WEDNESDAY 10TH AUGUST
THE END OF THE ROAD
They say all good things come to an end, and I’m sorry to announce that today is just that day for Boo Books. Having run for nearly two years, and produced a host of books that I remain really proud of – from our early anthologies to more recent novels and novellas – Boo Books is closing its doors for good.
Publishing is a tough game – anyone involved in it will tell you that – and while I think Boo Books has certainly made a good fist of things I don’t think I truly realised just how tough a business it was. There’s a huge amount of work goes into making a book happen, but even more that needs to go into marketing it and pushing it out there. And with so much else in the freelance portfolio – FantasyCon, Edge-Lit and Sledge-Lit, teaching, copy-editing, proofreading, film reviewing etc – I don’t feel as though I have the time or money to sustain everything with a small press also and really do it justice.
Rest assured it’s not been a decision I’ve reached lightly, and it genuinely hurts to make this announcement at all. If I followed my heart I’d be carrying on, but if I actually look at it with my head I know it’s ultimately the right thing to do.
In closing, I want to extend a huge thanks to everyone who has got involved with the press, not least all our authors – far too many writers in our anthologies to list, but a special nod to Andrew David Barker, Carl Peter Robinson, James Everington and Tracy Fahey, who have all produced stunning single-author volumes for us. Also a massive thanks to Tom Ashton, Claire Thomas, Emily Morley and Rebecca Barber, who have all interned for us and made massive contributions to what was achieved in those two years. And finally a thanks to everyone who has bought, read, enjoyed and reviewed our titles – all your support means a lot.
The winding down process will be gradual, so if you still wanted to get your hands on some of our titles they’ll be available for a while yet. But we won’t be producing any more books, and the aim is to clear most of our stock by the end of 2016. So you can still expect a few bargains to be popping up here and there…
Thanks to everyone for a great two years of Boo Books!!
THURSDAY 14TH APRIL
AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES EVERINGTON
With our next release right around the corner, we thought we would sit down with James and have a chat about Trying to Be So Quiet, his ghostly tale of love and loss.
Do you have any particular horror author influences such as authors or films?
It’s mainly authors. As a teenager my dad introduced me to Stephen King,. I read about 20 of them in a row. When I was bit older it was probably Ramsey Campbell, particularly as he mainly writes short stories but also because of the atmosphere, it’s got a lot more English sensibility than Stephen King. Various people since then – Shirley Jackson, Robert Aichman, I could go on for ages!
How about films, are you a fan of the horror film scene?
I don’t particularly like a lot of the overly gory ones, not because I’m squeamish but I find them pretty dull and predictable. I do enjoy of the 70’s one’s like Don’t Look Now, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Alien but I would say I’m less influenced by horror films than I am by writing.
Are there any local authors who you’ve found to be quite good within that field?
In terms of ones from Nottingham, there’s an author called Richard Farren Barber who is very good. Wider afield there’s a lot of good people on the UK scene – VH Lesley is excellent, Ray Clooley, Mark West. There’s a lot of talent in the small press at the moment, especially with regards to the horror side.
What gave you the idea to make the house entwined with the death of Lizzie in Trying to Be So Quiet?
Ghosts are meant to be in haunted houses, it’s the obvious setting for me. There’s some lines in there, and it’s not thrown in your face but it’s the house that they lived together and designed together. It was a big part of their life and then obviously her dying put a crimp in those plans. The cracks in the house within the walls are a reflection of that. The external environments reflects the inner situation of the character.
Have you had any supernatural experiences yourself? If so, did they influence Trying to be so Quiet?
It probably is a no – I don’t really believe in any of it which might sound odd! I think to me why that kind of thing is scary is that if there is such a thing as a zombie it’s a physical thing, you have to learn how to deal with it. It’s more the idea that everything you know about life can be wrong. I’m quite a logical and rational person in my life but if ghosts were real then anything else can be real. It’s more the idea that horror and the supernatural can be a challenge to your beliefs.
Did you set out to write a horror story which also works as a reflection on a love story?
It was meant to be partly a love story and partly writing about loss. I guess in a way I’m starting to think about mortality and a romantic relationship is the obvious choice. It’s not particularly stated but the protagonist hasn’t got many friends so Lizzie was all he had. It is partly a love story but not necessarily a happy one!
Was the setting of Oxford significant to you?
I lived in Oxford for three years when studying and part of it again is to do with the building. There’s a lot of building metaphors within the story and Oxford has got old, historic buildings with architecture. I also wanted to write about Oxford before I forgot about it, though I don’t think I knew this at the time. I still try and visit but it’s not the same as walking around it every day for three years. It was a deliberate setting. The setting where he is for the present day is deliberately vague and not named because that’s the kind of life he’s got after Lizzie has died. So there was a contrast there.
What is it about the horror/supernatural genre that interests you the most?
I think firstly, it’s the only thing I can really write! Starting out I tried to write poetry and have a wannabe Martin Amis style novel somewhere at the back of my writing folder. It was a few experiments in trying to write as broadly as I read, as I read a lot which isn’t horror but I, at some point, realised my talent is more narrowly focused than my reading tastes. I am also naturally drawn to it as a reader and a writer. I want to challenge the belief of what is real and rational, and have characters that you can kick away everything they believe to see how they react.
Do you feel you would explore ghosts more in your writing?
A lot of my stories have a ghostly atmosphere without specifically having a ghost. In Trying to be so Quiet there’s a woman dressed in white and a lot of them have a bit more ambiguous figures at the edges. I think ghosts are more interesting than vampires and werewolves as they’ve all got rules like silver bullets and crucifixes. I think they are a lot more about how people physically survive whereas ghosts are things you see out of the corner of your eye. You’re not sure whether you’ve seen them or not and they’re a bit more flexible, and you can twist them to your own uses.
What are you working on currently?
I’m working on a novella which is called Pauper’s Graves which is set here in Nottingham. I had it in my mind as a setting but I wanted to find something to do it justice. I wanted to write about the conditions which led to those people being buried there, but I didn’t want to write a historical novel either. It’s a contrast between the rich and the poor, and in the present day it’s set between the high school and the red light district. It started to take shape that it’s about class but it’s also got scary dead people! That should be out in October. There’s also a few novellas coming out soon which I believe will be launched at this year’s Fantasycon.
You can find out more about James and interact with him through the following links:
MONDAY 26TH OCTOBER
A HALLOWEEN READ: WE CAN IMPROVE YOU
What with Halloween right around the corner, we thought it would be a great opportunity to give you an insight into We Can Improve You, a collection of short horror/sci fi stories that’s perfect for this time of year.
This anthology centers around some unthinkable changes to how we live that may take place one day. Sure, the idea of saving someone’s life by turning them into a robot is slightly out there, but with the way things are going in terms of technological advances, it doesn’t seem like some crazy Frankenstein-style plan cooked up in a mad scientists lab. That’s why the collection isn’t to be missed – there’s just enough shock value to be a bit unsettling, but paired with the characters that are well fleshed out (excuse the pun), the stories really pack a punch.
Ok, the cover might be a bit of an off-putter for those who are squeamish, but what do you expect from something that mentions The Human Centipede in its introduction? If you’re looking for something a little bit different, this is definitely worth getting stuck into.
Whether you gobble up horror like a flesh-eating zombie or just starting to get a feel for all things weird and wonderful, there’s certainly plenty to choose from. We recommend Lover if you’re after something that will keep you looking over your shoulder at night, Looking Good to get an idea of the extremes genetic modification can go to if we take things go too far, and Ragdoll if you want a good twist that you won’t be expecting.
This collection is a great taster for those looking to dive into Boo Books and see what we’re about – there’s some horror, some sci-fi and some haunting ideas that could be just on the cusp of reality. Maybe just don’t read it when you’re home alone…
WEDNESDAY 21ST OCTOBER
BOO BOOKS AND DEAD LEAVES ON YOUTUBE!
To describe the last couple of weeks as busy quite possibly underplays things, but so much of what has kept me so busy has been so awesome that it’s about time for an update.
So, the big news upfront is that Boo Books now has its own channel on Youtube! Our first three videos are now live, with a two-part interview with Andrew David Barker plus the absolutely stunning book trailer for Dead Leaves. Thanks to Mick Walker and Alex Waldram for all their fantastic work on that one!
And Dead Leaves is now out, with some great reviews hitting and lots of fantastic coverage forthcoming. There seems to be a great wave of excitement for this book, which you can get in paperback right here in our bookshop or on e-book on Amazon.
