Costa-shortlisted author Rebecca F John will launch a Wales-based independent publisher, Aderyn Press, in January 2022 “as an act of defiance”.
Aderyn Press is named after the Welsh word for "bird" and will publish “spooky”, historical, and speculative fiction, John said. It has partnered with the Penllergare Trust, a restoration project based at Penllergare Valley Woods, in South Wales, to donate a percentage of profits from website sales to replanting efforts on the historic site. The first two titles will come next year, written by John herself and Irish author Elaine Canning.
John said: “When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I was both elated to hear reports that book sales were up and angered by the government’s apparent disregard for both the impact of the pandemic on the arts and the importance of the arts to our collective wellbeing.”
She was inspired by an interview with Michael Sheen in which the actor emphasised the importance of the arts, describing it “like a call to arms". Sheen recently co-founded an initiative to open the media industry, A Writing Chance, to be delivered by New Writing North accompanied by research from Northumbria University.
John, who is based in Wales, added: “It is my aim and intention that Aderyn publications are, wherever possible, books that give back. I hope, therefore, that the partnership with the Penllergare Trust is both long-lasting and the first of many. I am extremely excited to hit the ground running in 2022 and to start planning Aderyn’s titles for 2023 and beyond.”
The first title will be John’s own second novel, following her Costa-shortlisted debut The Haunting of Henry Twist with The Empty Greatcoat (Serpent's Tail), a speculative reimagining of her great grand-uncle’s time fighting on Gallipoli during the First World War. The novel is based on Sergeant Francis House’s journal, which John still has in her possession. It will be published in January 2022.
The second title, The Sandstone City, comes from Canning (pictured below left), an Irish writer living in Swansea. John acquired rights directly from Canning and it will be published later on in 2022.
John said of the debut: “Canning has many years’ experience working as a public engagement professional in arts and culture, and her breadth of literary knowledge is evident in a spectacular debut, narrated by 88-year-old Michael Doherty, who has been dead for just a few days and who is refusing to pass over until he has uncovered the trauma his granddaughter Sarah is secretly suffering.”
Canning said: “I am so thrilled to be publishing my debut novel with Aderyn Press in its inaugural year and to be working with the brilliant Costa-nominated Rebecca F John. It is such an honour to have the opportunity to share the story of Michael and Sarah and their responses to family, love and loss.”
John will be opening submissions in the autumn and would like to hear from both agented and unagented authors. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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