New review of A TASTE OF COPPER

We were delighted to see this new review of Elin Gregory’s A TASTE OF COPPER, by reviewer Sammy, which has recently appeared on The Novel Approach Reviews.

For such a short novella, I was thrilled by the lush quality of this author’s writing. From the stark beauty of the countryside to the harsh living conditions that Maheris and Olivier endure while guarding the bridge, I felt fully immersed into this medieval tale. I rarely find many novels in this genre that have both a ripping good storyline as well as such attention to detail. A Taste of Copper managed to both educate and entertain, and that places this historical romance at the top of the genre for me.

Thank you, Sammy, we loved it too – although I suppose that goes without saying! – but you’ve articulated the book’s merits so much better that we ever could have done. It really is a little gem!

Food, glorious food!

An author blog post
by Julie Bozza

As many of you will have already realised, I am a bit of a foodie. I love food. I love eating out, I love cooking, I love eating, I love nurturing others with my food. When I travel, I love exploring the local cuisine. It seems natural to me that a home revolves around the kitchen and dining areas, that people gather together to share lunch or dinner, that birthdays, anniversaries and other events are celebrated with a special meal.

Because it’s such a central part of my life, I have quite naturally included food and all its associated circumstances in my writing. Characters plan to meet again over a meal out – or at least over coffee! One character offering to cook at home for another is a Significant Step in their relationship. The point-of-view character happily indulging in the taste, scent and texture of … let’s say pancakes … helps express their enjoyment of life in all its glories.

It was a surprise to me, early on, to be laughed at over this. Laughed at fondly, in an ‘omg only you would include pancakes in this story’ kind of way. I hadn’t realised it was an idiosyncrasy! I thought it was just life as she is lived! The laughter didn’t stop me, though, and I certainly know by now I am not the only author who explores the meanings and metaphors of food in their writing, even when food isn’t the main subject at all.

Another aspect of my writing is that I like to write about adult characters who are reasonably self-sufficient. This is often signified by the characters being ready, willing and able to cook. Whether they live alone or with others, they can manage a home and a kitchen. They also care enough about themselves to eat properly, balancing health with a happy enjoyment of indulgences.

This all goes right back to Albert, main character of my very first attempt at a professional novel, THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE. He’s been living alone since his mid-teens, and he’s super efficient in managing himself and his home. He’s a vegetarian – not because he’s squeamish, but for all the many logical, moral and ethical reasons there are – and he has developed his recipe repertoire accordingly. Albert is also a well-barricaded loner, so allowing Fletch into his home is a huuuge deal. Soon Albert is not only cooking for him, but also exploring and inventing vegetarian versions of the Creole and Cajun dishes that Fletch enjoys so much. To me, this all speaks volumes about their growing relationship.

My more recent novels continue to include similar tropes. As I have mentioned in other blog posts, the first building block for A THREEFOLD CORD was Ben’s huge warehouse-conversion apartment. This gave the couple and then the threesome a safe haven with plenty of room in which to grow. As well as this, Ben is a serious cook with a serious kitchen, and he quite deliberately sets out to not only nourish Grae with his food choices but to intrigue him as well.

Why, yes, I was brought up with the notion that the way to a loved one’s heart was via their stomach! But seeing as my stomach also benefited from such efforts, I figured it was a win-win situation.

When Ben and Grae are finally invited to Chris’s place for a meal, they realise he is also house-proud (if in a more modest way), and he is also a serious cook. This gives Chris and Ben something to bond over (other than Grae himself!) but also drops a few clues about Chris’s true nature that neither Ben nor Grae pick up on right away.

Apart from my love of food, there’s no hiding the fact that I’m a coffeeholic. I always know what my characters drink by way of coffee (or tea); their preferences in milk, sugar, lemon, and so on; and their choices of mugs or cups. Coffee provides the rhythm of my own day, so I tend to conceive of my characters in the same way. Unlike me, some of them are tea-drinkers instead, but I figure that similar concerns apply.

So far so good, but there’s no denying that this focus on food and drink can go wrong sometimes! There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, as they say!

As with any trope or subject matter, readers’ tastes will vary from the author’s, often significantly. My focus on food and cookery (and coffee!) will work for some readers but not for others. I guess that must be true for just about any subject you care to name…

I’d love to hear from you in turn! What are your thoughts on defining and exploring characters via food? What other subjects are you interested in reading and writing about? The books the characters read; the locations in which they live; the way they decorate their room(s); the music they listen to; the social media they use? What helps truly define a character for you…?

New review of SHEEP’S CLOTHING

We’re delighted to say that another new review has crossed our path this morning, this time from reviewer Jules at The Novel Approach who has recently been reading Elin Gregory’s SHEEP’S CLOTHING.

It’s not a long book so Jules has very wisely kept the review short to match – but it does include this wonderful passage:

“I found myself immediately taken in by the cheeky humor of the story and the characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed author Elin Gregory’s easy comedic style and dialogue. […] I loved the originality of this fun little read. Definitely check this one out if you’re in the mood for something different that will make you chuckle!”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Jules – and thank you for your time and your comments!

New reviews of A TIME TO KEEP, CALL TO ARMS

Once more we’re indebted to our friends over at the Historical Novel Society for some hugely encouraging reviews of our output. HNS reviewer Viviane Crystal has been considering two of our more recent publications, with highly gratifying results:

Speaking of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, the reviewer clearly enjoyed the author’s gentle tone:

This story of their love is depicted in serene, peaceful ways, highlighting the normalcy of their relationship

and concludes by calling it “[n]icely crafted historical fiction“, with which we can only concur!

The reviewer was also impressed with our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS, singling out some stories for individual mention – such as Megan Reddaway’s ‘The Man Who Loved Pigs’ and Julie Bozza’s ‘We Live Without A Future’ – before concluding that the book as a whole is “An interesting […] and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.

