Even in the hottest months of the year, when the rest of us are quietly wilting and Hoping It Will All Go Away Please, there are reviewers still industriously at work.  We like to picture them reclining under shady trees, with the quiet plash of water nearby and a drink or an ice cream close at hand.  (If they’re beavering away in airless attics above busy main roads. we are even more grateful to them than usual!)

Reviewer Olivia Waite, writing in the Seattle Review of Books, tried Farah Mendlesohn’s SPRING FLOWERING on a recommendation and found it very much to her taste.

This is absolutely a romance reader’s romance — delicate and subtle and complex, playing with tropes and expectations and story rhythms like a virtuoso at an antique ivory keyboard. It’s some of the best Austen I’ve seen outside of Austen.

Considering the book as part of a group in which the reviewer discusses ‘The Niceness Industrial Complex’ – an expression that could well catch on! – she concludes that a romance (or a romantic book) can also explore important social issues.  That’s the Manifold Press philosophy in a nutshell: it needn’t, not always, but it absolutely can!

Thank you, Olivia, and thank you, Seattle Review of Books, for your time and your very good opinion.  We wish you cool streams, cool drinks, and cool books to read.

It’s the “Summer/Winter Sale” on Smashwords!

Smashwords is hosting a massive Summer/Winter Sale for the month of July 2018 – and what that means for readers is deep discounts on awesome titles!

Manifold Press is participating, with (almost) all our titles discounted by 25%. Now is the time to stock up that TBR pile, and maybe try some new stories you’ve been pondering.

(The only exceptions to the sale are our charity anthologies, A PRIDE OF POPPIES and CALL TO ARMS – and Elin Gregory’s SHEEP’S CLOTHING, which is already a rustler’s dream at 99 cents.)

Browse the Manifold Press catalogue on Smashwords – or browse the full catalogue of all the discounted ebooks across the site. We’re 100% sure you’ll find something to love!

New review for ANH SANG

We were delighted to see a new review by Jess on the Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews site, for our recently released novella ANH SANG by Barry Brennessel. It seems as if Jess was just as impressed as we were!

Brennessel’s writing is stark and neat. He never pulls his punches. He packs rage, confusion, and fear into Minh’s thoughts and dialogue, no matter how brief. I can’t believe this is only a novella-length work, because there’s so much good story in so few words. If an author manages to write historical fiction that makes you want to read a dozen more books on the subject, you know he’s passionate about his work.

The romance between Minh and Thao, a local farmer, is sweet and spare, always popping up when both Minh and the readers just need a little bit of hope and sunshine.

As Jess points out, this is a really unusual (perhaps even unique) setting for a love story, and we agree that readers will be rewarded in all kinds of ways for giving this a try.

Thank you, Jess and Love Bytes!

Any regrets?

A guest blog post by Sandra Lindsey

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Elin Gregory on a sunny day in her home town. Among the many things we discussed were sequels, as we’ve both been working on sequels to our books – UNDER LEADEN SKIES, and ELEVENTH HOUR – which were released by Manifold Press on the same day in 2016.

“Do you regret killing off [character]*?” she asked me at one point. My answer was an enthusiastic, “No, not at all!”

I don’t want to give the impression here that I’m an author who scribbles away joyfully killing off characters, but for the story I was telling in UNDER LEADEN SKIES it is necessary, not only from a plot point of view, but also because it felt dishonest to write a book set in wartime without losing at least one major character. I’m lucky not to have lived through such times, but in all my reading, research, and stories of the war I heard growing up, I’ve not come across a single account where loss of friends or family doesn’t feature. To write a story where all my most beloved characters remain alive felt like a betrayal or denial of the grief that war brings into people’s lives.

That said, the death of that character being so firmly written and out in the world in published form has presented me, as the author, with a bit of a dilemma. Ever since he first appeared on the page – and hijacked the story, pushing it onto a different and more interesting path than my original rather pedestrian ideas – I’ve wanted to write his story as well. He’s such a strong character, with an infectious charm and light-hearted view of life that I’d love to write it in a similar way to UNDER LEADEN SKIES, as the character’s own memoir, but with the ending I’ve already written to his life, it’s taken me a while to work out how to do that without delving into the world of ghosts or suchlike. I think I’ve finally found a solution, though, and in time I hope to share the resulting tale with you as well.

All the work I’ve done so far on the sequel has confirmed one thing in my mind: I really regret giving Teddy’s grandfather a title other than “Mr”! Pass the Debrett’s, would you?

