Way back before I got involved in publishing, I had developed a fascination for small press books, glorious evidence they are of specialist endeavours that most people will probably never get to hear about. Someone commented once that there were probably more than a few books on my shelves that were the sole surviving copy of whatever it was.
I doubt that, but one of the reasons for my loyalty to small press is that I truly dread the success of the corporate world’s dream of everyone buying the same book, the same film, the same everything. It’s also why I loved producing the Earlyworks Press anthologies, collections of the best that had been offered up in our annual poetry and short story competitions. It was all brand new then: suddenly, desktop editing and publishing was within reach of the not-rich and not-leisured classes, and digital printing made small runs – not cheap perhaps, not exactly *easy*, if you wanted to do it well – but possible.
Every now and then, as well as the standard annual competitions, we’d branch out and call for different kinds of writing – and where the time, the inspiration and the print-fund allowed it, we’d produce anthologies of those, too.
Here are a couple that have earned their places on quite a few people’s bookshelves and, I can guarantee, will be on mine for life.
You are Here
Let’s try out some non-fiction, we said, and announced the Earlyworks Press Memoir & Journalism competition – and my goodness, it produced some unexpected wonders – and all true.
He’s a GI. She’s Pregnant. He’s recalled to New York… Her dad left home years ago: he wanted to be Robinson Crusoe – but now he’s back… From pork chop purloiner to community leader – who is best qualified to solve our problems…?
Dodging maths lessons, going to violin lessons; learning about love and life, war and death; dreadful accidents, extraordinary luck; growing up, changing your mind, changing your life; the stories came from all over the world, and some came with the most extraordinary photos – so the book is illustrated throughout, often with photos and artworks that had not been in print before – it’s a treasure.
Another time, we went off in the opposite direction…
Old Magic in a New Age
Standing stones and churches, trees and totems, fairy tale creatures: dragons, princes, gods, ghosts and elementals from Europe and beyond … We asked our writers and illustrators to find the mythic and magical figures that spoke to them, and show us why they have survived into the New Age.
The result was a fabulous collection. Some of the motifs are familiar and faithful, others have evolved as the world has changed. So if modern life leaves you hungry, enter these pages and find out which eternal classics still speak to your personal magical language.
According to poet and cover artist Cathy Edmunds, the search went something like this…
I need to find a druid
need to bind a long-beard be-robed figure of fun
to raise a smile
a poet a bard a hahaha-hazel be-twigged master
lurking in ash groves oak gown sites
of special scientific interest
need a druid
ten cloves of garlic
Contact me to order either of these books or, if you’re in or near Hastings, have them delivered to your door, post free.