Sunday, 30 October 2016

This week at Valley Press, #33: 'Exile and miscellany'

Dear readers,

This week, updates on numerous ongoing projects – but first, I want to mention a new book that you might call an 'honorary member' of the Valley Press family.

Back in January I heard from Adnan al-Sayegh, an Iraqi writer who fled his home country after being condemned to death by the Hussein regime during the 1990s. Now living in London, his latest collection had been translated to English, and prepped for publication by a band of friends, family and supporters: could I help them make it available for sale? As it happened, I could: Adnan's book, charmingly titled To Cuddle My Exile, is available in paperback here and on Kindle here (sorry for the Amazon links, but they do provide a good service!) If you're intrigued, there is a sample of the book available via the Kindle link. You can also read the full story of Adnan's extraordinary life in the blurb; worth clicking through for that alone, I would say.

Onto the updates: let's remember the two Sue Wilsea book launches (and 'Hull to Scarborough Line' performances) which are on this week, at Kardomah94 in Hull on Wednesday 2nd (main show 7pm, book launch 8pm), then at Scarborough Art Gallery on Sunday 6th (main show 3pm, book launch 4pm). I'll be there!

Antony Dunn is coming to Scarborough too this week, to our favourite bookshop Wardle & Jones, on Friday 4th from 6.30. There are only ten tickets available for this event, and the shop is closed Tuesday-Thursday, so you'll need to call them on Monday afternoon (01723353260) if you've any hope of sneaking in. Even I might have to give that one a miss! If you've ordered a signed copy of his new book, I'm hoping to get them all signed and posted that same day.

What else is there? Oh yes: our current submissions process is coming to an end in a month's time, so start getting your manuscript in order if you're a last-minute sort of person. If you've submitted already and are waiting for news, I'll be working through submissions during December and hope to have replied to everyone before Christmas Day. That means I'll be needing volunteers for the reading group, to meet for a day in Scarborough and give opinions on the most promising work. If you'd like to be involved, please get in touch and let me know which days you're available between the 5th and 16th of December. There's no money available, but I do provide biscuits (as you can see below).

I'm still getting a few enquiries about the Yorkshire Anthology: it's not dead, I promise! I hope to have a new date for you soonish, once Miles clambers back to the surface of your enormous heap of Yorkshire-related writing. Oh, and talking of Yorkshire – John Wedgwood Clarke's TV programme can still be viewed on iPlayer here, and I'm told is repeated on BBC4 this week (though I haven't made a note of when ... see listings?)

No picture of George for you this time – don't want to spoil you, he'll be back though! Until then, keep reading, and I'll see you soon.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Sunday, 23 October 2016

This week at Valley Press, #32: 'Cover version'

Dear readers,

A nice brief post this week, for a change! First, I want to mention that Antony Dunn's Take This One To Bed – with its instantly-iconic cover photograph, as featured above – will be with us soon. At the moment you are spoilt for choice: you can buy a first-edition paperback, signed by Antony, for £10, or a limited-edition hardback, signed and numbered, for £20. (Alternatively, should you not want to handle any paper or card whatsoever, there's a Kindle version for £3.99.)

At some point in the next few weeks, those signed books are likely to disappear, so you may want to get in now if you want one. If you've never encountered Antony's poetry, and are wondering what all the fuss is about, you can read nine poems from the new book here – hardly ever do you get such a generous preview!

There are launch events coming: Friday 11th November in Leeds, at Yorkshire Dance (St Peter’s Buildings, St Peter’s Square, LS9 8AH), then Friday 18th November in York, at the Friargate Theatre (Lower Friargate, YO1 9SL). In both cases, the bar will open at 7pm, there'll be a brief reading at 7.30pm, and then lots of milling around with interesting people; surely there's no better way to spend a winter evening?

The second thing I want to mention comes courtesy of Twitter. Kris Mole, author of our 2015 travel hit Gatecrashing Europe, posted on Tuesday: 'Mind blown. Got sent this epic pic from a reader ... in Mostar, same spot as front cover.'

I have to say, I never thought I'd see that! Even more impressive, the reader pictured (named Lewis Lloyd) is actually from Scarborough; he met Kris when he came over for a book signing in August '15, so that copy has travelled all the way from VP HQ. Got to respect the effort involved! (We can't condone smoking, obviously; I've explained to baby George that holding a cigarette is only appropriate when reconstructing classic book covers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I think he understood.)