*Anyone who has read UNDER LEADEN SKIES will know which character I am referring to.

New review for ANH SANG

Barry Brennessel’s original story ANH SANG, which appeared in our Great War anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES, left many of us wanting more – including reviewer Kazza K from On Top Down Under reviews. We were delighted (though we have to admit not overly surprised) to find that she was not disappointed in Barry’s novella-length development of this heart-wrenching story.

It’s sublime writing, so authentic and beautiful. … Barry Brennessel knows how to write innocent and tender love juxtaposed against a tough time, particularly first love. He has an ability to write characters that speak to me on such a visceral level, just like Minh and Thao did.

It is probably redundant to say that we are in full agreement with this 5-star review. Thank you, Kazza!

We’re still here!

“Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all
And, my dear, I’m still here”

Stephen Sondheim

As you will no doubt remember, we announced a year ago that we were intending to scale back operations and discontinue publishing altogether from 1 May 2018. We cited changing family circumstances as the main reason.

A lot of different factors combined in the making of our original decision. Julie – our youngest and most energetic team member – had plans to retire from her day job and return, with her other half, to live near their families in Australia. We didn’t think we were likely to manage very well for long without her, especially as Fiona’s age begins with a 6 and Morgan’s with a 7 and we’re both slowing down a little bit. Plus, as we mentioned, we have family members to look after and our own health has started to be somewhat unpredictable into the bargain.

So, it seemed that a decorous retirement was in order. We made plans for it. We told people what we were doing. We put our metaphorical house in order, wrapped up loose ends, organised a last AGM and got ready to say a tearful ‘goodbye’.

And that, of course, was precisely when someone came along with a thoroughly serious and sensible plan to take over the business and carry it forward in our absence. We know that their aims and ours are very much in aligment when it comes to quality and customer service, and we’re sure they’ve got all the necessary skills, experience and confidence to continue building the Press’s profile in just the way we would have loved to do ourselves – if only we’d started slightly earlier in life, or had just a little bit more energy!

We’re not going into any more detail than that just yet. When we’re ready, we’ll make a formal announcement and let our new team introduce themselves properly. In the meantime we’re going to continue producing newsletters, updating this blog, and maintaining our social media presence, but we won’t be publishing anything new until early 2019. We will be open for submissions again as from 1 June 2018 – please see our website for more information. Fiona will also be attending UK Meet 2018 to hear pitches in person; details will appear here as soon as they are available.

Many of our existing authors are remaining with Manifold Press and their work will continue to be available to buy through the usual channels. Some have decided either to retire, to self-publish, or to move elsewhere; to every one of these we say a heartfelt Thank You – we’ll miss you, but we wish you the best of everything in your future endeavours.

Most of all, we want to thank the inimitable Julie Bozza; without her this Press would not have been half as successful as it has been, and it would very likely have run out of steam several years ago. We’ve learned a lot from Julie, and we’re hoping we can put some of those lessons into practice in the future.

Morgan and Fiona will retain their connection with Manifold Press for the time being. Our contribution may gradually diminish, but we’re certainly keen to be involved as much as we can to help our ‘baby’ take its next big steps into a wider world. If this changes at any time we’ll let you know, but for the time being both we and the Press are – in the words of the great Mr Stephen Sondheim – ‘still here’.

And it’s not impossible you may be almost as surprised about that as we are!

Our three new titles for May are now available!

We’re very excited by our three offerings for your spring / autumn reading pleasure! We are honoured to be publishing new work from Jay Lewis Taylor and the award-winning Barry Brennessel, as well as our new Shakespeare-inspired anthology NO HOLDS BARD. These are all available now.

We weren’t alone in wanting to know more about the fascinating characters and setting of Barry Brennessel’s short story in our Great War anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES, so we know we won’t be the only ones thrilled to read his ANH SANG novella. This expands and significantly develops the original story, in surprising and intriguing ways.

Barry has also adapted the story into a screenplay, which has won recognition in prestigious screenwriting contests. We’re proud as punch to be playing a small role in bringing you this tale!

Buy links for ANH SANG:

From Jay Lewis Taylor we have the story WHERE ANGELS FEAR, in which Richard, invalided home from the Navy, meets Les, a Lancaster bomber pilot still serving with the RAF. This story ranges from the intimately personal to the internationally significant, in carefully considering how war affects those most closely involved.

