Tuesday, 27 September 2011

We've moved!

We've had a lovely time over here on Blogger since our launch in the summer but we've decided that it's time for a change and have upped sticks and moved over to Wordpress! Please do come and join us for a virtual house-warming cup of tea at our new home here http://headlinepublishing.wordpress.com.

See you there shortly!

Friday, 12 August 2011

My Must-read Books this Summer

It’s the time of year for parties – Headline’s 25th anniversary, birthdays, weddings – and also for thinking about summer holidays and what books to pack.  Whether you favour the ebook or the physical, surely the nightmare scenario is to run out of something to read on holiday and have to share the selection of your five year old, or your granny, or your partner who just may not have the same taste as you?  Let’s assume here you don’t have a Kindle, iPad or any other ereading device. And you don’t like what’s available in the local airport, or has been left behind in your holiday home – or you’ve read the entire selection available to you, complete with sand sprinkles and wrinkled pages. For me, the real pleasure is that it’s the time when I feel I’ll really get to savour what I’m reading against a backdrop of sunshine, and I won’t nod off over the same page that I read the night before. Frankly, I’ll probably be head-to-toe in factor 50 sun-cream, wearing an unsuitable hat that marks me out as English and not even eccentric, and faffing around with my specs and sunglasses. But here’s what I’ll be paying extra for at the baggage counter this August:
I love reading diaries, and have read all of those in print by Frances Partridge, who was the last surviving member of the Bloomsbury Group, and died in 2004 aged 104. She’s brilliant on friends, travel and the changing world, and if you reach that age, you know about life. Her biography has to be a winner.

The youngest winner of the Orange Prize, and a debut that, even before it won, had a real word-of-mouth following. What’s not to like?

I read a collection of her stories years ago, and this volume has had such stellar reviews it has to come with me.

Helen Simpson has never written a novel, but is a modern day Katherine Mansfield, and her stories perfectly capture moments of singledom, marriage, working life, childhood – everyday living, really.

So many people have told me how wonderful this is that I know I’ll like it. And I like Louise Doughty on Radio 4, too.

Lisa Gardner, LOVE YOU MORE
I was introduced to this brilliant crime writer fairly recently. She’s ace on families, small communities, relationships – and utterly compelling to boot.

And when I come back, I can look forward to reading the new Victoria Hislop, THE THREAD, in which she returns to her beloved Greece. It’ll be out in October, just in time for half-term.

 So, if you're off on holiday soon, what are you taking? And, if you've already been, what books did you read and, more importantly, were they any good?

Posted by Imogen Taylor, Editorial

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Headline hits Harrogate

A couple of weekends ago a conspiracy of crime lovers headed to the historic town of Harrogate for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.  As a crime fiction super-fan (and a PR for several crime writers) I was proud to be amongst them. This year’s festival programme was put together by excellent chair Dreda Say Mitchell and celebrated the very best in the genre, from true crime to international thrillers to psychological suspense.  We were very lucky to have seven authors in the line-up: Martina Cole, Joe Finder, Julia Crouch, Duncan Campbell, Oliver Stark, James Forrester and Lisa Gardner. They were accompanied by myself and the Headline entourage, who were on hand to keep the authors wined, dined, beered and ginned! 

The festival began with a glitzy awards ceremony where PD James received an award for her ‘outstanding contribution to crime fiction’ to a standing ovation.  Val McDermid presented her with the award and described her as ‘the Queen Mum of crime fiction’.  As a huge PD James fan, I was very excited to shake her hand in the bar afterwards. 

The festivities continued late into the night, but the Headline team were up at the crack of dawn for an event with the Queen of crime fiction, Martina Cole.  The early morning audience were treated to some fascinating anecdotes about her writing career, TV adaptations and work with prisoners. Writer Mels tweeted that she ‘could listen to Martina Cole talk all day long’, and the audience definitely agreed with her.  You can read an in-depth report about her event on the welovethisbook.com.  As well as appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, Martina was interviewed for the Yorkshire Post and Daily Record, and also appeared BBC Breakfast this morning as part of a piece on the festival.  Her Bentley also attracted a lot of attention, even Lee Child asked if he could have a lift!

Former crime correspondent Duncan Campbell was up next, chairing the ‘Penned In’ panel.  He led a discussion about the rehabilitative power of the written word with three former prisoners who found reading and writing truly helped them inside.  Duncan wrote a brilliant piece about true crime memoirs for the Observer which you can read here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/03/british-crime-memoirs.  Also, do check out Keith B Walter’s blog for a detailed account of the event.

