The programme for Queer Company 2!

We’re absolutely delighted by how the programme for Queer Company 2 has pulled together, and we’re very grateful to all the people who are a part of it. ♥

This one-day event will run from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 5 November 2015, at the Jam Factory in Oxford.

10.00 Welcome; Registrations; General Melee

Please make your way to the registration desk in the Large Gallery, where we will be waiting for you.

10.30 Session 1: How much reality do we want in our fiction?

Alex Beecroft will be chairing this panel, ably supported by panellists Charlie Cochrane and Chris Quinton.

All formal sessions will be held in the Boiler Room, where they made the marmalade!

11.15 Tea and coffee
11.45 Session 2: Keynote Speech and book launch

Our beloved keynote speaker KJ Charles will entertain and provoke us, and launch the Manifold Press anthology A Certain Persuasion: Modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by Jane Austen’s novels.

12.30 Q&A: A Certain Persuasion

Anthology editor and author Julie Bozza will chair this Q&A with fellow Austenites JL Merrow and Eleanor Musgrove joining her in the hot seats.

13.00 Raffle Draw

If you want to be in with a chance of winning some wonderful prizes, please take the opportunity to buy your raffle tickets at the registration desk during the morning.

13.30 Lunch Served
14.30 Session 3: Georgians aren’t Victorians

Our distinguished guest speaker Farah Mendlesohn will explore this fascinating topic, in a talk subtitled ‘How to dump everything you thought you knew about nineteenth century morality’.

15.30 Tea and coffee
16.00 Session 4: A Sense of Place

Our day concludes with chair Elin Gregory and panellists Anna Butler and Sandra Lindsey exploring the importance of setting and location in our fiction.

16.45 wrap up; fare thee well; to finish by 17.00

Any queries on the day can be directed to the Manifold Press team: Fiona Pickles; Julie Bozza; Morgan Cheshire; Heloise Mezen; or Chris Quinton.

The exceedingly Clever Baggers sponsoring Queer Company 2!

Queer Company iconA guest blog post
by Sandra Lindsey

Everyone loves a freebie, don’t they? Obviously, the prospect of a goodie bag isn’t the only reason delegates look forward to book-related festivals and conferences, but it certainly doesn’t hinder one’s enjoyment to return home with a quality, reusable souvenir which will make you smile with memories of the event.

Last year at Queer Company, we had very useful folders stuffed with interesting info and a fun anthology of short stories set in Oxford. This year, we have something a little different, and it’s all my fault…

You see, I have a personal connection to a company which specialises in printing eco-friendly cotton bags (among a whole host of other products, but the bags are where it all started). They’re called The Clever Baggers, they’re based here in the UK, and they offer a rainbow of different coloured cotton bags. At the Manifold Press AGM, I offered to ask if the company would be willing to sponsor Queer Company 2 by providing bags for us to fill with goodies and give out to all attendees.

They said yes!


I was lucky enough to be in the building the day our bags were printed, so I snapped a few photos of them being produced on the digital printers. I’ll try not to bore you with the technicalities, but for a variety of reasons, printing onto textiles is very different to printing onto paper. If you’re printing onto coloured (dyed) cloth, there are even more complications, and being able to do this digitally, i.e. directly onto the fabric by machine controlled by a computer, is a far more recent development than most people expect. In this instance, the machine applies a pre-treat to the bag, then prints a base-layer of the image in white, then prints the full colour image on top of this. All of the substances used in the process are water-based to make both process and product as eco-friendly as possible.


I was very impressed by the end result, and hope you will be too!


Everyone at Manifold Press HQ is certainly thrilled at the gorgeous results. We set The Clever Baggers a bit of a challenge with an event logo that looks lovely online but might not print very well. They’ve done us proud, though, as I’m sure you’ll all agree.

There are a very few tickets left for Queer Company 2. Do please join us if you can!


More from the Rainbow Awards

Under Leaden Skies by Sandra LindseyNews of another Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2016 reached us this morning, this time and very deservedly for Sandra Lindsey’s debut novel UNDER LEADEN SKIES.

