Saturday, 31 January 2009

London Calling

Great news for The House Of Moose. Yesterday I got news that an independent panel of publishers and booksellers had chosen The art of Being dead by Stephen Clayton as one of the books of the month that will be promoted by independent booksellers and certain libraries in London. The idea is to the raise the profile of indie publishers in the UK and is being run by Legend Press, who received a grant from The Arts Council to promote new writing. Now, I have sent forth lots of books post haste by horse and cart to the Metroplolis and hopefully a literary editor from one of the big papers will notice Steve's book, pick it up, realise what a gem it is and put it in their newspaper and tell their readers all about it.
I have a cunning plan for our next publication that will get mega media coverage. It's all about the author's name you see. Towit, our next book will be written by a stellar young tyro called
Amis McCewan Rushdie, whose father was an alcoholic professor of creative writing at Oxford University and spent his whole life writing letters to an obscure blind poet whilst have sex in the recesses of The Bodlean Library with albino followers of Opus Dei. It has bestseller written all over it.
The world tour of northern libraries continues with visits to Bolton and Blackburn in the next two weeks and a rare sojourn to Borders in Cambridge. A lady who attended an event at Elland library just before last Christmas stopped reading Steve's book on page 37 because ' she didn't like the swearing.' She said nobody swore in Elland in the 60's. She also thinks that a young man called 'Elvis,' will top the charts by Easter.
Coming soon to a PC near you, interviews with Anna Chilvers, Laura Brudenell and Stephen Clayton.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Falling Through Clouds

It is always very exciting when you read a wonderful new manuscript. And I have. It's called FALLING THROUGH CLOUDS by Anna Chilvers and we'll be publishing at the end of May. But that's just the start for a small independent like Bluemoose Books. Having a brilliant book means nothing if you can't get it into the hands of the reading public. But first you have to get it into the shops, get review coverage and get the Lit Eds all hot and bothered. A great review helps and we have one by Lesley Glaister who heaps praise on Anna's prose and ability to weave a wonderful story. Anna and I are off to Nottingham to meet our marketing and PR supremo, Laura Brudenell, who is going to coordinate all the media stuff and get them all excited. It's literary foreplay. She's an expert and has them frothing already. She went away and learned her skills atop some remote mountain in Nepal. She's an expert with Tantric Reviews. Then there's the jacket. The jacket is all important. The publishers Association have done some research and a jacket has 0.20 of a second, yes that's a fifth of a second to convince the book buying browser to pick it up , have a look at the blurb and buy it. That's how important a jacket is. And so we have to get it right. We've had a few problems with the overall design and now the illustrator is suffering from Delhi Belly so it will be Monday before we get the illustration. Frustrating but all very exciting. I haven't even told you about FALLING THROUGH CLOUDS yet. I'm being a bit of a tease but it will be worth it. All the best things are worth waiting for. Trust me.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

All Stuck Up

I was in the Deansgate branch of Watertsones in Manchester yesterday to meet Ray Robinson, the author of Electricity, which was shortlisted for a bag of awards and his new book, The Man Without. He has a great website, . I will be reviewing his book next week. He told me a great story about a well known poet that got punched at a funeral that they were both attending. Now that's what I call the ultimate critique. Of course not all poetry is that bad but what a fantastic reality TV show that would be. BEAT THE POET. I'm already on the case and will give that man Cowell a bell.
Before I met Ray, I was doing some shelf surfing and was stunned to see that Waterstones are suffering from an outbreak of stickerage. Its as though someone from Head Office has been let loose with a sticker machine gun on the shop floor. One title had 3 large stickers on the front cover. A 3for2 sticker, a Richard and Judy and then a £2.99 if you spend £10 sticker. You could hardly see the damn book. It did the job I suppose as my eye was drawn to this 'measles bound copy,' but you could hardly tell what the book was about when you got there. It reminded me of teenagers who have just found their political voice. They too adorn their jackets with numerous badges and you know that if approached by one, you cross the road. They are political scouts and are programmed to bore you into submission. Like some poets really.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Moose has landed

