusively Independent submissions has now closed!

Many thanks to all of the publishers for submitting titles - we have a great selection from all genres to now choose from.

Six titles will be selected as the best of independent talent, and then go on display, highlighted by EI promotional material in bookshops and libraries.

The submissions will now go to the panel prior to the panel meeting and then announced at the beginning of September.

Lauren

Friday, 30 July 2010

Exclusively Independent Relaunched!

We recently took a break for Exclusively Independent purely to regroup, and really think about the fantastic feedback gained.

So now that we're back in action the following alterations have been made:

The project will run bi-monthly instead of every four weeks. This is purely to ensure the titles are given the exposure they deserve, and time to really highlight independent talent.

Six titles will be selected as each cycles final titles, instead of 10. For numerous independent bookshops, space is an issue therefore responding to this feedback we have shortened the amount of titles selected. We hope this will provide each title with the space, exposure and prominence that we strive for.

With additional publishers involved, we welcome the return of the project, and look forward to reading your submissions!

Publishers just need to email up to three AI's and ms' to the address below.

Thanks,

Lauren
laurenparsons@legend-paperbooks.co.uk

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Zoë Jenny's Sophie's Summer continued

Here is the second half of Zoë's beautiful short story, Sophie's Summer:

Clarice and I picked up Jan by car at the train station. He was standing on the platform with a smile; his legs were covered with fine blond hair, and he had brought along all of his photographic equipment. On the way back, as I sat in the back seat, Jan started sniffing Clarice’s locks and inhaling the fragrance of her hair. He embraced Clarice’s parents and walked with a possessive gait through the house as if he belonged there checking everything out as if only in passing.

The next day he unpacked his equipment. The smallest of things could capture his interest: a beam of light falling through the veranda door and casting a rectangular shadow on the wooden table, a petal, Clarice’s exposed arm draped across the back of a chair. In the evening at the beach, he took pictures of clouds drifting by, of the sun going down, and of the sea and the shells washed ashore. Eventually, he threw himself on the ground and photographed the structures of the sand. Sitting on our swimming towels, Clarice, Sophie and I started laughing, as we saw him doing that. Jan gazed through his lens, crawled through the sand, and discovered Sophie’s feet, as if by coincidence. He exclaimed how beautiful her feet were, so fine and round. He asked her to let the sand run through her toes. Sophie turned red in the face and sheepishly tucked strands of hair out of her face and behind her ear, like a woman suddenly turned into a girl again. She did, as Jan asked her to, and he photographed her feet full of enthusiasm. At the dinner table, as they sat facing each other, Jan observed how Sophie brought the fork to her mouth or how her hands folded the napkins. She didn’t seem to notice, but Clarice did and went to bed sooner than usual. For the next couple of days, Jan was preoccupied with photographing Sophie. He accompanied her to the beach and was her constant companion, leaving only to rush into the village to buy more film.

Sophie’s voice suddenly regained its strength. Her laughter was buzzing through the house, like an invisible but omnipresent figure. Clarice tried not to let on, but I felt for the very first time that she was afraid. Sometimes she cast a sideways glance at her father, as if waiting for his intervention. Only once, after dinner, did Mr. Schmitz ask Jan what he was going to do with all these photos. “Nothing, really,” Jan replied, “I am just practicing.” Mr. Schmitz slapped him on the back, a bit too forceful to be understood as gesture of good will. Jan, however, did not respond in kind, but instead fumbled with his camera and looked at it from all sides, as if it were an interesting, live creature.

On the eve of our departure, Sophie decided to have dinner in the garden and carried the table out with Jan. Clarice complained of a headache and said good night even before we had dessert. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Schmitz and I retreated into our rooms as well. From my bedroom window, I could see Sophie and Jan, two lovers facing one another in the glow of a candle. Clarice knocked at my door. “I can’t sleep,” she said and crawled into my bed. Under my blanket she assumed an embryonic posture. “Close the window,” she said in a cold voice. “I have always known it.” As children, we used to lie next to each other for many a night for fear of missing the ghosts sneaking past us the moment we’d close our eyes.

