Small Press Celebration: Bitter Lemon Press

Founded in 2003 in London, Bitter Lemon Press publishes thrillers and crime fiction by writers from all over the world, Japan to South America, Eastern Europe to New Zealand.

Many of the translated books have won awards in their homelands and these are the first translated editions in English.
Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet and The Fragility of Bodies by Sergio Olguin were both shortlisted for the CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger Award 2020. The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda has also had some amazing reviews this year.

They are publishing the new Guido Guerrieri novel by Italian bestselling novelist Gianrico Carofiglio called ‘The Measure of Time’ in March which is very exciting. And have the first book set in Uruguay called ‘Crocodile Tears’ by Mercedes Rosende due out in January. Plus, ‘The Transparency of Time’ by Leonardo Padura, Cuba’s greatest living novelist, in June which is bound to get lots of media attention.

The latest in the highly successful Guido Guerrieri series, shortlisted for the 2020 STREGA prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award. It is a tense courtroom drama set in Southern Italy, but also a tale about passion and the passage of time. Guerrieri had fallen in love decades earlier with Lorenza, a beautiful older woman who was in his eyes sophisticated and intellectual. She made wonderful love and opened his mind to high literature, but ultimately treated him as a plaything and discarded him. One spring afternoon Lorenza shows up in Guerrieri’s office. Her son Jacopo, a small-time delinquent, stands convicted of the first-degree murder of a local drug dealer. Her trial lawyer has died, so for the appeal, she turns to Guerrieri. He is not convinced of the innocence of Lorenza’s son, nor does he have fond memories of how their relationship ended two decades earlier. Nevertheless, he accepts the case; perhaps to pay a melancholy homage to the ghosts of his youth.

On a stormy summer day the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. But the youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. The police are convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the murders. The truth is revealed through a skilful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbours, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

The story is set in Uruguay, it starts in a Montevideo prison where Diego waits for his lawyer, the slick Dr Antinucci, always raybanned, chain-smoking, never frisked by the prison guards. Diego, betrayed by his partner in crime, was arrested for kidnapping a businessman. But charges will not be pressed. The businessman and his wife have described Diego as duped by his partner, certainly no master criminal, so he will be let out. But Antonucci has plans for him, a favour must be returned for his surprising freedom, he must join forces with the psychopath the Hobo and hold up an armoured truck in Montevideo. The mad and hilarious caper includes the robbery of course which degenerates into appalling violence, a few murders, and the general bungling of affairs by all the men involved. It is the belittled women, including Police Inspector Lima, who end up the true heroines of the story. This seemingly classic lowlife crime story has a powerful message: never, ever underestimate the women. All told with excoriating wit and humour from the Rio de la Plata.

Head over to the website to find out more and sign up for the newsletter.

Thanks to the team for sending me all the lovely book covers and letting me know what’s coming up.


Small Press Celebration: Love Letters to Poe

Love Letters to Poe is a literary magazine based in Maryland, US, celebrating new Gothic stories and poetry. Within its pages you’ll find horror, romance, wonder, mystery and terror. Published monthly but with new stories and poems released weekly on the website.

You can find Love Letters to Poe online, on Instagram, Patreon where there is an interactive Gothic story, Twitter and Facebook and check out the podcast.

Once the first volume is released the plan is to collate an annual collection. If you’d like a free copy of the inaugural edition sign up to the newsletter.

Thanks to editor Sara Crocell Smith for sending over all the info and the beautiful artwork for the cover and logo.


Small Press Celebration: Inkandescent

Inkandescent is a small press based in Dalston, East London and the very first independent publisher being celebrated here at

Founders Justin and Nathan
Inkandescent was founded in 2016 by Justin David and Nathan Evans to champion ideas and voices underrepresented in mainstream publishing. Threads, their first publication (and collaboration) was funded by Arts Council England and long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize, of which their second publication AutoFellatio by James Maker was the inaugural winner. The Guardian described their third publication The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett as an ‘impressive debut’.

Justin David is their publisher; he’s also a writer and photographer. A child of Wolverhampton, he now lives and worked in London, graduated from the MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, has read for Polari Literary Salon at Royal Festival Hall and was a founder member of Leather Lane Writers with Kit de Waal. His novella The Pharmacist is published by Inkandescent.

