People’s Book Prize Interview

The second interview with The People’s Book Prize comes from From Syria With Love’s Molly Masters.

  1. Have you got a message for your readers?  Use and enhance your passions, skills, and knowledge. Invest time in what you love, and do it for a cause you love. Amplify the voices of those who need to be heard. Read, read, and read even more into what you feel passionate about. Create something meaningful, create something with impact, create something with love.
  2. What can we expect from you in the future?  Expect more books and advocacy raising awareness for the plight of refugees and others in crisis and need, as well as continued support for the charity sector. Supporting, caring for, and giving voice to people will forever be a permanent passion of mine, and I personally only expect for that love to grow stronger through more learning, understanding and writing.
  3. Any suggestions to support libraries?  As ‘From Syria with Love’ is now being created into an eBook by Apostrophe Books, I have been enlightened as to how some 40,000 libraries worldwide will now have access to my book. This is an incredible thought, and I hope that more libraries will be endorsed financially to enable them to embrace the growing accessibility of eBooks in order to provide even more literature to the public. Furthermore, as a child, I attended a library group called Chatterbooks, and the library has long been a place of community and togetherness for me. It is a place where the new generation’s investment in literature and learning can be supported. It is important to forever cherish and protect libraries as a place of wonder for children, and continue these projects, both in our own libraries, and the invaluable libraries working in crisis areas.

…Brian Bilston is voting for it, will you?

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“A sharp-as-steel lawnmower of a book”: latest Quintember review

There’s a wonderful review of Richard Major’s Quintember in ‘Living Church’ – one that really picks up on the theological strands woven into the violence, mayhem and black humour.

“To say that Quintember is a mock-thriller and a comedy of manners is like saying that the Symposium is a dialogue. […] Quintember is a thesaurus of astute critiques of theological, philosophical, literary-critical, and cultural stances. These are presented through the medium of a whimsical adventure-narrative populated by caricatures and types fallen prey to the besetting lure of heresies and perversities both sacred and profane. This is a hilarious and sharp-as-steel lawnmower of a book, cutting a bold swath through the field of human delusion and vanity.”

We also learn a little more about Richard himself.

“From the pen of a graduate of St. Stephen’s House (an Anglican seminary in the Catholic tradition), an Oxford DPhil, and former Anglican Chaplain of Florence, the colorful, discerning, and exotic is to be expected. Quintember combines the charm of A.N. Wilson, the satire of Thomas Love Peacock, the observation of Thackeray, and the imagination of Robertson Davies with something of Sharpe’s Porterhouse Blue, Epiphanius’s Panarion(Against the Heresies), Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson, and a little of what is truly sinister in C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.'”

Most necessary sin of Adam: Richard Major’s Quintember by Rev Graeme Napier 

 

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What Brexit Means For Us

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One of our authors was asking the other day about the impact of Brexit on IndieBooks. So we thought we’d share our answer.

The most immediate impact is that our books will be more expensive to print. Almost all the paper we use comes from sustainable forests in Scandinavia, and paper is the biggest single cost in book production, and with the Pound down 20% since Brexit, that paper will rise in cost accordingly.

The second is that Brexit will have a profound effect on the economy, reflected in the eye-watering projections for the UK national debt: and if people have less money in their pockets, then book sales will suffer just like everything else.

The third is that our export sales will be worth more to us, again because of the fall in the value of the pound. That’s welcome – but though we’re always trying to export more, it’s still not going to do much to offset the negative impact.

The biggest impact, though, is cultural: the sense of the UK cutting itself adrift from the rest of Europe. Even if there were no financial cost, we’d still think it wrong to leave the EU because of the barriers it creates. It’s one reason we’re delighted to have three new European authors joining us in 2017, and why we’ll be promoting our books much more in the rest of Europe too.

And if you want to know why it happened, then watch out for ‘Explaining Cameron’s Catastrophe’,  in which Sir Robert Worcester and his colleagues explore the wealth of polling data to reveal why people voted as they did and what it means for the future. This follow-up to ‘Explaining Cameron’s Comeback’ is due out in January 2017.

 

 

Guest Blog: ‘to trumplicate’

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“I am inventing a verb, to trumplicate, from which the noun is trumplication and the adjective trumplicated.

The definition of trumplicate is to disguise untruth by complicating what is essentially straightforward, so that most people are misled; a practice frequently used to defend the indefensible without actually lying outright.

