New review of CALL TO ARMS

In fact this is the very first review of our new anthology CALL TO ARMS – and it’s not a bad way to start! Our good friend Kazza K at On Top Down Under Reviews has posted a hugely enthusiastic review which examines the merits of each individual story – no small task, as there are seventeen of them! – and sums up with these resounding words:

“I really do love a good short story. If you can tell me a heartfelt tale in a limited word count I am in total awe, and that mission was well and truly accomplished. I also want to give mention to Heloise Mezen for meticulously compiling the anthology. I can’t recommend Call to Arms highly enough. 5 Stars!”

In return, we can say that we love a detailed review which lets us know when a book has met an appreciative reader: thank you, Kazza, we’re grateful for all the time and thought that went into your review – and very glad indeed that you enjoyed CALL TO ARMS so much!

New titles released today!

Our three wonderful new titles are available now! We trust you’ll love them as much as we do.


Farah Mendlesohn is well established as a historian and critic, so the Press was delighted to have the opportunity of publishing her debut novel SPRING FLOWERING.

This historical romance is an immersive look into a changing world. Ann Gray has been mistress of her father’s parsonage in a quiet country village. After he dies she finds herself in the bustling commercial city of Birmingham, living with her uncle, aunt and cousins. How can she regain her independence and sense of purpose once her period of mourning is over? Ann encourages cousin Louisa’s interest in the family’s manufacturing business, but is that an occupation Ann would enjoy? She might encourage the new parson Mr. Morden to propose marriage. Or she might become companion to the enticingly daring widow Mrs. King. Whatever she chooses, we’re sure you’ll enjoy accompanying Ann on her journey.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available from Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


Manifold Press’s resourceful fact-checker and problem-solver Heloise Mezen has served as editor for our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS.

This is a companion volume to our well-received charity volume on the Great War, A PRIDE OF POPPIES. All proceeds this time are going to the British Refugee Council (Registered Charity No. 1014576).

This anthology has again attracted a deeply talented group of authors. The seventeen stories take the reader far and wide – through Britain, Europe, Asia and South America – and introduce (occasionally re-introduce) a wonderful range of characters. We’re sure you’ll find plenty in here to love.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available from Apple, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace and Kobo. Available in both eBook and paperback formats!


As many of us know by now, Elin Gregory is a superb storyteller, and we are sure her CALON LAN will not disappoint.

With the war being waged in Europe, it is vital that farming and other essential occupations continue at home – but there is increasing pressure on everyone, and the world feels as out of control as the weather. Bethan and Nye Harrhy manage their farm as best they can with the help of Bethan’s brother Alwyn, injured during his service in the trenches. When Alwyn asks his friend Joe to come live with them, Bethan assumes that another pair of hands will help rather than hinder … or is she being a bit naive?

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available from Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

ESPRESSO SHOTS is an informal imprint which features long stories and 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 something – or many things – for your reading pleasure here!

Please join us if you can for a Q+A on Facebook – about these books, books in general, and all things LGBTQ+ – on Sunday 5 November, at 17:00 UK time! Click the link and let us know you’re interested. We’d love to chat with you.

New titles for 1 November announced today!

We’re delighted to announce three wonderful new titles – available for pre-order now, and available on 1 November!


Farah Mendlesohn is well established as a historian and critic, so the Press was delighted to have the opportunity of publishing her debut novel SPRING FLOWERING.

This historical romance is an immersive look into a changing world. Ann Gray has been mistress of her father’s parsonage in a quiet country village. After he dies she finds herself in the bustling commercial city of Birmingham, living with her uncle, aunt and cousins. How can she regain her independence and sense of purpose once her period of mourning is over? Ann encourages cousin Louisa’s interest in the family’s manufacturing business, but is that an occupation Ann would enjoy? She might encourage the new parson Mr. Morden to propose marriage. Or she might become companion to the enticingly daring widow Mrs. King. Whatever she chooses, we’re sure you’ll enjoy accompanying Ann on her journey.

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


Manifold Press’s resourceful fact-checker and problem-solver Heloise Mezen has served as editor for our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS.

This is a companion volume to our well-received charity volume on the Great War, A PRIDE OF POPPIES. All proceeds this time are going to the British Refugee Council (Registered Charity No. 1014576).

This anthology has again attracted a deeply talented group of authors. The seventeen stories take the reader far and wide – through Britain, Europe, Asia and South America – and introduce (occasionally re-introduce) a wonderful range of characters. We’re sure you’ll find plenty in here to love.

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


As many of us know by now, Elin Gregory is a superb storyteller, and we are sure her CALON LAN will not disappoint.