Two judges gave their views of her work as follows:

1) The characters in this story, although in love with each other, have kept their feelings for fear of losing what they have; a strong friendship which goes above their feelings, plus the fear of being found out. It’s 1939 war-time and one of the boys goes to do his duty while the other stays behind working in the coal mines with his father and brothers. While at war, Teddy matures and becomes sexually involved with other men, while Huw, the man who holds his interest and his heart remain faithful. It was a pretty good story. It kept me curious as to what would come next.

2) There must be a new “Must have” in recent gay novels, to quickly add a sex scene a few pages to the end, maybe to appease certain readers. It’s unnecessary, hit me off a bit and – for me – takes off value of overall really well done works.

This is great news indeed, and we’d like to congratulate Sandra and to thank Elisa and everyone involved in organising and carrying out the complex business of reading and assessing a huge number of books; to stand out in such a crowd is no mean feat!

And while we’re on the subject, we’d like to urge anyone who hasn’t already done so to wander on over and vote in the cover contest; there are some spectacular pieces of artwork included this year, and although we think you’ll find it a difficult decision you *are* allowed to vote for as many as you like with a minimum of three – so have at it, and enjoy yourselves!

The links is:

Manifold Press in the Rainbow Awards 2016

Yesterday was a mighty fine day for the Press. Not only did we announce three new titles – each of which we’re rather excited about for various reasons – but we also found out that two of our earlier titles have earned themselves Honourable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards 2016!

Before we get into the details, though, I’d just like to add that for the first time, the Press has entered our book covers in the Rainbow Awards’ Best Cover contest. We’re proud of our new designs, courtesy of Michelle Peart, and we wanted to say that loud and clear.

The Best Cover contest is decided by popular vote, so do drop by and have a look at all the beauties on display. The only rule is that you have to vote for at least three covers. Somehow we don’t think you’ll have any problems finding enough to vote for … Indeed, Miss Bates was relieved to hear that this time there would be no difficulty, and she will not be limited to only three at once.

That link again:

So, on to the Honourable Mentions!

IN DEEPFirst mentioned (honourably) on Elisa’s blog was IN DEEP by the always reliable Adam Fitzroy. Not one but three of the judges were very impressed!

1) Plot was a bit slow to get moving, as the reader doesn’t learn the protagonist’s goal/agenda for far too many pages, imho. Once that comes out, the stakes are clear and this complex “isolated village” story lights up. The fierce setting is a major character in the story, literally a force of nature. The nuanced and believable main characters are well drawn in a writing style both dense and elegant, especially the protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant, measured, thoughtful read. A very satisfying mystery.

2) This was a carefully constrained story, unfolding step by step as the protagonist searches for answers in the death of his step son. Fitzroy does a beautiful job creating a world isolated both geographically and emotionally, the characters are roughly hewn from the landscape and finely detailed and nuanced in character so that everything, every step the protagonist takes, seems compelling and inevitable, and the love affair realistic.

3) I loved the writing style and the realism of the book. It was slower moving, but highly entertaining.

ACROSS YOUR DREAMSAnd then Jay Lewis Taylor was (honourably) mentioned in dispatches for ACROSS YOUR DREAMS – this time by four judges!

1) What a beautiful book! It is full of vivid imagery, well-drawn and unique characters, and the story–oh, so heartbreaking but yet appropriate for the times. War is hell, and it took its toll on the young men caught up in it. I felt like I was there with Alan, Lew and Russ, experiencing what they did right alongside them. I reveled in their stolen moments together with their beloveds, and cried for their devastating losses. This story will definitely stick with me for a very long time. I loved it. All the points.

2) I awarded top marks to this book because I thoght the writing was exceptional. I was transported back in time to the Great War. The sense of time and place were outstanding. The language of the book perfectly fitted the setting and the lives and opinions of the characters all felt true to time and place. An exceptional read.

3) This is a convincing, well-researched historical novel about a very closeted network of gay men who don’t have access to a community of like-minded people. The homophobia of the surrounding society is extreme, and so is their anxiety about sexual contact with other men, including kissing. The drama of warfare and the great flu epidemic, which together destroyed millions of lives, all seem true to life, and they could hardly be exaggerated. As a historical novel, this book is a solid achievement.

4) Touching and tender love story. A very real sense of the time and place. Excellent story.