Speaking of George – because I can, and because his one-month birthday is coming up, let's end with a picture of him in his best 'book launch' outfit:

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Sunday, 16 October 2016

This week at Valley Press, #31: 'Raw Material'

Dear readers,

I want to begin this newsletter by taking you into the near future; to the start of November in fact. With the eyes of the world watching, events will take place (for the first time since 2012) that could decide the path of the free world for decades to come...

I'm talking, of course, about the release of another Valley Press book, with accompanying book launches (what did you think I meant?) After four years, legendary Hull-based writer Sue Wilsea is back with a new collection of her darkly witty short stories, titled Raw Material. If you've read her work before, there's no need for me to sell it to you; one reviewer said her last collection Staying Afloat was 'probably the best collection of short stories I have ever read by a living author' (though Sue wouldn't let me put that on the cover of the new book!)

I can't sugar-coat things theme-wise: there are a lot of stories about death in this book, and the others are mainly concerned with difficult relationships (in some cases, both); but despite that you will laugh, a lot, and your heart will ache at times when Sue points out a tiny detail (like the changing appearance of someone's hands over time). I don't know anyone else who can tell so much story in such few words.

One story, this one about difficult relationships after a death (for a change), is up on our site for you to read now, and you can pre-order the book here. There are two launch events planned, both following a new show by 'The Hull to Scarborough Line' (Sue's literary duo act with Felix Hodcroft) – they are at Kardomah94, in Hull, on November 2nd (main show 7pm, book launch 8pm), then heading to the Scarborough Art Gallery on November 6th (main show 3pm, book launch 4pm). Should be spectacular; I'll hope to see you then.

In other news this week: it's Sunday night, you've tuned your TV to BBC1, and you're settling down to watch a programme about a tousle-haired literary hero from Cornwall. That's right: Valley Press poet John Wedgwood Clarke has finally been given his own TV programme (again, what did you think I meant?) Here's a promotional still, with Dr Clarke looking authoritative yet approachable:

The programme, part of a series titled Books That Made Britain, was shown earlier today, but you can catch it for the next 29 days on the BBC's iPlayer service here. It's brilliant for anyone who wants to brush-up on the literary history of the Yorkshire coast.

Heading inland slightly, Robert Powell (another of our distinguished poets) has been involved in a very interesting project titled 'A Small Box of River'. Elaborating on some of the themes of his VP collection All, he's produced an exhibition and book with artist Jake Attree, which you can see at the Lotte Inch Gallery in York from the 20th October to the 15th November. There are a few events on as part of the exhibition too; you can find details of them on the gallery's newsletter here. After York, it moves to Salts Mill in Saltaire until Christmas, so you've plenty of chances to see it.

That's enough for this week – thanks for reading, as ever, and thanks to everyone who came to our gig in Manchester on Tuesday. Just because I can, here are Matthew Hedley Stoppard and Jo Brandon on their way to the event, about to enjoy an apple:

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Sunday, 9 October 2016

This week at Valley Press, #30: 'Take two'

Dear readers,

No new book this week, as we head into what was intended to be my paternity leave – little George had other plans, of course! Instead, I want to give you a really special offer, and flag up some books that would make excellent Christmas presents (if you're one of those exceptionally organised people who are already planning for the holidays).

Obviously, if there's anyone in your life who is a fan of contemporary poetry, you are spoilt for choice – in particular, our new anthology VP50 features a wide range of modern writers, and is of course shiny and gold (very festive). There are a few poetry titles with cross-genre appeal: Reward for Winter would be a classy choice for anyone interested in smallholding, animals in general, or chickens in particular (a third of the book is entirely devoted to a biography of a chicken). That book is similarly shiny, actually, but with silver foil; I feel a theme is developing. 'Silver and gold'.

Two of our recent poetry titles have especially broad appeal, within particular age brackets: Poems for Pensioners (55 plus?) is a humour book first and foremost, ideal for anyone who 'likes a chuckle' (as opposed to those who loathe chuckles? I apologise ... it's marketing speak, a whole language on its own!) Then there's Lucky Dip, which has already found an army of primary school age fans – I met some of them yesterday at the launch. After the event, we recorded a video of Catharine reading four poems from the book, which you can watch here if you like.

Beyond poetry, The Naked Muse would be a good choice for any fans of art; and going back to last year, there's Cinema Stories for film buffs, and Gatecrashing Europe for wise-cracking, free-spirited travel enthusiasts. And loads more, of course!