This volume also contains another story, THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.

Buy links for WHERE ANGELS FEAR:

Following up on the success of our Austen-inspired anthology, we’re delighted to bring you NO HOLDS BARD, which takes its inspiration from Shakespeare and his works – and then runs off in several directions at once. Editor Fiona Pickles is thrilled by the variety brought to you by the ten authors, some already familiar to the Press and others new to us:

  • Julie Bozza
  • Siobhan Dunlop
  • Adam Fitzroy
  • Bryn Hammond
  • Erin Horakova
  • Molly Katz
  • Vanessa Mulberry
  • Eleanor Musgrove
  • Michelle Peart
  • Jay Lewis Taylor

Buy links for NO HOLDS BARD:

Three books which are absolutely perfect to curl up with, no matter what the weather!

NO HOLDS BARD on St George’s Day!

23 April is St George’s Day, the day we celebrate the patron saint of England and the birth of Shakespeare. It’s no coincidence that Manifold Press is just about to release our Shakespeare-inspired anthology, NO HOLDS BARD.

We’re glowingly proud of how this collection of stories has come together, burgeoning with intriguing ideas both weird and wonderful – and we’re very much looking forward to knowing what you think of it all, too!

It’s only a week now until release day on May Day. In the meantime, as The Man Himself said, “Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!” (We’ll return to our usual, somewhat less partisan selves on the morrow, I promise.)

Modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by the works of William Shakespeare

Ten authors, twelve extraordinary stories. From a novel solution to the Plantagenet succession crisis to revelations about the private lives of Prince Hal and – separately! – Brutus and Cassius, plus a surprise ending for Twelfth Night, no play is safe. We have marriage proposals and murder; subtle scheming villainy; a missing manuscript; a haunting… Whether set within the framework of a play, or spotlighting actors, characters, or the Bard himself, these stories will have you viewing Shakespeare in a whole new light. It’s definitely not the kind of thing they taught us in school…

Take a deep breath. Dive in. Prepare to be astonished!

An anthology edited by Fiona Pickles and featuring authors:

  • Julie Bozza
  • Siobhan Dunlop
  • Adam Fitzroy
  • Bryn Hammond
  • Erin Horáková
  • Molly Katz
  • Vanessa Mulberry
  • Eleanor Musgrove
  • Michelle Peart
  • Jay Lewis Taylor

67000 words/262 pages

Publication 1 May 2018

Amazon US pre-order link

Amazon UK pre-order link 

Smashwords link

Barnes & Noble pre-order link

Kobo pre-order link


Couched in a Curious Bed
Erin Horáková
Having lost his youngest son, a shaken but still-living York is determined to bring the War of the Roses to a swift end – preferably one that will benefit his family. The Lancastrian queen and heir are dead, and, medieval diplomacy being what it is, the best hope for peace lies in a highly unexpected royal marriage.

The Lord and Christopher Sly
Vanessa Mulberry
Christopher Sly is a wastrel with nothing to his name but a handsome face, but he’s always intrigued the local Lord. When he finds Sly drunk outside an inn, the Lord decides to play a trick on him and give him a taste of a better life.

In Fair Verona
Julie Bozza
Adventures naturally befall Lord Byron while he travels through Europe, but all are deliciously surpassed when he is visited by an apparition in the book-lined parlour of an old palazzo in Verona.

Under the Veil of Wildness
Adam Fitzroy
It isn’t only contemplation that Hal’s obscured under the veil of wildness; also growing like the summer grass, wildest at night, is another personality – a female one, Arietta. When a French spy discovers Hal’s secret, trouble follows – but the sequence of events is not what either of them had been expecting…

Imitate The Sun
Siobhan Dunlop
Young actor Niamh Valentine is cast as Poins in an all-female production of Henry IV. The infamous Jessica Condell is playing Hal. Soon Niamh is balancing Hal and Poins’ relationship with hers and Jessica’s whilst preparing for opening night.

Michelle Peart
Jonas has given up everything in his relentless search for William Shakespeare’s lost plays. Now, in the tunnels under the Kremlin, they are within his grasp. Or are they?

But That He Sees The Romans Are But Sheep
Molly Katz
The nights Cassius and Brutus spend together as wolves have been growing fewer and farther between. Cassius is lonely for the man he’s loved since his youth – lonely and angry – and things must not continue as they are.