An example of trumplication is the excuse given by President Trump (the eponymous founder of the technique) for restricting access to the United States from seven countries who happen to have Muslim majority populations, in order to convince people that this is not a Muslim ban.

Here is what the Trumplicator said: ‘The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.’

So the intended trumplicity is to give an impression that the policy is soundly based on president set by the previous precedent. (Trumplifiers often confuse their words, as the Great Trumplicator has been known to do on twitter, for example inventing the apt mis-spelling ‘unpresidented’. Mr Trump’s actions are already way into ‘unpresidented’ territory.)

If it was OK for Obama, why are so many soggy liberals marching up and down? This is the underlying question, intended to confuse and create doubt.

The point of trumplication is not to persuade elites, like the bosses of Apple, Google and Coca-Cola, who are so distant from real people’s lives as to be critical of restrictions on the seven coincidentally Moslem-majority countries: the target is those real people.

It works. My wife came home from her pilates class saying that people there were saying – but didn’t Obama select these seven countries? I don’t suppose they went home and found a reliably old-fashioned media outlet for an accurate account.

Here is what AP Fact Check (Associated Press) says about the above quote from the Great Trumplicator:

‘That is misleading. The Republican-led Congress in 2015 voted to require visas and additional security checks for foreign citizens who normally wouldn’t need visas — such as those from Britain — if they had visited the seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. This was included in a large spending bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed by Obama.

As the law was enacted, the Obama administration announced that journalists, aid workers and others who travelled to the listed countries for official work could apply for exemptions. There were no special U.S. travel restrictions on citizens of those seven countries.’

So there was no Obama ban on those seven countries, but only an extra layer of checks. This demonstrates how trumplication is not the same as lying – it is true that President Obama was party to a decision involving these countries, in a very specific and limited way, unlike the unspecific, unlimited way in which entire populations are now subject to blanket restrictions. A carefully calibrated measure of caution is not the same thing as wholesale and arbitrary actions. Trump campaigned on banning Muslims and is delivering: it’s as straightforward as that. A lie is easy to spot, but unravelling a trumplication needs a little effort (as in Jan Masaryk’s saying about the truth being a chore – see last blog)

This piece of trumplication has also had some effect on elites. The Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker, has instructed his reporters not to use the term Muslim-majority because it is ‘very loaded’. It is also very factual.”

From ‘Word for Word‘, by John Williams. Read more here.

John was director of communications and press secretary at the Foreign Office for six years. Working for Robin Cook, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, he was the chief media advisor to the Foreign Office on every major international event since the Kosovo conflict, and was heavily involved in the negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme. He was also political correspondent of the London Evening Standard, and political editor and columnist for the Daily Mirror, in a journalistic career that spanned 25 years.

John is also author of IndieBooks’ ‘Robin Cook: Power and Principles’ and ‘Williams on Public Diplomacy’.

TPBP Winter Showcase

We were delighted to see IndieBooks’ titles selected in all categories for The People’s Book Prize Winter Showcase: charity fundraising title, From Syria With Love in non-fiction; Richard Major’s Quintember in fiction; and the timeless Worrals series in children’s books.

The People’s Book Prize spoke to Richard Major about Quintember, and what he has planned for the future:

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  1. Have you got a message for your readers?

 I hope people thoroughly enjoy Quintember! It’s supposed to break out of the usual genre divisions – it’s a satire as well as a thriller, a novel of ideas as well as a romp, a fantasia but also a comedy of manners  – and to be neither high-brow and serious nor low-brow fluff. And if you do enjoy it, there’s lots more to come.

  1. What can we expect from you in the future?

There are five more installments of the misdemeanours of Felix Culpepper written, and they’ll appear over the next few years. He doesn’t become any better behaved.

My short novella Attu appeared as an ebook at Christmas. It’s about a mischievous president who announces the end of the world. He’s joking, he’s just kidding about with comets – isn’t he? Eight billion people around the world aren’t so sure.

A more serious political novella, begat, will be published spring. It’s a blackly comic tale set in a grisly, too pre-failed to fail, English university, where the students invent a mascot: an imaginary student, who bodes larger and larger as they empty into him all the worst of themselves. He’s monstrous, he even looks monstrous (being a bad online montage, a photoshop Frankenstein); but his nastiness is oddly irresistible, especially on social media; he effortlessly rises to national power, and inflicts national destruction, without having to exist. begat’s a satirical study of how an apocalyptic monster is created: how the mob drains all the evil stowed within their ids into one phantasmagorical abortion of a human, cherished for his deformities. For what it’s worth, it was written fourteen months ago, before I had heard of Donald Trump.