We’ll have a great roundup of quotes and reviews coming soon, but for now enjoy our great videos and expect more news shortly!
WEDNESDAY 7TH OCTOBER
MEGA BOOK UPDATE – DEAD LEAVES AND A DIP IN THE JAZZ AGE!
So, we’re heading towards an ultra-busy October and November for Boo Books, and we have plenty of news to share!
The awesome Andrew David Barker is back with Dead Leaves, and his latest novella will be out on the 15th October. If you’re in or around Boo Books’ home patch, our first launch will be taking place at Waterstones Derby from 7pm-8:30pm on release day. Tickets are free but you will need to book in by emailling us at firstname.lastname@example.org as spaces are limited – all the info on that one is at https://www.facebook.com/events/1647748752139692/
Continuing on the subject of Dead Leaves, we’ve had some great reviews emerging prior to release from The Eloquent Page, Scattershot Writing and Strange Tales! Fancy a read? Of course you do!
Eloquent Page review
Scattershot Writing recommendation
Strange Tales review
Pre-orders for both editions are still available, but will close on the 12th October – also marking your last chance to get hold of the limited VHS edition on the site! You’ll have to come and see us at one of our many events over the winter if you fancy one of those…
And speaking of pre-orders, our November release is now available to reserve for the first time! A Dip in the Jazz Age is the debut novel from Carl Peter Robinson and is an uproarious Wodehousian comedy of manners set in the present day, following lovable loser Miles Howard as he falls in with the well-to-do crowd of the Ponsonby Club and sets out on an unlikely adventure that will take him to London, Paris, Venice, Morocco and back again.
You can check out the pre-orders – and a sample of the incredible artwork from Helen-Marie Kelly at Heavy Illustration – at http://boobooks.net/a-dip-in-the-jazz-age-pre-orders/. This is going to be a gorgeous hardback edition, limited to 150 copies which we expect to fly out of the door pretty damn quick!
And last but by no means least, did I mention we now have a Youtube channel? Oh yes we do! And we’re kicking out with part 1 of my interview with Andrew David Barker on Dead Leaves. Well worth 12 minutes of your time I’d say… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy-FpbUF4XU
More to follow on both titles soon!
THURSDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER
7 REASONS WHY WE THINK YOU’LL LOVE DEAD LEAVES
- The text is peppered with pop culture references, especially horror films so if you’re a movie buff with a penchant for 80s gore-fests then this will be right up your street.
- There’s a great sense of nostalgia for the time in which this book is based – the mention of Opal Fruits (which have since been replaced with Starburst) is a particularly nice touch.
- Whatever you’re doing with your life now, you will surely remember that feeling of facing the big unknown when you’ve finished school, college or university. The decisions that have to be made at that point in life can have a lasting impact, andBarker captures the big ‘what if?’ with compassion and truth. In the protagonist’s case (Scott), he knows he’ll have to take on a job he hates or be on the dole for the rest of his life if he doesn’t get to go to Film School.
- The friendship element. Sure, Scott and his friends spend most of the time calling each other crude names and insults, but the loyalty is there and it’s a strong driving force in this story. Scott, Paul and Mark’s shared love for horror and all things gory is a cause for all the trouble they get into, but also what makes them stick together.
- Those living in the Midlands (Derby in particular) will find this read an enjoyable one, will plenty of shoutouts to different landmarks and local haunts that you will probably recognise.
- It captures the classic coming of age story in a similar way to The Electric, Barker’s previous novel, but manages to create a whole new idea and bring it to life.
- Scott’s fondness for films and his desire to do something with his life, which encompasses the story, will be appreciated by anyone who’s got a passion that drives them. We love this quote: ‘they were, in fact, guiding my very existence, shaping my imagination and igniting my passion’ – has ever one sentence summed that feeling up of just knowing what gives your life meaning more than that?
Look out for Dead Leaves coming soon. You can preorder it here – hopefully you’re as excited as we are about it!
FRIDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER
HERE’S WHAT THEY SAID…
…about Dead Leaves! You may have noticed there’s a touch of excitement around here about this book, but it’s not just us. We’ve had some fantastic quotes in already for this book, from wonderful authors, review sites – and even a few of the guys involved with the original Evil Dead, which is pretty awesome too!
“It’s been years since I was released from the T of L for my part in the Video Nasties conspiracies of decades long gone. And now I must revisit this dark period again because Andrew David Barker, who was a kid during the early 1980s wrote a book about how horror films in England were destroying young lives with excessive gore and a severe lack of morality. Which is exactly what The Evil Dead’s director, Sam Raimi, his cast and crew, of which I was a significant member, were going for. I certainly paid my price for creating the gore and mayhem in the film and all I got was this book. Besides being a lively and engaging read, Andrew David Barker’s Dead Leaves demonstrates we were successful in ruining at least one generation of young Britons’ bright and eager minds.
And if nothing else, Mr. Barker’s book will continue in this fine tradition.
Read it and weep.”
Tom Sullivan – Special Make-Up Effects Wizard of The Evil Dead
“Finally someone explains what a video nasty is!”
Theresa Tilly, Shelly in The Evil Dead
“A love letter to horror films and a moving & authentic story of a teenager discovering who he is and what he wants to do with his life. Purely wonderful.”
Simon Clark, author of Night of the Triffids and Vampyrrhic
“I love coming-of-age tales, I love the 80s and I love horror – this was absolutely the perfect book for me and I thought it was a superb read, a paen to the teenage years of horror fans wherever they might have grown up, a “This Is England” for the Fango crowd. Very highly recommended.”
Mark West, Strange Tales
“Dead Leaves does for video nasties what The Electric did for cinema.”
Ebookwyrm’s Review Blog
Remember you can pre-order Dead Leaves – and get your copy signed by the author – at http://boobooks.net/bookshop/dead-leaves-pre-order/
WEDNESDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER
AND NOW FOR A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT…
Here at Boo Books, we’re busy chipping away at the schedule for 2016 and we’ve just signed up what we think is an absolute gem. It’s pretty rare that a book physically bring me to tears, but I don’t mind admitting I blubbed like a baby at the end of this one.
Trying to be So Quiet is the new novella from James Everington – an author I’ve been lucky to work with on some short stories already – and is a phenomena story of one man’s life after the death of his partner. This one absolutely drips with emotion, and I’d be spoiling it if I said anything more than it’s a story about loss, about coping, about finding meaning. I said to James it reminded me in places of The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough, which remains firmly in my top ten books, so that’s high praise indeed.
The e-book edition of Trying to be So Quiet will be out at the end of October, followed by a limited edition hardback in Feb 2016. We’re working at making that one extremely special with a range of images and artwork throughout.
I’m delighted to have an author of James’s talent on board, and can’t wait to put this one out – keep your eyes peeled here for all the latest news!
MONDAY 24TH AUGUST
SPECIAL EDITION TIME…
So, over the last week or so we’ve been getting tremendously excited about the release of Andrew David Barker’s Dead Leaves. And we’re not alone in that, as the fabulous cover quotes have been pouring in (but I’ll keep those up my sleeve for another day!)
What I really wanted to talk about today is our plans for the special limited edition of the book, for which we’ve cooked up something really rather fancy. The idea for this actually came about at the launch of The Electric in paperback a few months ago, and at that point there we didn’t have a clue of the logistics involved or even if this was possible. But after bandying round a host of emails, it can be done, so here it is…
We’ll be producing a very special limited run of 75 of a ‘VHS edition’ of Dead Leaves, produced to video cassette size and also presented in a VHS box. It’s the perfect celebration of the video era that permeates Dead Leaves, and I can’t wait to put this stunning edition together.
We’ll have pre-orders for the book available soon, so keep your eyes peeled on the website for all the latest!
SUNDAY 16TH AUGUST
AUTUMN’S HERE… TIME FOR DEAD LEAVES!
Earlier this week we broke the very exciting news that we’ve picked up Andrew David Barker’s latest novella, Dead Leaves, for publication this October. All the initial details have gone out, but of course press releases can be a little bit dry, so I thought I’d take the chance to talk a bit about why I took the book on. For anyone who missed said first information, take a look at http://boobooks.net/forthcoming-titles/
First, having worked on The Electric it’s apparent to me that Andrew is an author who can go far. There’s a sort of intangible quality to his work, the feeling of a writer in absolute control of what they want to say and somebody who is not afraid to pour a lot of themselves into a book. Those were facets evident in The Electric and, if anything, even more evident in Dead Leaves – the removal of the otherwordly, supernatural element leaves us with a book that really says something about real life.
