Thursday, 22 March 2018

This week at Valley Press, #92: 'Cracking reads'

Dear readers,

Hello there! I’m Jo, Assistant Publisher at VP, in charge of editing, press, direct sales, staff happiness and tea-making (strong, drop of milk, big mug).

I thought it was about time I said hello as I’m celebrating my first anniversary with Valley Press today (I’m assuming all your cards and gifts are in the post – thank you in advance). It might seem like I’ve been ignoring you for the last 12 months, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, VP, its authors and supporters have become something of an obsession. If I’m not here in the office at VP Towers (aka the rather stunning Woodend in Scarborough), I’m editing and proofing books at home, emailing authors, chatting with book-buyers and generally nattering on to people about how great VP is.

There are many, many reasons why working here is a real treat, but the chance to talk books (cake, cocktails and nonsense) with my hugely entertaining colleagues is very high on the list. We all met up this week in the luxurious surroundings of Gray’s Court in York to discuss/debate/fight over our spring 2019 list. Inspired by the array of books in the hotel library and the generous platter of warm scones provided by the psychic waiter (I’d literally just said ‘I could really do with a coffee’ to Tess when he stuck his head round the door and said ‘Coffee anyone?’), we whittled down a mountain of manuscripts into a more manageable molehill. We’ll tell you about them in detail in a future newsletter but for now, trust me, you’re going to be wowed.

Another highlight of the week was the launch of Beyond the Walls on Wednesday night as part of York Literature Festival, which continues until March 26th, so you’ve just got time to grab a ticket for something bookish if you get your skates on. Beyond the Walls is a collection of shiny new writing from shiny new writers, namely students from York St John University. Their fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction is fresh, informed, unflinching and compassionate, instantly melting any preconceived notions you might have about their so-called ‘snowflake’ generation.

Another VP title being launched in grand style this week (March 23rd) at York Lit Fest is Riverain. As Canadian poet Robert Powell was inspired by the twin rivers – the Ouse and the Foss – in his adopted home city, we had thought of asking the Queen (an old friend of VP) to wallop the book with a bottle of champagne before launching it into the murky depths. Instead, we decided a river cruise book launch was probably more fitting (and less liable to land us in trouble with the Palace for wasting the monarch’s time when she could be enjoying a boxset of The Crown with Phillip and the corgis).

Back on dry land, we’re very much looking forward to the launch of Light After Light, the debut pamphlet from West Yorkshire poet Victoria Gatehouse, at The Book Corner in Halifax on April 18th. This is a particularly special one for me as Vicky was the first author I met at VP. She was nervous, unassuming and ever so slightly cock-a-hoop at the prospect of being published, while I was desperately trying to sound cool and professional while also being ever so slightly cock-a-hoop about having an exciting new job in publishing. We’ll be having our own little reunion, but do feel free to come and join us.

While Vicky is one of our newest finds, we’re pleased to report that long-time VP author Michael Stewart has a new book out today that’s gaining a lot of positive attention. In fact, the film rights to Ill Will, which speculates on what Heathcliff might have done in his three-year absence from Wuthering Heights, have already been snapped up by Kudos, the production company behind Broadchurch and Apple Tree Yard.

Though not a VP title, this is obviously very egg-citing news for Michael and we are egg-stremely happy for him (you can already tell where this is going, can’t you?). It’s nearly Easter and as a special treat we’re offering 20% off all book orders via our website until April 2nd using the code EGG, plus the chance to win a delicious VP chocolate egg (it took me ages to pipe our logo on the front) plus (yes, there’s more!) two books from our spring list, namely Light After Light and Trace Elements. And we’re not even yolking (that’s the last one, Brownie’s honour).

Good luck – and Happy Easter!

Jo Haywood, VP Assistant Publisher

P.S. Note from Jamie: as we approach one of the busiest seasons of the publishing year, me and Emma haven't managed a new podcast since episode 5, but rest assured a new 'season' of Friday Morning Meetings will be coming soon. In the meantime, there is a jukebox musical to enjoy, telling the Emma Press story (filmed secretly by me from the back row, but eventually shared with permission!)

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