Mr. Schmitz stumbled into the room even before sunrise. “They have gone,” he said in a muffled voice. Clarice sat up abruptly. Not only were her eyes wide open, her entire face was looking intently. The house was quiet. In the distance one could hear the wash of the ocean. Clarice threw away the flowers in all the rooms. She bent the stems and plucked the flowers. Mr. Schmitz shook his head mechanically. “Has she gone crazy, has she gone crazy?” he said as if to himself, while removing the items he had placed in the suitcase; he stared at them, not knowing what to do with them. I couldn’t help but think of Clarice’s hair as a child, the lock I had kept somewhere in a match box. I walked up to her and grabbed her arm. “This will pass; it doesn’t mean anything,” I said, unsure of myself. Clarice looked up briefly, and my words disappeared behind the disks of her eyes in the dark.


Many thanks to Zoë for taking the time to write Sophie’s Summer – it’s always interesting to see how each author interprets the task of writing a blog, and posting up a short story adds a little variety to the daily entries. To buy a copy of The Sky is Changing, please click on the link below.


Order your copy of The Sky is Changing now -
£7.99


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Best selling author Zoë Jenny - Sophie's Summer

Zoë's first novel The Pollen Room (1997) won her global critical acclaim and is the all-time best selling debut novel by a Swiss author. The novel has been translated into 27 languages since publication.

The Sky is Changing (published by Legend Press is May 2010) is Zoë's first novel written in English, and featured in the May selection of Exclusively Independent.

Zoë has written a lovely short story for the site entitled Sophie's Summer. Today, the first half will be posted, and check back here tomorrow to read the second half.

What happened back then in the summer home of the Schmitz family was unimaginable for all of us, and in the end nobody was able to explain how this family could have been destroyed within just a couple of days and how its members could be so estranged from one another that it was as if they had never been related.

Clarice, the only daughter of Martin and Sophie Schmitz, was a friend from my early childhood. Our friendship evolved from casual encounters over a long period of time into a regular part of my life, similar to the way isolated stars only add up to a recognizable picture when seen from a distance of light years.


Clarice had big eyes, which changed color from green to blue depending on the light falling on them. It was as if she inhaled each word I spoke with her eyes. I guess that was the reason I loved her so much: because she listened with her eyes and, as if coming from nowhere, came out with sentences like, “I can be as lonely as a man.”


As kids we lived on the same street and walked round our neighborhood hand in hand disguised as princesses. We would spend weekends alternately in the home of her or my parents. Clarice’s mother had a small, high-pitched voice. When we used to come out of the bathroom and crawl under the covers, still smelling of chamomile, she would sometimes stand in front of her bed, call her husband and, while clapping her hands, tell him how we looked like sisters. In reality, however, Clarice had brown, curly hair, whereas mine was brunette and straight. Once, as a token of our friendship, I cut off a lock of her hair and kept it in a matchbox.


We were both sent to the same school and, pressured by us, our parents saw to it that we were put in the same class. We sat next to one another for the first couple of years and copied each other’s mistakes during our school exams. During lessons we exchanged folded messages, on which we had drawn small and mean caricatures of our teachers and made fun of them. Eventually we were separated because, as they used to say, we were a “bad influence” on one another. As a result, we no longer saw each other as regularly as before. But even if I didn’t see her for weeks or months, we shared a bond and the knowledge that we understood one another without having to say so.


When she turned seventeen, Clarice took a small apartment in the city and on weekends worked until two in a bar. At that time, her parents bought the summer home on the beach. Clarice visited her parents only during agreed-upon times. “Family relations have to be scheduled, too,” she once said when she showed me her calendar, where I could see the entry, “visit parents,” in red. She visited them at Easter and Christmas. And in the summers she would spend two weeks in the house on the beach. From that point on, she never went by herself but always brought along whatever boyfriend she had at the time. For the most part, I would hear from her only when one of her affairs had run aground. Clarice was passionate about being in love. She carried her beautiful curvaceous body through the streets of the city as if it were a gift. Once she called me in the middle of the night to tell me in a husky voice that her parents and I were the only remaining anchors of stability in her life. That was shortly before we were presented with our high school graduation certificates, then Clarice disappeared abroad and I didn’t hear from her for years. Occasionally, I would bump into Sophie at an intersection or while shopping: “Clarice is attending a famous acting school,” she announced. She was doing well. For the summer, she had plans to return to the holiday home, together with her boyfriend. I extended my best regards. Every time I met Sophie, her small high-pitched voice had shrunk even more; her voice seemed to shrivel year after year. When I inquired about Clarice, she would whisper faintly “yes,” she would see her in the summer when she planned to return home with Thomas. The names of her boyfriends changed from Thomas to Paul and from Erich to Robert. In my thoughts I envisioned an empty chair at the table in the Schmitz family summer home on which, year after year, sat a different young man next to Clarice in front of the same plate as his predecessors.


