BookBrunch | Hot new American novelist Angie Thomas, author of bestseller The Hate U Give, on race, writing and resistance

Once in a while, a book comes along that totally blows your mind. The Hate U Give is one of those books and everyone should read it right now. Even better, the author Angie Thomas, is a total sweetheart, absolutely bursting with passion. Here’s our chat – and you should totally check out the full article on BookBrunch – but you should also buy the book.

Angie Thomas has shot to literary stardom in recent months, as her debut novel The Hate U Give, skyrockets to the top of the NYT bestseller charts. Set to be published in 18 territories and counting – and already out here through Walker Books – the YA novel follows 16-year-old Starr, who lives between the poor Mississippi neighbourhood where she was born and a posh high school in the suburbs. When she becomes the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, she comes face to face with police brutality and systemic racism

After the intensity of the book, Thomas herself is a slight surprise: a generous smile, regular laughter, and a soft Mississippi accent. Her passion and conviction shine through, however, and she has much to say on publishing, on the importance of books, and on America itself.

The struggle to write

Though Thomas has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, it took her a long time to believe that being an author was something she could do. “For one, I never saw or met any authors who looked like me. Mississippi has a rich literary history, but most of them are either white or dead and I was neither! So it felt like it was something that I, as a black girl in a poor neighbourhood in Mississippi, just couldn’t do.”

Continue reading BookBrunch | Hot new American novelist Angie Thomas, author of bestseller The Hate U Give, on race, writing and resistance

BookMachine | April Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web

Here’s your monthly summary of hot publishing news from around the interwebs! Don’t forget, you can read the full article over on the BookMachine blog.

BookMachine_logoThis month in publishing news, there has been an unusual obsession with the smell of books. Not only did scientists pin-point that distinctive smell of second-hand bookshops, but the Guardian discovered what you can tell about an individual book from its smell – and why the scent is so addictive.

In the bookselling sphere, Amazon once again dominated the opinions columns, as their forays into bricks and mortar bookshops continue. Plans for a second New York City bookstore, and another in Massachusetts are underway, while Seattle has been tipped as the next Amazon experiment ground. Continue reading BookMachine | April Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web

The BookBrunch Interview with Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books

This week’s BookBrunch interview is with the lovely Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books – don’t forget to click the link for the full article!

Jasmin Kirkbride talks to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books about the slush pile, the frisson of finding the right book, advances, and giving attention to everything on the list

Two and a half years on from its launch, Orenda Books is going from strength to strength. Run by its founder, Karen Sullivan, Orenda publishes literary fiction, as well as “the high end of genre fiction”, with an emphasis on crime and thrillers. About half the list is translated fiction, and Sullivan is always keen to push the boundaries.

Striking out alone
Though Sullivan started in publishing at Sidgwick & Jackson, working her way up to commissioning editor, for much of her career she has written books on parenting. As her own children got older, she took what was supposed to be a one-day-a-week job at a small publisher; it turned into 15 months of non-stop work when it became clear all was not well with the business.

Continue reading The BookBrunch Interview with Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books

Blazing the trail with BookBrunch

This week for the BookBrunch interview, I chatted with three of this year’s Trailblazer Award winners, Anna Russo, Heather McDaid, and Željka Maroševic. Check out the excerpt below or follow this link for the full article.

Two months on from the second annual Trailblazers Awards, organised by London Book Fair (LBF) and the Society of Young Publishers (SYP), we catch up with three of the five Trailblazer winners – Anna Russo, Željka Maroševic and Heather McDaid – to find out what they’ve been up to and their plans for the future. They provide a snapshot of an industry, not just expanding outside London, but around the world

Continue reading Blazing the trail with BookBrunch

Book Review | ‘Black Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures’ by Stephen Hawking

IMG_9678Fellow space-nerds might be quite excited by reports over the last month of a brave group of scientists trying the capture an image of the supermassive black hole sitting in the centre of our twinkly Milky Way. It’s a thrilling proposition for many reasons, but my excitement was piqued further after reading Stephen Hawking’s Black Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures, with an introduction and commentary by David Shukman.

This slim, pocket-sized volume is easy to read in a lunchtime, but might take weeks or years to really comprehend. It illustrates once again that subtle boundary between physics and philosophy – and that black holes are no exception to the true weirdness of quantum physics. Continue reading Book Review | ‘Black Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures’ by Stephen Hawking

Publishing internationally, digitally and collaboratively with the BookBrunch interviews

Another trio of interviews for you from BookBrunch, and each one is a real treat for publishing enthusiasts.

First, I caught up with Henry Rosenbloom from Scribe, who was so frustrated with the state of rights sales, he decided to expand his publishing house from down under to the UK. This is one publisher that’s serious about seriously good books!