Secondly, it shares a lot of thematic ground with The Electric. The coming of age story is a format that people think is easy to do, but it’s anything but – and in fact to do it well is incredibly hard. Dead Leaves is at times harsh, always realistic, and captures the sort of realisations about life that many of us will come to at some point in our lives. There’s no saccharine and nothing twee here – again, not simple to achieve when dealing with this kind of material.
Thirdly, it covers a really interesting time in history – the video nasty era. Long time horror fans will remember this period of hysteria and moral panic well, and it says something about the whole debacle that went on during the 80s. It also says what it’s like to be a fan of something, and to believe in something, only to then be forced to live with the threat of having it taken away from you.
Fourth, it invited a very cool idea for a limited edition, which I can’t say anything more about at the moment. But rest assured there’ll be more news on that soon 🙂
So keep your eyes peeled here for all the latest news on the book!
MONDAY 10TH AUGUST
BOO BOOKS ACQUIRES NEW NOVELLA FROM AUTHOR ANDREW DAVID BARKER
Derby-based independent press Boo Books is proud to announce the acquisition of Dead Leaves, the stunning new novella from author Andrew David Barker. Set in Derby in 1983 – and at the peak of the ‘video nasty’ controversy – it is the story of three friends trying to obtain a copy of the notorious ‘The Evil Dead’ on VHS, and the impact their search has on their lives.
Barker’s polished writing style and fantastic delivery will appeal to all sorts of readers, with a special interest for those who grew up in the 1980s and fans of horror films. A darkly funny coming of age tale, the book echoes many of the themes of Barker’s critically acclaimed debut The Electric, which in 2014 sold out as a limited edition hardback before being followed by an attractive paperback edition.
Boo Books Publisher and Editor Alex Davis said: ‘Andrew is just the kind of writer I wanted to find for Boo Books – someone with a fresh voice, an unfussy style and something to say about life in each book. Dead Leaves is a very different book to The Electric, but something that still has many of Andrew’s hallmarks. It was a genuine pleasure to read, and I can’t wait to get it out there to a wider audience.’
Author Andrew David Barker said: ‘Dead Leaves is kind of like The Electric’s older, wayward brother. It’s certainly a harder-edged book, but no less personal. It is set firmly in my hometown of Derby during an extraordinary time in British history. It’s a little hard to believe that the furore surrounding these so-called video nasties actually happened now, but it did. My hope is that this book captures a little of what it was like to be a film fan, specifically a horror film fan, during those first few, crazy years of video.’
Dead Leaves will be out this October from Boo Books in paperback, with a stunning cover created by Amanda Plant. For more information, visit http://boobooks.net
SUNDAY 14TH JUNE
ELECTRIC REVIEW SUMMARY
Yes, I know, first blog in ages. If you want some excuses, I have had my own book out and also helped run a Book Festival in the time since my last post. But what has been going on is that The Electric has been clocking up some absolutely stormingly good reviews, so I thought I’d take a moment just to gather those together here. If these don’t tempt you into clicking buy, I don’t know what will 😉 And if you do fancy getting a hold of your copy, just click here!
‘The Electric is an impressive first novel. Andrew David Barker’s style is whimsical and nostalgic, and the work reads like the haziest recollections of a childhood long since gone.’
Starburst Magazine, 9/10 – read the full review at http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/book-reviews-latest-literary-releases/12162-the-electric
‘The Electric is more than a book – just as its namesake is more than a cinema – it’s an experience to dive into and wallow in. It’s a link to the past and a way to think about what’s really important about life. Its heart beats beautiful pulses of nostalgia and grief, but it is full of affirmation too: the joy of discovery; the value of insight; the depths of friendship, love and family ties, and the powerful cement of a shared experience.’
Geek Syndicate, 5/5 – read the full review at http://geeksyndicate.co.uk/news/book-review-electric/
‘Published by Boo Books, this supernatural tale blends the traditional ghost story with my never-ending love of celluloid. I adored every line. I can’t recommend it highly enough, just brilliantly entertaining and wonderfully written.’
The Eloquent Page’s Book of the Year 2014 – read more at http://www.theeloquentpage.co.uk/2014/12/30/the-eloquent-page-2014-in-review/
‘There is a magic on the screen but also, there is a magic here in the printed word.’
Ebookwyrm’s Review Blog, 10/10. Read the full review at http://www.ebookwyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/the-electric-by-andrew-david-barker.html
‘The Electric is a real page turner – a bittersweet coming of age book that will take you on a rollercoaster ride of joy and sadness.’
British Fantasy Society – Read the full review at http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/reviews/the-electric-by-andrew-david-barker-book-review/
‘The novel is perfectly paced, keeps you engaged with the characters who grow as the story develops and has a wonderful and apt ending.’
Wayne Marinovich – Read the full review at http://www.wmarinovichbooks.com/the-electric-by-andrew-barker/
‘…overall this is an impressive debut. It’s charming and full of heart, and its nostalgic, elegiac tone is perfect for the subject matter.’
Dan’s Adventures in Fiction – Read the full review at http://www.danpurdue.uk/2015/06/three-reviews.html?m=1
TUESDAY 5TH MAY
Oh yes, Boo Books Towers is practically rocking with excitement as we prepare to launch the paperback of The Electric. I never thought I could love anything quite as much as the hardback of this book, but I was wrong. The gorgeous paperback I can love every bit as much!
The buzz about this book is great already, and we’re very excited to be working with a lot of great folks out there to help spread the word. You can expect to see some coverage in upcoming issues of Haunted Magazine here in the UK, as well as some fantastic stuff also forthcoming in the wonderful Starburst Magazine. We’ve also been talking to a lot of our local partners to make the book nice and widely available in libraries and also some bookshops around the East Midlands, so keep an eye out for this the next time you’re in!
We’ve also got a new review from the inestimable Ken Preston, which you can take a read of by clicking here, and you can expect plenty more review goodness as time goes on.
If you’re sitting there reading this thinking, man, I want to get some of this review action, then just drop us a line at email@example.com and we can hook you up with a copy!
Expect loads more news later this week as launch day closes in…
SATURDAY 3RD MAY
THE ELECTRIC INTERVIEWS AND MORE!
Blimey, where did April go? Well, the lack of blogging suggests that we’ve been plenty busy, and that’s about a fair assessment. And what’s been taking up most of our time – of course – has been the wonderful paperback of The Electric. We’ve got our copies here ready for release on the 7th May, and they look absolutely stunning – in fact I can’t wait to start getting this one out there, and I have a vibe this could be a real breakthrough book for us as a publisher.
So, while you’re waiting to get your hands on your copies, why not take a read of these two great interviews with author Andrew David Barker to get you in the mood for this fabulous volume?
http://www.sffworld.com/2015/04/interview-with-andrew-david-barker/ – Andrew chats with SFFWorld
http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2015/04/interview-electric-cinema-andrew-david-barker/ – Andrew’s interview at Amazing Stories
Expect much more exciting news on this book next week!
MONDAY 13TH APRIL
ALL THE LATEST…
Monday has rolled around again, and it’s time to check in again on progress on our new titles – with three great books on the go, and everything on track (touch wood!) it’s going to be an exciting and busy summer for sure!
THE ELECTRIC: Well, the paperback is typeset, our gorgeous cover is ready to roll, and we’re in the process of setting up a printing account with CPI ready to get this one to the presses! We’ll be launching this beauty as part of Derby Film Festival on the 7th May, and you can find out more about that event by clicking here! We’ve also got some great coverage for the new version lined up, so very excited about getting this one out there!
WE CAN IMPROVE YOU: With a cover and an awesome cover quote in the bag, it’s now time to move onto the interior, and having been proofed the book is now off for a typeset. Really looking forward to seeing this one in the flesh. I’ve also got our cover designer adding the necessaries to our superb image from Stephen Cooney, so looking forward to seeing how the wraparound looks as well!
A DIP IN THE JAZZ AGE: The final edit is now sorted with the author, and we’re off to proofreaders imminently, so this one is also well on its way. Of course as one of our stunning limited editions this one will be a bit more complicated, so we want to leave plenty of time to add some great images and artwork to the book also. And speaking of artwork, we have some tremendous concept images in for the covers – front and back – which I think are going to look absolutely fantastic when worked up!