With the war being waged in Europe, it is vital that farming and other essential occupations continue at home – but there is increasing pressure on everyone, and the world feels as out of control as the weather. Bethan and Nye Harrhy manage their farm as best they can with the help of Bethan’s brother Alwyn, injured during his service in the trenches. When Alwyn asks his friend Joe to come live with them, Bethan assumes that another pair of hands will help rather than hinder … or is she being a bit naive?

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

ESPRESSO SHOTS is an informal imprint which features long stories and 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 something – or many things – for your reading pleasure here!

The 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967

Today, 27 July 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalised private homosexual acts between men over 21 in England and Wales. As is obvious from the length of that description, this was only a partial victory, and we can hardly pretend that gay men and other people in the LGBTQ+ spectrum enjoy full equality even now.

Despite those caveats, the legal victory in 1967 and all the progress made since are things to be celebrated. The Manifold Press team was surprised and delighted by how many of Britain’s cultural institutions are acknowledging the milestone of this anniversary during 2017 – and we wanted to celebrate, too.

Hence, OUT OF THE SHADOWS: EXTRACTS FOR AN ANNIVERSARY 1967-2017. This is a free anthology of extracts from Manifold Press titles that illustrates in a modest way the changes experienced by gay men over the centuries in Britain, and how the social and legal situations may have affected individuals. The extracts begin with the Romans in the 1st century CE, and bring us right through to current issues such as marriage equality and gender-fluid pronouns.

The anthology also includes a detailed timeline of gay history in England, from 17 BCE through to the present day, written by Fiona Pickles.

This free eBook is available to download directly from Smashwords and its distributors, in all available formats. We plan to also make free paperbacks available at Queer Company 3.

We’d like to thank all the Manifold Press authors for supporting this project, and in particular the following authors for agreeing to us sharing their work: Julie Bozza, Morgan Cheshire, Adam Fitzroy, Elin Gregory, Sandra Lindsey, Eleanor Musgrove, R.A. Padmos, F.M. Parkinson, Cimorene Ross, and Jay Lewis Taylor.

We hope that readers will find much to ponder in this volume, and if you are inspired to explore further – whether in our titles or elsewhere – that would be marvellous, too!

How I made do and mended

An author guest blog by Adam Fitzroy

The book that eventually became MAKE DO AND MEND started out very differently. It was originally going to be about four brothers, living on a not-entirely-successful family farm in Wales, fighting off a land-grab from a consortium that wanted to build a golf-course – and it was emphatically going to be taking place in the ‘present day’. However some elements of the story were in place even then; there would be conflict between the two elder brothers because Two was a nasty resentful piece of work and would undermine everything One was attempting to do, but Three and Four would turn out to be – perhaps to their own astonishment – good and sensible men who could be relied on in a crisis. There would also be a mysterious stranger to the village, a quiet, dignified older man, who would draw the attention of the hitherto flighty One and with whom he would eventually form a romantic relationship. Two and Three would be firmly heterosexual; Four’s preferences were still unknown.

I hadn’t written any of this before the plan changed dramatically. I’d been thinking about it and discussing it with friends for some considerable time, but there was something about it that just wasn’t gelling in my head. I don’t know, now, precisely what it was that prompted the change of direction, but one day it suddenly occurred to me that setting it during the Second World War would make it a more interesting project and radically change the dynamics of the situation. For one thing, there was huge pressure to produce food and other necessities for the war effort (flax, wood, etc.) so that even a farm that was struggling beforehand would enjoy a period of relative prosperity. For another, it would enable One to have a perspective on life and love that didn’t just revolve around the narrow confines of his familiar Welsh valley.

The valley itself was one of the constants. Being a regular traveller on trains between Newport and Chester, I’d always been intrigued by a village north of Abergavenny. There ought to be a station there, I thought, so that I could get out and explore – but there wasn’t. So I did my initial exploring online and on the OS map, and eventually managed to tour the area by car as well. I found the perfect site for the house, which ended up being called Hendra, but what was there was less prepossessing than I had in mind. Therefore, in a move I’m sure English Heritage would deplore, I picked up Stokesay Castle, made some alterations to its layout, and transported it a little matter of fifty miles down the road. I tacked on a somewhat rickety Home Farm a short distance away, and a couple of quarrymen’s cottages higher up the hill, and that was that – I had my location!