One of the festival highlights for me (as well as the Crime of Passion Theakston’s ale…) was American crime writer Lisa Gardner’s event with Linwood Barclay.  Lisa revealed that she spends three months researching each of her books and shared some amazing stories about her experiences.  She has such an infectious laugh, and had a huge signing queue afterwards. Needless to say we are very excited to be publishing the paperback of LOVE YOU MORE this January, as well as her new hardback CATCH ME in Feb. 

On Saturday Julia Crouch joined three debut novelists on the prestigious New Blood panel which was chaired by the one, the only Val McDermid.  Julia dazzled the crowd with her warmth and humour, and gave the audience a tantalising insight into her new book, the title of which – EVERY VOW YOU BREAK – she revealed exclusively at the festival.

Joe Finder swapped anecdotes with David Baldacci about working with the CIA and Secret Service during a fantastic in-conversation event. Joe told some fascinating stories including one about being trapped in a coffin (they’re soundproof, apparently…)
Authors James Forrester and Oliver Stark networked their socks off.  As well as hosting tables at the ‘Come Die with Me’ dinner event, they spent the weekend chatting to agents, authors, reviewers and punters. They were joined by Sam Hayes, author of the fantastic emotional thriller SOMEONE ELSE’S SON and our debut crime novelist Claire McGowan. As well as organising the Dagger Awards ceremony on the Friday night, Claire managed to match pint for pint some of the UK’s top crime writers!  Festival goers had the chance to read the first line of Claire’s book THE FALL in the festival goodie bags, as well as excerpts from Steven Dunne’s DEITY, Amanda Kyle Williams’ THE STRANGER YOU SEEK, Jason Dean’s THE WRONG MAN and Matthew Quirk’s THE FIVE HUNDRED.

There was such a fantastic atmosphere at the festival – I think everyone who attended will agree that they have never felt prouder to be a crime writer or crime reader.  I think PD James said it best at the opening night party: ‘You won't win the Booker I'm afraid. But don't worry about that…you will be bringing entertainment and relief from the problems of the world to millions of people.’

Thanks to Dreda Say Mitchell, Erica Morris, Sharon Canavar and the rest of the festival team for putting together such a fantastic event, as well as all the authors that attended, and the readers.  One of my favourite moments was chatting in the Howard Marks queue to a fascinating lady who was a real life vehicle forensic officer.  It is moments like these that make it the crème de la crime of festivals, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one suffering from Post-Harrogate depression come Monday morning.  Frankly work just isn’t the same when you’re not sitting in the sunshine with a pint of Theakstons’ ale to hand.  Roll on next year!

Dynamic duo Kim Hardie and Katie Day (Headline) enjoy a drink with Chris Simmons (Crimesquad)

Keith B Walters (Books and Writers), Sam Eades (Headline) and Thomas Stofer (Crime and Publishing/LBA) raise a glass to their missing musketeer Milo Rambles

Posted by Sam Eades, Publicity

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Let's Party Like It's 1986...

It is over a week since Headline's 25th birthday party and the pink dust is beginning to settle, those high heel related wounds have healed and normal service has been well and truly restored at 338 Euston Road. The party was a whirlwind – a roomful of authors, agents, designers, printers, journalists, bloggers, Headliners and a heck of a lot of prosecco.

Now, 25 years is a long time. These snaps from past reports show this to be beautifully true:

Smiling at us from the never ending table of books is (back row, left to right) Production Director Elizabeth Allen, Deputy MD Charles Nettleton, Publicity Director Diane Rowley, Publishing Director Alan Brooke. (Front row, left to right) Rights Director Sarah Thomson, Managing Director Sian Thomas and Publishing Director (now Headline MD), Jane Morpeth.
Oh how times have changed since this photo was taken. The much discussed digital revolution is upon us and shoulder pads are long gone. However, as I was listening to Jane Morpeth’s speech at the party it struck me that Headline’s main aims are as unchanged as the grey Venetian blinds in every office. Proof is in the first ever press release:

‘Central to Headline’s publishing philosophy will be producing books that people actually want to buy’ and Headline would be ‘entering the market with a dynamic modern approach that puts authors first’, and provide authors, agents, suppliers and customers a unique level of friendly, professional service and involvement.'  (7th July 1986)

Never a truer word t'was said! Anyway, enough babbling from me, here is a selection of snaps from the party of the year, nay the century:
Headline turns 25 in a church. Doesn't it look gorge?
A trio of founding Headliners, Tim Hely-Hutchinson (left) and
Sue Fletcher (right) and current Headline MD Jane Morpeth in the middle.

