Sunday, 26 April 2015

Queer Company: the programme

We are exceedingly happy to announce the programme for our Queer Company event!

Please note that, due to the inexorability of Murphy’s Law, this programme was posted and then amended within 24 hours, but we trust this is about the shape of it now!

This one-day event will run from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 9 May 2015. Please note that the doors of The Jam Factory will (literally!) open at 10.00 am.

The awesome Liam Livings will be our MC for the day!

Session 1: Clich├ęs and how to avoid them
Liam Livings will be chairing this panel, ably supported by panellists KJ Charles, Morgan Cheshire and Heloise Mezen.

Book Launch: A Pride of Poppies
Charlie Cochrane, who wrote an utterly charming story for the anthology, will officially launch the volume.

Session 2: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray: The First Gay Novel?
Our special guest speaker Iarla Manny will talk about this fascinating subject! Our genre has a few points of origin, I imagine, and Dorian Gray must be one of them.

Q&A: A Pride of Poppies
After lunch, Morgan Cheshire will chair this quick Q&A featuring Poppies authors Julie Bozza, Charlie Cochrane and Eleanor Musgrove.

Session 3: Sex scenes – how necessary are they?
Julie Bozza will chair this panel, with panellists Bruin Fisher, Fiona Pickles and Chris Quinton.

Session 4: A Duty of Care to our Characters
Our keynote speaker Charlie Cochrane will conclude the day on a lovely note with this thoughtful topic.

For more details, please visit the Programme page on the event website.

I hope you're all looking forward to it as much as we are! Huzzah!

ETA: Importantly, please note that registrations will close on Sunday 3 May, or sooner if we fill up. That gives us a week!

Monday, 20 April 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

One of the very best aspects of this anthology is the way it's making so many new friends out there in the blogosphere; we're delighted to have been favourably reviewed by blogger Amos Lassen, who considers each story individually and in some detail (whilst at the same time gallantly refraining from spoiling the endings) and concludes with these words:

"This is an anthology in which every story is an excellent read and a look at an age that none of us experienced personally."

Thank you, Amos; it's a great pleasure to make your acquaintance, and we're very glad you enjoyed the book so much!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


You may remember that towards the end of last year a guest blog post had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. The reasons for this should be apparent from Morgan Cheshire's much-delayed post below; family illness and a rather abrupt house-move. We're glad to hear that things are settling down a bit for Morgan now, and we're delighted to report that she's working away steadily on a new book which we hope to publish in 2016!

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“A Woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” said Virginia Woolf.

I have never managed an independent income but I have usually had a room of my own - but, alas, no more; I am thrown back on managing like everyone else and writing as and where I can. Luckily I am not one of those people who require absolute silence to be able to write so my venues have been many and varied, and I write my first draft in longhand which makes life simple with regard to equipment.

As a child I wrote in my bedroom – poetry, which actually got published in the local paper on the children’s page! I wrote extra scenes for characters I liked in books – I am still in love with Alan Breck Stewart from Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Recently I went on holiday with my editor and her other half, and it was quite a pilgrimage as we visited sites connected with Alan; the old bridge at Stirling, the crossing at Queensferry (although he and David used a boat, not a bridge) and, best of all, the site where James of the Glens died – I had tried for more than thirty years ago to find the site but the people I was with then were not as accommodating as my editor and her other half, bless them.

Later, my bedroom also saw me writing scenes for characters from various television series: The Avengers (before the girls arrived to divert Steed’s attention from his doctor partner), Wagon Train, and best of all Z Cars … my friend and I wrote this in her bedroom as well, when I went to stay the night.

As well as my own scenes I also, in this time before VHS, wrote out whole episodes of programmes like The Big Valley and Star Trek, which was fantastic practice for capturing dialogue. I was married by this time and my 21st birthday present had been a typewriter.

In my twenties I was definitely an owl. My husband worked nights and I would stay up until two in the morning to write and re-write – try doing that now!

With husband at work during the day and children in school I could write at a more civilised hour, and that lasted for a long time. As they do, the children grew up and left home - but then I had my mother to look after, and the writing got squeezed. It got squeezed even more when my husband retired; however he was very good at entertaining himself, so I would go out to write. I would arrive at our local ASDA store very early, fortify myself with coffee and toast, and settle down to work for an hour or so before my daughter arrived and we had breakfast together before doing the shopping. I liked working in ASDA; the background of other people talking and the loudspeaker announcements did not bother me at all.

I also used to write in the library – not so unusual, but the café there had closed so I used to take coffee and sandwiches. Oddly, it was more distracting than ASDA; because it was generally quiet, any noise stood out - like the woman and her daughter watching YouTube, which was obviously hilarious from the noise they were making. One-on-one teaching also took place there, and the conversations were audible several yards away.

Visiting Yorkshire, with a deadline for a Christmas present, I abandoned my hostess for an hour every day and wrote in the complete silence of her sitting room – but I also like music when I write, and I find that certain composers or singers attach themselves to a piece of work and that is all I listen to; while on a writing holiday at a farmhouse in Wales it was Elgar, and at other times it has been the Moody Blues - you just never know what it’s going to be.

Things have changed again recently; my husband has been ill and we've moved in with my daughter, her husband, and two children (aged 5 and 10). There is no problem with the dynamics of the family - she didn't leave home until she was thirty-five, and as a child we lived with my grandmother, so the extended family was nothing new. However, because my husband needs constant care and monitoring I can no longer go to ASDA or the library to work, and finding a suitable time has been difficult because there have been so many other things to do.

