Bearded Badger – Paul Handley Interview
What was your motivation for setting up Bearded Badger Publishing?
I spent twenty plus years working in operations management roles, most of that time was spent with Rolls-Royce in Derby, and I just felt it was time for a change! I left R-R in 2015 and returned to study at the University of Derby to do a BA in English and followed that with a MA in Publishing. It was during this period that I dreamed up the idea of launching a small press here in the East Midlands, primarily to try and support the wonderful writing community in this part of the UK. I think the Midlands sometimes gets a bit of a raw deal – it’s neither North nor South – and as such I think it often gets forgotten about, particularly in publishing! I think my passion for books (in all their forms), along with my skill set gained from operations and project management roles over the past twenty years seem to weld nicely together, bolstered by my new learnings from my MA course, standing us in good stead as we move forward and grow.
What has been the biggest challenge in setting up an indie press?
Well the global pandemic hasn’t helped much! I set Bearded Badger up with a view of complementing the publishing side of the business with running pop-up book nights in Derby, selling books from my favourite indie presses. We managed one just before the pandemic hit and it was a huge success. The aim was that this would help provide a revenue stream whilst we launched the publishing side of the business, and of course, that just hasn’t been possible. The pandemic also shifted the position of Arts Council England funding applications as they put new applications on hold, focussing on existing businesses that had received funding to help them through the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, this was 100% the right thing to do, but it scratched another potential cash source for us off the list!
Also, I’m still working in a non-publishing job at the moment to pay the bills etc., not to mention the time spent over summer working to complete my MA, so the balancing act has been challenging at times – some weeks it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day!
The biggest challenge, however, has been learning on the fly – I’ve never done this before!
What has surprised you most whilst publishing your first book?
For many months I felt a little bit of a fraud – a publisher with nothing published – but the support of existing small presses has been brilliant. Similarly, the community that envelopes the industry has also been really supportive of what we are trying to do, which has been great.
I’ve been really lucky. Drew Gummerson, the author of our debut book Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel, has been really patient with us as we’ve gone through the process of getting the book ready for print, and in many ways it has felt like a truly collaborative experience, which when you consider what is going on around us with COVID-19, is a really nice feeling.
What’s next for Bearded Badger?
The book is out for publication on 26 November which will be a major milestone for us – no longer a publisher with nothing published! Sadly, we can’t have a physical event for the launch of the book, but we will be doing something online to mark the occasion for sure. Drew has a great writing style, and we’ve just had copies back from the printers and the book looks fantastic!
I´m hoping 2021 will be a big year for us: we launch our poetry range, TRA[verse], which I’m really excited about as we have some fantastic poets involved, with quite rich and diverse styles and subjects covered. We are also planning on publishing another three or four books during the year, and I’m currently in the process of trying to firm the next book up, which hopefully will be published around March or April.
Finally, if life returns to something resembling normality again, we can relaunch the pop-up book nights around the region, building our community of writers and readers further. How can readers support Bearded Badger?
Buying our books from our website is always a good start! But seriously, any form of engagement on social media helps us a lot with getting word out about Bearded Badger and what we do.
Supporting the industry as a whole helps as well: buy direct from indie publishers if you can, or use indie bookshops (our local favourites are Scarthin Books in Cromford, and Five Leaves in Nottingham have been great throughout this pandemic). 2020 has been a rough old year, so any form of support across the industry is valued so much.
Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel by Drew Gummerson – Review
Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel invites you to step into the shoes of a hotel employee, scrubbing dishes and wondering how you’re still doing this five years on. Gummerson creates a truly immersive writing style, taking the reader on an outrageous journey filled with comical and shocking tangents as they navigate the unfairness of the world.
It can be easy to feel that the world is stacked against you, that you’ve got it worse than anyone else. The best way to see otherwise is through perspective, and this first novel by Bearded Badger Publishing goes on the hunt for someone who might just have the worst luck on the planet.
Brazen and unrelenting, this is a novel about resilience, not backing down in the face of adversity, and accepting that the world is a hard place to live in, but that doesn’t mean it’s not somewhere worth living. With a vast host of characters all seen through the humorous and quick-to-judge tint of the narrator, this is a book brimming with wit and cringe-worthy moments that will keep you coming back for more.
If you’re on the hunt for something new, something daring, bold, and truly audacious, book yourself in for a stay at the Flamingo Hotel.
Pre-order here for publication on 26 November.