Sunday, 21 February 2016
This week at Valley Press: 'You are going back'
This coming Thursday sees the release of Mr Jolly, the first collection of short stories by Michael Stewart. He's authored hit novels and a slim volume of poetry in the past – all brilliant, of course – but I think short fiction is his real speciality. You may disagree ... but at least now, with the book very nearly out in the world, we can have an informed discussion on the subject.
A keen observer and chronicler of human behaviour, Michael also likes to make things a little bit weird, building most of the stories around a 'mind-bendingly original concept' (to quote my blurb), populating them with some painfully relatable characters, then throwing in the blackest of black comedy to seal the deal. Several years ago, the novelist David Peace described Michael as a 'unique, yet authentic northern voice', and he completely hit the nail on the head – unique, but completely authentic; that's all you need to know.
'Mr Jolly' refers to a particular character in the book, but could apply to most of them, so long as you use the right ironic tone. The handsome chap in this week's header image, for example, epitomises the kind of jolliness found within. He 'pops up' in one of my favourite stories from the book, 'You Are Going Back', which I've put online here to be read in its entirety.
If you've got your diary in hand, and fancy a trip to West Yorkshire, Mr Jolly is being launched at the Huddersfield Literature Festival on the 9th March; details here (Facebook event here). I'll be there with my stall, and the usual great discounts!
Talking of discounts: I owe you one, don't I. This week's half-price paperback is Sue Wilsea's Staying Afloat – our last single-author short story collection, from way back in 2012 (we must try and do more!) To borrow a tiresome Amazon-esque phrase, if you like Mr Jolly you're almost guaranteed to like Staying Afloat, so they'd make a good joint purchase. You can treat yourself to the older book at half-price by entering the code 50FLOAT at the checkout.
This week's newsletter has been a bit sales-heavy, hasn't it – sorry about that! I'm going to run out of news and new books at some point, so if there are any subjects you'd like me to discuss here in future (or any questions you want to ask?) please do drop me a line and let me know.
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher