Friday, 16 February 2018

This week at Valley Press, #90: 'How to Disappear'

Dear bookish types,

It’s Wendy here again, with the Valley Press fortnightly newsletter. It’s been an exciting couple of weeks at VP HQ, with lots happening, but I’ll start by wishing you all a happy Chinese New Year! We are very lucky to be able to boast two brilliant and highly-thought-of Chinese authors: Yang Zhengguang’s How Old Dan Became a Tree is a collection of short stories which challenge boundaries and are stacked full of dark humour and film-like vividness, while Ye Guangqin’s Mountain Stories is an insightful, creative and often magically absurd collection set in China’s Qinling mountains. We’re proud of being able to explore other cultures and happy to be in a position to bring world literature into people’s lives and onto their bookshelves. If you fancy travelling to China without going anywhere, this is how to do it. (A third entry in this series is to be published in May.)

Next up, we have news of our latest launch and a new venture by Valley Press into the world of graphic novels. Si Smith has produced more than just a comic: as far as storytelling goes, How to Disappear Completely ticks all the boxes. It is intense, moving and truthful, and the artistic representation of the story is incredible; the use of colour and light as metaphor is skilful and superb. I don’t read very many graphic novels, but I have now read this one three times, finding something new to enjoy each time I do. Without wanting to offer spoilers, it is gripping. What I will say is this: we don’t talk about male vulnerability enough, we don’t talk about male mental health enough, and the pressure to ‘get on with it’. By exploring vulnerability, especially in men, and mental health problems, we challenge the taboo around it, so this feels like a very important publication. It explores a very personal journey and does it in a startlingly beautiful way. How to Disappear Completely is launching at OK Comics in Leeds on February 22nd at 5pm. If you’re on Facebook, there’s a Facebook Events Page where you can catch up with all the news surrounding it. It is quite honestly one of the best things I’ve read in a while.

In other news, we were delighted to welcome an aspiring young publisher to the Valley Press Headquarters last weekend. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take any pictures, so you’ll have to believe me when I say that we had a lovely hour or two chatting about publishing, books in general, the publishing industry in the North, and how to get a foot in the door with secondary school student Evie, her mum Caroline and even Evie’s gran who came along to reminisce about Scarborough. We think it’s really important for young people wanting to work in publishing, as writers and creatives or as the behind-the-scenes team that make the magic happen, to be able to come along and chat to real life people about the realities of that industry. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have a young person eager to see how it all works.

That just about sums up this week, except to say that Jamie and Emma have once again provided a brilliant and entertaining podcast, which you can find here (and remember, you can subscribe on iTunes here). One last thing, in the form of a tiny little bit of self-promotion: I am absolutely delighted to say that my poem ‘Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare’ will be featured on BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please on Sunday the 18th February at 4.30pm. I am so excited I can hardly breathe, especially since it is the incredible poet Liz Berry as guest host and I am a huge fan. My own Valley Press poetry collection, Gifts the Mole Gave Me, is available in the Valley Press shop alongside many, many other wonderful Valley Press titles – we also recently published new poetry by Liz herself in our Verse Matters anthology. Anyway, enough talking about me, I hope you have a lovely weekend, and check in on us on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram. We have a lot of fun on social media, come and join in!

If you are interested in becoming a Valley Press reader and helping us to gauge public reaction to potential books, drop us a line; and if you or your publication are interested in reviewing any of our titles, do get in touch. Independent publishers need all the support they can get, we’re passionate about our authors and want to support them on their writing journey; spreading the word about their work seems one of the best ways to do so.

In the meantime, have a bookish weekend!

Best wishes,
Wendy Pratt (Reader Engagement Officer)

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