Bid To Support Local Authors

The difference between a published author and an unpublished one is that the former didn’t give up.’ These words were said to me at the book fair showcasing local writers, the first of its kind, held at Hull Central Library.

image by Louise Beech

image by Louise Beech

Among other cultural pursuits on Saturday, I attended the book fair organised by local historian Mike Ulyatt. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of different authors in the space and the atmosphere was engaging.

With each passing generation there’s an increasing need to tell stories that relate directly to our place in the world: stories real or imagined, your own or that of someone else.

I met new faces and spoke with a number of authors from different genre and backgrounds. If truth be told it was good to see the little green Toad Tales – in which I have a vested interest – holding its own, amongst all the true-life, romance, fantasy, offbeat drama and local history titles. I came away with many brochures and leaflets for further investigation.

Representing Valley Press was Sue Wilsea  – I spied the excellent A Family Behind Glass anthology by the equally excellent Matthew Hedley Stoppard – regular readers will remember a stand-out set Matthew did for the Awake gig in June this year. Read Live Review Here.

stayingafloatSue, with just one copy of her book Staying Afloat on the table, was benevolently representing the entire stable of Valley Press authors. She was also promoting her new theatre-work Take Back Your Freedom. A show about the remarkable life of Cottingham born Winifred Holtby, whose best known novel South Riding, is still in print eighty years after its publication. suewilsea.co.uk

When Sue informed me about Hull Literary Lunches, I had to admit I’d not heard of them.  Apparently they advertise forthcoming events on local BBC Radio and in the HDM, organiser Mike Ulyatt explained to me, but this particular cultural nugget has until now, eluded me. The next author to be served up for the Literary Lunch, will be Hull University alumni and Hull 2017 Chair Rosie Millard, talking about her debut novel The Square.

Moving on I spoke with a lady representing Linda Acaster, the author of the Celtic Goddess Trilogy a time slip fantasy series set locally… and whoever has my copy of the first in the series, Torc of Moonlight, I wouldn’t mind it back thank you. lindaacaster.com

stalker bunnyIn an unusual first for a book fair I undertook a compatibility test by Mark Stillman author of Stalker, Bunny, Saucepan. I recall the last of the questions enquired as to whether drink is really the answer. I responded without hesitation, ‘Almost always it is.’ thus dispelling any thoughts Mark was having, about Hull being a city of tee-totallers. keephuman.co.uk 

I had a lovely chat with first time author Anna Bransgrove. Courageously taking on Jane Eyre and creating a new story to bring Simple Dame Fairfax to life.

simpledamefairfaxWe both agreed as to the import of events such as these and of libraries across the city, carrying local authors’ titles on their bookshelves. To be read is fundamental to all writers, that is all we want.  Financial reward if it comes, is welcomed but as Hull’s Russ Litten explained just the other week, just 500 sales of a new title from an independent publisher may well be deemed a successful run. No-one is about to get rich quick, that’s not why they do it.

Ada’s Terrace a romantic wartime drama set in Hull during the blitz and written by Margaret King, immediately reminded me of the recent play Echoes . The title reminded me once again about the places that exist entirely in the memory now, having been lost to the unsympathetic surge of modernisation. Places like Arundel Street in East Hull brought vividly back to the here and now by Maurice Fairfield and lovingly published by ThisisUll. Read Here.

New-How-to-Be-Brave-Vis-4-copy-275x423Talking with Louise Beech author of How To Be Brave, we mused on the numerous books on show and on sale, that involved water in some way: including her own. I surmised it may be due to the close proximity of the Humber, the coastline and the fact Hull is so tied up in maritime history.

headscarfrevolutionariesIndeed late-on at the book fair I saw Brian Lavery being interviewed by Estuary TV, whose own book The Headscarf Revolutionaries was released amidst much ballyhoo early Summer. I came away with a signed copy of the book that tells the story of the formidable Hessle Road women who, in the light of the Triple Trawler Tragedy of 1968, took on parliament and won. brianwlavery.com

There were more than a few names notably absent from today’s event, but in a bid to support local authors it was a good start.

I leave you with one last thought. Could Hull be doing more to support new writers and writing? Should writers have more access to opportunities and platforms, commissions, awards… anything that raises the awareness of, and supports in a sustainable and meaningful way, storytellers from our corner of the world.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Bid To Support Local Authors

  1. The covers look amazing O_O

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mich – this is a great overview of the current literary talent in Hull, as found at the event on Saturday. To answer the question you pose at the very end of the article regarding support and promotion for local writers – I’d be delighted to offer a quick photo shoot and audio recording/interview with any local author. Recent visitors to my wee studio have included Louise Beech, Mike Watts, and Peter Knaggs. I love learning more about local authors’ work, and if I can add a little to their promotion and success I’d be delighted. See here: https://audioboom.com/photomoments :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. manicowl

    I read this article with much interest Michelle. I am a published author from Hull and since my first book came out in 2012, I have written, emailed and messaged dozens of literary blogs, websites, magazines and what-not up and down the country and in many cases overseas. I have received replies which have resulted in interviews and/or promotion from Scotland, New Zealand, Iceland, the USA and Australia, and well as dozens from various places in England. But Hull, my birthplace, home hometown, and supposed City Of Culture? Not one. I have sent out about thirty messages in some form or other, each time asking as politely as I possibly can if the proprietor of the platform in question would be prepared to help or support me in even the smallest way, and received next to no replies, and the replies I did receive refused. One offered me an interview which I was very enthusiastic about, and took a day off work in order to attend, only to be told upon asking for directions to the office that the interviewer had “forgotten” and was “taking in some out-of-town vibes” in Manchester instead. When I messaged to arrange another date I received no reply. Another reply told me that I was “not really part of our scene.” If a book about Hull, written by someone from Hull is read and seemingly enjoyed by any number of people except those from Hull, then I’m not quite sure how to crack this “scene”. This may sound like sour grapes on my part, but that’s because it is. And it’s not just me, I know many talented artists, writers and musicians who simply can’t generate any interest simply because they don’t know the right people. They’re not part of the clique. And until this city starts becoming more open to people who don’t move in this seemingly impenetrable circle, then a large amount of culture in the City Of Culture will go largely unheralded.

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    • I was very much expecting to find you there Allen with your book This Is How You Disappear… as I intimated in the last paragraph there were a few notable absences. I didn’t want to name them individually. Perhaps you could contact Jerome who has commented and take him up on his offer.

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  4. Mike Ulyatt

    Interesting comments Michelle. I did send invites to numerous local authors to attend my first planned local Authors BookFair and was disappointed that 5 I did want to be there had other commitments on the day.Perhaps next year ? Incidentally the Hull and East Yorkshire Literary Lunches have been running three times a year since 1992 featuring 120 authors at 64 lunches sponsored by BrownsvBooks of Hull.Regards, Mike Ulyatt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comment Mike and sharp salute to you, for organising the event. I am fully aware how difficult it is to get more than ten people under one roof on any given day. So I say again, well done indeed. Perhaps more authors will, in future, make this an essential part of their publicity calendar, given the positive response the first event has received.

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  5. Thank you for the mention, Michelle. We enjoyed meeting you and good luck with your future ventures!

    Liked by 1 person

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