Lots more to come soon…
WEDNESDAY 8TH APRIL
THE ELECTRIC IN PAPERBACK!
While we’re on the subject of covers… how’s about this absolute beauty for the paperback of The Electric? Wonderful work from the very talented Amanda Plant, and a cover that not only looks gorgeous but really captures the essence of the book. With the hardback having been such a rousing success, I’m looking forward to the paperback going on to achieve even greater things.
But wait, there’s more, because did I mention we have a launch date confirmed for this gorgeous book? Well we do, and it’ll be happening on the 7th May as part of Derby Film Festival, very suitable for a book with such a cinematic connection! And you can check out that event right here – and what’s more, it’s free! Totally free! So why not come and down and celebrate this wonderful release with us?
We’ll also have pre-orders available here on the website shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for that too! Andrew has crafted an absolutely wonderful book here, and you won’t regret getting your order in early.
TUESDAY 7TH APRIL
WE CAN IMPROVE YOU – COVER AND COVER QUOTE!
It’s been a very exciting few days here at Boo Books HQ, as we’ve been receiving some fabulous artwork for our upcoming titles! I’m going to hold back the paperback cover for The Electric – just because I’m mean like that – for the time being, but rest assured it’s absolutely gorgeous and we’ll be getting pre-orders for that one up soon. But for today I wanted to focus on the awesome artwork for We Can Improve you, put together by the wonderful Stephen Cooney – Stephen responded brilliantly to our brief, and was a real joy to work with. And he’s created a cover that drips with the kind of dark SF that makes up many of the stories in this collection.
We’ll be adding all the necessaries to this one shortly and putting the final cover out imminently, which will also feature a rather lovely quote from the tremendously talented Justina Robson. It made my day that Justina was willing to take a read over, let alone having this to say about it:
“Enough pop, sizzle and bang to melt the circuits of the future; this collection of stories gives a whole new meaning to notions of self-improvement. Augment yourself, if you dare.”
Neat, eh? Big thanks to Justina for the kind words and for taking the time to look over the anthology!
More to come soon…
FRIDAY 3RD APRIL
So, we’ve been keeping ourselves very busy here at Boo Books of late, so thought this’d be a good juncture to post a brief update where we are with our upcoming titles!
THE ELECTRIC PAPERBACK – the interior typeset for this one is now ready, and looking great. This’ll be standard b-format paperback size, so a touch smaller than the original hardback edition, and will be out for sale on the 7th May for £7.99. We’ll be launching as part of Derby Film Festival, which given the book’s cinematic feel and flavour should be the perfect spot for the first release!
WE CAN IMPROVE YOU. We have our very-nearly-final cover art in from Stephen Cooney, which will also contain a fabulous cover quote from the extremely talented Justina Robson. The proofing of the book is now also sorted, with a generous thanks to Sarah Cawkwell and Rob Grimes, so next up will be the typesetting of the book!
A DIP IN THE JAZZ AGE: We now have a first cover sketch, which is already starting to look absolutely fantastic – this is going to be another fab limited edition I reckon. The edit of the book is now also agreed, so it’ll be off to proofreading next for that one.
Ultimately it’s all very much on track and where it should be, and I can’t wait to get some cover reveals up in the near future!!
More to follow soon…
TUESDAY 31ST MARCH
THAT WAS THE WINDOW THAT WAS
Well, it’s all done with now! Our submissions window has been open to all the writers out there for four weeks, and today we’re sat on a great haul of novels, novellas and short story collections. It’s an exciting and slightly nervewracking moment, like panning for gold – of course we hope to find some absolute beauties, but at this stage there’s simply no way of knowing what lies ahead! All I can say at this stage is that it was great to see more work coming to us from writers with a reputation and published work already behind them, which leaves me a great sense of optimism.
So, here are all the facts and stats you could possibly want:
We have a total of 70 submissions to look through. Bearing in mind each has sent about 10,000 words, that’s 70 synopses and 700,000 words of reading we have ahead of us.
Our first submission arrive at 09:24 on the 2nd March, just 24 minutes after we opened the window. That’s what I call enthusiasm! Our final submission arrived at 23:04 on the 30th March, 56 minutes before closing time. Nobody submitted after closing, which is a refreshing change from many previous submission calls!
To put that into context, our last submission window was open 2 days longer and we received 40 submissions to that. Don’t ask me about the percentage, but that’s very nearly doubled in about the space of a year. Hopefully that’s another indicator of the progress the press is making.
11 people submitted on the last day, and 26 arrived in the last week. There’s nothing like a deadline to get the focus zoomed in!!
Some authors took the chance to send in multiple projects, with the record number being 4 – all very different books indeed. Maybe we’ll like all four, who knows?
Nobody ignored our guidelines, which is pretty remarkable in many respects. There’s normally always a few that don’t meet criteria!
How many books will we publish of those 70? Well, that is quite simply anyone’s guess. If we like it, and we think it has a bit of commercial potential, it’s got a great chance.
When will the next window be open? Who knows? It will in part depend how many books we expect from this batch! If there are a heaps of titles we want to take forward, then it may be some time.
When you can expect to hear back? I’ve said 6-8 weeks to everyone, and that should be about right.
That’s enough questions for now, I think, I’ve got some reading to do… 🙂
Keep your eyes peeled here for all the latest on what emerges as we go looking for gold!!
WEDNESDAY 25TH MARCH
A TRIO OF UPDATES
Just over a week since our last blog, and as always there’s been absolutely plenty in the works since then – we never like to let the grass grow under our feet here at Boo Books! And with three exciting new titles in the works, we ain’t got time to either. So, here’s where we are with that trio…
THE ELECTRIC PAPERBACK: If you didn’t get the hardback, you missed out on a beauty of a book, if I do say so myself. Still, you will have the chance to get a copy of Andrew David Barker’s phenomenal debut from May onwards, with the title launching as part of Derby Film Festival on the 7th May. Get it in the diary! There’s a new cover in the works, including some of the very lovely quotes we got from reviewers on the hardback, and the book will be a standard b-format paperback which hopefully will sit nicely on the bookshelves in Waterstones and so forth in the near future.
WE CAN IMPROVE YOU: Really chuffed with how this one is shaping up – the editing process is done, so we’ve got the book out there with a few fabulous proofers before we get things set for typeset and in turn print. The cover for this one will be painted by the very talented Stephen Cooney, and the preliminary sketches for that are looking absolutely great too. Should be a really distinctive look to – dare I use the word inviting? That’s also out with a couple of awesome SF authors with a view to a cover quote or two, so all systems go for a launch at Edge-Lit 4 on the 11th July. We might – might – even have that ready a bit earlier if we really drive forward at it.
A DIP IN THE JAZZ AGE: Into the final stages of editing in this one, and shortly it’ll be off to proofers to make sure it’s as impeccably polished as such a fine book deserves to be. There’s a definite idea and look for the cover, which is going to be a gorgeous black and white number with an art deco vibe. We’ll be looking at interior art shortly for what will be our next limited edition. Working on it again has reminded just how funny this book is, so looking forward to this one as our September release.
SUBMISSIONS UPDATE: There’s still until the 30th March to get your subs in to Boo Books – if you have a novel, novella or short story collection in the works why not send it our way? We’ve had a good wodge of subs in so far, so really looking forward to getting stuck into this and seeing what goodness awaits us.
Check back in soon for the very latest news as we keep on heading towards publication – yay!
TUESDAY 17TH MARCH
A BOOK OF MY VERY OWN! AND JAZZ AGE UPDATE
Well, the last fortnight has been a bit crazy, including a whole host of writing course lessons, editing, proofreading, writing group talks and much more. Most recently, on Saturday, I managed to cram in two talks in one day, the first in Dudley and the second in Leicester, thanks to the heroics of Jonathan and the gang at Writing West Midlands. So ultimately it’s been all go.
But most exciting of all in that time was signing my first publishing contract, with the good folks at Tickety Boo Press, for a science-fiction trilogy starting with The Last War. It’s a volume exploring the earliest days of an alien race, the Noukari, as they try to find their place in a hostile universe. But it’s conflict within their own number that soon breaks out, with religious tensions growing and the species attempting to get to grips with the incredible power that lurks within them…
Suffice to say, I’m pretty excited about it, especially with volume one launching at my beloved Edge-Lit just down the road in Derby. The question I really wanted to address here is – and that some of you might have been wondering – is what impact will this have on Boo Books? Well, of course, the aim is none at all! Boo Books remains a firm commitment and an important part of my life as a freelancer in writing, and something that I care about very deeply. Our next three books are all well in process, and we’re aiming to make those every bit as successful as possible. You might notice a copy or two of The Last War when Boo Books is out there with a table, but other than that I hope there’ll be no discernible difference in operations.