Needless to say, we are very proud of these responses for two very fine books. Thank you kindly to Elisa Rolle and her team of judges for the honourables!

Announcing three new titles today!

These are exciting times at Manifold Press! On 1 November 2016 we’re not only launching our New Adult imprint – introducing fascinating debut novels by two very talented writers – but also bringing to fruition a long-cherished anthology project featuring modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by the novels of Jane Austen.

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONA CERTAIN PERSUASION showcases thirteen stories by eleven authors, each of which takes something of Jane Austen’s as its source – and from that point on nothing at all is certain. We meet compelling reinterpretations of canonical characters such as Elinor Dashwood, William Elliot, Emma Woodhouse and – of course! – Fitzwilliam Darcy, and are also introduced to new ones who will linger in the memory – Adam Ashford Otelian, Robert Oakes and the enigmatic Lint, to name but a few. For anyone who has ever ‘thought beyond the page’ about Jane Austen’s work, this book is a real goldmine of intrigue and adventure. (And you will also make the close acquaintance of Mr Beveridge’s Maggot – really, need we say more?)

The authors include some familiar names and some new to the Press: Julie Bozza; Andrea Demetrius; Sam Evans; Lou Faulkner; Adam Fitzroy; Narrelle M Harris; Sandra Lindsey; Fae Mcloughlin; Atlin Merrick; JL Merrow; and Eleanor Musgrove.

SUBMERGEIn SUBMERGE by Eleanor Musgrove we meet Jamie, wandering innocently into the web of friendships and intrigues that surround a popular local club. Soon accepted as one of the ‘family’ he finds himself beginning to fall for manager Miles, but events occur which make him very reluctant to trust either the new man in his life – or, indeed, anybody else around him.


TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STARTO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR by Michelle Peart takes us to the unfamiliar world of Abaytor, where Edward and his new friend Burn are thrown headlong into a series of adventures and perils in the course of an extraordinary river journey – one which will leave them both profoundly changed, and also looking for answers to a greater mystery.

New (retro) review of ESCAPING FROM HIM

On her blog ‘The Way She Reads’ ESCAPING FROM HIMour good friend Helena Stone has just posted a retro review of Liam Livings’s delightful ESCAPING FROM HIM, which we published in early 2015.  Her review brings back lovely memories of the fun we had the first time we read the book!

There were one or two moments in this book that touched me deeply, but I’ll mostly remember this book for the smiles it brought me. The chapter about the Eurovision evening especially, had me giggling and laughing out loud. I also really want to throw a ‘naff nibbles’ party now.

Now that you mention it, Helena, that does sound a pretty good way to spend an evening – and thank you for a great review!


New review of ELEVENTH HOUR

Another appreciative review of Elin Gregory’s ELEVENTH HOUR has appeared recently, this time on the blog Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. The reviewer, Caryn, loved the book’s mixture of historical realism and outlandish capers:

Historical fiction buffs will love this, with the realistic trivia of daily life in interwar London. Action aficionados will love the car chase (high speed was less than 40 mph then!) and the sewer reconnaissance. Readers like me who enjoy character development will appreciate how two quite different men came to know and love each other. Highly recommended!

Thank you for your comments, Caryn – and we couldn’t possibly agree with you more!

Researching B.W. (Before Wikipedia)

THE WALLED GARDENAn author guest blog
by F.M. Parkinson

When I wrote the original version of The Walled Garden, personal computers didn’t exist and the internet was a thing of dreams.  So what was it like then, researching and writing a novel?  How did it differ from researching and writing a novel today?  I had no easy access to information except through libraries and I didn’t live anywhere where there was a large library with a good reference section and a wide-range of stock on its shelves.  How could I find out what I needed to know, having set the novel in the England of the 1850s?  Books were certainly the answer but how could I get hold of ones with relevant information?