Years later, following a short and unusually harsh winter, I bumped into Clarice in a clothing store in our hometown. I was looking for something to wear for the wedding of a friend of mine, and was standing in front of the mirror trying on a festive, sequined dress, when she tapped me on the shoulder. Clarice’s eyes had gotten even bigger, as if the life she had witnessed had stretched her pupils. We sat down at a street café and both watched the people go by. As she pulverized the ice cubes in her glass with the handle of her spoon, she related how she had stopped going to acting school after having a nervous breakdown. She had been running around from morning to night with a palpitating heart supercharged on cocaine. She hadn’t been eating for days, simply because she had forgotten to, and one morning in class she collapsed midway through a recitation. Now she was living with her parents again and trying to relax. She was doing better, and on her way home on the train she had fallen in love with a photographer. I nodded and congratulated her by clinking my glass against hers. The same evening she called to say that she was going to their summer home in a couple of days and asked whether I’d like to come along.

Clarice was driving and we sang along loudly and badly to the music blaring from the radio. Her parents were already there when we arrived that evening. They were standing on the veranda and calling our names as we spotted them whilst walking through the garden. Sophie clapped her hands and said to her husband: “Don’t they look like sisters?”


The summer home was smaller than I had imagined it. “It is an ok house,” as Clarice phrased it. Sophie had put flowers all over the place. Depending on the room, it smelled of azaleas, lilies, and orchids. On the first floor was a kitchen and a spacious living room. That’s where we sat, with the veranda door open, until late at night talking over old times. You could hear the sea in the distance. Mr. Schmitz put his arm around Sophie’s shoulders. He was a 56-year-old man full of the pride and self-satisfaction of success because he had worked hard for it. Mr. Schmitz was on the road for much of the year, so he didn’t feel like moving while on vacation. He lay the whole day in a yellow-and-white striped lawn chair in the garden, his face covered by a sheet of newspaper set up like a tent. When Clarice, Sophie and I, late in the morning, walked past him through the garden in our bathing suits, he lifted his arm and waved at us. His face remained invisible beneath the newspaper. The beach was only a couple of minutes away from the house. Barefoot we climbed over the dunes behind which the sea was hidden. We began the day by rubbing sun tan lotion on one another’s backs. I rubbed Sophie’s back, she did mine and that of her mother. From the corners of my eyes, I observed how Clarice’s hands moved in a circular motion on Sophie’s back. All the other women I knew had problematic relationships with their mothers dominated by feelings of hatred, guilt, and envy, and even death did not always bring about a solution to these tensions. I couldn’t help but stare at Clarice’s hands on her mother’s peaceful back.


When we returned that evening, Mr. Schmitz awaited us relaxed and in a good mood. He cooked for us women light dishes, cold soups and fish. He called Sophie “princess,” and sometimes even “sweety,” when he had drunk a bit too much; I always felt awkward hearing this phrase, even though the term was fitting, except when coming from his mouth. We spent some calm and peaceful days together. Clarice relaxed and her body turned brown and round. One evening the phone rang, and Clarice was gone for an hour. When she returned, she let us know in a happy voice that her photographer-boyfriend was on his way here.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Fantastic news as former EI author Andrew Sharp has won the Waverton Good Read Award for his fantastic novel The Ghosts of Eden! Congratulations to Andrew and Picnic Publishing for enabling this brilliant book to receive the recognition it deserves.

Here is a short piece from Andrew:

Waverton Village Recipe for the Waverton Good Read Award


Take a large village, stir in sixty-one novels, bake patiently until five rise to the surface, skim those off and taste. Announce winning novel at village fete. Warning: takes nine months to cook.

