Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Gift Ideas

Christmas Gift Ideas, with a local connection.

Secret Nottingham by Joe and Frank Earp
Nottingham’s unknown history told through its streets and below. Father and son authors Frank and Joe Earp have collected little gems of information about Notts and present many of them here in a book that’s perfect to dip in and out of. Fill your stockings. Link

Dawn of the Unread by James Walker et al
The inventive interactive comic, which sees our literary figures return from the grave, is now available as a glossy graphic novel and it’s a sumptuous production. Fit for any coffee table it’s a perfect pressie for anyone with breath in their lungs.  Link
Faction is all the rage. These are novels based on a historical figure or events that are woven together with fictitious elements. And we have a couple of belters for you:

Bendigo – the Right Fist of God by Alan Dance and David Field
A novel based on the life of William Thompson, better known as Bendigo. The story follows our sporting legend from the poverty of a Nottingham slum to fame and fortune as champion bare-fist boxer of all England. With many myths doing the rounds this work of fiction incorporated the facts in an authentically set story that goes beyond the fighting years to the drinking, law-breaking and religion that occupied the big man’s retirement. Link 

The Lord of Milan by Robert Nieri
From Mansfield Road to founding AC Milan, this is the story of Herbert Kilpin, a man that lived for his footy and died in obscurity 100 years ago. Finally, his story is being told. Our Lord of Milan, father of Italian football. Link


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Nottingham Festival of Literature

With a programme that’s more eyebrow-raising than eye-catching the Nottingham Festival of Literature is coming to town (Nov 8-13). There is a diversion from many of the usual festival faces, with several international writers making their first appearance in the city. Some of the pricing may seem steep but there’s no doubt that this is a line-up of writers with something to say, rather than something to sell. In this sense it’s a brave programme and one that UNESCO would approve of.

Please spend time reading the programme where I’m sure you’ll find several interesting and inspiring events.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

NWUK Book Festival, Sat Oct 1st

Book Festival, Sat October 1st.

County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham
10am - 4.30pm
Free parking and free admission
Talks, Workshops and More.
For Writers. For Readers.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The D H Lawrence Festival 2016

Thursday 25 August - Sunday 18 September 2016

Celebrate one of the UK’s most controversial authors  - and arguably Notts' greatest writer - with a celebration in and around his hometown of Eastwood.

A programme of talks, exhibitions, readings, special events and workshops will explore the different facets of D.H. Lawrence’s works and personalities. Previous events have seen special exhibitions of some of Lawrence’s rare writings and paintings.
The 2016 festival programme is packed with events celebrating both the life and work of D H Lawrence and the rich heritage and culture of the part of Nottinghamshire where he was born and raised, and which so influenced his work.

Every year there is a huge variety of events on offer including walks, talks, tours, film screenings, concerts, reading groups and more.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Southwell Poetry Festival, July 14-17

Southwell Library Poetry Festival 14th - 17th July 2016

Southwell Library Poetry festival, one of the key events in Nottinghamshire’s cultural calendar, returns for its ninth consecutive year with another wide range of events.
Nationally-acclaimed poets such as Lemn Sissay brings his performance on Friday, Forward Prize-winning poet Daljit Nagra will appear on Saturday night, and Sunday’s Afternoon Tea is hosted by the Kate Fox.
Saturday kicks off with Roald Dahl-themed fun for children, while workshops and talks run throughout the weekend, including the chance to discover poetry penned by local soldiers from Nottinghamshire Archive’s own collections, heard in public for the very first time.
For writers, there’s a drop-in poetry surgery with Writing School East Midlands, plus a performance workshop with the inspirational Kevin Fegan. An Afternoon with the Small Press is set to provide a fascinating insight into the work of our local small presses for writers and readers alike.
A community performance by Southwell Theatre Club will bring the festival to a close.
Here’s a list of events.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Ray Gosling's Archive, July 21st

Ray Gosling: His Life, Legacy and Archive

Ray Gosling: His Life, Legacy and Archive.
free to attend event at The National Videogame Arcade - 24-32 Carlton Street - NG1 1NN.
Tickets from EventBrite.
Ray Gosling (1939-2013) was a journalist and broadcaster, known for his man-of-the-people style. More at home reporting from the streets than from a studio, he had – excuse the oxymoron - a uniquely ordinary voice, one that played as well on the pages as it did on the airwaves.