Coming from someone who presumably by definition reads a great deal of historical fiction, this is quite an accolade – and one we’re immensely pleased with.

Thank you so much, Viviane Crystal and the HNS! We’re thrilled that you enjoyed our books so much, and grateful that you took the time to let us know!

Three new titles available today!

Our three latest titles from Manifold Press stalwarts are released today!


From Jay Lewis Taylor we have an anthology of short stories, APPOINTED LIMITS, following the unpredictable love-life of Naval surgeon John Amery throughout the dramatic early years of the twentieth century. An earthquake and the run-up to and aftermath of war profoundly affect not only his life but also those of his friends and acquaintances – and fans of Jay’s writing will notice some characters familiar from other books making ‘guest appearances’ along the way.

Buy links for APPOINTED LIMITS:


We’re also delighted to be hosting a new, slightly revised edition of Elin Gregory’s popular short novel A TASTE OF COPPER – a tale of mediaeval France, of jousting knights, of hopeless quests, and of Olivier’s selfless unrequited love for his stubborn and inflexible master. When all Olivier cares about is Maheris, and all Maheris cares about is his duty, it takes something quite out of the ordinary to bring them together at last.

Buy links for A TASTE OF COPPER:

Last but certainly not least is another revised, pre-loved story from Elin Gregory: SHEEP’S CLOTHING. Whether or not you’re into shifters, we’re sure you’ll love this tale of Darren Murchison, reluctant werewolf. He moves to Welsh sheep country in the hopes of simplifying his life – but of course such intentions are always doomed to go awry. Combining Elin’s emotional insight with her clever sense of humour and terrific storytelling, SHEEP’S CLOTHING will delight anyone who loves a good yarn.

Buy links for SHEEP’S CLOTHING:

ESPRESSO SHOTS is an informal imprint which features long stories and short novellas. If you want to read more about this imprint, please check out our blog post. The cover image is the same for all titles, so we chose an image that evokes the comforts – and the stimulations – of the reading experience itself.


We are absolutely sure you’ll find plenty here for your reading pleasure!

New review of THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS

A reviewer rather splendidly named Optimist King’s Wench, over at Boy Meets Boy Reviews, has been enjoying her first encounter with Elin Gregory’s writing through reading her highly-praised THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS.

Among other very welcome comments there is this delightful paragraph:

“This is my first experience with this author and even though there weren’t a lot of bells and whistles that I typically enjoy in my reads what I realized somewhere along the way was a growing familiarity with these characters that snuck up on me. It’s a quiet story that packs a punch, a sneaky, ninja punch, but still.”

Since we definitely know Elin to be a sneaky ninja, we’d have to agree with this assessment…

Thank you, Optimist, we’re glad you enjoyed the book, and hope you and other readers will be intrigued enough to follow up on some of Elin’s other titles as well!

QUEER COMPANY 3 – Early bird rate extended!

Following our recent Twelve Days of Christmas discount promotion, we have decided to retain the Early Bird registration rate of £50.00 until January 31. Full details are available here!

There are still places available at QUEER COMPANY 3, so if you would like to grab a place at the discounted rate now would be a very good moment to do so.

We look forward very much to seeing you all in Manchester at the end of April!

New reviews of SPRING FLOWERING, A TIME TO KEEP

Actually, as we don’t always get notified when new reviews appear, these are a few weeks old by now – the festive season having intervened. Nevertheless we’re always delighted when reviewers take the time to comment on our work!

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On 25 November 2017 Dee England at Love Bytes Reviews gave this assessment of Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING:

This wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me. If you enjoy historical lesbian fiction with an extremely languid pace, and a sex scene or two to spice it up, this could be just the ticket.

Disappointing as this is, we do understand that it’s not possible to hit the bullseye every time – and we’re also aware that many readers consider the book’s leisurely construction one of its greatest assets – so we’ll thank the reviewer for their time and politely agree to disagree on this one, we think!

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Also at Love Bytes Reviews, Becca – in a review published on December 13 – delivered an emotional response to Morgan Cheshire’s Rainbow Award winning A TIME TO KEEP.

This book was exceptional. It depicts the life of two very young lovers as they start their journey and live their lives. […] The story weaves you on a path full of love, hope and loss in a very … almost poetic way.

Having witnessed the writing process at close quarters we know this review will mean a great deal to the author, so on Morgan’s behalf we’d like to thank the reviewer for her most encouraging words.

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It’s not impossible that there are more reviews, of these and other MANIFOLD PRESS titles, which haven’t reached us yet at Megaheadquarters. If you know of one that we haven’t mentioned, on a substantive review site or blog, please don’t assume we’ve seen it and ignored it; the day-to-day practicalities of keeping the Press going often mean that things get missed accidentally, and we’re always grateful for a timely reminder!

Our Famous Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway – Day Twelve winner

Dear Readers

We’d like to thank everyone for taking part in this year’s festive giveaway. The winner for Day Twelve is Julia, who chose Dorian Dawes’s innovative fantasy horror anthology HARBINGER ISLAND. Fiona will be emailing that to you shortly, Julia!

To those who entered and didn’t win, we hope very much that this won’t put you off exploring our varied back catalogue; there quite literally is something there for every taste! And to those who did win, we know you’ll enjoy your books … and what better way could there be of keeping the New Year Blues at bay?

Our three new titles – APPOINTED LIMITS by Jay Lewis Taylor, and A TASTE OF COPPER and SHEEP’S CLOTHING, both by Elin Gregory, will be out on 1 February – but we’ll be keeping in touch between now and then. Meanwhile, thank you again for joining in – and we wish you all a healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2018.

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