Above anything else, style was very important for the writing.  I didn’t want to write in the way I’d done short pieces up till then.  They were modern and reflected up-to-date language and pace.  I needed to know how people spoke to each other in the 1850s (at least in novels), as well as the sort of style an author used in writing a story.  Therefore I read novels published at that time, titles long forgotten these days, but still to be found quite easily then in second-hand bookshops.  I got the feel of the pace of the stories, the words used and the way in which authors used them.  Both the plots and the language used made me very aware of the class differences that existed at the time and how outwardly rigid society could be.  So I adopted the far more measured pace that novel writers used, and adapted their style to suit my own story.  The Walled Garden deliberately does not rush through the development of the plot or the relationship between Hillier and Ashton for that very reason.  As for the language used, I would refer back to the books of the 1850s if I was concerned as to whether a particular word or term was used then, or how words would have been phrased.

But I still needed a vast range of information.  I read up about the law concerning homosexuality (only it wasn’t called that then) in 19th century Britain, particularly the law as it stood in the 1850s.  Quite different in some ways from the earlier part of the century, as well as from the difficulties Oscar Wilde was later to be faced with.  I read about Victorian attitudes to sex.  Not just the public attitudes but those expressed in diaries and letters and certainly never intended for the public eye.  It became obvious that people in Victorian Britain were just as uninhibited and passionate as anyone today but they kept their behaviour far more private.  And how did I find the books I needed to discover such information?  By visiting the local library, checking its card catalogue, looking on the shelves to find books that might give me information, then looking through the bibliographies at the ends of the books for other titles that sounded as though they might be useful, and which I could borrow through inter-library loans.  It was a slow process.  One book took months to arrive and when it did, they had sent me the wrong volume (the library’s fault, not mine).  The relevant volume arrived in record time!

Looking back through my research notes, I have details on men’s clothing: their outer clothes, depending on their status in life; their underwear (it was amazingly difficult to find out what the 1850s man wore under his trousers); the hats they wore; their general appearance.  I have information on Victorian society of the time.  I found out about Victorian servants, their jobs, and the hierarchy that existed in households.  There are notes on bathrooms and plumbing in 19th century houses, on gardens and gardening, and flowers and plants that would have been grown at that time.

In libraries I found books that had photographs of London in the 1850s, including the parliament buildings and street scenes and houses to be found in the capital.  I came across articles on London life, and information on railway journeys and railway stock.  I read up about the Australian gold rush of the 1850s, and found out about illnesses that were common in Britain then and what sort of treatments were given to those who could call on a doctor for help.

I also wrote to museums and societies for information.  I have a letter from the Merseyside Maritime Museum giving me details about emigration from Liverpool to New York and which docks the ships sailed from, as well as listing books that I might find to be of use.  The National Railway Museum in York supplied me with details about Waterloo Station.  I wrote to the House of Commons Library when I realised that parliamentary sessions of that period did not begin and end at the times they do today, and they gave me precise dates for the years I needed, as well as information on the buildings associated with Westminster.

I was given recipes and details of foodstuffs that an invalid might eat, as suggested by Mrs Beeton.  I discovered newspapers from the 1850s in a very rundown second-hand bookshop, and they contained advertisements for servants for a variety of work and which was exactly what I needed.  I bought and studied plans of the Liverpool docks at that period and postcards of paintings of them.  Articles from The Illustrated London News, obtained through inter-library loan, were a mine of information on emigration and the whole process of leaving the country.

The house where I had set my story was then open to the public (it no longer is).  I visited it on a weekend away to that part of the country and was able to look at its layout and grounds, including an old walled kitchen garden.  I looked at plans and old photographs of the place, available from books on country houses and in guidebooks.

All this took some years (including several house moves and changes of job) and it was a case of constantly looking for information and checking what facts I could glean from the various sources.  Everything was typed up on a manual typewriter with carbon papers between several sheets for copies.  Insertions and additions meant pinning pieces of paper to the pages, or cutting up typed pages and rearranging where I wanted the text to go.  Amstrads were available by then but I certainly couldn’t afford to own one.  Compared with today’s ease of altering and amending text, it seems something of a marathon.

Would it be different today, now that the internet is available at the click of a mouse or a tap on a screen?  There is a vast amount of information ‘out there’ and it would certainly be easier to find out some of what I needed to know, as well as in contacting various museums and societies through email, rather than having to compose a letter and post it and then wait for ages for a reply.  I would be able to track down useful books and possibly a greater range of books than I could through looking at their bibliographies.  My library service now gives me access to encyclopaedias and the full Oxford English Dictionary, with updates, which would have been very helpful when deciding what words were appropriate for the 1850s and which were far too modern.

