Friday sees the launch party for two new Calder Wood Press titles, by Mary Johnston and Mercedes Clarasó. The event, in Dalkeith library, will feature readings by both writers, plus Scottish, Catalan and other fiddle tunes from Jim McIntosh.
Mary’s booklet came about as a result of a conversation with James Robertson, publisher of Kettillonia Press. He said that publishing short stories in pamphlet form was difficult, and that the titles didn’t sell as well as poetry pamphlets, unless the writer was well known. Then Mary mentioned to me that she had a collection of short stories on Biblical themes in the Doric, but she was having difficulty finding a publisher. A light-bulb went on, and I thought, “Why don’t I publish them?,” and the discussions started. She sent me the MSS of four stories, and I liked them very much, but she thought that it needed a fifth story to complete the sequence. She was right, of course, and when the fifth story, Kennt His Faither, was written it became the title story. The cover illustration is based on a pencil drawing by Mary’s daughter-in-law, Rosaly Johnston.
Mercedes’ father was Catalan, and her mother was Scottish. She taught Spanish and Catalan at the University of St Andrews for many years. She is well-known as a novelist and short story writer, and she’s had many poems published in magazines. I met her at the Dalkeith Writers’ Group when I was visiting. She told me she’d come to realise that she had written several poems about unicorns, and she’d wondered about collecting them all together. I thought it was such an interesting idea that I asked her to send me the MSS. I found the poems charming and original, and I knew immediately I wanted to publish them.
It was a great pleasure working with these two ladies, editing the texts, shaping and designing the books. Both had very definite and freely expressed ideas and opinions – something I like in authors. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that all three of us are OAPs, that we can say what we think without fuss or faff.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the launch party, and I’m sure both titles will be popular. The next one will be Jo Gibson’s poetry collection, The Heart Is Always Full, which will be available from late November.
What’s the future for Calder Wood Press? Well, I’m in discussion with four authors already for 2008, three poets and a short story writer. I don’t want to plan any further ahead than that.