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!]
The Press doesn’t issue paperback editions of all our titles, as the decision to do so is driven by the individual authors. That being said, we’re delighted with the twenty titles that have made it into print thus far! There are new ones on the way, so it seemed to be a good time to take stock of what we have so far.
Our current paperback titles are listed here, along with Amazon US buy links:
A Pride of Poppies Modern LGBTQIA Fiction of the Great War – anthology including stories by Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove and Jay Lewis Taylor
Adam Fitzroy very kindly made two copies of his paperback GHOST STATION available, hot off the presses, for a giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered!
This morning, we drew the two lucky winners at random from the entries … and they are Carolyn and Dianna! Congratulations to both of you. We have emailed you to ask for your postal addresses, and Adam is waiting with pen poised to sign your copies, if you wish it.
Thank you again, and we trust everyone’s Sunday is going swimmingly.
Manifold Press stalwart Adam Fitzroy has very kindly made two copies of the paperback edition of GHOST STATION available for a giveaway!
There are no hoops to jump through. Just click here for the entry form, fill in your first name and email address, and click the Submit button. (All information will be treated strictly confidentially, though unless you request otherwise, we will publish the first names of the winners on this blog.)
The giveaway will run from today, 23 July, through to Saturday 30 July.
Blurb: It’s 1976, the Cold War is still at its coldest, and retired agent John Dashwood is persuaded to return to supervise one last mission. However nothing at Ghost Station is quite the way he remembers it and everybody seems to have something to hide – including his two valued colleagues, Rick Wentworth and Harry Tilney, and his enigmatic boss Sir Charles Grandison. When operational necessity requires Dashwood to send Rick and Harry into a dangerous situation, the boundaries between friend and enemy begin to blur and he’s left isolated and wondering which of his so-called allies he can really trust.
GHOST STATION received an Honorable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2012, and reviewer Sirius at Jessewave called it “An exciting and fun spy thriller, which had me on the edge of my seat …”
It would probably not be letting too many cats out of too many bags to admit that books in general and characters in particular are usually inspired by someone or something the author has encountered in the course of everyday life. It may be a poem, a snippet of history, a person met at random at a bus stop or in a hospital corridor, a picture discovered on the Internet – or, indeed, just about anything else. (More than one book, for example, has been written as the result of someone playing a quest-type game, either online or with pencil and paper and a series of multi-faceted dice.)
My inspirations, on the whole, tend to be visual. It would be disingenuous to pretend that I haven’t, in my time, written a considerable amount of fan-fiction, some of which I’m extremely proud of, but the problem with fan-fiction is that it only works if both the author and the reader are familiar with the source material. That way there’s a kind of shorthand operating by which, for example, the name ‘Spock’ immediately conjures up a set of known reference points – he’s a Vulcan, his blood group is T-Negative, his parents are Sarek and Amanda, etc. etc. etc. It isn’t necessary to explain why Spock does certain things in a fan story, because his character is so well established already that the reader knows what to expect from him.
When you want to branch out and start writing your own original fiction, it’s immediately necessary to explain things about your characters that the reader can’t possibly know in advance. If you call your character ‘Tock’, say that he’s from a planet called Eros, his blood is X-Positive and his parents are Derek and Nora, you need to give your reader a chance to get to know him; the short-cuts offered by fan-fiction are no longer possible and, although you may have taken the TV (or indeed film) version of Spock as your inspiration, the reader has no way of knowing that and you are basically starting out to create your character completely from scratch.
On the other hand, this is also incredibly liberating; it means you get to discard features of the character you aren’t particularly fond of – you can get rid of an inconvenient spouse or partner or an irritating personal habit such as smoking – and reshape him or her to suit yourself. At what point he or she ceases to be the one you remember and becomes an independent creation is, of course, a moot point; by the end, all you may be left with is a vague memory of a certain actor in a certain film or TV series – but the character on the page is no longer that person, if he ever was. He has grown beyond that, and become uniquely himself.