Ray was also a hoarder. His archives, once destined for a rubbish dump, have been salvaged and now reside in the Mary Ann Evans building at Nottingham Trent University. On July 21 our National Video Game Arcade is hosting an evening to celebrate Ray's extensive collection of documents, letters, films, magazines and notebooks. 

Ray, who "came to Nottingham because I was running away from Leicester", presented more than 100 television documentaries and many more radio programmes. He once worked as a youth worker in St Ann's and was a force in the local residents' association, fighting the council's plans to bulldoze the largest slum in England. "Gosling rightly realised," wrote Alan Sillitoe, "that the whole district had a life and homogeneity that could never be replaced." Sillitoe reported that Gosling was a catalyst for the locals opposing the worst proposals.
An activist, many would say anarchist, Ray had a genuine interest in people and their plights. During the 60s and 70s he hosted Granada TV's On Site programme. Years later, he was a regular guest presenter on BBC East Midlands, Inside Out, reporting about the local streets and interviewing local people. In his final documentaries he discussed some of his own personal struggles.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Books in the Castle

Books in the Castle, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th JULY


Crime Scene Saturday

Visit the Website

All Day Tickets £25
10.15 am - ‘If It Bleeds, It Leads’ talk by Duncan  Campbell - A freelance journalist who worked  for the Guardian for more than 20 years as a  crime correspondent. The author of seven books. Tickets £6, £5

11.30am  - Talk by Mike Pannett - He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1988 where he became one of the youngest officers to be given his own patch, and served on the Divisional Crime Squad, Murder Squad  and TSg (Riot Police). Tickets £6, £5, £3
1pm - 'Murder She Wrote' crime fiction talk with  female authors Sarah Ward and Rebecca Bailey  hosted by crime writer Nick Quantrill. Tickets £7, £6

2.30 pm - 999:CSI Talk given by Larry Henderson a  pioneering Crime Scene Investigator. Among his  cases was Lord Lucan’s murder scene, the Brinks  Mat robbery, and the Marchioness disaster, some  of the Murder exhibits in the London Crime Museum (Black Museum) came through his  personal experiences. Tickets £6, £5, £3
4pm - 'Murder He Wrote' crime fiction talk with  bestselling male authors MJ Fowler and Mr  Stephen Booth hosted once again by crime writer Nick Quantrill.  Michael Fowler served as a police officer for 32 years, both in uniform and in plain clothes, working in CID, Vice Squad, and Drug Squad. He retired in 2006, in the rank of Inspector. He writes the DS Hunter Kerr series of fictional novels. Stephen Booth is one the UKs top selling crime novelists, creator of the bestselling Cooper & Fry crime fiction mystery series, set in England's Peak District. Tickets £9, £8

5.30pm - Life In Death - Former DI Richard Venables worked on 30 murder cases and played a key role  in the hunt for a serial killer. Following  Hillsborough became a disaster specialist within  the police force, he will be revealing his first  hand insider knowledge on some of Britain’s most recent tragedies including the Morecambe Bay  cockle pickers, rail disasters, the 7/7 London  terror bombings and the aftermath of the 2004  Boxing Day Tsunami. Tickets £6, £5, £3
7.00PM - Jack the Ripper Talk – Crime Scene Saturday day will be capped off  by a  talk from leading crime writer and Jack the Ripper author, Mei Trow, in the atmospheric Castle Undercroft where he will be revealing his theories on  the famous unsolved mystery including his prime suspect. Tickets £6, £5

Annie Murray; SHE was born in Berkshire and read English at St John's College, Oxford. Her first  'Birmingham' novel, Birmingham Rose, hit The Times bestseller list when it was published in 1995. She has subsequently written many other successful novels, including The Bells of Bournville Green,  sequel to the bestselling Chocolate Girls, and A  Hopscotch Summer. Annie will be appearing both at the Castle where she will be signing her books and from 14.30 she  will giving a talk at The Secret Garden Cafe.  Entrance is free to attend for all (donations welcomed for the local breast cancer support group). So buy yourself a nice cup of tea and a cream cake and enjoy listening to one of the UK's most popular authors.