  1. Any suggestions to support libraries?

Like (I imagine) most children, I discovered the joy and importance of reading at my local public library — and not at school — and therefore owe libraries a debt that can never be repaid. It’s worth saying this, perhaps, in a time when arts funding of all sorts is under question in this country and elsewhere. So nothing would make me prouder than bringing this tiny addition to literature in English back to libraries by way of talks or readings or displays.

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Richard Major

You can vote for Quintember here.

Guest Blog: John Williams

If current events have left you at a bit of a loss for words, we can recommend one of our own in-house political experts to help make sense of it all. John Williams, author of IndieBooks’ ‘Robin Cook: Power and Principles’ and ‘Williams on Public Diplomacy’, has started his own blog, and there are some tasters below.

John was director of communications and press secretary at the Foreign Office for six years. Working for Robin Cook, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, he was the chief media advisor to the Foreign Office on every major international event since the Kosovo conflict, and was heavily involved in the negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme. He was also political correspondent of the London Evening Standard, and political editor and columnist for the Daily Mirror, in a journalistic career that spanned 25 years.

President of the Parallel Universe

‘The reality is even more shocking than the expectation. Within days of becoming President, Donald Trump has made all predictions lame by comparison with the daily spectacle of leader and his spokespeople telling aggressive untruths.

Falsehoods have been re-branded ‘alternative facts’, by Kellyanne Conway, who glories in the title Counselor to the President, while defending the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, for insisting that the Inauguration had been the most well-attended ever.

This is a parallel universe in which the President is always right, the truth is whatever he says. [‘House Science Committee chairman: Americans should get news from Trump, not media‘]. This will be the strategy when things start to go wrong. The objective is to make all evidence suspect if it counters what the President tells his supporters to believe.

As George Orwell put it in describing the one-party state in his 1984: ‘The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command…’

I wish I were confident that the President and his spokespeople will fail, but there are millions of voters who see no alternative and hear no alternative, to the leader’s truth. This is a sinister political correctness – only the leader can be right.

I saw a quote somewhere this morning from Jan Masaryk, a great Czech opponent of tyranny: ‘The truth prevails, but it’s a chore’.’ Read more…

Fact and Fiction in the Post Trump era

‘Donald Trump has changed the rules of politics and challenged the whole basis of strategic communication, with his disregard for facts and evidence. Trump is not the first politician to succeed by getting away with some distortion, but he has put blatant falsehood at the centre of his strategy for capturing the most important democratic position in the world. So it is no longer possible to say that strategic communication – in politics – has to respect facts and reject knowing falsehood, or pay the price in defeat.

It is the speed of social media that has made the Trump technique possible, of instantly setting the agenda by bewildering opponents and reducing old-fashioned fact-based journalism to flat-footed irrelevance.

The paradox of social media is that its miraculous potential for free speech and open minds has given strength to narrow minds and hatefulness. Some social media outlets regard facts as whatever you want to believe. False or distorted news echoes round them, and the more people react, like them, post angry comments about them, the more their readers believe this is the truth because the volume the internet traffic gives falsehoods the credibility of quantity. The sheer quantity of this internet traffic seems to its consumers to be a validation of what they are reading.’ Read more…

 

With a little help from our friends

We are delighted to announce that Apostrophe Books will be producing the eBook for ‘From Syria With Love’, on a not-for-profit basis.

We’re really exited to have them join us on this project, as we know they will be invaluable in helping us spread the message of From Syria With Love even further, and raising more money for this amazing charity.

One exciting development is the slightly revised cover for the eBook (and indeed, any reprints), to include an endorsement from literary giant, Michael Morpurgo.

In December we were lucky enough to be invited to the ‘Singing for Syrians’ carol service at St Margaret’s church in Westminster (special thanks here to Pamela Carrington for the invitation, and Victoria Prentis MP for organising a great event), where we were able to talk to Michael and give him a copy.

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Thank you to everyone for your support so far, and don’t forget the paperback is still available from our website and all good bookshops .

Announcing the Little Lit Series

Yesterday Faber announced the launch of ‘Faber Educational Editions‘, a new series for GCSE, IGCSE and A Level students. Each edition combines the complete text of a frequently studied Faber work with an ‘approachable, stimulating and author-approved study guide’.