Since 2003 the village of Waverton in Cheshire has been selecting a debut novel by a British or Irish author to receive the Waverton Good Read Award. The award came to national attention in its first year with author Tony Saint’s article in the Telegraph entitled I’m not even the fifth best novelist in Waverton. Previous winners have included Mark Haddon for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Maria Lewycka for A History of Tractors in Ukrainian, and Tom Rob Smith for Child 44.

The folk of the village, from all walks of life, score the submitted novels using a detailed and telling feedback form. The options for scoring include whether the book has too many clichés, is a man’s or a woman’s book, whether it would make a good film, and whether there is a lot of violence and sex. I’m not sure if the last is a pre-requisite to success. I guess not as I kept above the duvet in my own novel; principally to avoid the risk of being nominated for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. There is also that most telling question rarely asked by other literary prizes: whether the reader made it through to the final page.

Waverton’s readers were kind enough to like The Ghosts of Eden sufficiently to give it top marks this year and so give approval to the offerings from the hamper of Independent Publishers such as Picnic Publishing.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Legend Press Writers' Workshop

We’re delighted to announce a unique opportunity for writers to meet, question and present their work to some of the UK’s most prominent writers: Bonnie Greer, Zoë Jenny and Nick Griffiths.

Bonnie Greer OBE: Bonnie is an author, playright and political commentator, who has become a regular on our TV screens, and one of the most high profile writers of the last year. She has also acted as a judge for the Orange Prize for Fiction and her latest book, OBAMA MUSIC, was included in Blackwell’s Paperbacks of the Year, and featured in the October cycle of Exclusively Independent.

Zoë Jenny: Zoë’s first novel, THE POLLEN ROOM, sold into 27 languages and made her the highest-selling Swiss debut novel in history. She has since written a number of hit novels and, in June 2010, THE SKY IS CHANGING launched. This is her first novel written in English and featured in the May cycle of EI.

Nick Griffiths: Nick has had five books published across three publishers, witnessing the full range of what large and small publishers can offer. His books include acclaimed Doctor Who titles, DALEK I LOVED YOU and WHO GOES THERE, and IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF HARRISON DEXTROSE, which has been described as the new HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, and featured in the January cycle.

Event to start at 12.00 at Kings College London, full directions to be sent following booking confirmation. Please note that places limited to 30 writers.
Price: £100.00+VAT.

To book, email conference@legend-paperbooks.co.uk

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Caroline Rance at Grit Lit Brighton

Previously featured in Exclusively Independent, was Caroline Rance's fantastic novel Kill Grief (Picnic Publishing). Here in Caroline's own words you can read all about the event, the experience as a whole and how successful she was.

I read from my historical novel, Kill-Grief, at Grit Lit in Brighton on 13 May. It was great fun but little did I expect that we'd win the Latest 7 Award for Best Literature Event of the festival – seeing off some brilliant competition including Hanover Poetry Society and Martin Amis.

I don’t get that nervous about events these days (jaded old author!) so when I arrived in Brighton at lunchtime, I could look forward to a whole afternoon of pretending to be on holiday. I had an omelette and chips at Buddies then sat on the beach working on revision notes for my next book, For the Love of Freaks. A stroll up and down the pier, and then I went back to my freezing B&B room to have a quick practice of my reading and make myself look as presentable as can be expected.

The other writers on the bill were Jake Kennedy, Tim Lay, Dave Swann, Amy Riley, Neil Ansell and Ross Sutherland, so it was an ecletic mixture of flash fiction, short stories, novel extracts, memoir and poetry. I was lucky enough to be second to read, which meant I’d be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening. Disconcertingly, I got on stage to discover there was a huge mirror opposite, but I ignored it and concentrated on the text and the audience.

Although the theme of the evening was unromantic realism, the packed Red Roaster Coffee House had a warm and happy ambiance. I read Kill-Grief‘s most gruesome scene and while it’s rather disturbing, I was delighted to get a good response to the dark humour offered by my surgeon-apprentice character. Humour, in fact, was in abundance throughout the evening – despite the premise, this was far from being a bleak, depressing event.