The joy of writing something like this is the research. Wanting a box-bed for Jim’s cottage I found just the thing online, which turned out to be in a rural museum on Orkney. Years later I got to meet it in person … and that was the trip which ended up inspiring IN DEEP. I also managed to fit in a visit to Western Approaches Command and chose one of its mysterious closed doors to be Harry’s decoding office. (I have no idea what was really behind it; it could have been a store-room or a doorway into Hades for all I know!) When I decided to make Jim a conscientious objector – because I’ve never forgotten the Dad’s Army episode in which Godfrey is revealed to be a conscientious objector – I researched the Peace Pledge Union, their white poppies, and the advocacy work they did. I hope that if I was ever in the position of being ordered to fight (unlikely now, given my age!) I would have the courage not simply to do as I was told but to say that I thought it was wrong and find another way of serving instead.

I could go on. The hotel in Liverpool exists, and has been the scene of numerous fannish conventions. The pub where Harry lodges sort-of exists; there is a pub there, but I transported a building in from another location because I liked it better. The road over Sermon Pass is a real road now, but at the time the book is set it was little more than a track. And as for Birkenhead Park … it’s a jewel, and was reputedly the model for Central Park in New York.

There are, of course, loose ends in MAKE DO AND MEND. Jack (Three) will stay at Hendra, married to Kitty, and their children will farm there in their turn. Thomas (Two) is likely to move away after the War, to some place where his predictable lack of success will be less visible to his family and he can be the person of importance he so clearly thinks he is. Harry (One) will emigrate, Jim at his side, to a country where nobody will care who they were before – possibly Canada. Jim will write books and teach; Harry will no doubt go into broadcasting in some capacity. They won’t be rich, but they’ll be happy. As for Freddie (Four), his future is more opaque; there is, somewhere in the back of my mind, a whole new set of adventures for him – one of which I’m hoping will coalesce into a short story for Manifold Press’s World War Two anthology CALL TO ARMS. In fact it would be fair to say that I have no idea, at the moment, precisely what happens to Freddie, but I’m very much looking forward to finding out!

[Oh, and the land-grabby golf-course-builders may well make an appearance at some point, too… ]

Manifold Press well represented in the Rainbow Awards!

rainbow-awards-winner-200pxWe were delighted to wake early this morning to see how well our authors had done in the Rainbow Awards 2016! Of our five eligible titles, a very respectable four earned Honourable Mentions and were Finalists – and three went on to earn themselves places in the final results.

ACROSS YOUR DREAMS by Jay Lewis Taylor: This significant ‘Great War’ novel came first in the Best Gay Historical category, and was equal fourth as the Best Gay Book overall.

ELEVENTH HOUR by Elin Gregory: This delightful tale of derring-do came equal fifth in the Best Gay Historical Romance category, and was equal seventh as the Best Gay Book overall.

IN DEEP by Adam Fitzroy: This intriguing story set in the enclosed world of a remote Scottish island came fourth in the Best Gay Mystery / Thriller category, and was equal nineteenth as the Best Gay Book overall.

UNDER LEADEN SKIES by Sandra Lindsey: This dramatic Second World War tale was also a Finalist – of which we are very proud.

Hearty congratulations to our own authors, and to all the other authors and publishers who took part, making for such an obviously strong field of contenders.

Last but certainly not least, many thanks are due to Elisa Rolle and her team of judges for their indefatigable efforts!

Elin Gregory interviews our A CERTAIN PERSUASION authors!

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONIt’s a real honour to be hosted on the blog of Elin Gregory, a deservedly well-loved and highly respected author of historical fiction and romance. Recently she has been interviewing the authors involved in our Austen-inspired anthology, A CERTAIN PERSUASION.

If you’d like to know what the authors appreciate about Jane Austen’s use of language, what inspired their story in the anthology, and more – please follow these links!

  • Sandra Lindsey, who wrote an Age of Sail story featuring a character from Mansfield Park.
  • Adam Fitzroy, who wrote a story that took Emma in a rather different direction.
  • Julie Bozza, who retold Sense and Sensibility with one crucial difference.
  • Fae Mcloughlin, who wrote two stories with modern-day characters who are influenced by Austen’s works.
  • Sam Evans, who plagued a modern-day Darcy with participation in a ‘reality TV’ celebrity dance show.
  • Eleanor Musgrove, who wrote stories set in the future of Sense and Sensibility (beautiful!) and the past of Pride and Prejudice (intriguing!).
  • Lou Faulkner, who did exquisite work with two minor characters from Persuasion.
  • Narrelle M Harris, who retold Persuasion in modern-day Melbourne.
  • Atlin Merrick, who wrote about two original characters in a Regency-era setting.
  • JL Merrow, who looked into the future of two characters from Mansfield Park.

I hope you enjoy the interviews! And please do share the love with Elin, who has been such a welcoming host.