Headline authors who have been published for 20 years plus were awarded a long service medal.
Here is Dee Williams (left) with hers and her lovely editor, Leah Woodburn (right).

The eternally glamourous novelist Jill Mansell.
Some more glamourous ladies. Left to right: Frances Doyle (Headline), Tasmina Perry (author)
and Tasmina's sister and journalist Farah Butt.
The Waterstone's crew with Headline's Kim Hardie on the left.
If there was a category for 'the loveliest photo of publishing types' this would win gold.
Jane Morpeth on the left and Darley Anderson on the right.

The Unusual Suspects.
You are looking at the very heart of the crime fiction community.
Ladies and gents, please meet (left to right): Mike 'the Ripster' Ripley, Mike 'Shots' Stotter, young Jake Kerridge, gorgeous Chris Simmons and Headline's super sleuth, Sam Eades.
Behold two more gorgeous ladies! Adele Parks, Headline author (left) and Amanda Ross, Cactus TV (right)
Well, there you have it, exclusive images from the hottest (quite literally at some points) publishing party of the year. 

Posted by Maura Brickell, Publicity
Follow her on twitter: www.twitter.com/Red_Books

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Headline's Very First Blog Post!

Welcome! We’re very excited that we now have somewhere to air our news and views on all things publishing and beyond. Think of it as a work in progress for now: it will, before we know it, be a slick and well-oiled machine. Until then, be kind…

Anyway, it seems a timely moment to being launching a blog, for tonight is the very night of our 25th birthday party. Yes, Headline is officially a whole 25 years old. As well as the giddy excitement that always consumes Headline towers whenever a big old knees-up draws near, we’re also indulging in a little misty-eyed reflection as we look back over the last quarter decade. And, my goodness, could we tell a few stories. Over the years we’ve known some legendary agents, some incredible booksellers, and of course some amazing authors – from James Patterson to Hillary Clinton to Andrea Levy to Gazza, and everything in between. We’ve waved a heartfelt goodbye to those great bastions of the past: the net book agreement, all-day boozy lunches, our old friend the fax machine. We’ve issued a cheery hello to the innovations that are shaping the future: the ebook, print-on-demand and of course AMAZON. And we’ve flirted with some seriously dubious fashions along the way: the power suits of the '80s, the Rachel cuts of the '90s, the harem pants of, well, now. How far we have come since we started life as a mere twinkle in Tim Hely Hutchinson’s eye.

Seeing as we’re in a nostalgic mood, we thought we’d ask a few long-serving members of the team to tell us about the Headline book that’s most stood out for them over the years. We also coerced them into declaring the length of their service. Here’s what they said.

'For me it’s SMALL ISLAND.  Not only because it’s so good (and THE LONG SONG is even better) but because Andrea Levy was so courageous to write it.  Also I was at the Whitbread (now Costa) book awards when she won, and heard her give an unforgettably brave and moving speech about Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and all those who have ensured that it never became a reality.  She’s one of those people herself, though she’d never acknowledge that, and one of the most interesting and admirable writers I’ve ever met.  Oh, and her own reading of the novel on audio is a knockout.

Headline has published so many fantastic novels but SMALL ISLAND will always have my heart.'
Charlotte Mendelson, Editorial (12 years)

'I've picked Alex Higgins, EYE OF THE HURRICANE. I don't know if the book that I've picked is particularly 'special' to me in terms of its content, although I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants an insight into the extremes of sporting fame, but I couldn't really think of anything else that has been quite so significant to me personally. At the very least it has given me an unending supply of party chat, plus I feel like I've added answers to some crucial points to the publicist's manual: 'how to deal with a stolen bag that randomly appears in your car', 'where to get a whole new outfit in Dublin when your own bag has been lost by Ryan Air', 'what to say when an author lights up and the driver describes the car as 'smelling like his son's bedroom', 'how to assertively decline your author's offer to pretend to be his girlfriend.