John Updike, the American novelist has died of cancer aged 76. His most famous work was the four novels that chronicled post war America through the eyes of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstron. You can read his obit at

I have arrived back in Hebden Bridge after two days selling in Scotland and met some very knowledgeable booksellers, especially Steve at Borders Glasgow Buchannan Street. I thought it would be interesting to find out what the booksellers are recommending at Watertsones in Glasgow at Sauchiehall Street and the other at Wats George Street in Edinburgh. Do they have different tastes? Look at the list below and decide for yourself. They both had Ian Banks, Irvine Welsh, Alistair McCall Smith, James Kelman and Alisdair Gray as recommends but after that....Well.

Wats Sauchiehall St Glasgow.

Young Adam Alexander Trockli Publ. One world Classics
The Nickum Doris Davidson Birlinn
The sound of my own voice Ran Butlin Serpent's Tale
The lantern Bearer Ronald Frame Duckworth

Wats George Street

Sea of Faith Stephen O'Shea Profile
Requiem for a Dream Hugh Selby Jr Marion Boyars
Encylopaedia of Snow Sarah Emily Miano Serapion Books
Runt Niall Griffiths Vintage

Read, discuss and give me a hundred words on the lilterary difference of the two cities.
A new word has entered the vocabulary. Scrappage. Apparently in Europe if you scrap your car you are given 2500 Euros for 'Scrappage.' Interesting.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Masseuse in a window

I was in Edinburgh yesterday and went into the three Waterstones that are there but as I passed the big department store Jenners, my eye caught a lady in red who was stood in the window talking. She was miked up and you could hear her from outside. She was telling the massed ranks about their new Massage and beauty treatments that were on offer. What was most disconcerting however was the fact that in the small confines of the window was a masseuse kneeding the worried scalp of a lady laid out on a table. Naturally she was all covered up in fluffy towels but the look on her face was a picture. She looked terrified, but then I think I would be if I was half naked, stuck in a window in the middle of winter being oggled at by all and sundry.
Must dash off to Dundee and Perth via Auchtermuchty. I will of course stop there and bow before the statue of the great Scottish comedian, Jimmy Shand. If I have time I might even take a picture.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Road trip

Bags packed and CD's ready. The music for the trip to Scotland is The Moose's Desert Island Discs. Early Motown, Bowie before he stopped taking drugs, Ramsey Lewis, The Smiths, The Roses, Manitas De Plata, Marvin Gaye, David Byrne and The Stanley Holloway monologues, especially thee 'hapence a foot. I've just heard Evan Davies, the BBC journalist plug his new TV series and the first programme that he said he was reporting from, and I kid you not, is ' Manchester in the North of England.' Now, forgive me for being petty here but where else would Manchester be when talking about the UK? You patronising purveyor of statistics. I believe you have many piercings which will be tweeked if not removed if I ever meet you. Thin skinned? No, it just pees me off that the BBC thinks it needs to tell us where every place is if it isn't within the confines of the M25. Must get my Baedeker out and find out wher Scotland is. Any clues Evan?
Toodlepip. Off up the M6. I may be gone for some time.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Bruce Almighty

