Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Way For Me

When one publisher chooses another.

In 2013, I was on holiday in Majorca with my mother and my daughter when I got an offer of publication from Inspired Quill. The Last Time We Saw Marion was my first novel and I had to think long and hard about committing what was at that point my life’s work to a small press that I had never heard of. I weighed up the options. I would not get the advance of money that every aspiring author dreams of. The royalties for each book would not amount to much.

But what I would (and did) get were a series of edits on my book, mutual back-and-forth edits which improved the quality of the writing – and for me, the quality of the writing is as important as the story and the book’s potential saleability – I’m in it for the long run.

Signing with this particular small press would also result in a beautifully-produced book with a professional cover design, and printing costs, all funded by my publisher. From signing, to the first box of books, equates to at least £2000 in monetary terms, and that doesn’t take into account what would have been the cost of the repeated rounds of editing. The small press publisher contributes these services for free. I take immense satisfaction from working with an editor, perhaps my willingness to work with others on every possible way of improving my work comes from my background in Fine Art. During the process of the BA and Master’s degree, ‘group crits’ are an essential means of personal development.

The £2000+ costs of proofreading, cover design and initial printing, not to mention any publicity costs, are what I would otherwise have had to spend myself to come up with a comparable finished product, and I didn’t have that money. Most of all, I wanted a publisher behind me, I didn’t want to be cast out alone on the choppy sea of self-publishing.

When you open your first box of newly published books it feels like a validation of all the hard work. The Last Time We Saw Marion emerged into the physical world in April 2014. In 2015, Inspired Quill published my second novel, Another Rebecca.

But in November this year, my third novel, The Eliza Doll (currently out on Kindle), comes out in paperback with Wild Pressed Books. This is the independent press I’ve set up with my husband, Phil Scott-Townsend. Wild Pressed Books has also published two other books this year: Davíð Rafn Kristjánsson’s Burning Karma (launched at the Embassy of Iceland, London, March 2016) and Holly Bidgood’s The Eagle and The Oystercatcher, to be launched at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. We’re really excited at the new skills we’ve learned, and are continually working on. Our first publication has gone very well so far, and our author, Davíð, is already making a name for himself in Iceland, with the sales trickling through from our bookshop. We can do this.

And yet, in March, 2017, I am returning to Inspired Quill for the publication of my fourth novel, Of His Bones. Why did I decide to go back to Inspired Quill to publish my fourth book? Because I value the editing and production services of my small publisher. Yes, I could do it myself, as could have the authors who have signed up with the small press Phil and I have set up. But for me it isn’t about having all the control, it’s about working in conjunction with a trusted other, to produce the best and most professional outcome. This can be achieved in different ways for different writers, and the small-press way is the best way for me.

Time Waits For No Morlock

Read a book and make a dream come true

Remember what Einstein had to say about relativity and time? Well, this has nothing to do with any of that. This won’t take long. Relatively speaking.

I want to talk about the temporal relations of Terapolis. Time isn’t the same in the city of Silas Morlock, you see. It’s measured, it passes, much the same as it does in our frame of reference, but that’s clocks for you, not time.

The city isn’t that old by our measure, but it feels ancient, a place where the weight of time presses the juice out of your soul. In Terapolis, so much more of that timey-wimey stuff has slipped through the neck of the hourglass than is tallied in the count of actual days, weeks, months, years since the city came into being.

The residents don’t notice, not really.

They’re too busy leading their lives, such as they are. Time is just the ticking hands of the clock, counting out the long emptiness between those longed-for periods of escape into The Gestalt. This mysterious and esoteric technology offers release from the darkness of this dread city, it shapes their lives, takes people out of themselves, gives them a reason to keep plodding along.

You might say that every day is Monday in Terapolis; The Gestalt is Friday concentrated and turbocharged. Little wonder, when you consider the environment. Yeah, it’s no place for people suffering with SAD.

For those of you who don’t know, Terapolis is a city of organic skyscrapers, clustered as dense as a primeval forest, musty. Down in its depths, the light of the living day is absorbed long before it reaches ground so that humanity lives in a world with little natural light. Neon and an eerie bioluminescence play havoc with the body clock. With no external reference – the sun, the moon – the body’s rhythms slip into a rough 25-hour cycle, but at least in Terapolis you don’t have to worry about time zones – or jet lag.

