Books, the bookish, the book; there’s never been a better time to talk about them. Not sitting here there hasn’t, anyway. Indicators are everywhere: books are in flux. Turnover in book publishing is growing slowly, but exports are accounting for a bigger share of the market. Micro-publishers are flourishing yet so are Ebooks. A decline in High Street retail activity may see Waterstone’s go to the wall. Never mind Peak Oil, what about Peak Book? Are we living through a tipping point? Have we seen the apogee of ink on paper, the high point of the printed word?
It’s difficult to say. Especially given the research I’ve done for this piece. One thing’s certain though: that’s the introduction out of the way. So. Maybe now we can get to the point. And a giddy, feel-good, non-critical point it is too…
There’s a real slobbery bounce about the Birmingham literary scene at the mo, but a balance of vitamins and minerals as well. This spring we have news of everything from the latest release of an internationally renowned Brummie author to the ongoing investment in our creative future.
I’ll start with the former and a writer who – as a nominally ‘genre’ novelist – you may not have encountered. Roger Ellory lives in Yardley and when he was a teenager he was sent to jail for poaching. He wrote twenty-three novels before he sold his first; now he can’t stop bagging French crime-writing awards. His new book is due soon in paperback.
If you prefer murder to homicide – and a considerably more sober author biog to boot – the ever-dependable independent player Tindal Street Press present the first in a new series from former ‘young adult’ author David Belbin. You can read an extract here: http://www.tindalstreet.co.uk/news/sneak-peak-of-crime-novel-bone-and-cane
‘Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures’ said Jessamyn West, Quaker author and cousin of Richard Nixon. And if you think that’s bobbins, then you may be interested in what Candi Miller has to say on the matter. The author of ‘Salt and Honey’ opens Birmingham Book Festival’s Spring Thing on 9th April with a workshop that looks at ‘Truth, Lies and life Writing’. The Festival’s ongoing work includes the Write On! initiative, taking place in schools across the region; among the writers involved is adopted Brummie Helen Cross, who wrote ‘My Summer of Love’ and ‘Spilt Milk, Black Coffee’ and claims to find her inspiration on West Midlands Travel buses.
A bit prosaic? Then I’ll finish with Kings-Heath based author Andrew Killeen. His novels revisit and reinterpret Persian myths. His second is due out in August and I defy you to read its opening and not start counting the days:
I have a story to tell you. It is a tale of adventure, of love, and deception, of destiny and death. It is a tale of kings, and emperors, and of beautiful princesses; but also of poets, pirates, and priests. It is a story to entertain and instruct, to stir the blood, to inflame the senses, to dizzy the mind and rouse the soul…
By Charlie Hill
Charlie Hill lives and works in Kings Heath. His first novel – The Space Between Things – is set in Moseley. www.charliehill.org.uk