The other thing to flag here is that we’ve put back the release of A Dip in the Jazz Age a bit, shifting to a September release, for two main reasons really – first off, it gives us more time to make the special edition extra-special and get the look and feel of the book just right. Secondly, there’s more going on around that time of year, and it gives us more opportunity to plug and promote what we think is a genuinely wonderful book. So keep your eyes peeled a bit later in the year for that one…
That’s all for now!
WEDNESDAY 4TH MARCH
NEW AND SHINY STUFF!
Guten morgen, and with so much exciting stuff in the works I thought this’d be a good time to post a swift update on all things Boo Books!
In case you hadn’t noticed yet, we are open for submissions for the next few weeks and a bit! And the subs are begin to roll in, with a really pleasing early response to things. We close strictly on the 30th March, and we’re looking for novels, novellas and short story collections in all sorts of genres for publication in late 2015 and into 2016. You can check that out here if you haven’t already…
The paperback of The Electric will be out in May, and we’ll be having a fresh cover for that, including some of the very lovely quotes we’ve had from reviews of the book! I’ve only got 5 copies of our gorgeous hardback left, and it’s going to be a very odd feeling when those have all gone. It’s been a real hit for us, and the paperback will hopefully be every bit as successful.
We Can Improve You has now been copy-edited and is winging its way to the authors for their OK on the changes made (we’re polite like that!) and the cover is currently in process from the wonderful Stephen Cooney, who is an ultra-talented guy and is doing a host of great work on the independent press scene. Look out for him, and also look out for a cover reveal before too long!
A Dip in the Jazz Age has also been copy-edited and is with the inestimable Carl Robinson, who will be scrutinising our handiwork closely as we speak. The cover for that one is in process, with some exciting sketches with us, and we should have a reveal for that within the next few months. It’s looking good is all I can say at this stage 🙂
After that – who knows? With a subs window open, it could be you!
More to come soon on each of these titles, and also heading your way is a new series here on the blog on writing a bit more generally…
FRIDAY 27TH FEBRUARY
SUBMISSIONS – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
So, the moment is almost upon is when Boo Books will be opening its doors to writers everywhere once again. Yes, March will be submission window time, and we’re battening down the hatches for a flood of fantastic stories heading our way. And in that spirit, I thought it might be useful to offer you some thoughts and some insights into what it is we’re on the lookout for. All the boring technical stuff will be going out there on Monday, but here’s some provisional guidance to tide you over until then…
Take a wander round the site. Top tip for any submission really – nothing will tell you more about what a small press is about than spending some time scoping the site. Read some samples, check out the blog, look what we’ve put out already and what we’re putting out soon. Buying a book and having a read is never a bad idea. It’s a simple part of the research process that is so valuable to any writer.
Write something in your cover email, don’t just send on some files with a blank email. Tell us a bit about yourself and the book. The email is a chance to introduce yourself to us, so make the most of it!
Call us by name. There’s no secret who runs Boo Books, in fact there’s a whole page on the site dedicated to it! I’m Alex, editor and publisher, and Tom is the Editorial and Marketing Officer. It’s not like the team is so big you don’t know who to send to…
Keep it simple. Nice clear fonts, nice clear layout, good professional approach in your cover letter and synopsis – all these are things we’re looking for. Trying to stand out from the crowd is more likely to backfire than have the desired effect.
Sending anything unfinished. Can’t emphasise this one enough – we’re not looking for concepts, or pitches, but we want completed projects that we can take a look at the whole of and make a decision with all the information in front of us. If it’s not done in this window, it’d honestly be a better bet to wait until next time around.
Sending a form letter. Yes, the cover email should say something. It should not be an obvious template you have just copied and pasted in from word to save yourself some time. If you can’t take the time to turn out something that applies to us as a press, why would we put in the time and effort to publish the book?
Give it a spellcheck. Yes, if we decide to take your work forward, it will get an edit and a proofread. Yes, we are willing to forgive a few typos and errors, of course. What we are less willing to forgive is a manuscript loaded with simple typos that a quick spellcheck would have picked up. We want work that comes across as professional, and mistakes that could easily have been avoided do not look professional. Those squiggly red lines are the writer’s friend!
Fiction only please! Even our brief intro to the submissions window says it clear as day… novels, novellas and short story collections. That means no poetry, no biographies, no autobiographies, no textbooks and no children’s books. If you send those, we just won’t look at them!
Drop back first thing on Monday and we’ll have all the info on what we’re looking for, and we look forward heartily to reading all those stories!
TUESDAY 24TH FEBRUARY
I DUB THEE…
So, here at Boo Books we’ve been chipping away at what has affectionately been known as the ‘Augmentation Anthology.’ Of course that was only ever a working title, in part because myself and my trusty co-editor Brian Marshall were throwing around a whole range of titles and we hadn’t quite plumped for one as yet. But now we have. And so, let’s give an official welcome to…
WE CAN IMPROVE YOU
This title has been towards the top of the list for a long time, and now we have our stories in and decided it became self-evident that this was the perfect fit.
But wait, there’s more! We even have a blurb written. Oh yes, there’s no sitting about with your feet up here at Boo Books. So how’s about this for a tempting bit of text?
WE CAN IMPROVE YOU…
We are all born with the potential to be great, through the wonders bestowed upon us by nature.
But, as technology advances, why should we settle for those simple gifts we were born with? Why shouldn’t the future see humanity become more?
We Can Improve You explores the theme of augmentation, and what happens when science and technology combine with flesh and blood. Often surprising, sometimes startling, occasionally funny but always thought-provoking, We Can Improve You brings together a range of stories that might just become real some day…
Featuring stories from:
and many more!
Not bad eh? We’ll be announcing more news on this fab anthology soon, including a cover reveal and more information on launch dates, so stay tuned for all the latest!
SUNDAY 22ND FEBRUARY
A FREELANCER’S LIFE
I’ve found myself having a few conversations of late about the life of a freelancer, and sat on a quiet Sunday evening I suddenly found myself compelled to blog on the subject. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about the life of a freelancer, some to our benefit and some to our detriment. Boo Books is one among many things that I do in the world of writing – my own creative writing, teaching the subject, proofreading, copy-editing, event organisation, workshopping and much more besides. Running a small press is one of the things that I enjoy the most of all of those, but it’s nothing something that I’m yet able to do full-time. In fact I don’t work full time at all, and have been balancing three days of working time with two days of childcare (although that is undoubtedly with a lot of help from my wife and our family in helping look after little one!)
What has been great about freelancing is that I had the freedom and opportunity to spend lots of time with my daughter, which has been one of the things that I was dead set on doing. Five days a week working would have cut deeply into that time, and I consider myself really lucky to have been in a situation to do that. The other thing that is absolutely great about freelancing – as I’ve hinted at above – is the importance of variety. I’ve been involved in writing for the last ten years, a couple of which were jobs in office with relatively steady hours, and before that I worked in the bookmaking industry. And it seems to me that I work best when I have a whole host of different things to be working on. Take the last week for example – I’ve taught two creative writing classes, on Monday and Thursday night, spent a wonderful day on Wednesday tutoring a fabulous group of 10-14 year olds, buried myself deep into the proofing of a novel and spent a good few hours inbetween all that copy-editing Boo Books’ two upcoming titles for summer and also chipping away at a couple of titles for Knightwatch Press. Throw into that some odds and ends of marketing and dealing with a heap of correspondence and in all honesty freelancing never begins to feel stale, even after three or more years at it. And above that, it also enables me to do something that I love every day. I think that has to be the prime reason for getting into freelancing, at least in an artistic field.
So that’s the good, and there’s plenty of it. There’s also numerous downsides to go alongside that. Sick days? No such thing. Paid holidays? Forget about it. You turn up and do the work, or you don’t get paid. Lots of my clients are fabulously prompt payers, but sometimes you’re waiting months for money to come in for work you’ve done. The bills still come out at the same time, but you don’t have a steady pay day any more to go with it. It’s hard to refuse work, even when you’re busy, because part of you thinks saying no means you may not get invited back or you might miss out on some work that could spin out of it. And time – oh boy, does it eat into your time. Evenings and weekends can so easily be filled with extra work, fiddly jobs, trying to get ahead of the curve with your projects or being out there at events of all kinds. You’re often torn between short-term projects and long-term projects, trying to balance paying the next batch of bills with building the size and scale of the portfolio as you go along.