SATURDAY Children’s Events
Gareth Baker - A local children’s author who will be storytelling and signing his books. As well as writing, he has provided story-telling sessions for Nottingham City Council at the home of Lord Byron, Newstead Abbey, and at Wollaton Hall and is a member of the board of  Nottingham Writer's Studio.

Brian Porter - Undoubtedly one of the stars of  last year’s book festival Brian spent that weekend  both selling books from his Molly Perkins series but also helping many delighted children make  plastercine items and figurines including humans, goblins, monsters,  flowers, etc
Ian C. Douglas. He will be putting on a show for children during his visit. He is the author of the Zeke Hailey books, scifi novels for children. Ian is also a history author and visits schools with bloodcurdling tales of the past.

Local artist Kerry O'Brien will be appearing for two hours she has lots of ideas for pirate themed crafts – making hats, telescopes, parrots etc.
Sunday 10th July Talks

11.30am  ‘Born Survivor Talk by Eva Clarke - One of only three Jewish babies known to have been born in and then survived a Nazi death camp. Her story  featured in the bestselling book 'Born Survivors'  by Wendy Holden. For over 15 years, in schools, colleges and even  prisons, Eva’s talks about her parents love for  each other, their struggle to survive and the  story of her birth have held audiences mesmerized and appalled in  equal measure. Tickets £7, £6, £3.50

1pm Bad King John/Good King John Historical  Debate with leading King John authors Stephen  Church and Marc Morris. Tickets £8, £7, £4

3pm Talk by famous international speaker Eva  Schloss MBE, stepsister to Anne Frank, teenage  Auschwitz survivor and bestselling author. Eva was a neighbour and school friend of Anne  Frank. During the war like the Frank family, Eva  and her family also went into hiding from the  Nazis but were eventually betrayed, captured by  the Gestapo and sent to concentration camps.  Having survived the selection process upon  arrival at Auschwitz her father and brother  later died in captivity and only her mother and  herself survived. After the war ended they returned to Amsterdam and her mother later   remarried Otto Frank. Eva had a unique view on  the publication of one of the world’s biggest selling books 'The Diary of Anne Frank'. Last year 87 year old Eva delivered a sell-out talk at Newark Book  Festival. Tickets £9, £8, £4.50   

3pm Castle Free Talk by Ian Ross (Historical Fiction Author) in Castle Undercroft. Ian Ross is the author of the Twilight of Empire  series, a sequence of historical novels set in the  early 4th century AD, the era of the Roman  emperor Constantine. His first novel, War at the Edge of the World, was published in the UK by Head of Zeus in January 2015. The third instalment, Battle for Rome, was published in January 2016 to great acclaim. Ian has been researching and writing about the later roman world and its army for over a decade.

Children’s Events Sunday 10th July
Lia Ginno author of many children’s books will be storytelling

WILF Morgan will be reading from his ‘Arthur Ness’ books featuring  magic and excitement
Josephine Feeney- McKay who will be present on the Sunday, both in the Castle and as one of our pirate storytelling shipmates. She has been previously shortlisted for The Daily Telegraph Children's Book of the Year.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Gedling Borough Arts Festival, Day Three, July 16th

Gedling Borough Arts Festival 2016 - July 14th-16th

Arnold Methodist Church/Central Arnold, NG5 7EL


Saturday (Day Three):  16th July, 10am-5pm

10.00am  Open

Guests at various times during the day will be Spiderman and Rapunzel, younger children’s roundabout, face painting. 

10.30am-all day: Gedling Play Forum
11am-12noon: Ian Douglas and ‘Countdown to Mars’. 

12.15pm-1pm: ‘Feel the Force’ - Create your Star Wars Character - With Gareth Baker. 
1.30pm-2pm: Magical William the Wizard. 

2pm-3pm: Stuart Hill’s Viking Stories for older children.
2.30pm-3pm: More from Magical William the Wizard. 

3.15pm-3.45pm: Taylor Swift Tribute.
5.00pm    Close

Free admission to the Festival.  Stalls, artists at work, crafts, artwork and books for sale, refreshments, raffle for the Mayor of Gedling’s chosen charity.  Talks, workshops. 