So what about the special offer? For the next seven days, if you enter the voucher code GIVEMETWO, you'll get 5% off any book you buy – but more significantly, I'll post you two copies of each book in the order. So you order a copy of Mr Jolly (for example); two will arrive. You order Mr Jolly and The Learned Goose: you get two of each. Make sense? It's not too revolutionary – I guess they call it 'buy one get one free'!

This applies to any book we've published to date. (I might do it again later in the year, so keep an eye out.) Now I've typed it up, I suppose it's not that useful an offer for Christmas; unless you know a pair of people with similar tastes, to whom you can give the same present...? Oh well. Let's just go with it!

I'm hoping to see some of you this Tuesday (the 11th) at the Manchester Literature Festival; details of our event are here. Did I mention it's free to attend? There's Sheffield on the 17th too, for which there is a very small fee. I won't mention those again – next week, I hope to have another new book to tell you about. There are six titles in various stages of production, all due out before the end of November; I'll take my pick!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Sunday, 2 October 2016

This week at Valley Press, #29: 'New and Selected'

Dear readers,

It's been a busy first week in the world for baby George. Just reading the hundreds of lovely emails he received after last Sunday's newsletter was quite tiring enough – but afterwards, before he went for his fifth sleep of the day, he asked me to thank you all for your kind words. We were touched!

As for me, I'd like to apologise to the authors of the other two-hundred emails I received this week, about important publishing stuff, all of which I've had to ignore. I think we may be getting into the beginnings of a routine now, a week after D-day, so perhaps this time next week I'll be back to full speed? Let's remember, I've lost my 'executive assistant' too – thanks in advance for your understanding!

I know you read these newsletters for the cutting-edge literature, and vital news from 'one of Yorkshire's leading publishers' (I'll be milking that quote until George is in high school), so I'll get back to that stuff straight away; no more baby-related frivolity. What's that? Oh ... go on then, one more picture!

Somehow, Valley Press managed to release a new book this week – the latest project from our Associate Editor Rosa Campbell, who has just started studying for her PhD up in St Andrews (so she might be quiet for a while). As hinted in the last two newsletters, this is a monumental 380-page poetry collection which took no less than forty-five years to write; it's the New and Selected Poems of Paul Sutherland.

VP followers will know Paul best as the author of 2012's Journeying, one of our most popular poetry titles, or perhaps for his many years of work on the journal Dream Catcher. He's been writing and publishing consistently since 1970, and (as I discovered in the last four years) has not slowed down at all – by spring 2014 he had offered me two excellent short collections, and it was that May when I realised I wouldn't be able to keep up, and suggested we do a big book bringing all Paul's best work into print at once.

There's so much content in this book (and this is going to be a long post!) that I'm going to struggle to describe it concisely; so will quote from Rosa's excellent blurb:

"[The book] charts the poet’s life from his Canadian roots to immigration to the UK, from agnosticism to Christianity to Sufi Islam, and from natural wonderment to a greater understanding of the world around us. The collection is in turn heartfelt, philosophical, and beautifully lyrical, as Sutherland lays bare for the reader his experiences and perspectives – at once particular and universal. Completely unique, this is an unflinching and forensic exploration of a life lived through language."

The book retails for £20, which is quite a serious price; but we think that's exceptionally good value for such a comprehensive collection. Plus, as you're a newsletter reader, you get special treatment: 20% off all this week with the code PSUTH. You can buy the book here, and make sure you click through anyway to see the extraordinary cover image; a dramatic photo of Paul by Abigail Smith.

Elsewhere this week, far away from nappies and baby-gros, Jonathan, Kelley and Malene started our autumn tour by taking Valley Press to Swindon – the performance was nicely reviewed here, well worth reading that if you couldn't make it. We'll be in Manchester and Sheffield soon; that's the 11th and 17th respectively, follow the links for times and booking.

There's also a Lucky Dip launch event coming up at our Scarborough HQ in Woodend, at which you might actually get to meet baby George – that's 10.30am on Saturday 8th (so before the next newsletter). Maybe I'll see you there, or at one of the tour events? In the meantime, thanks for reading, have a great week, and look out for next week's newsletter which will have a brilliant offer for early Christmas shoppers.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

P.S. Thanks to the in-laws for entertaining George and Laura while I wrote this!