If you’ve ever thought about it – or indeed you’ve never been there and are just flat out curious – I think there are two things that a freelancer really needs to get by. The first of these is motivation – there are no regular hours, no set hourly rates (it will vary between kinds of work) and often no office to go to – most of my work gets done on the settee with some music playing on Youtube in the background. If you’re the type to be easily distracted by TV, computer games etc. then it’s probably not the life for you. You need to be driven to achieve what you want, and feel a real desire to make a success of everything. If you start half-arsing work you start not getting work in the future.
The second thing is persistence. Don’t get an answer to an email? Send another email. Don’t get an answer to that one? Get on the phone. Get the answer machine? Call again, and again, until you get an answer. If you go away easily, people will let you go away as it’s less work for them. Even if what you are proposing or offering is really strong, you need to make sure it gets looked at and really given the time of day. If you do ultimately get a no, try and keep the door ajar, even if only slightly – can I come back to you in three months? How about this idea instead?
Freelancing, at its very roots, is a love and hate thing. 2015 has been much more about the love for me – I’m so excited about what this year offers in so many respects. But when you’re sat at midnight working through an urgent job you think ‘I could have been in bed hours ago if I did something 9-5’, it’s an easy thing to really dislike at times as well. There’s a lot that is really cool, but there’s also a lot of mundane detail and admin that will kind of suck your will to live at times. Ultimately, though, I wouldn’t trade it, for two vital reasons – one, there’s never been anything else I wanted to do in my life but work in writing. In the sense of job satisfaction and life goals I am absolutely living the dream, and the recent jobs survey showed just how many people want to work in the fields of writing and literature. And secondly, to put it baldly, I just don’t know what else I would do. It’s a part of my life. It’s embedded in me. It’d have to be a pretty long, cold day in hell before you got me to pack it in, and you could bet I wouldn’t do it willingly.
SATURDAY 14TH FEBRUARY
TAKING A PAINTBRUSH TO PICASSO? THE COPY-EDITING PROCESS
Well, whilst others might be out enjoy the heady romanticism normally associated with today, I’ve been perfectly happy beavering away at the editing of our novel for next summer. For those of you who missed that announcement a while back, ‘A Dip in the Jazz Age’ is a wonderful comedy with a Wodehousian flavour set in modern times. The book follows the adventures – and often misadventures – of mild-mannered Miles Howard as he blunders his way into the company of the Ponsonby Club and in turn a major worldwide investigation by Interpol. Accompanied stoically by the well-to-do Alastair Addington and the ghost of Pablo Picasso, this is a fantastic romp that is bound to have you laughing throughout.
And today has seen me finish off my copy-edit of the manuscript, which set me thinking much more about this process and what the benefits and downsides of it are. A lot of writers think it’s a bloody nuisance, and on one level they may be right. After all, Picasso himself didn’t have someone smoothing his rough edges once he’d finished a painting, and Anthony Gormley probably never let anyone take their chisel (or other tool) to his work.
But – I would argue – writing is a slightly different kettle of fish. All other artforms have a whole host of levels that they can be appreciated on, and they can undoubtedly say something to the person perceiving it and say it well. Writing though is set apart by attempting to tell the reader a story in a far more direct way – you might put your own interpretation on the story, but the tale is presented to you in its entirety. If you want to draw the story from a painting, photograph or sculpture you need to do much of the work yourself.
And story is a complicated beast, for sure. We have 80,000 or 100,000 words to play with, and we want to make sure each of them carries the best impact it can. We want to make sure words are used correctly and effectively. We want to make sure things aren’t repeated ad nauseum in the manuscript. We want to make sure that the story moves at a good pace and doesn’t get too lost in thought or description. And this is the kind of area where editors tend to come in.
You see, an editor isn’t an artist in the way that an author is. We don’t create the story, we just try and hone it to perfection. I suppose we could be compared to the person who frames the Picasso, or stands the Gormley on its plinth. Because we’re not there to mess with the art, and the way the author wants to express it, believe it or not. One of the first things I was told in publishing was that ‘a good copy-editor is invisible’, something which has always stuck with me. The author is the creator, and they want to do things a certain way. The art is theirs – the story, the characters, the dialogue, the way that things are expressed. The editor is not there to rewrite, or shape the story as they would have it, or prefer it. The editor’s aim is to make sure the author’s vision is delivered in the best way that it possibly can be. To extend the metaphor, the writer paints the canvas, the editor frames it and the proofreader polishes the frame to a fine sheen. It’s about the presentation of the art.
I can cite one particular instance of editing – in fact, I can probably cite many, but one stands out in particular. And I won’t give you a name, or give you enough to even have a guess. But I was copy-editing and I asked my then-boss – can I cut down this particular thing the author does, because it’s really annoying me? And the response was ‘you shouldn’t, because that’s part of what the author’s fans are expecting. The author has always done it. That’s their style.’ Again, another example that really stayed with me. Editing isn’t about the writing looking the way I personally would like it – it’s not a subjective process. In fact, it should be as objective as possible. The author has an intention, and a way they intend to deliver that intention. How can I make that work as well as I can within those parameters?
For any aspiring authors out there, I’d say that when the time comes that you should be grateful to have a copy-editor looking over your work. Consider that there are companies out there, and individuals too, who will charge you sometimes phenomenal amounts for the privilege. And your publishing house, big or large, is sorting that out as part of the process of getting your book out there and giving it the best possible chance to succeed that it can. The same goes for proofing, and artwork – none of these things come cheap.
I think most authors would probably – begrudgingly – admit that copy-editing is a helpful process, and makes sure that their book just goes out there looking that few percent better. After all, would Picasso’s work look quite so wonderful stuck up with drawing pins or parcel tape?
MONDAY 9TH FEBRUARY
LINE-UP CONFIRMED FOR AUGMENTATION ANTHOLOGY
Afternoon one and all, and after a few days of exciting and lively discussions with my wonderful co-editor Brian Marshall, we’ve come up with a full line-up for this summer’s anthology on the theme of Augmentation! And, even more remarkable, mine and Brian’s friendship remains intact!
So let’s hop to it, shall we? We’ve even got a running order!
Gary Budgen – The Third Marlowe
Gav Thorpe – Driver Not Found
B.T. Joy – Lover
Bryan Nickelberry – Outbreak
Rose Taylor – The Future Embodied
Kevlin Henney – Ragdolls
Roy Gray – Out to Grass
David Turnbull – The Trail Behind Me is a Winding Trail
David Hartley – The Cat’s Eye
Stewart Hotston – Bad Blood
Graeme Reynolds – The Wages of Sin
Taylor Foreman-Niko – Birthday Present
Deborah Walker – Looking Good
I’ve always found co-editing a really fascinating process, because that second pair of eyes on the work will often make you see things really differently to what your own read was. If it had been just one or the other of us editing it, I expect the line-up probably would have been a touch different, but what we have I think is more exciting than anything we could have put together individually.
The anthology will be ready for a first launch at this year’s Edge-Lit 4 event, which takes place in Derby on the 11th July – and you can check out all the info so far on that one at http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/special-event/edge-lit-4
More to come soon!
MONDAY 12TH JANUARY
2014 was a fab year for Boo Books, and 2015 is shaping up to be every bit as exciting, not least because today I can welcome on board the first member of the Boo Books team. In fact it’s the first time I can really call it a team, as all last year it was ‘me, myself and I’! So I’m delighted to be able to announce Tom Ashton as our Editorial and Marketing Officer. We’re kicking this one off as a voluntary position, but I was heartily impressed by what Tom could bring to the table and really looking forward to working with him throughout 2015.
A bit more about Tom, in his own words…
Tom Ashton is a young writer and editor, hailing for the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness. Upon arrival at the University of Derby, Ashton helped found and run a Creative Writing magazine, focused on promotion and publishing new literary talent, whilst also being published himself in various mediums. Now a graduate of Creative Writing, Ashton is determined to make a name for himself in the publishing industry through his work at Boo Books.
So you can expect to hear more from Tom right here at the Boo Books website, and expect a lot more exciting developments for 2015. Bring it on!
WEDNESDAY 7TH JANUARY
POSTAGE? WHAT POSTAGE?
