We rounded up 2016 with a good ol’ Christmas party with a twist. The year has been a tough one for a number of reasons, so we wanted to end on a bright note by hearing from three people in the publishing and book world who had a rather good year.
“As a publisher have the guts to do what you believe in.”
Mairi Kidd from Barrington Stoke began by talking about their graphic novel Alpha, which follows Alpha Coulibaly on his journey from Côte d’Ivoire in search of his family and a new life, emblematic of the refugee crisis today. “I believe that our job [as publishers] is about broadening horizons and broadening minds,” she explains. They originally bought the project based on passion – Nick Barley from the Edinburgh International Book Festival championed it, and so it became a performance for the festival’s opening night. Serendipity. What lessons can she offer? “Hope Brexit doesn’t happen when you publish something! And projects you love can always keep growing. Books should have integrity. As a publisher have the guts to do what you believe in.”
Next, Peggy Hughes of the Dundee Literary Festival, takes us through their year in numbers. 10. They are 10 years old! 150. HG Wells would be 150 this year, which brought them to the idea of time machines and exploring the past and future. 300+. That’s the number of books so far in their wishing tree project. 0. No visitors from Finland! 50+ events. They were 49 in the List Magazine’s Hot 100, and Peggy was listed as the 51st most influential person in Dundee. Being embedded in the cultural fabric of somewhere is important. 3.14. Pi… or cake. “We are fuelled by cake,” she laughs, which is handy has they hosted a brilliant tea dance with DC Thomson which was different but a perfect fit for the year. I. An imaginary number. The square root of -1, because “festivals are a place of imagination!” And finally? Infinity. So many people supporting each other. “We’re all just a giant lovely ecology.”
Finally, Rachel Arthur of new magazine Boom Saloon talks us through how they formed and Kickstarted the project, democratising creativity for good. “If you’re doing something creatively we want to showcase that,” she explains. They tackle a different social project per issue. They didn’t open it to submissions, but still many came. From local people to others in New York, they got a host of incredible contributors on everything from advertising to being a creative nomad, bestselling poets (Rupi Kaur!), to what it means to be bohemian. Rachel admits she’s stunned to have these in Boom Saloon’s first issue. “We think we know what we want, but until you see something you might not know you want it.” They’re only on their first issue, but it’s already a little family around the world.
See? 2016 wasn’t all doom and gloom. See you in 2017.