Thursday, 20 September 2012

Read Regional 2012

We've had a brilliant week here at Bluemoose Towers, rounded off today with some more excellent news. We are really chuffed to tell you about our involvement with New Writing North's Read Regional 2012 campaign.

This annual campaign connects local authors to local readers and includes writers and poets across the North-East, Yorkshire and Humberside. Our very own Michael Stewart will be getting involved and showcasing his book King Crow.

As part of the campaign, Michael will be visiting various libraries in the region as well as taking park in the Durham Book Festival from 13th - 30th October.

The campaign to promote new books by northern writers runs from October 2012 until spring 2013 and will involve libraries, bookshops and festivals in the region, so come back here to find out what Michael will be up to over the coming months.

So as not to miss out on all the action you can follow us on twitter @ofmooseandmen or New Writing North @NewWritingNorth or check out #ReadRegional

Read Regional is run by New Writing North, in partnership with 23 library authorities across the north of England. It is funded by Arts Council England. For more information, please see and

Stephen May meets Benjamin Myers for a cuppa

Stephen May, writer of Life! Death! Prizes! popped up his road and had a cuppa with our author Benjamin Myers.  The result of their chat was a little interview about life and writing which Stephen has posted on his blog.  Here's a little excerpt:

He's good company. Serious and thoughtful about his work and committed. He writes, he walks, he thinks. Reads, listens to music, watches films. That's pretty much it. Doesn't drink or smoke, commits himself to refining his vision and expressing it. He's impressively dedicated and the work is muscular, powerful and original.

Read the whole thing here: The Second Best Time

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Not the Booker Prize Review

After a nervous wait of a few weeks, we're really pleased with the review for Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers for The Guardian's Not the Booker Prize. We've added it as it appears on The Guardian Website, written by Sam Jordison.  Read the original here: 

Not the Booker prize 2012: Pig Iron by Ben Myers

A compulsive tale of a big-hearted north country man contending with many blows, both literal and metaphoric

Since the Not The Booker prize is all about openness, I think you should know right away that I like Ben Myers. Is this a conflict of interest? Arguably. But if it is a conflict, it's one that is played out across the books pages every day. The only difference here is that I'm being honest about it.
  1. Pig Iron
  2. by Benjamin Myers
  3. Buy it from the Guardian bookshop
  1. Tell us what you think:Star-rate and review this book
As I'm sure you already realise, friends review friends all the time. And if they didn't, literary journalism would have a few problems. Reviewers often become chummy with the people they write about. It's human nature. I became a reviewer because I like books; it follows that I'll probably also like a few of the writers of those books. Should I then refuse to read their books because of that affection? Well, we can have it out in the comments, but first, a bit more explanation:
I first came into contact with Ben years ago, because I liked his sweary prose, as this article (containing the wonderful question "Has anyone ever seen an e-book?") witnesses. I read Ben before I knew him. But since then, we've regularly corresponded, met once, and frequently laughed at slowed down versions of Metallica songs on Facebook. Does this alter the way I'm going to review Pig Iron? Possibly. The thing that gives me pause is wondering whether I'd have been able to write a review for Pig Iron like the one I wrote for Paint This Town Red. I think it would have been difficult. Perhaps I'd have managed it. Perhaps …
Happily, I didn't have to explore that dilemma this time around. I liked the book. And I don't think knowing Ben has influenced my opinion. Not too much, anyway. Maybe I warmed to it more quickly than I might have otherwise. Possibly, also, I felt extra pangs of sympathy because John-John Wisdom, the unfortunate main narrator, is a weird short northerner who's fond of Jack Russell terriers and therefore reminded me of Ben himself. But it was the writing that mattered. The writing.
One more quick personal note before I finally stop talking about myself. I spent part of my early childhood in County Durham, not so far from John-John's home in Pig Iron, and Myers' prose, rich in "mebbes" and "marrers", "nees" and "nowts", "haways" and "shite", tickled my memory. Importantly, it seemed real. John-John and his co-narrator (whom I can't name, since to do so would give away one of the book's successful surprises) speak in a stylised and sometimes strange way: "And that was when I got the weakness on me and I did faint." But it never seems forced or inauthentic.
Better still, I barely registered the unusual voice, after a while. It became part of the texture of John-John's world. Every now and again I was conscious of an appealing bit of yakka: "I've shat bigger jobbies than that lad." Also, a few lovely rhythms: "He began to treat me differently. I was a mother now. A mother who had endured one miscarriage and two births. I was a body that fetched the water and gathered the wood and kept the fires going and cleaned the clothes and the van and scolded the kids and kissed them better and worried about her husband when he disappeared for nights and days." Most of the time, though, I was too immersed in the story to notice what was happening on the surface.
It's hard not to make this story sound like a cross between Snatch andFight Club. John-John is the son of the bare-knuckle King of the Gypsies, Mac Wisdom, whose life we hear about in retrospect from the second narrator, and whose influence weighs heavy on the protagonist as he attempts to rebuild his life after a long stretch in jail. But there's no Brad Pitt here. No Hollywood. John-John's world is ugly. The fighting isn't about pleasure. Or even escape. It's just savage men knocking bells out of each other: blood, guts and pain described in visceral detail:
Mackem's neck tasted warm and bitter and metallic… I loosened for a second then went at him again, nearly dislocating me bloody jaw. There was a crunching sound and me teeth nearly met in the middle and I must have hit some veins or summat because the blood started pouring out of his neck. Human flesh doesn't tear easily. It's noisy stuff.
Things aren't much prettier for John-John when he isn't scrapping. He's forced to live in a pokey, ugly flat on a dangerous estate, where he knows next to no one, and is hounded by a gang of "charvers" whose charm is well-demonstrated in their leader's announcement that "I'll put you in the fucking ovens where you and your lot belong."
Even so, there are moments of relief. John-John is consistently amusing, a master of the sardonic aside ("'I bet you like hearing the old tales, lad'. Like a punch in the cock, I'm muttering.") He's also big-hearted and warm. Some of the book's best passages come in the descriptions of the quiet fun John-John has tootling around the countryside ("the green cathedral") in an ice-cream van, falling in love with a very unsuitable local girl and fussing over his pet dog Coughdrop. John-John is a winning presence. And of course, that makes his catalogue of misfortunes and persecution all the more upsetting; his attempts to right those many wrongs all the more gripping.
Caught up as I was, I did wonder sometimes if Myers pushed things too far. Towards the end, especially, things went a bit nuts. Imagine Hunger Games with an uglier cast, genuine violence and less chance of redemption – but also fewer loud bangs to distract you from the essential daftness. Now and again, I had doubts, but was always carried through by John-John's force of personality and righteous anger at his and Coughdrop's oppressors. What's more, just when I thought things were about to go right over the top, Myers swerved away gracefully. The ending came in a sudden flash of gold and beauty. To say more would be to give it away; suffice to say, you'll like it when you get there and it's a journey worth making. This is another quality entrant on our shortlist.

