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.)


NO HOLDS BARD
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
$5.95

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

THE STORIES

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.

Lost
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!

New review of ARDENT

Anne Barwell is a good friend of Manifold Press – she’s helped us out with questions of fact and cultural sensitivity issues in the past – but we had absolutely no idea she was planning to review one of our books on her blog!

We love a good historical – which is why we grabbed Heloise West’s ARDENT with both hands when it was offered to us – and apparently Anne does, too:

Ardent is very well researched and it shows. I loved the descriptions of the settings—they were very easy to visualize and made me feel as though I was there watching everything going on as I was reading. I enjoyed learning about the artists’ process, and especially the day to day life of the masters and their apprentices in the workshops of the time. […] I loved the descriptive language and thought it suited the time period of the story well.

This review was a lovely and unexpected treat, and we’d like to thank Anne for her time – and especially for her concluding words:

I’d recommend ARDENT to readers who enjoy a well researched historical with lush descriptions, interesting characters, and a murder mystery.

We’re in total agreement with her about that – and in fact we couldn’t have put it any better ourselves!

Announcing our three new titles for 1 May!

We are 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. These can all be pre-ordered now, and will be available on 1 May.


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!

Pre-order 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.

Pre-order 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

Pre-order links for NO HOLDS BARD:


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

New review of SPRING FLOWERING

We did, briefly, wonder whether we were experiencing deja vu when this review came to our notice this morning; the reviewer’s name seemed uncannily familiar. And yes, we checked – Heather Rose Jones has actually reviewed Farah Mendlesohn’s delightful SPRING FLOWERING before. However, on investigation, this turned out to be whole new review in a different venue, six months after the last, although we’re reassured to learn that Heather’s opinion of the book doesn’t seem to have altered in the slightest.

This is a perceptive review, and we especially appreciated this paragraph:

“The most common failure mode of historical romance is to drop modern women into the past and have them react in anachronistic ways. Mendlesohn’s characters are a delightful exception: neither too modern in their self-awareness of their sexuality, nor tormented and angsty about it in a way that only really developed in the 20th century.”

We know that’s what our historical authors are always aiming for, so confirmation that one of them has hit the target is particularly welcome!

The review’s conclusion:

“…a book for those who want their historic romance to be as true to the history as to the romance. I found it a breath of fresh air and hope it will be an inspiration for more stories of this type…”

would make us want to go out and buy the book immediately ourselves, if we didn’t already have a copy or two stashed away. Thank you again, Heather; we really appreciate your good opinion, and are once again grateful to you for sharing it.

The Refugee Council

A guest post by editor Fiona Pickles

As those who were involved in preparing our charity anthology CALL TO ARMS – and, hopefully, also those who bought copies and enjoyed them – may remember, all the proceeds from the sale of this volume go directly to the Refugee Council. We sent them their first ‘royalty payment’ at the end of February, and in return they kindly sent us a letter of thanks and a copy of their ‘Impact Report’ for 2016-17 to enable us to see where our contribution is likely to be spent.

Not only is it nice to be acknowledged by such busy people, it’s also very valuable to have some sort of picture of the work they do. On the whole we could probably have guessed most of it, but there were a few highlights which stood out and captured my imagination, so I thought I would pass those on to you.

In 2016-17, the Refugee Council supported 7,522 refugees and asylum seekers and 3,318 unaccompanied children. They helped 97 young people who had been trafficked – 77 girls and 20 boys. They pushed for refugee status and resettlement funding for Syrian refugees, enabling them to attend university in the UK – and also to apply for passports, so that they can travel abroad to see their families.

They support refugee children whose age is disputed, who are sometimes treated by default as adults and therefore put into unsuitable accommodation; they provide them with language teaching, help with socialisation, access to sports facilities and homework support. They also provide psychotherapeutic services for children and young people, and training and support for foster carers.

In addition to helping refugees with documentation and legal services and steering them towards suitable work and accommodation, they have helped a number of refugee doctors to retrain and requalify so that they can be employed in the NHS. It’s difficult to imagine anything more closely resembling a win-win scenario than this!

There is, too, an extensive programme assisting and supporting destitute asylum seekers who are otherwise forced to rely on the standard asylum support payment of £5.00 per day (about $7.00 US) – intended to cover food, clothes, toiletries, travel and in fact everything else the individual may require. The Refugee Council provides hot meals, showers, laundry and barbering facilities and – perhaps even more importantly – moral support and social opportunities for people who must at times feel very isolated by their position.

In fact, it probably doesn’t take too much imagination to put oneself into the position of an asylum seeker or refugee, hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles from home in a country where the weather, the language, the customs, the clothes and just about everything else are not only unfamiliar but potentially quite terrifying. Getting away from the threats, the violence, the famine or the fear in their home country and making a difficult journey half-way around the world is only the beginning of the story for them. Once they arrive in the UK, however, the Refugee Council is – together with Oxfam, Amnesty International UK, the British Red Cross and a number of other organisations with dovetailing remits – right there in the front line of people stepping up to welcome them and help them to settle in.

All in all, then, it’s difficult to think of a better use for our “ill-gotten gains” than to support the Refugee Council in their sterling efforts, and we look forward to sending them further payments every three months throughout what we hope will be the long lifetime of CALL TO ARMS.

You can find more information about the work of the Refugee Council on their website.

We’d like to thank anthology editor Heloise Mezen for nominating the Refugee Council as our chosen charity, and for undertaking all the initial discussions with them. Take a bow, Heloise; none of this would have been possible without you!

It’s “Read an Ebook Week” on Smashwords!

Smashwords are celebrating Read an Ebook Week from 4 to 10 March 2018, with deep discounts on awesome titles!

Manifold Press is participating, with all of our titles, backlist and new, discounted by 25%. (The only exceptions are our charity anthologies, A Pride of Poppies and Call to Arms.) This is a great time to stock up that TBR pile, and maybe try some new stories you’ve been pondering. Whether you’re snowed in or stretched out on a beach somewhere, it’s always good weather for reading!

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!