Nathan Evans is their editor; he’s also a writer, director and performer whose work has been funded by the Arts Council, toured with the British Council, archived in the British Film Institute, broadcast on Channel Four and presented at venues including Royal Court Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and Royal Vauxhall Tavern. His collection CNUT is published by Inkandescent.

Championing underrepresented writers from LGBTQ+, BAME, working class and financially disadvantaged backgrounds and bringing new diverse voices to the readership.

They’ve got some really interesting new books coming out soon that you should check out!

Twenty-four-year-old Billy is beautiful and sexy. Albert—The Pharmacist—is a compelling but damaged older man, and a veteran of London’s late ’90s club scene. After a chance meeting in the heart of the London’s East End, Billy is seduced into the sphere of Albert. An unconventional friendship develops, fuelled by Albert’s queer narratives and an endless supply of narcotics. Alive with the twilight times between day and night, consciousness and unconsciousness, the foundations of Billy’s life begin to irrevocably shift and crack, as he fast-tracks toward manhood. This story of lust, love and loss is homoerotic bildungsroman at its finest.

Forthcoming anthology of stories from the edges, MAINSTREAM, will be released in the summer of 2021 and is available for pre-order now on partner website, UNBOUND.
(I’m a backer!)

Mainstream brings thirty authors in from the margins to occupy centre-page. Queer storytellers. Working class wordsmiths. Chroniclers of colour. Writers whose life experiences give unique perspectives on universal challenges, whose voices must be heard. And read.

The collection places emerging writers alongside some of our favourite established authors. Contributors are Aisha Phoenix, Alex Hopkins, Chris Simpson, DJ Connell, Elizabeth Baines, Gaylene Gould, Giselle Leeb, Golnoosh Nour, Hedy Hume, Iqbal Hussain, James Maker, Jonathan Kemp, Julia Bell, Juliet Jacques, Justin David, Kathy Hoyle, Keith Jarrett, Kerry Hudson, Kit de Waal, Leone Ross, Lisa Goldman, Lui Sit, Nathan Evans, Neil Bartlett, Neil Lawrence, Neil McKenna, Ollie Charles, Padrika Tarrant, Paul McVeigh, Philip Ridley, Polis Loizou.

We’re still crowdfunding for this project. Great news! Mainstream has been funded! And it wouldn’t have been possible without so much support from our loyal customers.

We’ve reached our 100% minimum target, which means we can pay the authors and print the book. We’re now aiming for 200% so we can pay also our team of designers, editors, readers, etc. Please continue to help us get the word out there.

There’s still time on the clock for your friends to have their names printed in the back of the book. We’ll continue to keep everyone in the loop as the book makes its way through the publishing process. We’ve received around half the stories from the authors and are about to begin editing. Exciting!

Also coming in 2021—we’ve sat on this for a while but the cat is now out of the bag: we’re overjoyed to announce that we’ve acquired the rights to publish Neil Bartlett’s new book of fiction!

‘Address Book’ is a collection of seven interconnecting stories spanning three centuries. From a new millennium civil partnership celebration to profane love in a Victorian tenement, from a council-flat bedroom at the height of the AIDS crisis to a doctor’s living-room in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, these stories lead us through decades of change to discover hope in the strangest of places. In paperback and ebook from October 2021.

If any of this gets your fancy then you can follow the team on Twitter Facebook Instagram and visit their website where you can sign up for their newsletter to be the first to hear about their titles.

Thank you to Justin for sending me the photos and info to put this together.

books, fun stuff, upcoming

Independent Publishers – a celebration

Starting this month I am going to be celebrating some of the incredible independent publishers and small presses out there, putting incredible books out into the world, and hopefully onto your bookshelves.

2020 has been a particularly terrible year for lots of reasons – I don’t think I need to name them, but for small businesses like these, it’s been a disaster. With no festivals, bookshops closed and no in person events, it’s had a dramatic effect on book sales for small presses.

So, as Christmas approaches, buy books, but not from that website named after a river in South America, instead buy direct from the publishers or order through your local independent bookshop – most of them are online.

And please do join in celebrating indie publishers with me, share the posts, sign up for their newsletters, and buy, buy, buy their books. Or you’ll be missing out!