“Later on in life, I’ve realised that what drives me as a publisher, in a strange kind of way, is the Holocaust. That’s what imprinted on me the seriousness of the world we live in, and how important it was to try to understand history, politics, people, and how to tell the truth. How to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’. Books have the power to change people’s lives, and we want to put out books that demand to be published because of their intrinsic significance.” Continue reading Publishing internationally, digitally and collaboratively with the BookBrunch interviews

BookMachine | The March Wrap

BookMachine_logoIt’s the time of the month where I round up all the internet’s top publishing stories and stick them in one place on the BookMachine blog for your perusal! Here’s a sneak peek – don’t forget to visit the BookMachine blog for more…

The big news from March in UK publishing is obviously the London Book Fair (LBF). Poland shone at this year’s Market Focus, and the Fair was busier than usual, with six-figure deals struck ahead of time and publishers cheerfully splashing cash as sales rose. This was seen as further evidence of the rise of print, with The Guardian stating that by the end of the month stats showing that print outperformed digital. Yet, despite the recent whopping $65m forward paid for the Obamas’ new book (which hasn’t pleased all and prompted a list of the biggest deals of all time) no single title emerged as this year’s big hitter. Continue reading BookMachine | The March Wrap

Much excitement: Boost is featured in the Daily Express

Very exciting times in the house of Jasmin this morning: I’m dancing around with my very first newspaper clipping!

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The folks over at Daily Express have featured excerpts from Boost in a beautiful half page spread: 10 Unusual Ways to Boost Your Confidence Today! A big huge thanks to the Daily Express and Summersdale Publishers for making this happen.

Here’s a link to the web article as well, for those of you who prefer your news digitally – hope you enjoy! 

Book Review | ‘The Mandibles’ by Lionel Shriver

27064345In the midst of writing a dystopia of my own, it strikes me on an almost daily basis the degree to which society has come under the thumb of a very fickle dictator: money. Further, money within the context of an inherently unstable and unjust neoliberal capitalist system. For a searing criticism of the failures of this system, flawlessly melded with a scintillating story, I point you in the direction of Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047.

The Mandible family has a sizeable fortune, but when a bloodless world war wipes out their millions they, like the rest of America, find themselves out of their homes and on the brink of starvation. Crammed into their poorest relatives’ house, the financial crisis brings out the best in some, and the worst in others. But, as society continues to devolve and culture breaks down, the choices ahead only get tougher. Continue reading Book Review | ‘The Mandibles’ by Lionel Shriver

Book review | ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury

farenheitSpoiler alert: This review contains massive plot spoilers about Fahrenheit 451.

In a year when readers seem to be turning to dystopias for sanity, there seemed to be no better time to return to Bradbury’s sometimes overlooked book, Fahrenheit 451.

Named after the alleged temperature at which books burn, the story follows Guy Montag, who lives in a world where books are banned, as they are thought to be the source of discord and unhappiness. As a fireman, it is Montag’s job to burn any books that are found. Yet, unhappy in his marriage and unsatisfied with life, Montag finds the lure of books too much to resist – and once there are books in his house, there is nothing to stop the feared Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department from tracking him down.

Fifty years on from its initial publication, growing post-truth, anti-intellectual sentiments in Western society have given Fahrenheit 451 new relevance, indeed in parts with almost uncanny precognition on Bradbury’s part. Many elements come into play during this book: the frustrating loss that comes with conformism; the borderline madness that comes with rebellion; the senselessness that must, after a certain point of tyranny, accompany political hope. Yet, to me, it is the end which is most pertinent in the current climate. Continue reading Book review | ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury

A big bunch of BookBrunch interviews

I’ve been shamefully lax on updating everyone on the latest BookBrunch interviews, which means that I have not one, not two, not even five, but SEVEN interviews for you today!

We’ve also had a big, shiny new BookBrunch website built for us, and best of all it’s got its very own interviews section, so you can go back a read your favourite interviews quickly and easily.  Continue reading A big bunch of BookBrunch interviews

Don’t Panic! Fourth self-help book out this summer

I took my annual pilgrimage to the Summersdale Publishers stand at The London Book Fair – and guess what I found hidden away in the Spring/Summer catalogue:

9781786852038-3-172x225Don’t Panic:
How to calm your anxiety and stay chilled when life gets stressful

Yep, that’s right I’ve got a fourth book coming out with the lovely folk at Summersdale and it’ll be landing on shelves in August! I’ve been busying away on it for the last few weeks and I can’t wait to see it in print.

While I was there, I also spotted copies of Boost, Stress Less and Believe in Yourself – the cherry on top of the awesome publishing cake that is LBF!

BookMachine | A tax on the precariat: what the 2017 budget means for the self-employed in publishing

BookMachine_logoWhen BookMachine asked for an opinion, I couldn’t not comment. Read the full article here, or grab the snippet below:

Outrage abounds in the wake of Philip Hammond’s 2017 Budget announcement on Wednesday. Amongst other controversial moves, National Insurance (NI) payments on the self-employed have been increased by 2%. But what effect will this raise have on the growing number of self-employed and freelance workers in the publishing industry?

The figures

Let’s start by looking at the cold, hard figures. The 2017 Budget has brought in a 2% rise in NI contributions for the UK’s self-employed workers. The self-employed normally pay one of two different kinds of NI: Class 2, if your profits are £5,965+ per year, and Class 4 if they are £8,060+ per year. Class 4 payments are divided into two categories: 9% on profits of £8,060-£43,000, and 2% on profits over £43,000. Continue reading BookMachine | A tax on the precariat: what the 2017 budget means for the self-employed in publishing

Back on BookMachine!