Morning all! It’s been a great Christmas and New Year, but now it’s time to get the nose back to the grindstone and look forward to all that 2015 will bring. And we’ve cooked up some tasty special offers to begin the New Year!
First and foremost, until the end of January, we’re offering FREE UK POSTAGE on all our titles, so you can get all our books at fantastic prices for the next three weeks! So if you’ve had your eye on any one of our titles, now is the time to buy, as this offer will close on the 1st February.
Also, for one week only, we’re offering a great reduction on our e-book of HAUNTED, which is now just 99p for the next 7 days! This one will wrap up on the 14th January, so there’s even less time to make the most of this one…
Check out our bookshop page to check out all our books and the new reduced prices all this month.
We’ll have lots more special offers, and news on our 2015 plans shortly, so stop by soon for all the latest!
TUESDAY 16TH DECEMBER
THE HAUNTED INTERVIEWS – KEVLIN HENNEY
Today we come to the last of our author interviews for Haunted, and today we catch up with Kevlin Henney, author of the wonderful closing tale of the anthology Promises You Can Keep. It’s a great way to round off the collection, and we talked past, present and future with Kevlin.
1) Tell us a little about the inspiration for your story, Promises You Can Keep.
It’s difficult to say. I wanted to write a ghost story and had the premise and character all worked out… then changed my mind completely and wrote a different one! This story came out of a strong visual image, that of a schoolboy in a traditional uniform in some kind of ordinary but Gothic setting, which for some reason I decided should be a kitchen.
2) It’s noticeable that your story is the shortest featured in Haunted. What do you think it is about ghost stories that works so well in the short form?
On the one hand, I’m attracted to the shorter end of the fiction scale, and normally write flash fiction, so I guess I’m more likely to think in those terms when approaching any genre. On the other, there is a suspension of disbelief necessary in a ghost story that can often work well over short distances. You can pull the reader a little further away from the normal before their educated senses kick in with an objection! There is also something about ghosts as characters that can often be — and may be better be — left unsaid, an act of omission and suggestion of what a ghost represents that lends itself to similar omission and suggestion in writing, with the story’s implications played out in the reader’s mind.
3) Promises You Can Keep was also among the most modern in the collection. Do you think ghost stories have to hark back to the past, or can they still be effective without that element?
I think it is a question of association, and there is a default assumption that ghost stories are often told in the past because of a strength of cultural imagery and associations. For example, when talking about ghosts in stories, people are more likely to think Dickens and Shakespeare than they are The Sixth Sense or Ghost. But although there is a strong association, it is not a necessity. That said, I specifically mention and use imagery in my story that connects with the past, such as Victorian Gothic.
4) Are ghost stories something you often write, or is this something of a departure for you?
I wouldn’t say I write them often, but I’ve written more than I would have expected given the things I read! I’ve had two other ghost stories published, there are a couple of others that have yet to have published. Death, on the other hand, is not something that is unusual in my stories, so perhaps that’s the connection.
5) Tell us what’s next for you on the writing front – what can we keep an eye out for?
There’s normally a flash fiction or three in the pipeline, so that provides some constancy and consistency, but I have a couple of other slightly longer stories I’ve sketched out and will hopefully apply fingers to keyboard soon. Depending on which one sweeps me along first, it’s either going to be speculative fiction or something more literary, less genre.
A big thank you to Kevlin for taking the time to talk to us, and if you fancied reading Promises You Can Keep and four other chilling ghost stories, you can pick up Haunted in paperback at our bookshop here, or pick up the e-book on Amazon here
SATURDAY 13TH DECEMBER
THE HAUNTED INTERVIEWS – MICHAEL BRACKEN
A hearty welcome back to the next installment of the HAUNTED interviews, where we catch up with author Michael Bracken, author of the penultimate story in the anthology, Little Spring.
1) Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your story, Little Spring.
“Little Spring” began as a discussion with my friend Rebecca about a recently divorced woman moving from a big city to a small town, where she purchases one of the town’s long-empty historic homes and discovers she might not be the home’s only inhabitant. We discussed various directions the story might go with no clear ending in mind. Shortly after our discussion I made notes and roughed out a few scenes, and I worked on the story off-and-on for about five years before I finally put all the pieces together.
2) The setting of Little Spring feels especially vivid. Is this an area of the world you’re familiar with?
The story is set in Little Spring, a fictional small town in central Texas. I’ve lived in central Texas for about 20 years and, though I live in a small city, I’ve spent a good deal of time exploring the small towns nearby. Little Spring incorporates many of the things these small towns have in common so that it feels as if it could be a real place.
3) The small-town location and rural feel is something that exists in a few of the stories in the collection. Why do you think this is particularly conducive to ghost stories?
The advantage of small towns and rural communities is that it is harder to explain away the odd noises because you know there’s no one on the other side of the wall banging around in the next apartment when the nearest home is several yards—or several miles—away.
4) Are ghost stories something you’ve written before?
I’ve written several ghost stories over the years, including the novella “Memories Dying,” which is available from various online bookstores.
5) What can we look forward to from you in the near future on the writing front?
I’m a prolific short story writer, with one or more short stories published each month for 138 consecutive months, a streak I hope to continue for quite some time to come. Because I’m never certain in advance what the next published story will be, the best way to keep up with what I’m doing is to visit my website—www.CrimeFictionWriter.com—or follow my blog at CrimeFictionWriter.blogspot.com.
A huge thanks to Michael for taking the time to talk to us, and if you fancied reading Little Spring and four other chilling ghost stories, you can pick up Haunted in paperback at our bookshop here, or pick up the e-book on Amazon here
WEDNESDAY 10TH DECEMBER
THE HAUNTED INTERVIEWS – M.R. COSBY
Welcome back to our series of interviews for HAUNTED, where we catch up with the authors featured in the anthology and talk ghost stories both specific and general! Today we’re talking to M.R. Cosby, author of Turning the Cup.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your story, Turning the Cup.
I’ve always felt that the reading of tea leaves might provide an interesting basis for a ghostly tale (in a similar way to the more familiar séance). Since I’d never come across such a story, some years back I decided to plunder some of my childhood memories to create my own. However, it took a number of years for it to come together satisfactorily, so it was not ready in time to be included in my debut collection of short stories, Dying Embers.
The story brilliantly captures life in the old-fashioned British neighbourhood. Are there any elements of your own childhood in the story?
I was brought up in England, in a bland Home Counties town, experiencing the last vestiges of the shadow cast by the second war. The world to me was black and white; winters went on forever, and money was hard to come by. There were few distractions, and seemingly no escape, apart from the surrounding countryside. Therefore, the prospect of knowing someone even the tiniest bit out of the ordinary took on much greater significance than it would to the youth of today. My mother did indeed host morning teas; and there was indeed a Mrs Spooner (although I changed her name) who read tea leaves. And yes, she had been in the paper, so she was something of a local celebrity. As I find it difficult to ‘make anything up’, most of my stories are to a great degree autobiographical – they only depart from reality for dramatic effect. Turning the Cup recalls my childhood as closely as I can manage.
The central theme in the story is the reading of tea leaves – do you believe in tasseography, or any other kind of future divination?
My mother is convinced to this day that Mrs Spooner read her tea leaves accurately all those years ago, so who am I to disagree with her? However, I’m not so sure that I believe in these things quite so specifically. What I do think is that there is strangeness all around us, and that we need only to open our eyes to notice; and that ‘seers’, in this case the readers of tea leaves, are perhaps more aware of the unexplained than most.
The ‘story within a story’ device is superbly employed in Turning the Cup – what made you decide to tell the story this way?
Originally there were two stories, neither of which I was particularly pleased with. I played around with them separately for a long time, and then I tried intertwining them, which seemed to work. I’m a fan of the traditional English ghost story, and I felt the subject matter lent itself to this well-worn but effective format.
Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you on the writing front.
I’m writing more short stories, with a view to putting together another collection, hopefully for late next year. I’m toying with the idea of linking them, so that they could be read collectively as a kind of ‘novel’, as well as separately. Turning the Cup, in fact, links with The Next Terrace, which is the opening story from my collection Dying Embers – so, if you want to discover the story behind Terry’s strange disappearance, you can do so by getting a copy of Dying Embers!
Dying Embers is out now from Satalyte Publishing. Visit my website at http://www.martincosby.com/ to find out more.