As a small independent publisher, it is sometimes hard to predict where the industry is heading – but it’s good to know that this time we definitely seem to be on the right track.

In March 2017 we will be releasing our ‘Little Lit’ series, aimed primarily at A-Level and undergraduate students. Written by leading academics in their field, the Little Lit books offer a more sophisticated analysis of the chosen texts than their alternatives, whilst being condensed enough to remain affordable for students, and accessible to the general reader.

The current titles are as follows, with more to come in the future!

  • Henrik Ibsen: ‘A Dolls House’, Stephen Siddall
  • Reading Dickens’ Bleak House, Richard Gravil
  • T S Eliot: ‘Prufrock’ and ‘The Waste Land’, C J Ackerley
  • Joseph Conrad: ‘The Secret Agent’, Cedric Watts
  • D H Lawrence: Selected Short Stories, Andrew Harrison
  • English Renaissance Drama: A Very Brief Introduction, Charles Moseley
  • Paul Scott: ‘The Raj Quartet’ and ‘Staying On’, John Lennard
  • Mary Shelley: ‘Frankenstein’, Esseka Joshua
  • Ted Hughes: New Selected Poems, Neil Roberts
  • Reading Thomas Hardy: Selected Poems, Neil Wenborn

“Excellent … It deserves wide circulation as an introduction to the study of Lawrence’s short fiction and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to both A level and undergraduate students.”

Peter Preston on Andrew Harrison’s ‘D.H Lawrence: Selected Short Stories’ 

About the Authors 

Chris Ackerley is a celebrated scholar of Modernist and Postmodernist writing. His specialty is annotation, particularly of the works of Malcolm Lowry and Samuel Beckett. His books include: A Companion to “˜Under the Volcano (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1984); Demented Particulars: The Annotated “Murphy” (1998; 2nd ed., rev. Tallahassee, FL: Journal of Beckett Studies Books, 2004); The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett (London: Faber & Faber, 2006) with S. E. Gontarski; and Obscure Locks, SimpleKeys: The Annotated “Watt” (Tallahassee, FL: Journal of Beckett Studies Books, 2005).

Richard Gravil is the author of three monographs, and of Literature Insights on Elizabeth Gaskell: Mary Barton and Wordsworth: Lyrical Ballads. He has edited or co-edited Master Narratives: Tellers and Telling in the English Novel (Ashgate, 2001), and critical works on Swift, Wordsworth, and Coleridge. He is Commissioning Editor of Humanities-Ebooks, LLP; Chairman of the Wordsworth Conference Foundation, and Director of the Wordsworth Winter School.

Andrew Harrison lectures in English Literature at the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany. He has published numerous articles on D. H. Lawrence, and is the author of D. H. Lawrence and Italian Futurism (2003), co-editor (with John Worthen) of a casebook of modern critical essays on Sons and Lovers (2005). He edits the Journal of D. H. Lawrence Studies.

Essaka Joshua teaches at the University of Notre Dame. She has published several articles on Romantic and Victorian literature, including studies of Mary Shelley, William Wordsworth, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, and Charlotte Brontë. Dr Joshua is the author of Pygmalion and Galatea: The History of a Narrative in English Literature (Ashgate, 2001), and a textbook on The Remains of the Day (First and Best, 2004) and The Romantics and the May Day Tradition (Ashgate, 2007).

John Lennard has taught for the Universities of London, Cambridge, and Notre Dame du Lac, for the Open University, for Fairleigh Dickinson University on-line, and as Professor of British and American Literature at the University of the West Indies—Mona. His publications include But I Digress: The Exploitation of Parentheses in English Printed Verse (Clarendon Press, 1991), The Poetry Handbook (OUP, 1996; 2/e 2005), with Mary Luckhurst The Drama Handbook (OUP, 2002), and Of Modern Dragons and other essays on Genre Fiction (HEB, 2007).

Charles Moseley teaches English and Classics in the University of Cambridge, and was formerly Programme Director of the University’s International summer Schools in Shakespeare and English Literature. He has written extensively on Shakespeare and mediaeval literature, and in this series has written on Henry IV, The Tempest and Richard III. (Charles is also author of the wonderful Latitude North).

