Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know Leamington Books, a publisher behind a wide range of titles, from forgotten classics to contemporary Scottish writers, as well as an exciting new novella project.
What’s your story?
Leamington Books was very much a lockdown company. We began trading in November 2020 with our first 14 titles appearing in 2021, and a further 12 in 2022. Believe it or not, the enforced calm of COVID lockdown in 2020 was helpful in allowing us time to plan and prepare, although this was not everyone’s story. Still, perhaps comfort can be taken that while the uncertainty and pain of those lockdowns was economically disastrous for so many, we were at least able to use some of that time to begin to grow something good.
One drive for setting up the company was to republish the works of one of Scotland’s best storytellers, John Herdman. John has been published over seven decades, and written many books – – and having secured the rights to republish several of them, we digitised his work with the help of Creative Scotland’s ‘Go Digital’ fund, and brought his amazing gothic fiction back to readers. Our first books of John’s were Imelda, Clapperton and Ghostwriting.
Being a new publisher, we were not in a position to solicit submissions, and so company founder Peter Burnett began scouting for work online, literally looking through scores of writing blogs, Twitter accounts and other places online where new writers published.
This is how we discovered Colin Burnett, whose A WORKING CLASS STATE OF MIND has been our best seller. Some of Colin’s work was originally published as a blog, and so we approached him and began working on creating a book. The book has since been a great success and launched Colin’s career. Colin has Asperger’s Syndrome and is dyslexic and dyspraxic, and this working experience led Leamington Books to develop an interest in neurodivergent, disabled and chronically ill writers and editors, and we began taking measures to ensure that every submission opening or writing and job opportunity strongly encourages these works, individuals and narratives.
In 2021 we became a Community Interest Company on the basis of carrying this goal into the future. We are delighted to have become a country finalist for The Bookseller’s Small Press of the Year Award in 2022.
Tell us about some of your key stories.
In 2022 we have published Carla the debut poetry collection from Carla Woodburn; and Polaris by Scotland’s premier Gaelic writer Marcas Mac an Tuairneir.
We have also as a part of our story instituted a training program for young publishers; sourcing an out-of-print classic, and re-issuing it, training in the entire publishing cycle. Our trainees have produced books such as The Crux by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; Hell by Henri Barbusse; and The Black Vampyre by Uriah Derick D’arcy.
What draws you to a story? What makes a good story?
In terms of what draws us to a story, it is all in the telling! That is to say that the oldest and most hackneyed tale can be told and retold in new ways, from different points of view for example, or in different language, by a different person, with or without adverbs, back to front or from a perspective never before heard. So everything about story for our team, is usually around who is telling it, and how.
What stories should we look forward to or check out this year?
Our training programme is about to republish The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; and we are about to launch an ambitious project telling stories from all over the world, and publishing novellas. We believe the novella is the perfect form for both the new and experienced writer and so we are launching Novella Express to showcase new novellas, later in 2022.
Details will be available at the web address: novella.express