Friday, 5 January 2018

This week at Valley Press, #87: 'Old Dan'



Dear readers,

Happy new year! I'm writing on behalf of your favourite Scarborough-based publishing company (remember us?), where we're starting the year as we mean to continue; just five days in and already a new title is on the shelves.

First up for 2018 is How Old Dan Became a Tree, the second in our 'Shaanxi Stories' series published in association with Northwest University, Xi’an (if anyone from there is reading, happy new year to you too... for February, of course). If this is the first you're hearing about the Shaanxi series, don't worry, you've only missed one title – the sublime Mountain Stories – and you can read about the genesis of the project here.

I thought Mountain Stories was the perfect introduction to Chinese literature in translation, and this new book (by Yang Zhengguang) is a fairly suitable next step – though it is definitely a challenging read. Even in China these stories are considered boundary-breaking, with no shortage of sex and violence (consider yourselves warned). I had various interns proof-reading the text last summer; they would frequently stop, read out a toe-curlingly outrageous bit of prose, and I would reply: 'good grief!' But then they would quickly say: '...but I'm really enjoying it, I'm gripped.' So there you go. (Did you ever hear about the publisher who went broke peddling tales of lust and revenge? No, me neither...)

If you fancy something more local, York-based poet Ian Stuart has recorded an audiobook version of Quantum Theory for Cats, which you can pick up here (or from your preferred audiobook seller) for just over £3. Besides working as a Ghost Trail guide, Ian is also a professional voiceover artist, so the quality of this production (polished in the studio by Scarborough hero Tom Townsend) is second-to-none. Our Arts Council grant for 2018 included funding for audiobooks, so expect quite a few more before the year is out.

There was no newsletter last week, but my typing fingers weren't idle; I sketched out a brief business plan for a one-person publishing company (that's the kind of thing I do for fun these days) and posted it here. Afterwards, my inbox was filled with questions and comments about the featured figures, so I'm now working on a follow-up piece to answer them. Stay tuned for that soon...

...but not next week, as I've decided to make this newsletter a fortnightly event in 2018. The hope is that I can redirect some creative energy to write the 'ten years of Valley Press' memoir, which I half-promised would appear this coming October, and also give the Emma/Valley podcast a decent go (the most recent episode is still the Christmas one).

So I'll see you in two weeks, when I'll be ready to reveal the next book (which is yet another surprising diversion from the usual programming). Stay out of trouble!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher