January brings the snow that
Makes our feet and fingers glow.
February brings the rain, that
Thaws the frozen lake again.
Handheld Towers just got battered by a ferocious little February rainstorm, but it’s all set fair for spring now, all crocuses and birdsong and sunshine. So much nicer for making books in.
Our new bookmarks are out, as are our February Handheld Classics: Una L Silberrad’s Desire (Edwardian feminist romance drama in the Potteries), and Gerald O’Donovan’s Vocations (trouble at ‘t convent).
Each book ordered from the website (free p&p in the UK, folks!) has a bookmark inside. And we’ll be handing them out at book fairs and publishing whatnots over the next few months.
New book cover for the first Handheld Modern
We are very pleased to present the cover of the first book in the Handheld Modern list. After the Death of Ellen Keldberg is a literary thriller by the Danish novelist Eddie Thomas Petersen, and probably falls into the category of Scandi-noir as well, since there is a death. Well, perhaps more than one. But there are no police, and no detectives, and there is no gore (except when a very horrible person gets righteously beaten up by an outraged man). After the Death of Ellen Keldberg is a gripping novel of family secrets in the artists’ town of Skagen, at the very northern tip of Denmark (we’ve been there, coincidentally, but not in deep winter). When Toby Bainton sent us his translation, we could not put it down until we reached the end of the story, so obviously we had to publish it.
The cover took a lot of thinking through. Handheld Press book covers will not feature faceless women, suggesting their disposability and vulnerability, or have titles like The Girl in the Whatever. We think we’ve all had enough of that. In this novel, Ellen Keldberg has a name, and she’s an adult, hence the title. We also wanted a cover that moved away from the fashion for pictures of women walking into peril, to focus on the story’s atmosphere and mood. This photograph illustrates a scene from the story (you’ll have to read it to find out why a naked man is standing in the snow), and presents a man in a vulnerable situation, just for a change. We found this Creative Commons image on Flickr, but it’s been hard to work out anything about the photographer. We think she’s Czech, using a pseudonym, but she’s not answering our messages.
Will bookshops shy away from a book cover featuring a naked man (quite a small one)? We hope not, because this is a fabulous novel: out in early September 2018.
Making our networking début
In January, Handheld attended the Festival of Publishing in London, organised by Inpress for independent publishers. We’ll be going to the Independent Publishers’ Guild Spring Conference in Oxfordshire in March, and to the London Book Fair in April, where we already have meetings booked with publishers and agencies from Spain, Portugal, Finland and (just booked today) the Netherlands. It’s all very exciting. If you’re going to be there too, let us know!
Handheld Press is moving
In early February we began the first part of a complicated house move that will also move Handheld Press to new premises. We’ll be in Reading for two more months, but after Easter (builders willing) we will be moving to Bath, and Handheld Press will have views over the Avon Valley to inspire us to more publishing adventures. If you’re in Bath, Bristol, Somerset or Wiltshire and would like us to come and talk to your book group, your bookshop, your school class, let us know!
Enjoy the crocuses. And do pass on this newsletter to anyone you think might enjoy it.
Kate & David