Gedling Borough Arts Festival, Day Two, July 15th


Gedling Borough Arts Festival 2016 - July 14th-16th

Arnold Methodist Church/Central Arnold, NG5 7EL


Friday (Day Two):  15th July, 10am-9pm

10.45am-12noon: ‘Art of the Creator’ service. 
1pm-2.30pm: Music, dance and drama from students of Redhill Academy and guests – Robert Mellors Primary School with Joy James.  

1pm-2pm: ‘When Sorrows Come’ Maria Dziedzan talks about her debut novel focussing on the adversity suffered by her heroine in Ukraine during World War II. 
2.15pm-3.15pm: Writing Crime stories and Research with best-selling crime author STEPHEN BOOTH.  

3.30pm-5pm: Sewing Craft Demonstration with Liz Wibberley of Handsewn.  
7pm-8.30pm: ‘A Cartoon History of Here’ presented by broadcaster and comedian, Ian McMillan (The Bard of Barnsley), and Cartoonist of the Year, Tony Husband.  Tickets for this performance on sale from the Bonington Theatre, Arnold just £5.00 each, or via Julie Malone, email .

9.00pm   close
Free admission to the Festival.  Stalls, artists at work, crafts, artwork and books for sale, refreshments, raffle for the Mayor of Gedling’s chosen charity.  Talks, workshops. 

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Gedling Borough Arts Festival, Day One, July 14th

Gedling Borough Arts Festival 2016 - July 14th-16th

Arnold Methodist Church/Central Arnold, NG5 7EL


Thursday (Day One):  14th July, 1pm-9.30pm

1.00pm  Festival Opening by the Mayor of Gedling Borough

Free Events:

1.15pm-2.30pm: ‘Drum and Samba Performance’ by students of Redhill Academy with guests - Killisick Primary School. 
2.30pm-5pm: ‘Art Workshop’ – presented by Patchings Arts Centre Artist in Residence, Tas Severis. 

3.30pm-4.30pm: ‘The Origins of Language’ – presented by Dr Nick Thom. 

6pm-7.30pm: ‘X Factor in the Church’ – Talent Show. 

8pm-9.30pm: ‘Poetry of the Proletariat’, Performance poetry with Garry Eagling, Miggy Angel, Dwane Meads, Rachel Joy, Frank MacMahon and Martin Grey.

Free admission to the Festival.  Stalls, artists at work, crafts, artwork and books for sale, refreshments, raffle for the Mayor of Gedling’s chosen charity.  Talks, workshops. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Lowdham Time

Lowdham Book Festival 2016

June 17 – 25

Tickets from The Bookcase, Lowdham Tel. 0115 966 3219

NottsLit’s pick of the programme:

Friday 17th
East Midlands Book Award Ceremony
St Mary’s Church, NG14 7BQ

Saturday 18th
Reading Group Morning – with Joanna Trollope
Lowdham Village Hall, NG14 7BD
£15 includes a copy of Balancing Act.

Sunday 19th
A Day of Crime
11.30am - Elly Griffiths and Sharon Bolton £6 (£5 concessions)
2pm  - Stephen Booth, Sarah Ward, Steven Dunne £6 (£5 concessions)
4pm – Chris Ewan, Anne Zouroudi, Robert Thorogood £6 (£5 concessions)
Lowdham Village Hall, NG14 7BD

Saturday 25th
Final Saturday - A day of free to attend events at various venues in Lowdham. Plus Bookfair and more…
Includes: Shoestring Spectacular, with David Belbin. Matthew Barton and Jane Owen. Shakespeare’s Women, with Sheelagh Gallagher and Deidre O’Byrne. Nottingham Does Comics, with John Stuart Clark and others. Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World, with Gregory Woods. The Company of Comedians, with Michael Payne.




Thursday, 26 May 2016

Mind Body Diabetes

A Nottingham author’s positive solution to halt diabetes.

Dr Emma Mardlin - psychotherapist and practitioner of mind body medicine at the Pinnacle Practice in West Bridgford - is the writer of Mind Body Diabetes, a practical resource book that will provide a valuable support for people with all types of diabetes and other illnesses. 