Now life has settled down into more of a routine, and I am finding where the gaps are when I can settle down and write - but I can see that the school holidays will definitely not be suitable! One unexpected place is the Cottage Hospital where we go for neuro physio – while my other half is having treatment I take myself off to the coffee shop and write there for just under an hour.

I vividly remember an occasion when I had just been made redundant from my office job. (My boss was becoming a partner in another firm of solicitors and could not take me with him; the other secretary had been there longer than me and she went with him.) This was also the time when a friend and I were absolutely besotted with the film Black Rain - Michael Douglas was the star, but we were fascinated by the characters portrayed by Ken Takakura and Andy Garcia. Being out of work I was free to go away for the weekend to a friend in Sunderland – and that was where inspiration struck; I wrote solidly that weekend whenever I had a free moment. I also wrote on the train going home – I had a job interview at Tesco so I went there straight from the train – and wrote while I was waiting for my appointment. I was so engrossed that, having unsuccessfully called my name, one of the supervisors had to come and get me … but nevertheless I did get the job!

It would be nice to have Virginia Woolf’s private room and independent income, but it is not absolutely necessary - at least not for me!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A 5-star review day for the Press!

The Press is enjoying not only a fine day of Spring weather - and on a Saturday too! - but also a couple of crackingly good reviews.

The well respected historical novelist Elin Gregory has recently read Adam Fitzroy's THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE, and has made it her Saturday Recommendation.

If you like the more cosy sort of mystery and heroes more at home with kitchen tools or a trowel than a Glock and nicely drawn portraits of kids and dogs that aren’t the least bit cutesy-poo, then I think you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did.

We are as delighted by Adam's 'everyday' heroes, Rupert and Jake, and the Wye Valley setting as Elin is - and we hope that you'll enjoy their story too.

Our forthcoming Great War anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES has received a heartening pre-release review from Kazza K at ON TOP DOWN UNDER BOOK REVIEWS. This anthology has been a real labour of love from all involved, and Kazza has certainly responded in kind.

A Pride of Poppies is a quality anthology. There isn’t one story I didn’t enjoy. The editing is superb and the writing exceedingly good to sublime. I had only previously read Barry Brennessel and Charlie Cochrane and I could not believe the depth and breadth of storytelling in each individual story.

We can only hope that all who give this volume a try will find something in it to move them just as Kazza was moved. A PRIDE OF POPPIES will be released on 1 May, and is already available for pre-order on Amazon US and Amazon UK. All proceeds will be donated to The Royal British Legion.

It only remains for us to hope, Dear Reader, that you are having a Saturday as splendiferous as ours!

Monday, 6 April 2015


No, that's not a new mash-up title ... although now that we think about it the visuals would be quite intriguing ...

Public holidays are often a busy time for reviewers, and this Easter has been no exception. No less than three new reviews of our books have already appeared, and for all we know there may well be more to come!

In purely chronological order, therefore, we start with Dan at Love Bytes giving his verdict of Julie Bozza's recent MITCH REBECKI GETS A LIFE. It didn't completely float his boat, alas, but nonetheless his review ends with these encouraging words:

I enjoyed the book. It was well edited and I would say the writing is above average. It was an interesting afternoon’s read.

Over at the Prism Book Alliance, reviewer Lirtle seems to have had a very positive experience reading Jay Lewis Taylor's DANCE OF STONE:

This is fiction at its finest, with elements of the family you make, the choices sometimes forced upon you, romance, love, heartache and joy, the struggle to do right and survive the pain.

This is the sort of review an author (and indeed an editor!) dreams of receiving, from a reader who has obviously enjoyed every single word!

Lastly for this time, but by no means least, we have Mark at Sinfully (formerly Sinfully Sexy), who has also been reading MITCH REBECKI GETS A LIFE:

... if you’re expecting a smouldering M/M romantic thriller with huge amounts of M/M sexual tension and sex scenes that will burn a hole in your Kindle then maybe this book won’t be for you. However, I enjoyed this book a lot purely for what it is and that for me was a story about investigative journalism, journalist helps cops to solve crime, end of story. If you can go with this then you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did I’m sure.

Along with his thoughtful review of the book, Mark also raises an interesting point regarding the fact that the character of Mitch is initially a smoker; it's interesting to reflect what a taboo activity this has become in recent years, and whether or not including a character who smokes might influence a reader's enjoyment of a story. We'd be fascinated to have your views on the subject, one way or the other!

We'd like to thank all three reviewers for their time and trouble, and we're very glad that on the whole they seem to have liked what they read; we can assure them, and everyone else, that there's plenty more good stuff on the way from MANIFOLD PRESS!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

New titles for 1 May

Our next two books will be published on 1 May, and both are well worth getting excited about!

We've already been making a bit of a fuss about A PRIDE OF POPPIES, an anthology of modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War. We hope that our readers will welcome this particular project, as all proceeds will be donated to the charity The Royal British Legion. Three of the ten authors involved are Manifold Press stalwarts, and we are delighted that their contributions are joined by those of seven authors new to the Press.

Our second offering follows on from last year's DANCE OF STONE, with Jay Lewis Taylor bringing us another vivid historical with THE PEACOCK'S EYE. This time we visit the last tumultuous years of Queen Elizabeth's reign, and we come to know and love the actor Philip Standage just as surely as we did Hugh mason. Jay deftly combines thorough research with a cracking good yarn, with the whole brought to life by his wonderful range of characters.

Meanwhile, tickets are still available for the new one-day event that the Press is hosting: Queer Company, in Oxford on Saturday 9 May. Everyone who loves this genre as much as we do is very welcome to join us! You can find the event website, including registration details, at

The final piece of the programming puzzle is just falling into place now, so we'll have some more details available very soon!