Monday, 17 September 2012

NOD by Adrian Barnes

NOD by Adrian Barnes, our new book, arrives into the Bluemoose warehouse today and we're all very excited!

Ben Myers, author of PIG IRON says about NOD, 'Think WARRIORS, the film, scripted by JG Ballard with excerpts from Ray Bradbury.' KING CROW author Michael Stewart says the first chapter of NOD is one of the best openings of any book he's ever read. He went on to say he loved every single page of it. 

I know they are both Bluemoose authors, but we haven't paid them anything and they have their own minds; that's why they came to an Indy in the first place. Just think if Mr Amis hadn't pursued the dollar, he'd have won the Booker by now! Heaven forfend. 

We're flying Adrian Barnes over from Vancouver for the launch and a series of events and signings at Independent booksellers and Waterstones. Adrian will also be giving lectures at a couple of Universities too. More of that nearer the time. 

Now its time to send off review copies to the great and supposed good of what was FLEET STREET. The broadsheets in the Metropolis. Scott pack, ex chief fiction buyer at Waterstones and now publisher and blogger at meandmybigmouth, said of one of our previous titles, THE ART OF BEING DEAD, that it wouldn't get any reviews in the literary press because 'The lit editors don't look further than the ends of their noses.'  THE ART OF BEING DEAD is now a set text on the MA course in Contemporary literature at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Now that there are three books from small independents on The Man Booker shortlist, perhaps they won't bin all books from publishers whose colophon they don't recognise. Hopefully they've learned their lesson and realise that all the exciting literary fiction these days is coming from small Independents.

Tired of McEwan, Barnes, Faulks et al. and all those sixty-something males that get all the review coverage? Yep, me too. The Indies are coming "darn sarf" to rattle the cages of the literary establishment and in NOD by Adrian Barnes I really believe we have a title that will stir things up a tad.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Moose at Large

It's really important for us as a small independent publisher to get out and about as often as possible and spread the word.  We like to meet as many readers and budding writers as we can.  We do this for several reasons. Obviously, we want to make people aware of Bluemoose books and the brilliant titles we have to offer, we may also be lucky enough to find our next author, but equally we want to let people know about what we are trying to achieve with Bluemoose Books, our experience as an independent publisher and the state of the publishing industry as a whole.