A big thanks to Martin for taking the time to talk to us, and if you fancied reading Turning the Cup and four other chilling ghost stories, you can pick up Haunted in paperback at our bookshop here, or pick up the e-book on Amazon here
MONDAY 8TH DECEMBER
THE HAUNTED INTERVIEWS – AMANDA BIGLER
Continuing our series of interviews with the authors of HAUNTED, today we’re catching up with Amanda Bigler to discuss her story Cloven, the second piece in the collection. We’re talking folklore, history and much more!
1) Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your story, Cloven.
I was attending a course on weird fiction for my Masters degree at Loughborough University,and Dr. Nick Freeman introduced me to the nuances of the ghost story. Although it was more of a literary class as opposed to a creative writing course, I was inspired by the way in which ghost stories can create worlds that aren’t hindered by certain restrictions.
2) The folklore angle of the story is fascinating. Where did this aspect of the story emerge from?
I grew up in the plains of Kansas in a small town, and we have a lot of Native American heritage. My grandpa lives in Oklahoma, and the prevalence of Native American traditions makes that state unique. I was reading up on some Native folklore and the depiction of the ghostly “deer woman” of Muskogee intrigued me. The idea of a woman coming back for revenge was intriguing.
3) The setting of Cloven comes across especially vividly. Is this a place you’re familiar with?
As I was born and raised in the United States’ Midwest, the idea of the scenery was set in my mind. Although I did not grow up in the dust bowl (the devastating drought in the 1930s) I have heard relatives speak of it. The dust and the dryness stuck out in my head predominately, and I thought it would be an interesting contrast to the “normal” ghost story of the wet and the cold.
4) One of the things that drew me to this story was how distinctly American it was. Is there much of a history – or tradition – of ghost stories in the US?
There is not too much history in regards to ghost stories within the United States. I think that has to do with us being a “young” country. We (as Americans) have not had the amount of time to have a true history of ghost stories. A building from the 1900s is ancient to us, so we haven’t really had the chance to catch up with the Brits in regards to history. I think that’s why I was drawn to the Native American stories. They have been handing down ghosts stories for many centuries.
5) What can we look forward from you in the future on the writing front?
I have a young adult novel coming out in the US in mid to late 2015. It’s called “The Takers,” and it focuses on a group of people who need to feed on emotions in order to survive. It will be available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble in late 2015. I also have a few short stories coming out and am continuing to work on the creative writing aspect of my PhD. If anyone wants to read other stories from me, they can find most in my archives at https://lboro.academia.edu/AmandaBigler
A big thanks to Amanda for taking the time to talk to us, and if you fancied reading Cloven and four other chilling ghost stories, you can pick up Haunted in paperback at our bookshop here, or pick up the e-book on Amazon here!
FRIDAY 5TH DECEMBER
THE HAUNTED INTERVIEWS – PAUL MELHUISH
Starting from today, we’ll be having a chat with each of the authors featured in our HAUNTED anthology. And where better to start than with the author of our lead story in the collection, Paul Melhuish, who’s going to tell us a bit more about his tale The Snap End Morris Men and ghost stories on the whole…
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your story, The Snap End Morris Men.
I wrote this story in January of this year. I wanted to write a story around World War One. I’d seen the documentary The Way of the Morris and was quite touched by the part where the Adderbury Morris Men journey to France to pay their respects to their fallen ancestors. The Morris side was practically wiped out by the war. I suppose you could say that my initial inspiration came from that film.
How important is the rural setting to the tale, and is it based on any real location?
The rural setting is absolutely vital to the story. The story begins with the narrator saying that he lives alone in the village, totally alone as he is the only occupant there. I imagine it must be pretty scary living totally alone in an abandoned village and I tried to get this across in the story. I don’t think a ghost story has to be exclusively set in a rural setting but for this story I felt it worked as people associate Morris dancing with village fete’s etc. I live in a small town and go to Morris practice in a village 3 miles away. Sometimes I walk there and that’s quite unnerving, a feeling I tried to put across in the story.
Do you have any experience of Morris dancing yourself?
I am a member of the Northampton Morris Men and have been Morris dancing for around a year and a half. There is a sense of history with this style of dancing. Northampton Morris Men have been going since 1949 and when you see old photos of the side from the fifties, they wear the same kit as we do and did the same dances. So with this in mind I was itching to write a supernatural story about Morris dancing. Since joining I’ve been to more village fetes that I’ve ever been to in my life and to more pubs than I’ve nearly ever been to. It took me a while to learn how to Morris dance but I’m probably 60 percent there. I’ve also lost two and a half stone in the last year, mainly from the Monday night practice sessions which are pretty strenuous but good fun.
4) The Snap End Morris Men is a classically British ghost story. To what extent were you inspired by the British ghost story greats?
I read a lot of horror and sci-fi but it was when reading MR James that I finally understood that a ghost story is different to horror in many ways. In horror, a protagonist is faced with a problem which they have to overcome. In a ghost story the protagonist has to unravel or learn from a past event or injustice and recognise that injustice, perhaps even put it right. For example, the BBC TV series on at the moment, Remember Me, is a ghost story where the ghost obviously wants recognition from the protagonists (the title gives it away a bit). So, to answer the question, I’d say that I was inspired by MR James the most and reading his work made me want to write my own ghost story.
What can we look forward to from you in the future on the writing front?
I’ve written a novel called Highcross which will be coming out next year with Bad Day books. Highcross is a village in England which has been unoccupied for seventy years. The military used it as a training ground in the Second World War and then abandoned the place. After all this time a property developer renovates the village and when people begin to move into the village strange things start to happen.
WEDNESDAY 3RD DECEMBER
MY FAVOURITE GHOST STORY
The subject has come up a few times of late, with Haunted now out there on the marketplace and a heap of ghost story events in my recent history, of what my favourite ghost story is. So I thought that’d be a good topic for today!
There’s plenty of contenders for this one, to be honest, but if I was forced to nail down one, I’d have to go with THE SIGNALMAN by Charles Dickens. I’ve performed this a couple of times at ghost story events in the past, and it works superbly in that format as well as on page. For me, it does exactly what a ghost story should do – it has atmosphere from the get-go, it’s simply told and well delivered, it has a relatively low number of scenes (really only four or five set-pieces in the whole thing) and the supernatural element is wonderfully revealed at the end of the story. Dickens is one of the masters of the form, and this for me is his finest take on the theme. The plot itself is beautiful in its simplicity, with our lead character taking a break from his old life and meeting the signalman of the title in his hut by the railway tracks in the middle of nowhere. But the signalman is disturbed and unhappy, and tells our narrator about a series of strange goings-on – a set of events that our protagonist will find himself inexorably drawn into…
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I can’t recommend it enough, and it’s available plenty of places for free online, including at this link as part of the Gutenberg project. Enjoy!
TUESDAY 2ND DECEMBER
A NEW OUTLOOK
Well, where the hell did November go? Oh yeah, flat out in a monster blitz of working. While it might not have yielded much by way of blogging, it did take in bringing out our new ghost story anthology, HAUNTED, a whirl of book launches and events, my usual weekly teaching slots, some extra workshops, an awesome event at the University of Derby, lots of reading and feedback, and I even managed to somehow squeeze a birthday and a few days away in there too.
And here’s December, and I’ve decided to start my New Year’s Resolution of doing more blogging early, as we do have a fair bit to talk about here at Boo Books between now and 2015, especially the fab collection of chillers that is Haunted. I’ve always loved ghost stories around this time of year myself, and my Folio Society edition of A Christmas Carol plus a lovely old copy of MR James’s Ghost Stories of an Antiquary are all loaded up and ready to go for the festive season. However, if you’d like a new ghost story collection to curl up with, I’d heartily recommend Haunted, which is a gorgeous little volume with images throughout and five stories that fit together so well it would have been criminal to include anything else. There’s traditional British takes on the them, with old inns, Morris Dancers and tea leaves, plus a couple of blinding American tales with dusty landscapes, welcoming old houses and a dash of Native American mythology.
Haunted is available as a paperback, of course, and we’re nearly halfway through our limited run of 150, so if you fancied one of those you can pick it up here. And, in a staggering moment of bravery, I’ve even gone so far as to publish the e-book, which you can get via Amazon at this link in the UK and is available in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and anywhere else with an Amazon site.
As we lead into Xmas, we’ll be digging a bit deeper into Haunted, talking to the authors about their individual stories, perhaps even popping up a cheeky sample or two… it is Christmas after all!
So come join us soon right here, as we say out with the old and in with a new, improved and more active blog!