In A Dark House
Julie Bozza
Couples coalesce in happiness, while the lone ones are cast adrift… Feste is glad to see the back of Sir Andrew, is tempted to follow Antonio, a man of his own nature – but surprises even himself when instead he starts to search for the vengeful Malvolio.

Now You See Him, Now You Don’t
Adam Fitzroy
“You old romantic! Trust you to propose over a dead body – ” When obnoxious billionaire Duncan Moon is murdered in a Scottish country house hotel, investigating police officers Mal and Shawn find themselves curiously in sympathy with the killer… or killers…

My Mistress’ Eyes
Eleanor Musgrove
In a tender domestic moment with her high-flying girlfriend, Lexi, Jasmine reflects on their relationship. A flattering request from a local festival leads her to take inspiration from the Bard himself as she searches for the right words to ask a very important question.

After the Storm
Jay Lewis Taylor
An isolated farm in the borderlands. A circus whose horses bear the names of gods, whose chief attraction is the Aërial Curiosity. But the show is over; the showmaster is taking his daughter away to be married, and leaving the Aërial Curiosity behind – or is he?

The Last Play
Bryn Hammond
Shakespeare has written his last play – or most of it – as he faces retirement from the stage and from London. But he has one last thing to say to his public. If he has the courage.

How I ended up IN DEEP

A guest blog post by Adam Fitzroy

To celebrate the paperback edition of IN DEEP, which is published today, I thought you might be interested to hear a little bit about how it came to be written.

I didn’t grow up wanting to write M/M relationship stories; I grew up wanting to write crime. In fact, I think a thorough grounding in the logic of crime fiction works well for any author; it’s a huge help to be able to analyse cause and effect, or the consequences of characters’ actions, whether you start with a ‘beginning idea’ and work away from it, or with an ‘end idea’ and work towards it. And crime fiction, of course, has recognisable rules – although it’s quite possible to subvert or undermine them on occasion.

I started reading detective fiction as a child with Holmes, Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey and Ellery Queen, then worked my way through Brother Cadfael, Falco, Baldi, McLevy and Charles Paris, and I’m currently enjoying the Albert Campion books. TV and radio added Ironside, Kojak, Bergerac, Wallander, Martin Beck, the Endeavour/Morse/Lewis arc, Dalziel and Pascoe, Shetland, Broadchurch, Inspector Wexford, and of course Z-Cars and The Bill. From all these I learned that two things are important in detective fiction; the detective must be likeable (although not necessarily all the time) and the setting must be interesting. The trend towards ‘Nordic noir’ suited me perfectly, since I’ve always enjoyed places that were slightly run-down and depressing – seaside towns in winter, plush hotels past their best, Victorian railway stations with buddleia and rosebay willowherb growing out of the roof. (Woe betide the well-meaning Civic Society that cleans up or, worse, demolishes one of my favourite tatty old buildings!)

Truly, crime fiction and Orkney were made for each other. It’s Britain without being Britain – there’s no Starbucks, no Domino’s, hardly any supermarkets. TV and mobile reception are variable, there’s precisely one cinema, and sport is something you do rather than something you watch. The further away from the mainland you get, the smaller the communities become – and the more versatile individuals have to be. They pilot the lifeboat, deliver the post, paint or tile each other’s houses, and still find time to play accordion in the pub twice a week and deliver a sermon on Sunday. Imagine how something as shattering as a murder would work in a small community like that; imagine how it would undermine relationships, upset the balance and leave people feeling wounded and betrayed.

The story that eventually became IN DEEP grew out of a very tiny seed – watching a light plane land on a grass airstrip on Lamb Holm. I was also mildly irritated by the Shetland TV series’s insistence that officers from outside cannot possibly understand the islands and will make no attempt to adapt to their surroundings. This sets up an uncomfortable – and artificial – ‘us–v–them’ dichotomy, whereas I have never understood why a well-intentioned outsider shouldn’t be able to adapt to conditions in the islands rather than trying to make the islands adapt to him. That was what I wanted my detective to do – to blend in, not make any enemies, and to learn from the local people rather than throwing his weight about.

So there you have it – this story started with a seed, plus irritation. Whether or not IN DEEP is actually a pearl is not for me to say, but certainly something grew out of those very small and unpromising beginnings – and I have to admit that I’m actually rather proud of the result!

We’re giving away two copies of the paperback edition of IN DEEP. Please enter via our giveaway form. The draw will be made on Sunday 22 April, after which we’ll contact the winners directly to ask for a postal address. Good luck, everyone!