It is apt that on Robert Burns day I should be heading up to Scotland on a sales trip. But before I do, I would like to share with you a horror story. I was watching some Heineken Cup Rugby yesterday and at half time an advert appeared. It was Bruce Springstein belting out some tune in his New Jersey way, when they cut to the album he was promoting. 'Working on a dream. Special Edition. I don't know if its a special edition beacause Mr Obama has taken over playing Sax from Clarence Clemons or what, but I saw Bruce's face morph into that of Edwina Currie. If you've just had your breakfats, I do apologise because this is the woman who had an affair with John Major, perhaps the dullest PM we've ever had. She has a frightening physog, she was part of Mrs. Thatchers' governemt in the 1980's that ripped the soul out of this country. She was Mrs. T's mini me, a snarling, sniping terrier like creature who's spiteful face appeared all too regularly telling us not to eat eggs. She also wrote four books for Headline after she stepped down from parliament. They were laced with sex. Perhaps when John was mid coitus she scribbled down a few notes. All I am saying to the marketing men of Bruce's record comapny, change the cover, and quick.
There is a fantastic indie publisher in Scotland called Two Ravens press, they're based in NW Highlands and I was speaking to the publisher recently. She was telling me that they'd had great support form Publishing Scotland, an organisation that helps new indpendent presses in the country. I then tried to look for a similar organisation in England and didn't find one. Of course there is the arts council and all their regional office but they don't have anybody helping small amd independent publishers. They have literature officers but their remit is somewhat limited. I don't want grants, although a one off payment would be good, because I don't want to have to put my publishing schedule before the PC police, but what I would like is a body akin to Publishing Scotland that could have offered advice at the start of setting up Bluemoose Books.
I will be stopping off at Tebay services on my way to Glasgow for soomething to eat. I know somebody from Hebden who drives the 180 mile round trip for the excellent curries they serve there. I have to get the Curry name out of my head or I'll have John Major doing Percy Filth in my head. Not the best way to start a Sunday.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

The peanut trail

Tis the season of bright lights, red carpets, tears and hubris cubed. Quentin Crisp called it 'the peanut trail.' All those parties and events organised to promote, glad hand or announce a film, a book or a new work by an up and coming artist. A good friend of mine went down to London recently to attend a national award for 'First time novelists' it was the type of doo that turns its nose up at a sausage on a stick. Well much drink was had and my mate found himself talking to the editor of the national newspaper that was hosting the event. Mr R, the editor, asked him what he thought about the book that won etc and 008, my friend, gave him both barrells. He said that the winner was indeed a good book but went on to say that , 'why was it that his newspaper did not review the cutting edge books being published by the independents. Continuing he said, 'that it was the small independents out there that were taking all the risks and publishing fantastic novels.' 008 has been a bookseller for over 15 years and knows his stuff.
It was music to my ears. No money has changed hands.
Although the big publishing houses have published some great books from new writers , it's the independents like Canongate, Tindall Street, Route, Salt, Snowbooks and Myrmidon that are really publishing new and innovative fiction. I read yesterday that $10 Million dollars had been paid to Britney Spears for her story. A thousand new writers could get a $10,000 advance and I bet your bottom dollar that at least thirty would make more money in the long run for publishing and booksellers than dear old Britney. The future, Nah lets hoover up as much cash now and sod the literary consequences.
Song of the day is for Gordon Brown and I won't say the obvious one but my choice is 'Wade in the water,' by Ramsey Lewis. I have some armbands Gordon, but they come at a price.

Friday, 23 January 2009


Cal, my fourteen year old youngest son asked me yesterday at breakfast 'Who decides what's good poetry?' From the mouths of babes. Good question. He's just started his GCSE's. I honestly don't know. Contemporary poets I like are Wendy Cope and Seamus Heaney. As The Moose lives in Hebden Bridge and in the shadow of Ted Hughes, I steer away from poets. They are everywhere. In Hebden we don't have a gang problem, we have a poet problem. They accost you in the middle of the street and bark stanzas at you. If you don't listen they come round in the middle of the night and throw Haiku's through your window. When we have events they force you into corners with their spittled assualts and trip you up with their meter and scan. Not all poets are mad bad and dangerous to know but I still think Ted Hughes's best work is his children's story The Iron Man.
I bumped into 'No dog Dave ,' yesterday. He's got the moniker because he hasn't and everyone else has a dog in Hebden. I tell you this because he used to work for the Yorkshire Post and a photographer from The YP came round yesterday to Take Steve Clayton's photograph for a piece in the YP's Arts and Culture section next week. Steve is the author of The art of being dead. We had to climb some moss laden steps high up in the Pennine Hills for the shot, just beneath the lip of Heptonstall village where Ted Hughes's wife Sylivia Plath is burued. Now Ted would have coped because he was a country boy. Steve and The Moose didn't. We were both slipping all over the place because we are 'Town Mice.' Steve was in his new Docs, he's a rock and roller you see and me in my pointy Chelsea boots. Middle aged men trying to be cool. So sad, I know. Mmm you can guess what the photographer was thinking but kind enough not to say. We then went to The White Lion for more photographs. No dog Dave looked through the window but didn't come in but waved at the photographer. It looked very poetic but I refrained from putting it down in stanza form. I'll leave that to the poet I call 'The egg man.' He has trouble finding his mouth when eating his breakfast, and you can guess what's on the menu and his shirt come 9.00am.
Off to York and Knaresborough today