At this point it’s probably worth noting that Terapolis is a city of trans-continental proportions. As Caxton says in the book, Terapolis “absorbed the cities of history, swallowed entire nations, embalmed continents, and somewhere along the line we stopped noticing; we had The Gestalt by then”.

Of course, The Gestalt’s blessings come at a price –

— but if you want to know what it’ll cost you to release your soul, you’ll need to read the book. For now, it’s enough to know that some of that price is the dreary truth of daily existence in Terapolis. No wonder the city presses heavy with the weight of ages, but there’s a little more to it than the psychological burden of living in such an unearthly place. Sorry for the mind-screw, but Terapolis really is an antediluvian city, even though its origins are scarcely more than a few decades gone.

Memory is a fickle critter at the best of times. In the city of The Gestalt, centuries of time have passed for every decade of lived experience. Caxton’s generation once dwelled in a world similar to our own, but in their subjective (relative) reality, living memory has dissipated almost beyond recall.

That’s the thing about time, wherever you are; it keeps its own pace.

In Terapolis, you’ve got all the time in the world, rushing you headlong to that moment when there’s no time at all. So, don’t look back, just make the most of those moments to hand until you can lose yourself again in The Gestalt.

On some level, the inhabitants feel it, this discord in the flow of time; a sense of life stretched beyond its natural vitality, of a soul diminished. Not that many of them retain the capacity to articulate this sense of dissonance, of course, except as a need to hurl themselves back into The Gestalt. It’s a refuge for the lost and the deeper we burrow into its promise the more lost we become. You just know, it can’t end well.

Okay, I admit it:

…underneath all the metaphysics, The Gestalt is a metaphor for consumerism, but there is a simple antidote. Caxton pushes the most powerful drug ever used by mankind. A veritable poison for The Gestalt, it breaks the hold it has on us; little wonder it had to be driven underground literally and metaphorically.

The stuff Caxton sells alters the mind, expands consciousness, transcends time, opens a channel to the dead; it feeds the soul and sets us free. Luckily, living in the here and now, we don’t need to go find our fix in the shaded underbelly of our cities and towns, not like Adam going out of his wits as he searches for his dealer.

We can find this mind-altering material on every high street, in countless retail stores, online, in libraries, and on the shelves of like-minded friends.

Want to know the secret? Time is no object, we make our own. All we gotta do is grab a book and read. You might want to start with Silas Morlock. Let him light the way towards a wealth of worlds – and spark a fire in the forge of imagination.

Open Submissions – 2016!

It’s that time of year again!

For the month of May, we’re opening submissions to, well, everyone. All details can be found on our Submissions page – we don’t believe in making you jump through pointless hoops, so it’s a pretty simple process, and there’s even a direct email address for you to contact if you have any questions.

We respond to every submission we receive within a month of you sending it across, so there’s no waiting around, wondering if we actually got it, or worrying that you didn’t get our response. In fact, if it’s been more than a month and you haven’t heard from us, we encourage you to get back in touch to see where we are in the process of looking over your work!

Why should I trust you?

That’s a great question, and with the sheer number of ‘vanity-lite’ and ‘slap a pre-made cover on and go’ presses out there, it’s more important than ever to make sure you get the right fit when it comes to a publisher that will get the most of your work.

We’ve created a full document just for answering this question, where we look into our ethos and positive points…and also (*Spoiler Alert!*) actually let you in on the areas we still need to improve upon. Hey, we’re not perfect, but at least we’re striving forward towards better quality and growth instead of treating our authors like meal-tickets!

Check It Out Here!

I don’t have anything to submit – can I still ask a question?

Of course! We love seeing the inbox full of committed, enthusiastic writers. Sara has even been known to hop onto Skype or the telephone for half an hour to talk through things with writers who have nothing to do with Inspired Quill. So if you have a query about the industry in general, throw it our way! If we don’t know the answer, we promise not to make stuff up – we’ll point you in the direction of some great resources.

Good luck!

We look forward to hearing from you, and please spread the word! If you have friends who are writers we’d love to hear from them.