A couple of weeks later, we found out that we were up for the award, and were just thrilled to be nominated, never expecting to win. It's so exciting that Grit Lit won the award in only its second year as part of the Festival Fringe, and a credit to the organisers, Tim Lay and Amy Riley, that we were able to compete with high-profile events.

There’s a great review of the evening by Mathilde Madden at Fringe Guru, and Grit Lit has a Facebook page. On there are a couple of videos of me reading – I haven’t dared watch them though!

Links:

Latest 7 Awards

Fringe Guru review

Grit Lit Facebook page


Friday, 18 June 2010

Guest Blog from Arthur Butler

Featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent is People, Politics and Pressure Groups by Arthur Butler (Picnic Books). Below is a great blog by Arthur, giving a fantastic insight into the author behind the memoir...

Following a career as a political correspondent for four national newspapers, Arthur Butler quit Fleet Street and became a lobbyist, quickly winning national recognition by directing three successful campaigns against the Heath Government's local government reform bill, for Cardiff, Essex and Middlesbrough.


Major companies and pressure groups, such as Imperial Tobacco and the British Road Federation, became his clients. At Westminster he took over the prestigious Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and set up other all-party groups linked to industries.


He advised the CBI and the motor vehicle and tobacco industries; helped the Police Federation win major battles on pay which would assist Mrs Thatcher in taking over 10 Downing Street; and was then recruited by local authorities hit by the miners' strike to create the Coalfield Communities Campaign to aid the stricken areas.


International work included assisting the anti-communists in their campaign against Romania's President Ceausescu although bumbling MI5 still thought to question him for possible attachments to the Eastern Bloc.


Colourful crooks - from Robert Maxwell to John Stonehouse - and statesman inhabit the pages, the author's many political friends ranging from Edward Heath to Michael Foot. Credit is also given to lesser known names in the process of politics and lobbying is shown, hopes Butler, to be a valuable tool of democracy.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Legend Press author Bonnie Greer wins OBE!

Congratulations to former Exclusively Independent author Bonnie Greer for recently being awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list! Her works include the fantastic OBAMA MUSIC which was featured in EI earlier this year.

It's a fantastic achievement and congratulations to Bonnie.

Lauren

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

New Exclusively Independent List!

We are very excited to announce the brand new selection of Exclusively Independent titles, including the highest selling debut Swiss author Zoe Jenny, and her first novel written in the English language: The Sky is Changing. We have a variety of titles included in this round, so hopefully something for everyone!

The Sky is Changing by Zoe Jenny (Legend Press)
Ashes by Matthew Crow (Legend Press)
Clarice Cliff by Will Farmer (Shire Books)
Is by Derek Webb (Parthian)
Into Suez by Stevie Davies (Parthian)
People, Politics and Pressure Groups by Arthur Butler (Picnic)

The selection should be in independent bookshops in roughly two weeks time, including London Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherds Bush Libraries.

Lauren

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Potential new avenues...

Exclusively Independent is all about supporting the independent sector. By bringing together publishers of all sizes, titles are highlighted that so often go unnoticed.

Always looking for new ways to promote each book, we are considering making each title available in different formats as well as potentially working with additional, larger publishers.

At this stage, nothing is confirmed, however it's interesting to see how we can push the project, open it up to a wider audience and have that desired result: bringing fantastic books to everyone's attention.

Lauren

Friday, 7 May 2010

Guest Blog from Gavin at Quartet Books

One of the selected titles this month is Dazed & Aroused by Gavin James Bower (Quartet Books). This sharp and highly entertaining novel is refreshing and enables the reader to delve into the glitzy, glamorous, and addictive world of fashion.

Blurb:
For six hectic months, season to season in the High Fashion calendar, twenty‐something male model Alex hurtles between London, Paris and Milan, absorbed in the ruthless world of the catwalk. His long‐term girlfriend, Nathalie, is desperate to rekindle their love; his oldest friend, Hugo, though regarding Alex’s so‐called career as frivolous, continues to urge fidelity; while his father, reduced to a voice on an answer machine, nevertheless persists in seeking his estranged son’s approval.