Writing from experience, having lived with T1 diabetes for over twenty years, Emma offers her own personal story, which includes achieving 5.8% HbA1C on minimal insulin. This history, combined with her expertise in mind body medicine, helps to make this book a wonderful companion for those wishing to emotionally and physically break free from diabetes.
The information is based on science and many facts are offered in addition to the personal anecdotes and inspiring case studies. Whilst it’s written in an accessible, friendly manner, much of the advice requires the reader to adopt a new mental approach, sourcing the root of negative emotions and releasing or replacing them. Underpinning this work is that every thought and emotion affects every cell in the body. As the mind and body are constantly communicating in a cause and effect cycle the book focuses on our physical and mental states.   

Our body undertakes vital work, done unconsciously (the majority of our breathing for example), and yet we undervalue, or at least under-acknowledge, our greatest resource, the unconscious and subconscious workings of the mind. The idea that our constantly replacing cells have intelligence and memory, and that these memories are not just held in the brain but our entire neural network, is an engrossing theory that's backed up.

Diabetes, blood sugar levels and hormones are inextricably linked, so it is necessary to carefully balance hormones in as natural a way as possible. There are many strategies suggested by Emma that can help - she likens her managing of diabetes to managing a company - such as meditation and visualisation (there’s one cool technique involving peripheral vision) and diet (Emma’s The Acceleration Plan is a valuable addition). There’s a real effort to put over the damaging impact of negativity. Avoiding negative thought and, when possible, negative people is only part of the battle though, the real goal is in citing the origin of trauma and safely releasing it, replacing it with positive thoughts and benefiting from the subsequent physiological reactions. In understanding a reason for something it seems easier to accept and treat it.

A positive approach is taken through all the levels of support on offer, with the only scorn falling on the social and medical perceptions of diabetes which are regularly challenged here, with the label ‘diabetic’ coming under particular fire. It does seem that the medical profession have been found wanting in regards to attitudes to diabetes, certainly if some of Emma’s experiences are anything to go on.

The idea that our emotions can lead to illness is not a radical one and there’s no need for a leap of faith, only a willingness to think outside the doctor’s door, being prepared to tackle diabetes on many levels. 

Can diabetes be temporary, even reversed? Maybe. One thing’s for sure, you won’t think about dis-ease the same way again.

Emma Mardlin’s website

Friday, 20 May 2016

Clare Harvey's debut wins another award

Congratulations to Nottingham-based author Clare Harvey. Her wartime novel The Gunner Girl, published by Simon & Schuster, has been awarded The Romantic Novelists' Association’s (RNA) prestigious Joan Hessayon Award for new writers. Clare was presented with her award and a cheque for £1,000 at the RNA’s Summer Party. The former University of Nottingham creative writing student's debut novel had previously scooped the Exeter Novel Prize.  

NottsLit review of The Gunner Girl:

Set in London during the blitz, the story follows the war efforts of three teenage women who join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). The characters are:
Bea – Having not heard from her boyfriend/soldier sweetheart for months (he’s purported missing in action), she takes a train to London hoping to make a better life for her baby daughter, and, at the same time, escape from her own controlling mother who is passing off Bea’s baby as her own whilst forbidding Bea to reveal the truth.
Edie – From a background of wealth and privilege, which included a philandering father that insists on calling her ‘half pint’, Edie wants to make a difference. Inspired by Mary Churchill she signs up, almost on a whim. A young lady of Edie’s social standing is told that she shouldn’t be manning guns but, Edie thinks, if ATS is good enough for the PM’s daughter…
Joan: Struggling to recall her tragic past, Joan arrives in the ATS after her family home was destroyed by a bomb. Joan is really Vanessa, her younger sister (aged 17, she's too young to join ATS). Vanessa took her dead sister’s name and ID card in a twist that could have been held back for suspense. Instead, it’s a plot point that opens the novel. When, later on, she receives a letter from her fiancĂ©, it’s the wrong man. A development that could have been a great twist of intrigue, worthy of Harlan Coben, is instead only a mystery for the characters themselves.   
It doesn’t take long for the three gunner girls’ paths to cross and friendships to be established but, as much of the first half flips, following one character’s story at a time, it takes a while to get to know them individually. Once the stories have two or three of the women on the same page the pace picks up and the second half of the book is eventful.
The 1940s setting clearly provides challenges for the characters and works well for this coming of age tale. Their roles, manning anti-aircraft guns, provide an interesting angle from which to experience the horrors of war. But it’s the horrors of life that are inflicted on our three heroines. As you might expect, the women attract lots of male attention, which has unwanted, even tragic consequences. With their difficult family lives and up and down love interests there’s plenty of emotion to engage with, and one big surprise towards the end will definitely shock you.
If this was adapted for TV it wouldn’t look out of place on BBC2 at 9pm on a Sunday evening. Part two is, apparently, coming soon. Watch this space.   