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Has Andy Murray been drinking the blood of the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzanegger? You see Scott Pack at and the Dovegreyreader are embroiled in a tennis competition, they have allotted themselves payers at The Australian Open and its pistols at dawn so to speak, or aces at noon I suppose would be more applicable. And so I googled the BBC as you do, and found that the boy in man's clothing that was the petulant Murray last year had morphed into some bulking hulk wielding a tennis racket. Apparently he is now the favourite having defeated Federer and Nadal last week in Abu Dhabi . I can't remember seeing Arny at the Inauguration of Barack Obama and thought that quite strange until I viewed Andy Murray smashing tennis balls down under in Melbourne and it got me thinking. Has the Terminator been terminated? I'm going to record Murrays' post match interviews and see if I can hear in his voice any Austrian inflections.

The problem with virtual sports games is that you can't leave them for a day and expect them to prosper. The Bluemoose boat, skippered by Johhny Depp in The Volvo Ocean Race has just run aground in Borneo. It was flying along but then we got carried away, forgot about it and , well, an ex Moose lies in a watery grave. The Duffy household has suffered the loss of a Dyson and a boat in 24 hours. But the great thing about virtual stuff is that Bluemoose 2 has just been launched and is on it's way to Quindong.

I have just finished The Believers by Zoe Heller. Bit disappointed to tell the truth. She writes beautifully and her descriptions of the dysfunctional New York family is wonderful but the story doesn't really get going at all. It got into second gear but then that was it. I loved Notes on a Scandal and perhaps it was the second novel thing. Of course all the critics said it was the best thing since sliced bread. Mmm. Not convinced. Off to Manchester today to see how they're fairing at the Deansgate Waterstones. Will let you know if Gerry's announcements have gone down well with those on the shopfloor.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Intergalactic Learning Resource Hub

I do not know whether the enlightened officers of Wirral Coucil lost their civic shirts in the Icelenadic banking collapse or the Finanace Director's bet on the 3.30 at Haydock Park didn't come to fruition but they have decided to close 13 libraries to save money after some boy graduate decided that their libraries didn't give value for money. After closing these libraries no doubt they are going to outsource all library facilities to some Venusian Venture Capital company where we can all log on via a satellite link to some Cyber Educational Hub, and download Jordan's oeuvres by some sort of handheld twittery blackberry combination. Libraries are an essentail part of the community and yes if only one person pops in I agree it has to be looked at, but a library is an essential part of the communtiy which delivers more than just books and access to the tinterweb. It is a place where reading, writing and many, many other groups meet to discuss, debate and enjoy the beauty of the written word. Of course I have an interest because without the fantastic support of libaries up and down the country small publishers like Bluemoose Books would not survive. They are not overly tied to the commercial aspects of the publishing market and can therefore take a punt, unlike some of the major high street chains.
Recently The Moose and Stephen Clayton have been on a world tour of Northern libraries and the response has been brilliant. They have not always liked Steve's book, The art of being dead but the debate has always been rigorous and enjoyable. Without libraries we are a poorer nation and surely we should have learnt that this complete obeisance to the Market has proved disasterous for our economy, so why can't we spend a miniscule percentage of the billions that Gordon has found down the back of the settee at No10 on books to put in libraries. It behoves everyone to write to the Secretary of State for Media, Culture and Sport, John Burnham to stop this outragious closure of libraries on the Wirral. Moving on.
The knitting priest was not in Blackpool yesterday but perhaps he was in Washington to listen to Mr Obama. Anyone who spotted him in D.C, please let me know, he is sorely missed. A dark cloud hung over the Duffy household yesterday as the Dyson wheezed it's last. I will have to find my Hoovering therapy elsewhere. Any takers?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Captain Johnny