This long preamble is by way of an explanation; I had unfinished business with the characters who eventually became Rick Wentworth and Harry Tilney, in the form of a piece of fan-fiction which was only ever half-written and was on my conscience for roughly thirty years. I can’t begin to tell you the tumult those thirty years represented in my life – probably best if you don’t know, actually, since I’d like you to be able to sleep at night – but, when the dust settled and I began writing seriously at last, it was important to me to return to that world and finish what I’d started there. Even if that meant going back to the very beginning and making the story over with characters who only superficially resembled the TV originals they’d once been.
If you start from scratch like that, it follows that you pretty much have to invent the details of the organisation the characters work for. In both the original TV show and the book they are employees of a British organisation responsible for national security which is perpetually starved of funds. They are cut-price James Bonds, the guys who do the day-to-day work and are more likely to end their day filling in forms than bedding a glamorous Soviet agent in a Mayfair hotel. They have their American counterparts, too, who are always better-resourced – but which side they’re on is anybody’s guess! And of course this is all set during the Cold War and it runs in parallel with John Le Carré’s ‘Smiley’ novels, because who wouldn’t want to write about the nitty-gritty of fieldwork in those days? I once stayed in an East German hotel where the listening devices had only recently been removed; it isn’t difficult to imagine what it must have been like just a few years earlier.
Constructing the London headquarters of Ghost Station in my mind, however, was the best fun of the whole book. I happen to be very fond of railways, and ghost stations in particular. (If you’re not familiar with the expression, see abandonedstations.org.uk.) Very few abandoned Tube stations seem to have been repurposed, at least as far as the underground sections are concerned, and it seemed that such a station would make an ideal secret base. It would be very similar, in fact, to Western Approaches Command in Liverpool, which I visited when I was writing MAKE DO AND MEND. Locating it involved a happy few hours poring over Tube maps, and inventing a spur line in a part of London I know reasonably well, to give my characters somewhere to operate from; Mr Le Carré has his famous ‘Circus’, and I have my ‘Ghost Station’.
It would be tedious to go into all the details of the book and describe the inspirations behind them – although a gentle online stroll around the abandoned sanatorium at Beelitz-Heilstätten is always worthwhile. Suffice it to say that, for any book, ideas can emerge from a bewildering variety of sources; the trick is combining them into something that will entertain the reader without taking too many liberties with anybody else’s copyrights.
On which note, I feel it’s probably safe to reveal that the original inspirations for the characters in GHOST STATION, thirty years ago when it was intended as fan-fiction (and pure action-adventure without any sex!) were Roy Marsden and the late Ray Lonnen in ‘The Sandbaggers’. That Rick and Harry grew a very long way beyond them and became other people goes without saying, I hope, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind they still look rather like Roy and Ray – as they were in the late 1970s, anyway – and for those who are not familiar with them this is how they looked back then. (That’s Ray Lonnen on the left, Roy Marsden on the right.) I really hope this revelation hasn’t ruined the book for anybody, though!
We’re delighted to announce that the paperback edition of GHOST STATION has just been released!
Elisa Rolle has obviously been having a busy few months; the Rainbow Awards must have taken up a great deal of her time, but nevertheless she’s also managed to fit in reading and reviewing Adam Fitzroy’s GHOST STATION, which she seems to have enjoyed!
To our great astonishment – we thought they were due next weekend! – the Rainbow Awards have been announced today. The competition was clearly pretty tough this time, but nevertheless Manifold Press has taken three Honourable Mentions in the One Perfect Score category – for the following books:
Intriguingly, while our new books are still languishing in various review queues, Midia at The Romance Studio has turned her attention to Adam Fitzroy’s GHOST STATION. It’s a short review, but it does include these words …
Another quiet week sales-wise, with GHOST STATION our highest-selling title this time around and response time averaging out at two hours and forty minutes.
Here at Megaheadquarters, however, we’re gearing up for a very busy few weeks; we’ve had two new books submitted and both our two 1 February titles have come back from their proof-readers, which means that doing the layout/making the ebook files is now looming on the horizon. (No rest for the wicked, even at this time of year!) We’re also looking at possible titles for later in 2012; there’s plenty of good stuff in the pipeline, from old friends and new, and just at the moment the only limitation on our potential achievements is the ridiculously small number of hours in every day – whoever made that decision, in our humble opinion, just wasn’t thinking big enough!