Guest Post: The Emma Press

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The Emma Press is an independent publisher dedicated to producing beautiful, thought-provoking books. It was founded in 2012 by Emma Wright and is based in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. Having been shortlisted in both 2014 and 2015, the Emma Press won the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlet Publishers in 2016.

The Emma Press has announced plans to launch a call for picture book proposals from writers – including those who illustrate their own work – in 2019. The independent publisher, which is based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, will be looking for manuscripts for picture books for children with potential for crossover appeal.

The call opens on 14th January 2019 and closes on 20th April 2019. Writers will be invited to send in full manuscripts for the first round of submissions. All finished picture books will be 32 pages long, including front-matter and end-matter. The editorial team reading the submissions will consist of Yen-Yen Lu, Charlotte Geater, Emma Wright, Richard O’Brien and Philippa Barker.

Successful proposals will be matched with illustrators. The editors are particularly keen to see picture book manuscripts from authors who are underrepresented in publishing. They are keen to see submissions from BAME writers, from writers with immigrant backgrounds, from LGBTQ+ writers, and from disabled writers. They are seeking new stories, and fresh perspectives on the world for a curious, contemporary readership. Publisher Emma Wright said: ‘Picture books are a vital part of childhood. They are where we start to learn about ourselves and the world around us, and about the possibilities of literature, art and the imagination. There is still so much work to be done to make the world of picture books an inclusive, welcoming place where children can see themselves and also learn about others. I am looking forward to building an exciting, outward-looking list for children of all backgrounds.’

The Emma Press’s newest picture book is The Dog Who Found Sorrow, publishing at the end of this month. It is written by Rūta Briede and illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa, who were both award winners at the 2017 International Jānis Baltvilks Awards in Children’s Literature and Book Art. It is translated from the Latvian by Brasliņa.

The Emma Press celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2018, and they won the Michael Marks Award for poetry pamphlet publishers in 2016. They have published a number of illustrated poetry books, including many for children, and they launched their picture books list in early 2018 with Rūta Briede’s award-winning book Queen of Seagulls.

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In 2019, alongside their call for picture book manuscripts, the press is launching Bicki-Books, a series of bijou poetry picture books, which each feature a classic Latvian poem translated into English. Every book is fully illustrated by a top Latvian illustrator. The series is art-directed by Rūta Briede. This will be their first open call for original picture books written in English.

For more information, please email Yen-Yen Lu at yen-yen@theemmapress.com

The Phobos Novels...

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Six girls, six boys.

Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world's craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones. She has signed up for glory. She has signed up for love. She has signed up for a one-way ticket. Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.

Nothing is as it seems on this most ambitious of reality television programmes and each contestant is hiding a secret. For Leonor, it is the scarring from a fire which nearly killed her as a child and which she is desperate to hide from the others. But there are far worse secrets being kept by those in charge of the Genesis Programme who will do anything to protect themselves…

Victor Dixen has sculpted an incredibly well researched, plausible world for his novels. Each idea is carefully laid out and explained, often using diagrams and illustrations to support concepts. As someone who has no idea about the science behind any of these things, it reads convincingly, adding to the reality of the world Dixen has created. For those in the know, there might be more questions or dispute, but to me it reads like a great story! Having heard Victor speak at the South Ken Kids Fest this year, his interest in and knowledge about these things was evident!

The novel is well composed and the chapters are labelled ‘Shot’, ‘Out of Shot’ and ‘Reverse Shot’ depending on the viewpoint of the action. The characters are well developed and intriguing and this range of perspectives allows interesting comparisons and contrasts about motivation and reaction.

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‘Ascension’ is a compelling novel, full of unexpected twists and turns and the sequel, ‘Distortion’, continues in the same vein. Dixen’s writing lulls the reader into a false sense of knowing what to expect before turning everything on its head and leaving you stunned. The third book, ‘Collision’ is out early next year and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Mixing love story, science fiction, treachery, deception and adventure, the ‘Phobos’ novels are perfect for older readers.

Ascension Victor Dixen

Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471406843

Distortion Victor Dixen

Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471407062

Collision Victor Dixen

Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471407239 (Out April 18th 2019 according to Amazon)

One Christmas Wish

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If you had a Christmas wish what would it be? Would you wish for gifts, food or maybe even snow days? In Katherine Rundell’s book, ‘One Christmas Wish’, Theodore has an opportunity to make a special Christmas Eve wish of his own, a wish that turns into a magical Christmas adventure. 

Once again, Theo’s parents are working late on Christmas Eve and he is left alone in the care of his rather neglectful babysitter. Whilst decorating the family Christmas tree with antique ornaments and gazing out of the window, Theodore seizes the opportunity to make a wish on a shooting star. He wishes with every inch of his heart not to be lonely, to be with somebody, to be un-alone. No sooner then the wish has been spoken, it is magically granted. The ornaments on the tree stretch and come to life- their mission, to keep Theodore company on Christmas Eve. 

One Christmas wish can turn into an extraordinary experience when a rocking horse, a robin, an angel and a tin soldier become your friends. Theodore receives just what he wanted for Christmas and in return his Christmas Eve becomes a quest to help his new playmates with their seasonal wishes. Each decoration appears to need something to make it complete again, whilst the rocking horse has an insatiable appetite for eating everything (including chewing through the cables of the Christmas trees lights), the little Robin has forgotten how to sing; the sweet angel has broken wings and the tin soldier misses his true love. Theodore is able to help each of his new friends find exactly what they need and in return, he finds the companionship he desperately craves.

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After a hectic evening of mischief and magic, Theodore wakes on Christmas morning to find that the restorative magic of the shooting star has stretched beyond the Christmas Eve adventure and has helped create a miraculous Christmas morning.  Theo’s parents have caught the Christmas spirit and the home has been transformed into a festive wonderland of decorations, presents, music and food. Theo and his parents share mugs of hot cocoa around the tree and settle in for a Christmas never to be forgotten. Their experiences have helped them to learn that the real treasures are the people in our lives, and the best gift you can give is the gift of your time.

Katherine Rundell’s book, ‘One Christmas Wish’, is a modern Christmas fable and Emily Sutton’s beautiful illustrations, in her characteristic 1950’s style, make this tale feel like a real Christmas classic. The story is a heartwarming reminder that Christmas is more than the gifts and the trimmings, it is a season of love and goodwill. Readers might imagine and write about their own Christmas dilemmas and wishes, create their own magical Christmas decoration characters and plan their own enchanted Christmas Eve adventures. This is a lovely book to read with any KS2 class.

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One Christmas Wish  Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Bloomsbury ISBN: 9781408885734