We were recently invited by the Lincoln Pheonix Writers to talk about the Bluemoose "way" and had a great evening meeting enthusiastic readers and writers and sharing our experiences with them.  Thanks to everyone there for the warm welcome!

On 22nd September, Kevin is attending another event at Macclesfield Library.  This is Cheshire East Libraries' annual celebration of books and reading.  There is a full programme including talks by writers and other publishers.  Kevin will be talking about his experience as a publisher but also exploring the issues regarding new technologies versus traditional methods of publishing.  

For more information see here: Latest Library News  or follow @CEClibraries #MaccBooks

The event starts at 12.30pm on Saturday 22nd September.  Kevin will be talking from 3.30 - 4pm.  

For more information and tickets, contact Macclesfield Library on 01625 374000

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Hardest Climb - Kindle Edition

We published The Hardest Climb by Alistair Sutcliffe in 2011 and it got a great response from a varied readership.  Hardcore climbers, adventure seekers, appreciators of extreme sports as well as those who love a true story about hope against adversity and persistence (or is it stubbornness?) in seemingly impossible situations and the human instinct for survival, all loved this book.

If this book were only about Alistair's climbing achievements it would be fascinating in itself; conquering the highest peaks on seven continents on the first attempts is certainly a feat of human endurance.  But Alistair is also a medical anomaly.  He suffered a life-threatening brain heamorrhage, but his high-altitude hobby had stimulated the blood vessel network in his brain in such a way as to save his life.

Part adventure story, part tale of returning from the brink, the hardest climb being the return to health, this is a story of remarkable human achievement and perseverance.  Forward by Sir Chris Bonnington.
We are delighted to be able to offer our readers this book now in digital format for Kindle.  You can buy it here.  The Hardest Climb - Alistair Sutcliffe

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Not the Booker Prize Nomination

Can we possibly do it two years in a row?

Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers has been shortlisted for the 2012 Not the Booker Prize run by The Guardian.  We had outstanding success with this prize last year when our book, King Crow by Michael Stewart, won the prestigious mug/trophy.  Here is the full list of shortlisted books:

The Notable Brain Of Maximilian Ponder by JW Ironmonger

Paint The Town Red by AJ Kirby
Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May
Tales From The Mall by Ewan Morrison
Pig Iron by Ben Myers
The Revelations by Alex Preston
The Casablanca Case by Simon Swift

One of the books is reviewed each week and at the end of the process voting is opened to Guardian readers who have previously left a review of the book they are voting for.  We're not yet sure when voting will start, but will keep you up to date.  The winner is announced on 15th October.

Pig Iron is due to be reviewed some time during the week commencing 17th September.  Watch this space for more information.

Read more here at The Guardian's Not the Booker Prize page

Big thanks must go to all our readers and supporters of Bluemoose Books who took the trouble and time to vote Pig Iron onto the shortlist.  It would be amazing to win this prize again, a great feat for a small publisher like us, but let's be honest, it is a fabulous book, even if we say so ourselves!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers

Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers was published at the end of May and has had a great response from critics and readers alike.  For an outline of the story see our previous post below.  Here's a flavour of some of the write ups the book has received.  For a full list of press cuttings go to our page Publicity about our Books

"Myers's poetic vernacular brims with that quality most sadly lost in the Thatcher years – humanity." 

Cathi Unsworth in The Guardian

"This is yet another singular portrait of an outsider from Myers. And delivered through authentic characterisation, a monstrously compelling plot, and frequent humour – a rare combination of such successfully crafted elements – Pig Iron deserves to find itself on many a reading list, if not the National Curriculum."

Declan Tan for 3:am Magazine

"Benjamin Myers’s influences are clear — David Peace’s northern brutalism is evident and there are suggestions of Salinger and Golding but Pig Iron’s savage vision is his alone.  Pig Iron is an utterly compelling book because the twin desolations of blighted sink estate culture and the emotional alienation of the main character are evoked unrelentingly and the grim conclusion is almost inevitable." 

Steve Ely for Morning Star

Sorry for the absence!

After a slight blogging sabbatical, we are back on track!

Check back here over the coming days for news, author events and other stuff.  Thanks for your patience while we've been gone.  We've been working harder than ever at Bluemoose and look forward to telling you all about what we've been up to and what we have planned for the next few months.