Saturday, 17 December 2011

Five Leaves - the year ahead

We have not done our "annual report" yet, but as we have been working on next year's programme to meet our repping schedule dates, we do know most of what next year will bring. Apart from peace on earth and all that stuff.

With 2011 being such a busy year - 29 titles, was it? - there were bound to be a couple of delays, so apologies to the Estate of Pamela Hansford Johnson that her This Bed Thy Centre (New London Editions) will not now come out until January 2012, as will the new edition of Dominic Reeve's Romani memoir Beneath the Blue Sky, which we should get out at the end of January. The main change will be the addition of illustrations by the Romani artist Beshlie.

We'll be publishing little in the first half of next year. There are two reasons - firstly we're turning more of our backlist into eBooks and need the time to do that, but more importantly, with the ups and downs of the book trade we think we need to allow more lead-in time for our books to organise more events. I don't think we'll reach the heights of the Cable Street combined book launch this year, attended by 350 people, but events and talks do sell books, and we need to do more of them. And to find more ways of publicising our books.

That means our first really new book of the year will be in May, Andy Croft's 1948 - a crime fantasy novel in verse, about that year, about George Orwell, illustrated by Martin Rowson. Maybe a little earlier we'll be publishing our only poetry pamphlet of the year - Joanne Limburg's The Oxygen Man. In June Michael J. Malone joins our list with his first crime novel, one of a series. Michael is normally a poet, but this is Scottish noir, set in Glasgow, the title being Blood Tears. Actually, it's in a sub-genre, Catholic Scottish noir, though Russel D. Mclean's third novel for us, Father Confessor, sounds as if it should be, but isn't. It is noir though. This is our third great Dundee crime novel, which comes out in September. That's it for crime next year. Other regular Five Leaves' writers with a book next year include the late Colin Ward, a series of lectures entitled Talking Green and Peter Mortimer, who returns to his home in Nottingham after fifty years away to tell us what he finds in Made in Nottingham. Given that his previous books include "extreme travel" in Yemen and Shatila refugee camp, we hope this does not cast aspersions on this city. You can find out in June.

We have three young adult fiction books out in 2012. Regular writer David Belbin (who also writes for other publishers, big and small) has written Student a crossover novel about, um, a student. There is not much about studying though. Student appears in August. Our other two young adult books are Five Leaves' editions of books by East Midlands' writers, previously published elsewhere. These are Dark Thread by Pauline Chandler, a time slip story set in Derbyshire (July) and What's Your Problem? a short novel on racism - set in Nottinghamshire as it happens - for reluctant readers, by Bali Rai (October).

Our annual journal appears in August - following the success of Maps this year. The theme is Utopia and it looks like it will be 50% bigger than Maps. We've already got some material in hand for Crime in 2013. Utopia is a mixture of material "from the vaults", from work in progress and new work, again with a mixture of Five Leaves regulars and irregulars, and other writers friendly to the press. Also in August will be From Revolution to Repression: Soviet Yiddish writing from 1917-1952, edited by Joseph Sherman. This was previously announced as From Pogrom to Purge but never published, due to the untimely death of the editor. We did not have the heart to continue the book for some time, then put it back to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the murder by Stalin of all the Yiddish writers in the book. It will be launched at an international gathering in London on August 12th next year, with speakers including Robert Chandler, translator of Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate.

Moving to September, our one-title jazz list will triple in size with Red Groove by Chris Searle, someone long in our orbit, and Mixed Messages: American Jazz Stories by Peter Vacher. Both Chris and Peter were previously published by our friends at Northway, and we are pleased to ensure publication of their new titles. In Chris's case the book is a selection of reviews published over fifteen years in the Morning Star and in Peter's case, interviews with American jazz men and women going back to the 1950s.

In October we'll be bringing out more books, the first a New London Editions title - London E1 by Robert Poole, introduced by Rachel Lichtenstein. This novel is set in Brick Lane at the end of WWII, one of the first, if not the first, novel to include many Asian characters, then moving in to the area. The second is by David Bell, author of The Dirty Thirty. His new book has the working title of East Midlands Rebels and is a popularly written book about suffragettes, Quakers, football managers, poets, trade unionists and others who have tried to stir things up a bit round here.

Finally, we'll be publishing a new Bromley House Editions book in November - not sure what yet, other than it will be in this series of hardback editions of forgotten Nottinghamshire books.

On projects.... Lowdham Book Festival will be thirteen next year, States of Independence three. Lowdham will run for roughly ten days up to June 30th, while the Leicester celebration of indie presses will be in Leicester on March 17. We are in discussion with people in Newcastle about a similar event to States there, and with people in London about the return of a socialist book fair, though it might not be in 2012. More news on that as we have it. The first Bread and Roses Prize for radical publishing (see will also be launched.

All in all, a fairly busy year, but not as frantic as this year has been, and with our programme already settled, and most of the books written, if not yet edited, I think we are more organised than some previous years. Quite looking forward to it really.

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