Many moons ago, when I had just discovered the potential of online critique sites, I dusted off the opening chapters of my novella, Gift of the Raven, and posted the opening chapters on You Write On. A few weeks later, to my great delight, they shared a spot in the top ten with two books written by people I had grown quite friendly with. One was a novel set in a Welsh put village that examined the bitter conflict generated by the 1984 miners’ strike. The other was a children’s story about a half-vampire who couldn’t fly and didn’t like to drink blood.
By the time I had made up my mind to publish Gift of the Raven with the author collective, Triskele Books, I had all but lost touch with Kit Habianic, the author of the miners’ tale. And Lorraine Mace, the children’s author, had given up finding a publisher for her little vampire and had turned instead to writing adult crime fiction. Which makes it all the more poignant that this week sees the launch of both Habianic’s Until Our Blood Is Dry and Mace’s Vlad the Inhaler.
I knew Vlad had found the right home with his American publisher, Little Roni, the moment I saw the back cover for the book. All those years ago, on YWO, we had fallen in love with the opening scene where Vlad is punished by his evil aunt and uncle for trying to eat a peach. There on the cover was very peach – two little fang holes piercing its downy skin and a drop of juice running down like a tear. In illustrator, Ellen C Sallas, they had found someone who clearly ‘got’ Vlad.
Until Our Blood Is Dry found its home with Welsh publisher, Parthian Books. The launch party was held in a crowded upper room at the Wheatsheaf in Fitzrovia – a pub once frequented by Dylan Thomas. As if this wasn’t distinguished company enough, the event was opened by distinguished Welsh poet, Danny Abse, who was followed by another, much younger Rhondda poet, Sion Tomos Owen. Owen’s self-styled rant about the desperation felt by a new wave of unemployed was the perfect prelude to Habianic’s quiet reading from the opening of her novel. Taking the voice of foreman, Glyn Pritchard, she captures the despair and bitterness of a man who has been promised that, if he can only keep the coal moving, his pit – and his job – might be spared the chop.
I am incredibly proud of my association with both of these books. It’s a happy coincidence, and utterly fitting, that they should see the light of day in the same week. Here’s hoping they will both find the many readers they deserve.
My review of Until Our Blood Is Dry can be found on the Triskele Book Club.
You can read a review of Vlad the Inhaler on the Book Muse site.