Notes from the North: Issue 3
‘HarperNorth to Bring New Energy to Northern Publishing Scene.’
Despite the advent of accessibility schemes such as the SpareRoom Project, which offers free accommodation to aspiring publishers, the fact that London is the publishing centre of the UK is one of the biggest barriers for anyone living outside the capital. Big trade names such as Hachette UK, Pan Macmillan and Penguin Random House all have their UK headquarters in London. This leaves those outside of London little opportunity to work locally since smaller, independent publishers are typically unable to offer many jobs.
Enter Harper North. Based in Manchester, the newly established division of HarperCollins is setting out to expand regional publishing and increase access for authors outside of London, promising “books from the north for the world.” The move represents an exciting addition to the city, and Executive Publisher Oli Malcolm declared:
I am delighted to share the news that HarperNorth will be open for business very soon, based in one of the UK’s fastest-growing cultural hubs, and increasing access for authors outside of London. We are looking forward to publishing innovative, fantastic books with regional, national and international appeal, and I can’t wait to hear from passionate publishing talent that wants to help shape this exciting new division.
In its first year, the division plans to publish up to twenty titles across a range of genres, though the team have expressed a particular interest in adult fiction and non-fiction.
The fact that this development has come from one of the country’s largest publishing groups is particularly exciting and certainly indicates a positive move towards diversifying the UK literary scene. As well as opening up opportunities in the industry to aspiring publishers living in the North, the expansion promises to highlight regional authors; a change that many feel is long overdue. “This is a great example of HarperCollins growing its footprint and capitalising on our current success by investing in new markets and driving sales,” said HarperCollins CEO Charlie Redmayne. “HarperNorth is a natural extension to our operations in London, Glasgow, Honley and Dublin, and I look forward to seeing Oli, who has done such a fantastic job with HarperNonFiction and Avon, shape this new team and its list from the ground up.”
The indie publishing scene has flourished outside of London and the introduction of more trade publishing offices in the North may appear as a threat to local literary culture. Indeed, past concern that large publishers steal the glory from smaller presses who have intimately nurtured an author’s talent was noted in a Guardian article in 2015, which suggested that “it sometimes feels as though smaller independents are the research development departments for big publishers.”
However, in an ever-expanding world of publishing, and particularly amidst the recent self-publishing boom, there is perhaps space for both tributaries of the industry to coexist. As authors become increasingly aware of the need to select the right publisher for their work, the introduction of more easily accessible trade publishing in the North should inject a lot more energy into the development of the region’s commercial literary scene.
If you are based in the North and currently looking for publishing positions, keep your eyes peeled. HarperNorth are currently recruiting for a Publishing Director and other roles will be advertised shortly. Applications for the position of Publishing Director only should be made directly to Oli Malcolm at email@example.com. Additionally, if you are an aspiring author, the team is currently accepting submissions and have asked for manuscripts to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Review - Boy Parts, Eliza Clark
Boy Parts, the debut novel from Newcastle-born writer Eliza Clark, is a brilliantly dark and humorous exploration of violence, gender and class set between Newcastle and London.
The beautiful and alluring Irina is an erotic photographer who scouts men from the street to model in her extreme and sadistic artwork. After an incident at her bar job, she is placed on sabbatical and offered a slot at an exhibition in Hackney. The narrative of Boy Parts is framed through the process of Irina’s artistic creation, as well as her many sordid nights of sex, intoxication and her fascination with extreme cinema.
Boy Parts is not for the faint-hearted; Irina’s first-person narration leaves little to the imagination. She is deeply unlikeable and, some might say, toxic, although Clark’s superb writing leaves the reader rooting for her anti-heroine. Through Irina’s relationship with ‘Eddie from Tesco’, the latest in a string of male models, Clark expertly explores the boundaries of gender, sexuality and consent.
As a creative from a working-class background in the North of England, Irina must deal with the frustrations of trying to break into the tight-knit, nepotistic London art scene, which Clark explores with deft wit:
“Your accent is quite charming, you know. You’re from Newcastle, aren’t you?”
“Born and bred.”
“I went there once; there was a thing on at the Baltic. It was actually quite nice there, which I was really surprised about.”
”I bet you’re so pleased to get this. The opportunities are so… limited up there.”
She’s looking at me like I clawed my way here out of a f*cking coal mine.
Everyone should read Boy Parts, Northern or not. It may be her debut novel, but Clark’s literary voice is memorably strong and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for her.