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Arnold July 15, Ian McMillan & Tony Husband

Tickets £5.00. Obtained from the Richard Bonington Theatre, c/o Arnold Leisure Centre, High St, Arnold, Nottinghamshire NG5 7EE   Tel: 0115 901 3640 or by post from  

'the man's a genius!' Yorkshire Post reader
'Ian McMillan, owner of one of the finest broadcasting voices currently gracing the airwaves' Radio Times 
'the verbal gymnastics of a north country Spike Milligan coupled with the comic timing of Eric Morecambe' Frome Festival
'I knew he was good, but he’s even better' Wirral Festival of Firsts
'I laughed so much at your stint I could hardly breathe!' Matlock U3A
‘inching towards the status of a National Treasure’ Andy Kershaw
'world-class – one of today’s greatest poetry performers' Carol Ann Duffy

Friday, 6 May 2016

Wed 11th, Two Events

.Wednesday 11th May 7:30pm, Beeston Tales presents Joe Brennan with As I went wandering..., The White Lion
Joe is a storyteller, writer and theatre maker. He has travelled widely and featured in many festivals sharing his stories around the globe. He is the author of Donegal Folk Tales, and we are very pleased to be able to be part of his midlands tour. The night will also feature music from acclaimed guitarist and songwriter Phil Langran.
Tickets £5 in advance , £6 on the door, available from The White Lion, or online

Wednesday 11th May 8pm, Crosswords Spoken Word Open Mic, Malt Cross
Crosswords is a new spoken word open mic night, taking place in the caves underneath the Malt Cross Pub on St James’ Street. There are plenty of open mic slots and a featured poet every month! In May, our special guest is Leicester-based poet and performer, Shruti Chauhan. Arrive at 7:30pm on the night to book your five-minute open mic slot. We like poetry, prose, storytelling, a cappella singing, and monologues! Or you can just come along to listen – everyone's welcome! For more information, check out our facebook event
Entry is £2 per person and refreshments are available.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Rachel Kelly, Walking on Sushine

Monday 16 May 3pm - 4pm
Author talk: Rachel Kelly
The writer and mental health campaigner gives an entertaining talk based on her bestselling book "Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness". Rachel shares tips, tools and positive ideas to help you manage the pressures of everyday life
To book your place at this free event please contact the Central Library on Tel: 0115 9152825 or Email:

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Dust on the Moth

The Dust on the Moth - a multimedia novel brought to life through crowdfunding

A new work of fiction has just come to my attention, an ambitious hardback made in Notts and so original it’s difficult to describe sober. Let me try: Anna, along with Adam (her twin brother), and Henry (her boyfriend), are viewing a rental opportunity - 8 Asgard Street - an eerie gaff with a voyeuristic landlord who flits between creepy and monstrous. This modern Brothers Grimm set up runs parallel to another otherworldly story, a dark fantasy set in a lurid alternate universe that shines a light on our own. Artistic illustrations and photographs accompany the chapters (the book even comes with a six track soundtrack that could be from a sci-fi flick) in this literary feast of rich prose, engaging dialogue and colliding lives. This book is unique, the result of an author’s unfretted talent at work and play. It rings with intrigue and unease. As it is impossible to describe The Dust on the Moth in one word, I'll give you seven: Experimental. Rich. Creative. Political. Philosophical. Fantastical. Visual.
The Dust on the Moth, produced by a local publisher, was funded through Kickstarter. Wanting to know more about this undertaking I invited its creative producer to write a guest post. Enjoy:
My name is Kirsty Fox. I’m a creative producer with Bees Make Honey Creative CIC, a social enterprise for local creative industries. In March 2015, we got together with writer Darren Simpson to launch a Kickstarter campaign to publish his book, The Dust on the Moth. In March this year, we officially launched the finished product into the world after months of nail-biting drama and good old-fashioned elbow grease.