Neil Roberts is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of George Eliot: Her Beliefs and Her Art (Elek, 1975), Ted Hughes: A Critical Study (with Terry Gifford, Faber, 1981), The Lover, the Dreamer and the World: the Poetry of Peter Redgrove (Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), Meredith and the Novel (Macmillan, 1997), Narrative and Voice in Postwar Poetry (Longman, 1999), D. H. Lawrence , Travel and Cultural Difference (Palgrave, 2004), Ted Hughes: A Literary Life (Palgrave, 2006), and D. H. Lawrence: ‘Women in Love’ (Literature Insights, 2007). He is the editor of A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry (Blackwell, 2001) and of The Colour of Radio: Essays and Interviews by Peter Redgrove (Stride, 2006).

Stephen Siddall has taught Shakespeare courses for university students and for the University of Cambridge International Summer School. He has directed for BBC television and for the (open air) Pendley Shakespeare Festival and has written a student guide for Macbeth (2002), Shakespeare on Stage (2008) and Landscape and Literature (2009) for Cambridge University Press.

Cedric Watts, Research Professor at Sussex University, has written six books on Conrad (including ‘A Preface to Conrad and The Deceptive Text’) and has edited ten volumes of Conrad’s fiction (among them ‘Nostromo’ and ‘Heart of Darkness’). 

 Neil Wenborn has published widely both in Britain and in the United States. His works include biographies of Haydn, Stravinsky and Dvoøák. He is co-editor of the highly respected History Today Companion to British History (Collins & Brown) and A Dictionary of Jewish–Christian Relations (Cambridge University Press), as well as of the poetry anthology Contourlines: New Responses to Landscape in Word and Image (Salt Publishing). A collection of his poetry, Firedoors, is published by Rockingham Press.

Entertainments for the Trump epoch

“The election had an apocalyptic feel to it,” says Mr. Thiel, wearing a gray Zegna suit and sipping white wine in a red leather booth at the Monkey Bar in Manhattan. “There was a way in which Trump was funny, so you could be apocalyptic and funny at the same time. It’s a strange combination, but it’s somehow very powerful psychologically” New York Times, 11/01/17

‘Apocalyptic and funny’, respectively, also describe our two latest releases – entertainments for the Trump epoch – ‘begat’ and ‘Attu’.

Attu, released shortly before Christmas, but available for free today on the kindle store, is an escapist eBook for those currently absorbed with anxious political thoughts (so everyone)…

‘A mischievous president announces the End of the World. He’s joking – isn’t he? Eight billion people around the world aren’t so sure.’

 

Today is also the perfect opportunity to announce our latest acquisition – begat – perhaps the first serious comic novella of the Trump era, by Dr Felix Culpepper of Cambridge University.

‘begat’ – out this spring – charts a national plunge into political and social madness with eerie parallels to today’s apotheosis of Trump. It is a satirical study of how an apocalyptic monster is created: ‘the mob drains all the evil stowed within their ids into one phantasmagorical abortion of a human, cherished for his deformities’.

As a taster, you can download an extract of ‘begat’ from our website.

The UK Government Guide to European Union Negotiations Published

As Britain now prepares for its most crucial negotiations in a generation, IndieBooks is republishing the UK Government’s official Guide to European Union Negotiations.

Originally commissioned in 1996, the Guide explains how the EU works, how to build alliances and develop successful strategies, and the most effective negotiating and lobbying techniques – all of which remain relevant to the Brexit deal-making that will follow Article 50.

The Guide’s author James Humphreys was himself an EU negotiator and more recently visiting Professor of Government at City University. He has contributed a new preface to set the Guide in the context of Brexit. In it he says:

“The world has moved on since the Guide was first published. But its key messages – about how to secure the best possible deal from Europe – are if anything more important than ever. Brexit is the defining political and economic decision of our times. The Guide provides some sharp insights about the realities to come.”

Unusually for a government publication, the Guide has a lively and engaging style, making it an ideal introduction for the Euro-novice. It also includes specially-commissioned cartoons by Banx of the Financial Times.
IndieBooks will also soon be publishing the definitive account of the EU Referendum, ‘Explaining Cameron’s Catastrophe’, by Sir Robert Worcester, the Founder of MORI, and his colleagues. This will be the latest in the influential ‘Explaining…” series, including 2016’s ‘Explaining Cameron’s Comeback’ on the 2015 election.

For more information please contact frances@indiebooks.co.uk. eBook available here now.

 

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