Avast. Abaft. And Ahoy. The Moose has taken to the seas as Hetha, my wife, has enetered a boat in the Volvo Ocean Race. It's called Bluemoose, you see, product placement again. It's a virtual boat, but follows the real boats as they sail around the world. You can get your own boat and join in the fun on
I don't like sailing, I get seasick watching Captian Pugwash, but Hetha has sailing in her blood, her granddad was a marine in the Second World War and had a boat. She's chosen Johnny Depp to Captain and whilst he's fending off pirates and whatever the seas can throw at him as he navigates Bluemoose from Singapore to Quindong on the first leg, this landlubber is off to Blackpool to sell his wares. Around the corner from Waterstones in Blackpool, there used to be a priest who sang Irish folk songs whilst knitting. He's probably in the Guinness Book of Records for singing the most songs in an hour, whilst speed knitting. Alongside him were two daughters of the church who were selling religious trinkets and the like. You know the kind of stuff, Rosary beads and luminous statues of the Pope. All very tasteful I'm sure but the thought of waking up to a Flashing Pope Benedict does give you the heaby geabies.Well off to scrub the decks and will tell you if the singing, knitting priest is at his station.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Funky President

In the week that Barack Obama becomes president, everyone's eyes will be on the inauguration in Washington. And quite rightly. But please look a little more closely as the president elect gives his speech, because in his left hand will be a book. Not the bible, but a copy of The art of being dead by Stepehn Clayton. The Moose has been busy all week trying to get some product placement on the go, and of course it's not true, but if it were, then sales would go nuclear. And here is the serious point about a small publisher getting their wares into the hands of the reading public. Review coverage is essential. With the advent of the tinterweb great sites like meandmybigmouth, dovegreyreader and readysteadybook are democratic platforms where you know at least your books will be looked at. However, when it comes to the national press who knows what criteria they use to review books. Its the writing stupid! Or is it a good editorial lunch? Perhaps their best friend has just written a book? Read Robert McCrum's interview on Scott's meandmybigmouth site for revelations. Then comment on Robert's Guardian/books. The question being posed is, because of the democratic nature of internet commentary, is the literary editor dead in the water? Discuss. Today however Stephen Clayton is being interviewed by The Yorkshire Post, and tells me he feels a little bit like Dick Whittington having to travel to London on foot with his book stopping off at all the towns on the way talking to the press before he gets to the Metropolis and hopefully an audience with those that hold the key. Well it is the end of the pantomime season.
Musical choice of the day is Funky President by James Brown. Not that Barack Obama will be donning a soul patch and throwing a few shapes on the dias in Washington but because it's a great tune, and it is today as revelatory about the madness of the economic markets and the post of the most powerful man on the planet as it ever was. And surely it's got to better than Bono saying prayers to himself. And more importantly it makes me smile.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


This is the blog site of Bluemoose Books an Independent Publisher based in The Pulse Belt of The Pennines, Hebden Bridge. Heth and I started two years ago because we were sick to death of all the celebrity books in the high street. As a sales rep for over 20 years with various publishers, together with book shop managers we were concerned at the paucity of new writers being promoted by the big London publishing houses. One buyer at a major library supply company kept telling me that the big boys were just publishing 'Stuff.' Depressing. So, we remortgaged the house, set up Bluemoose Books and have so far published four books, soon to be five.

Idealistic yes, deluded, maybe, passionate, definitely.

The mission: To promote beautifully written and well crafted books that tell a great story.
We're not trying to change the world, we'll leave that to Bono and Sir Bobbus, because when all said and done you can't fill empty bellies with a magic metaphor.

Here's the sales link and if you buy enough books our bank manager at Lloafs IOU Bank will let us continue.

The art of being dead by Stephen Clayton has been compared to Ian Bank's The Wasp Factory by Scott Pack, who you book bloggers will no doubt know.

Will tell you about tall tales from the bookshop floor tomorrow as I depart on another bookselling road trip.