The Dust on the Moth is a book, but also a bit more than a book. A collaboration between a writer, illustrator, photographer and creative producer (me), the finished work lies somewhere between illustrated literary fiction, photographic journal, objet d’art and graphic novel. There’s also a soundtrack for it, just to add another dimension. A dark and funny science fiction fairytale about the collision of two worlds, Darren’s novel-length story was picked up in raw form by myself a few years ago, when I was looking for more work to publish under Bees Make Honey Press. Bound for the slush pile because it was too ambitious and strange for the UK’s timid publishing industry, Darren’s ode to number 8 Asgard Street now sees the light of day with thanks to our friends, family, fans and the Kickstarter community.

Publishing fiction as an independent press is really hard; it can be a huge gamble and there’s generally not much money to be made. It has to be done for the love. As Bees Make Honey (who also organise events and offer creative business support), we weren’t in a financial position to put the novel out off our own backs, so we decided to look at crowdfunding as an option. We’ve always been interested in thinking outside the box when it comes to publishing and our core team of myself, Dan Layton and Phil Formby have a varied skill set (writing, editing, illustration, design, photography, video and music), so it seemed logical to do something a bit different – something that was more likely to capture the imagination of the general public and local creative community.

And so we began developing The Dust on the Moth as a multimedia creature. The nature of the book suits and adapts to this really well. There’s a lot of strong imagery in the book and many memorable characters, but at the same time it has this abstract metaphysical quality which really lends itself to inspiring a whole hinterland. We didn’t just want to create literal illustrations, but to play on the intense atmosphere and the breadth of ideas that spin out between the colliding worlds of Asgard Street and Midgard. The former is very small, claustrophobic and self-contained, with just four characters who rarely seem to leave this tiny realm. The latter is a whole planet with a system of governance and a rather fantastical story which touches on the lives of multiple characters. 

We put together a selection of initial illustrations and photographs and Dan began working on a soundtrack under his musical alias Apalusa. We then organised a launch party for the Kickstarter campaign with an exhibition of the artwork and live music from local bands The Cusp and Grawl!x, alongside Apalusa playing some of the music from the soundtrack, featuring Graham Langley of slowcore legends, Savoy Grand. 

The crowdfunding campaign was an experience in itself. Having to promote something to a certain deadline is quite nail biting and takes over your life somewhat. You get to a point where you’re sat in the pub with a friend and you mention it, and they’ll say they didn’t know you were running the campaign, and you’re dumbstruck because you feel like you’ve tweeted about it so many times and you’re barely able to talk about anything else. It’s very intense and not an experience I’d like to relive too often. But also it’s a fabulous way to get an audience really deeply involved in a project and invested in the outcome. I would recommend it as a way forward with collaborative projects in general, though I’m not sure how good a tool it would be for, for example, self-publishing a book. If you’re doing everything by yourself, it’s very draining and potentially damaging to your self-esteem when things aren’t going so great!

I think it was also generally beneficial to Darren Simpson as an author to work on something collaborative. Writing can be a lonesome thing! Darren has the following to say of the experience:
“Writing is indeed a very lonesome thing - hence most of my writing sessions tend to end with a little cry in the dark. But seriously, working with Bees Make Honey was a great experience, and not only because of the social element. It was really exciting and educational to see each member of the group bring their own insight, interpretation and expertise to the story, and to watch as The Dust on the Moth evolved from manuscript to cohesive, multimedia creation. It's now become much more than the sum of its parts; it's almost a living, breathing, self-contained microcosm of its own, which feels very true to the story itself.”

We were really lucky with the response and help we got from the local community. Most of those who contributed were local to the East Midlands (though there was also a big chunk of Germans thanks to Darren’s wife’s family!). It was a humbling experience and we really feel very proud of the finished product. While the initial illustrations and photographs gave a good taster, some of the gems that developed later on really are quite something. The final book can now be purchased from our website here. You can also get your mitts on it in the wonderful Five Leaves Bookshop. 

Further information and can be found at Darren Simpson’s writer’s blog.
More images from the book can be found on our instagram page with ‘Image of the day’.
More on Dan Layton Design & Illustration.
More photography and video work by Philip Formby.
@beesmakehoneycc on twitter
Bees Make Honey on Facebook