As his stock as a model soars, Alex is increasingly drawn into a world of predatory sex, drug‐induced infatuation and a growing bewilderment with the alluring, seductive shallowness of all he sees around him. The centre cannot hold...

Here is an exclusive, deleted scene from the book:

After the shoot is over I dream I’m with the two Japanese stylists and we’re in a club and have a table and are ordering bottles of U’Luvka vodka with fireworks on top and pitchers of cranberry and orange and the club is full of footballers and pop stars and 'New Gold Dream 81082-83-84' by Simple Minds is playing really loud and we actually dance on top of the table at one point.

Dazed from a day in the sun and a night of mainly drinking alcohol I ask them if they want to leave with me and they say 'Yes' and nod simultaneously and we all go back to a five-star hotel suite that I think is mine and we do some coke in the bathroom and I show them the trick with the Parliament cigareet and this makes them giggle and I think this means they're impressed.

We start kissing in the bathroom and they drag me into the bedroom and make me get undressed and stand for them in the middle of the room while they stare at me and whisper to one another but I'm not at all self-conscious and just stand there nude.

I join them on the bed and get them to turn around and then I take a moment to decide which one of them looks best from behind but it's actually purely academic because it's my dream and let's face it I can do what I want.

She's the one in front of me, the siren and the ecstasy.

New gold dream...


Many thanks to Gavin for providing such a fantastic blog. Visit Quartet Books' site by clicking here and browse among other brilliant titles that they have to offer.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Cameron Talks Exclusively During Election Day!

One of Exclusively Independent's very own titles, Dave Cameron's Schooldays by Bill Coles is being featured on the Legend Press site throughout the day.

Click here to visit the site and read hilarious diary snippets. One will be posted almost every hour - What do you think might be going through the Tory Leader's mind today?!

Lauren

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Guest Blog from Philip Ward

Featured in the current cycle of Exclusively Independent is the fantastic Mine Haha translated by Philip Ward. This title is the only available translation of the most celebrated fictional work by the influential German dramatist Frank Wedekind.


At the heart of a forest lies a mysterious girls’ boarding school, cut off from the outside world by a great wall and barred gates. Within, a group of youngsters gather round a small coffin, from which emerges a new pupil, Hidalla…

Frank Wedekind (1864–1918) has always fascinated me. He seems like a man born out of his time. You look at photos of him taken a hundred years ago singing self-composed songs to his own accompaniment and you think of Bob Dylan in his grizzled later incarnations. So it was fitting that I was led to Mine-Haha by one of the grandes dames of rock’n’roll, Marianne Faithfull. In her latest volume of memoirs she writes about Wedekind’s strange novella, speculating on similarities to her own upbringing among the Braziers Park community and regretting that it had never been translated into English. Here was my cue. I had already translated Franziska, one of Wedekind’s lesser-known plays, for a production at London’s Gate Theatre, so I was no stranger to his bizarre world. What encouraged me is how others feel at home there too. As I worked on the text, I discovered Innocence, the beautiful French film version of Mine-Haha. Then the Broadway rock musical Spring Awakening opened in London; not my cup of tea (I’m more of a Sondheim man) but young audiences went wild for it. In summer 2009 Lulu, Berg’s opera based on two Wedekind plays, was revived at Covent Garden. And as I write, Wedekind is set to hit the London stage yet again, with emergent director Anna Ledwich bringing her adaptation of the Lulu plays to the Gate Theatre in June.

In Mine-Haha, his most substantial prose text, Wedekind rehearses the concerns of his dramas – childhood, education, sexual awakening, the status of women – in concentrated fairytale form. I think its time has come.

Many thanks to Philip for putting together this blog and providing a great insight into his work.


Friday, 30 April 2010

Guest Blog from Anthony Werner

Featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent is Political Novel Prime Minister by John Stewart (Shepheard-Walwyn). Anthony Werner has graciously written a blog regarding this highly topical novel:


The country is in crisis. Unrest and inner city tensions feed on unemployment. As the Government struggles to contain the soaring debt, divisions in the Cabinet force the premier’s resignation. Because circumstances are too dire to afford the luxury of an election, the Queen calls a meeting of the three main party leaders.