BookMachine_logoI’m really excited to be able to say I’ve been invited back to resurrect my byline at BookMachine with a monthly publishing wrap. The first month – February – went live today, and you can check it out right here.

This month in publishing, booksellers have taken the spotlight, with Waterstones announcing their first year of profit since the 2008 financial crash. In fact, Bookstore sales rose 2.5% in 2016 and Amazon is determined to get in on the action, with plans to open 10 books and mortar stores across the US by the end of 2017, in a move to “solve digital retail’s biggest design flaw.” They are also rumoured to be scouting for shops in London. However, the footing is not even: Amazon has been given tax cuts while high street stores suffer – though, as the FT points out, UK tax law isn’t actually Amazon’s fault… [READ MORE]

Signed by literary agent Sandra Sawicka at Marjacq

Marjacq_jpeg_400x400Big, huge, GIANT news today: I am now officially signed with a literary agent, the lovely Sandra Sawicka from Marjacq! I’ve got an author page on the agency website and everything.

I cannot express how excited I am to be working with Sandra and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds – let’s go make some stories…

Happy Valentine’s day and huge love to you all!

A fortnight of BookBrunch interviews

It’s been a wildly busy fortnight my end, but in amongst it all I’ve managed to get out the BookBrunch weekly interview as normal, so here’s a pair of publishing chats for you perusal…

On boosting adult literacy with Jo Dawson from Quickreads
“As heavy readers, publishers have trouble imagining what it’s like not to be able to read well. It’s something we all forget about in the industry because we’re in this bubble of people who do read and believe that books are important.”

After the bestseller: an interview with author Kate Hamer
“I just try to focus on what’s going down on the page every day. What will happen will happen, but the page is the one thing I can control.”

Born – Breathing – Bound published in Cadaverine

cadaverine-Logo-final-01-2.pngUnder what has to be the fastest publication schedule ever, BORN – BREATHING – BOUND was published on The Cadaverine website yesterday. It is available for your perusal absolutely FREE right here: http://www.thecadaverine.com/?p=11401

I’m so thankful to everyone at Cadaverine, particularly the lovely Lenni who discovered my story in the slushpile and suggested some very valuable edits.

I’m also very grateful to everyone who has read and commented so far – you’re feedback has made the last 24-hours really special! Here are some of my favourites:

“What a profound story! I’m so touched, and proud, and sad, and happy, all at once”
Ben, Canada Continue reading Born – Breathing – Bound published in Cadaverine

BORN – BREATHING – BOUND to be published in Cadaverine

cadaverine-Logo-final-01-2.pngI am hugely excited to be able to tell you all that my latest short story, BORN – BREATHING – BOUND, has been accepted for publication in The Cadaverine!

I’m so grateful to the fabulous editor Lenni Sanders for finding my little tale in the slushpile and can’t wait to see it on Cadaverine’s pages. Cadaverine is a wonderful, free online magazine of poetry and prose from writers under 30 and I’m really honoured to be featured in its pages. 

More details as and when…

The BookBrunch interview with Vic James, author of Gilded Cage

This week’s BookBrunch interview is with one of my favourite new authors from the past year, Vic James. If you haven’t got your mitts on a copy of her fantastic debut novel Gilded Cage yet, you absolutely should, and for those of you who need more convincing, here’s an interview with the author herself…

vic-jamesAuthor Vic James is instantly likeable. She’s earnest, friendly and a little bashful, but it soon becomes clear she’s also got a mind like a rapier and a devastatingly on point turn-of-phrase. Her debut novel Gilded Cage, the first book in The Dark Gifts trilogy, garnered over 300,000 readers on Wattpad, sold for a six-figure sum to Pan Macmillan and has been auctioned in six territories and counting. We got together to discuss the real Wattpad society, magical aristocrats, and how fiction can shed light on Britain’s structural inequality.

“People have the idea that Wattpad is this monolithic thing and that people who want to be published authors use it, but that’s not my experience,” James says. Though there are some who use Wattpad to try to “get discovered”, and many of its users are young teenage writers for whom the platform is a learning process, mostly “it’s just there for people to have fun”. Nine in 10 of Wattpad’s 40 million users are just readers, nothing more, many of them from countries with a poor public library system or where they don’t have the money to buy books. It’s huge in the Philippines, for instance.
Continue reading The BookBrunch interview with Vic James, author of Gilded Cage

BookBrunch | January interview catch up

For those of you looking for some pleasant reading today, I thoroughly recommend catching up on the last three BookBrunch interviews!

Looking back to the New Year, Suzanne Baboneau, Managing Director of Adult Publishing at Simon & Schuster, discusses what lies ahead in publishing.

Then bestselling novelist Chibundu Onuzo talks about her new novel, Welcome to Lagos.

And finally Sophie O’Neill, Managing Director at Inpress chats about the rise of the independent publisher and the value of poetry. Continue reading BookBrunch | January interview catch up