Books:

Cel­e­brat­ing a county pub­lisher

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE -

Ahus­band and wife are cel­e­brat­ing the 20th an­niver­sary of the pub­lish­ing com­pany they run from their Cromer home. Salt has be­come renowned for find­ing and nur­tur­ing new tal­ent. Its au­thors have twice been nom­i­nated for the Booker prize and shortliste­d for many more lit­er­ary awards.

Chris and Jen Hamil­ton-Emery re­ceive many hun­dreds of manuscript­s a year, pub­lish­ing around 15. “We pub­lish books that tell a story that hasn’t been told be­fore, and that are writ­ten well, that read­ers will en­joy and re­mem­ber,” said Jen.

“We have met and worked with many fab­u­lous writ­ers and learnt so much – the world of books is end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing – and there’s al­ways some­thing new to dis­cover. We’ve had lots of

laughs along the way, trav­elled the world and been to a fair few par­ties! Life cer­tainly hasn’t been dull.”

Their big­gest suc­cesses have in­cluded Ali­son Moore’s The Light­house be­ing shortliste­d for the Booker Prize and the Na­tional Book Awards, and Chris win­ning an Amer­i­can Book Award for ser­vices to Na­tive Amer­i­can Po­etry.

Last year they turned to Twit­ter to urge read­ers to buy #JustOneBoo­k. “I was lit­er­ally chat­ting on Twit­ter and within a few hours, we’d raised thou­sands. Post­ing it had such an amaz­ing im­pact,” said Chris.

The cou­ple, who have three chil­dren, are also writ­ers them­selves; Chris is a poet and Jen a play­wright.

They pub­lish au­thors from around the globe but this sum­mer they have launched sev­eral nov­els with Nor­folk links in­clud­ing:

HAVERSCROF­T BY SALLY HAR­RIS

Sally Har­ris is a Nor­wich fam­ily law so­lic­i­tor and mother-of-three and her first novel is a ghost story, in­spired by Nor­folk.

“I have loved ghost sto­ries since I was a small child so it felt very nat­u­ral to write one,” said Sally. “Fear is one of our

strong­est emo­tions, es­sen­tial to our sur­vival. Dark cor­ners, shift­ing shad­ows or un­fa­mil­iar noises can just as eas­ily spook us to­day as they did our an­ces­tors over mil­len­nia. Peo­ple never tire of a good scare.”

Her haunt­ing novel merges the past and present, and real and imag­ined places.

“I have never seen a ghost but would ab­so­lutely love to do so!” she said. “The old ser­vant’s bed­room at the rear of our home has of­ten made vis­i­tors ex­claim about a ‘bad’ feel­ing. No-one can de­fine it more than that but they all make a hasty exit to the stairs. I feel noth­ing my­self but too many un­con­nected vis­i­tors have said the same thing.”

The house in her story was in­spired by her own 1840s house in Nor­wich, melded with fea­tures from some of Nor­folk’s beau­ti­ful coun­try houses and parks. “It is so clear, even now I some­times take a walk through its rooms and climb the wide stair­case or sit on the small metal seat be­neath the wil­low trees and watch the wa­ter rip­ple across the pond,” she said. The vil­lage church in her novel was based on Surling­ham church and the char­ac­ters ar­rived in her mind nine years ago. She en­rolled in evening classes to help her write her first novel and said: “My first con­tact with Salt was an email from Christo­pher Hamil­ton-Emery of­fer­ing to pub­lish Haverscrof­t. That got things off to a crack­ing good start!

“Salt is one of the UK’s fore­most in­de­pen­dent pub­lish­ers and any writer would be proud to be­come one of their au­thors. Their pas­sion for books and their au­thors runs through all they do.

“The lit­tle packs of salt, hand­writ­ten notes from Jen­nifer Hamil­ton-Emery inside each or­der of books is not some­thing that comes with the big­ger pub­lish­ing houses. And of course, like me, they live in Nor­folk. What’s not to like?”

AF­TER ABSALON BY SI­MON OKOTIE

Si­mon Okotie has writ­ten three nov­els in­spired by the Nor­wich man, nick­named Marigold, who used to wear yel­low rub­ber gloves to un­of­fi­cially di­rect traf­fic on the city’s inner ring road.

“I never met him, but, like so many peo­ple, I would oc­ca­sion­ally see him in Nor­wich dur­ing the 80s, un­of­fi­cially di­rect­ing traf­fic on the inner ring road wear­ing yel­low rub­ber gloves,” said Si­mon.

“One of the things that in­ter­ested me, grow­ing as a mixed race child in ru­ral Nor­folk at that time, was that he was a black man, and that he seemed to be much-loved.

“I was also in­ter­ested in why he did what he did – some­thing I have never found a sat­is­fac­tory an­swer to. I ended up work­ing in trans­port plan­ning and writ­ing nov­els, so he was an ob­vi­ous start­ing point for my main char­ac­ter! I have been try­ing to un­der­stand the mind of this char­ac­ter ever since.”

Si­mon grew up in Thet­ford, Swaffham and Nec­ton and Af­ter Absalon is the fi­nal book of his tril­ogy about an in­ves­ti­ga­tor try­ing to trace a trans­port ad­vi­sor. It has been hailed as ec­cen­tric, au­da­cious and com­pelling.

YOUR FAULT BY AN­DREW COWAN

An­drew Cowan is the course direc­tor for the Univer­sity of East Anglia’s Creative Writ­ing Pro­gramme.

His lat­est novel recre­ates, in in­tense and vi­brant de­tail, a 1960s and 70s mid­dle-Eng­land child­hood.

Told from the point of view of a child, from tod­dler to teen, it merges day-to-day routine with a loom­ing sense of dread as themes of mem­ory, blame and guilt emerge.

‘I was also in­ter­ested in why he did what he did – some­thing I have never found a sat­is­fac­tory an­swer to’

RIGHT: Haverscrof­t by Sally Har­ris

BE­LOW: Salt Pub­lish­ing’s Chris and Jen Hamil­ton-Emery with Man Booker prize nom­i­nated ti­tle, The Light­house by Ali­son Moore.

BE­LOW: Af­ter Absalon by Si­mon Okotie; Your Fault by An­drew Cowan

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