Without wanting to sound too much like a self-help book,  there is nothing quite like a good challenge, I think it reminded me of a tougher side to my character that sometimes isn't always apparent, my determination to stick with things once I've started and that I can really get people to do what I want when I need them to. It also reminded me what an amazingly supportive group of people the Headline team can be: whilst on tour I had so many nice emails from people keeping me chipper and everyone was there for me when I needed them ( particular thanks go to Publicity Director Georgina Moore on a transatlantic line from New York and Publisher Bob McDevitt on the streets of Edinburgh whilst we search for an awol author…) '
Helena Towers (10 years)

'I'd read a few of Martina Cole's novels before I picked up her first book DANGEROUS LADY, the novel which I knew had been sitting under her bed for a long time before she'd had the courage to approach the legendary agent Darley Anderson, and which catapulted her to instant literary fame once Headline published it in 1992. I remember reading one scene from the novel on the train to work and literally feeling my skin go clammy and stomach churn - it had such a visceral effect on me and it was one of the most powerful pieces of writing I've ever read. I've never forgotten it.'
Sherise Hobbs (10 years)

'Commissioning and publishing fiction can be an emotional roller coaster for an editor. Publishing Harry Thompson’s first novel THIS THING OF DARKNESS brought with it more than its fair share of triumph and tragedy. 

I commissioned the novel on the basis of just two chapters, something quite risky nowadays.  Those two chapters gave a hint of the narrative richness and historical breadth to come.  However, it was not just my desk that groaned when 250,000 words arrived two years later.  But as soon as I started reading this epic account of Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy, I was smitten. 

It was an extraordinary story of two great friends, an explorer and a naturalist in the nineteenth century, thrilled by their journey of discovery, of big ships and big seas, of Darwin constructing a whole new theory of mankind’s origins that shook to the core the fundamental assumptions of the Western world. Fitzroy could not countenance an attack on his beloved church, his principles of human decency, and subsequently their friendship foundered.  It was a novel of meticulous historical detail as well as heart-pounding suspense and intellectual daring. It captured a pivotal moment in our cultural history: the certainty of a benevolent god died with Darwin’s Origin of Species and only the survival of the fittest remained.

The novel was infused with the energy and love of life that so characterised the author Harry Thompson.  He was charming and mischievous, a natural storyteller and hugely ambitious for his fiction, but always with a twinkle in his eye.

And that twinkle never lost its sparkle even when, approaching publication of THIS THING OF DARKNESS, he complained of being unwell.  My constant reassurances seemed to keep him buoyant, but just before publication he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.  He was 45, had never smoked in his life and always ate organic food.  Ironically, a keen sportsman, his fitness masked the growing cancer.

THIS THING OF DARKNESS was published on 6 June 2005. It received glowing reviews and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.  It was a commercial and critical success.  On 7 November 2005, Harry Thompson passed away, marrying his partner on his deathbed.

If you discard Darwinism, perhaps he’s in a better place, away from the slings and arrows.  But there were many more narrative journeys that Harry was ready to embark upon and we can now only mourn the passing of a colossal talent.  He left the legacy of a great novel and for that we can always be grateful.'
Martin Fletcher, Editorial (10 years)

'The book that has stayed with me the longest from Headline’s list is AFTER YOU’D GONE by Maggie O’Farrell. I read it at a time when I had got through a bumpy patch in a relationship, and was happily out the other side. The poignant story of Alice and her relationships with those around her really struck a chord with me. The ending is not clear-cut, and can be interpreted differently according to your point of view, and I choose to believe it’s a ‘glass half full’ kind of thing. This book made me very grateful to be in a loving, healthy relationship. It’s the first book that made me cry on public transport too!'
Claire Bentley, Creative (9 years)

'Over the last twenty-five years (or, more accurately in my case, twenty-one years) there have been so many books and so many memories... 

I remember the first Headline book I ever read: THE DIETER by Susan Sussman – I bought it from the Pan Bookshop just before my interview and fell in love with everything about it (I particularly liked the cover: a beautifully manicured hand clutching a sugary doughnut – my kind of diet!).

After my interview I went away with a copy of WATCHERS by Dean Koontz – a terrifying horror novel featuring a gorgeous, genetically modified dog – and BUTTERFLY by Kathryn Harvey – a hot and steamy blockbuster about an exclusive club for sexually frustrated women.  I’d just graduated at the time and had been reading the likes of Muriel Spark and Martin Amis and I began to wonder what I’d let myself in for!' 
Clare Foss, Editorial (21 years. She definitely wins.)

Posted by Leah Woodburn, Editorial

Monday, 13 June 2011

Welcome to the Headline blog

We are currently working on our new blog and will be launching soon. Watch this space!