Author interview: Adam Fitzroy

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONThis series of mini-interviews features the authors who contributed to our Austen anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION.

Next is Manifold Press stalwart Adam Fitzroy, who wrote the story One Half of the World, inspired by the novel Emma.

Blurb: How much more romantic must it be to be stolen away in the night by a lady dressed as a man, to be thrown across the saddle of her horse and to be galloped off with across the moors by moonlight?


Q: How did you discover Jane Austen and her works? What was the initial appeal?

It was the 1972 BBC TV version of Emma which first took my fancy; I was never an Austen fan growing up because I was far too invested in the Brontës, and I’d got it into my head that it wasn’t actually possible to like both. (I had a pretty strange childhood, so it’s probably best not to enquire further!) Not knowing the stories, of course, the fact that Emma ends up marrying Mr Knightley initially took me by surprise – and I remember being similarly astonished years later when (spoiler alert!) I found out that Marianne married Colonel Brandon. This wasn’t the standard boy-meets-girl template I was used to at the time from TV and movies, and I suspect I was initially wowed by the idea of an experienced older man being selflessly in love with someone considerably younger.

Q: Has she surprised you since then?

Yes, by being funnier than I originally expected. The Brontës, bless their hearts, may be many things, but ‘funny’ isn’t really on the list! There’s a wry, waspish humour in the creation of characters like Mrs Elton, Miss Bates and (elsewhere) Mrs Norris which makes them laughable on the surface but also gives them a deeply unhappy core. Who would envy Mrs Norris’s lot, after all, being sent off into what sounds like the dreariest possible exile? And can we really imagine that Mrs Elton and her caro sposo will ever truly be happy? And the putting-on-the-play sequence in Mansfield Park, which gets more and more out of control as it goes on, just feels like slapstick to me – complete with the sudden glowering intervention of the comedy villain to bring it all crashing to a halt!

Q: Which Austen character do you like best? Which do you identify with most?

No doubt about it, right at the top of my list is Mr George Knightley. I like him because he embodies so many of the restrained virtues of an English gentleman; he’s gracious, charming, attentive to old Mr Woodhouse (who is another of the comical characters with sadness inside – not only is he a widower, but he’s probably also struggling with the onset of dementia), fair, patient, slow to anger and generous to a fault. Some of these qualities are of course also shared by Colonel Brandon, but Knightley is more at ease than Brandon in a social setting and less burdened by an unhappy past – although it’s also fair to say that he’s had less of the suffering which is supposed to be so good for the development of a person’s character!

I don’t think I identify strongly with any of Austen’s characters, but I have great sympathy with Harriet Smith’s romantic ineptitude; her persistence in falling for the wrong person and being damaged by it, and her daft obsessions such as saving Mr Elton’s court-plaster, definitely ring a distant bell with me. In the present day Harriet – who is, after all, a teenager – could get this sort of thing out of her system early by having crushes on TV or film stars; in the narrow world of Highbury she’s restricted to having futile obsessions for unsuitable men. Her crush on Mr Elton is largely Emma’s doing, and although Harriet’s deeply upset by the ending of her hopes I’ve never really been sure how much of her heart was in it in the first place. Her crush on Mr Knightley, on the other hand, strikes me as being perfectly reasonable – if transient – not least because he’s clearly the finest specimen of manhood to be discovered in the area. Her first-and-last love for Robert Martin, however, is a combination of teenage crush and grown-up decision-making; in modern parlance she ends up marrying the boy next door, and when that’s a clear-eyed choice arrived at with a bit of perspective the chances are it’s going to turn out rather well.

One more thing I’d like to add about Jane Austen’s work is this: it’s no surprise to me that a ‘spin-off culture’ has emerged from it. Her characters are so deep and richly-drawn that it’s natural to want to know what happens to them next, what would happen if characters from different books met up, or how they would deal with the sudden arrival of either Jemima Rooper or a zombie plague; there are enough characters, enough plots, and more than enough wonderful writing in Austen to provide those who enjoy her work with talking-points to last them quite happily from now until Doomsday – or beyond!


adam-fitzroyAuthor bio: Imaginist and purveyor of tall tales Adam Fitzroy is a UK resident who has been successfully spinning same sex romances either part-time or full-time since the 1980s, and has a particular interest in examining the conflicting demands of love and duty.

Links: BlogSpot; Twitter


A CERTAIN PERSUASION buy links: AllRomance; Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords

Three new titles now available!

1 November is here at last, and our three new titles are now available! This includes two New Adult novels as well as an anthology 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.

Buy links:


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.

Buy links:


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.

Buy links:

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: elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/covers.php

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!