Some days previously, the Leader of the Opposition had received a letter that intrigued him. The writer, in fact, had held little hope of making contact. For him, it was one last try. Yet much to his amazement he received a phone call from the opposition leader’s secretary. When they met, the Leader of the Opposition was polite, but blunt: ‘Why should you see the answer when all the experts down the ages have ignored it?’ he asked - yet, his interest had been
aroused.

Following the meeting with the Queen, it was announced that the Leader of the Opposition had been asked to form a national government. With the support of the other two party leaders, he sets out to win over the cabinet, parliament and the country to implement the radical reform recommended by the letter writer.

Visit Shepheard-Walwyn's site by clicking here and browse among a selection of their other fantastic titles.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Mark Piggott's Blog

Legend Press author Mark Piggott is today's Guest Blogger. His second novel Out of Office will be featured in Exclusively Independent and here Mark writes about the true meaning of the word 'independent'. It's always interesting to read the various blogs posted up on this site, and everyone interprets the task of writing a blog, differently. Many thanks to Mark for providing us with this piece, and read more about his fantastic new novel by visiting his website here and/or the Legend Press website here.


in·de·pend·ent
–adjective
Not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.

No man is an island” – John Donne

In our interdependent world, is it even possible to be truly “independent”? Indeed would one wish to be independent, when together so much more can be achieved? I pride myself on my independent spirit, but it’s something I couldn’t have developed on my own. Without other people I’d be worse off materially, emotionally and financially: to go it alone, you need all the help you can get.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what would happen if Legend Press were to be swallowed whole by some multinational corporation that also manufactures pesticides or drills deep into the Alaskan tundra on behalf of libertarian Governors. This fictional megacorp would of course be based in America and the managing director would smoke fat cigars and possess the power to break newspaper critics with a well-aimed email.

One part of me – the pragmatist, the family-man materialist – wonders if being amalgamated might be a good thing. What’s the point of ideals if nobody reads your stuff? Another part of me – the dogmatic punk, the Leftie firebrand – would want to campaign outside the conglomerate’s 80-storey glass-and-platinum HQ with strongly-worded placards, chanting touchingly 80s slogans.

The pessimist in me worries that whoever took over would make it their first priority to jettison excess baggage, those authors whose novels are yet to sell in Rowling-in-it quantities. The red line is the bottom line: publishing is a business, not a charity, a refuge for dreamers (before you write in, I don’t believe this).

On balance, I’m happy where Legend Press have positioned themselves, as an independent and growing publisher with strong links to other independents, sharing some ideals and resources, each with their own strengths, interests, back-stories and catalogues. Would the phrase “independent union” be a more accurate description of this noble scheme, despite being an oxymoron? I’m glad I’m independent; I’m glad we all are. Viva independence: long live the union.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Part Two of Guest Blogger: Gwen Davies

Following on from yesterday, Gwen Davies has continued her blog - describing upcoming titles and authors.


I need to have a think about a few authors who had been taken up by London agents but who for various reasons are considering coming back to the fold. This will be more likely if we can boost their advance via a WBC commissioning grant (these go as high as £10,000). However, the scheme stipulates very high printruns (for literary works) and denies us access to the publishing grant scheme, and since the advance goes exclusively to the authors, the scheme is not as appealing as it initially looks to the publisher. There is still time to mull this over.

Once the production rush calms down, I will look into sorting out advance bound uncorrected proofs to promote our October titles, The Deer Wedding by Penny Simpson, which is set in Croatia, and Bamboo Grove by Romy Wood, which is set in Bangkok. Lovely covers of these have already been sorted: a delicate Balkan folk-art feel for the Croatian novel and a hot, sexy urban tang for the Thai one. Romy is very open about the fact that she has Bipolar Disorder, and we have been discussing how this aspect of her personality and the novel’s themes, might fit in with marketing the book. She only recently sent me a jolly text saying “Getting on well with next book but hospitalised again!” Being involved with the ups and downs of an author’s emotional life is an interesting part of the job, too – though there are limits!

A big thankyou to Gwen for providing us with such a fantastic blog over the last two days.

Both Bumping by Tony Bianchi and Faith Hope and Love by Llwyd Owen from Alcemi are featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent. You can find out more about the company by visiting there site and clicking here.