But not everything is on the internet and not everything on the internet is accurate, as we all know.  I still find in my current work that I usually have to go back to books for detailed information on a particular subject.  The internet cannot help me.  And details can make all the difference to a story.  However, I think we now have the best of both worlds.  When I came to revise the story for publication, the internet proved very helpful when I needed more photographs and descriptions of places and settings which I had not thought about before, so I was able to amend some details in the text (as well as taking editorial advice and cutting down on a cast of thousands, and rewriting the story in places).  But overall, the work I did originally was not negated by anything I found out during the revisions.  All the ways I used in order to do my research were of great help.  It’s perhaps just a little less complicated these days.

Introducing our New Adult imprint

Manifold Press is delighted to announce that we’ll soon be launching a New Adult LGBTQ+ imprint. We’ll have more news on specific titles soon, but in the meantime we want to talk about our approach to New Adult stories.

What makes a story ‘New Adult’?

New Adult womanThe main characters are between 18 and 30 years old, and the story is told from their point of view.

The focus is on the characters emerging from childhood into adulthood. This is, of course, never an easy, smooth or neat transition. Ideally, authors will approach such material both realistically and responsibly (though there’s nothing wrong with an entertaining read, with a ‘lesson learned’ about the importance of fun).

Within that broad scope, New Adult works might include:

  • Characters mapping their own lives. Becoming more independent. Dealing with increasing responsibilities. Becoming of ‘legal age’.
  • Changes in perspectives. Achievement of insight. Greater awareness of self and others.
  • Leaving the family home. Relating to their parents (and siblings) as adults rather than as children.
  • Negotiating the unfamiliar worlds of college or work.
  • Relationships of all kinds; friendship and love. Issues of identity, including gender and sexuality. Perhaps starting to think about marriage and children of their own.
  • ‘Coming of age’ experiences. Growing from innocence to experience.
  • What do they keep? What do they jettison? What do they change?

New Adult man‘New Adult’ is a category that can combine with any genre or subgenre: contemporary fiction, romance, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal, and so on.

Readers will often be of the same 18-30 age group, although both younger and older people happily read NA.

Given that the target audience and the characters are of legal age, then explicit scenes can be included.

The Manifold Press way!

The Press’s approach is always that sex scenes (if any) should suit the style of the story, and serve the character or plot development. The same approach applies to ‘strong’ language, violence and other possibly controversial matters.

We know that there are a few negative connotations associated with the New Adult category, but we will be delivering what we trust you’ll always find with Manifold Press: a darned good read with quality stories and interesting characters.

Readers, we hope you’re looking forward to what we’ll soon be offering!

Authors, please feel free to submit your New Adult (and other!) LGBTQ+ manuscripts to Fiona Pickles at We’d love to hear from you!

And we’d like to finish this post with the thought that it’s particularly important to try to represent the whole glorious LGBTQ+ spectrum in this imprint’s stories. Fair winds and good fortune to all who sail in her!

Illustrations from GraphicStock.

Back from the abyss!

You may have noticed that we vanished from Facebook some time over the weekend. This was apparently because we’d originally set up our account as a personal one, not a business-type ‘page’, so FB deleted us without warning. (We’ll leave you to imagine the muttering and gnashing of teeth resulting from this decision.) Rather than mess about trying to appeal it/retrieve our information, we decided to bite the bullet and create a page from scratch. You can now find us at the new Manifold Press Facebook page.

To celebrate our return here’s a special offer; ‘like’ us on Facebook before 12 noon on Friday 16 September (UK time) to win one of four Manifold Press paperbacks: BUTTERFLY HUNTER or THE ‘TRUE LOVE’ SOLUTION by Julie Bozza, or GHOST STATION or THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE (not due to be published until 1 October) by Adam Fitzroy. If you have a preference, please let us know in the replies to this post – otherwise you’ll receive a random book. We’ll pick out the four lucky winners as soon as we can after the closing deadline, but ‘like’ our page now to be included in the draw. As the saying goes, “You have to be in it to win it!”

[NB: people who have already ‘liked’ us are of course included automatically!]