West Yorkshire History – Venturing From Our Comfort Zone

Blue Poppy Publishing Goes Beyond Devon

Just a Small North Devon Publisher

When I started Blue Poppy Publishing in 2016, I simply imagined it would add an air of respectability to my self-published fantasy novel, “Children of the Wise Oak“. I had seen the lovely imprint that Liz Shakespeare uses, for her Letterbox Books, and I wanted something like that.

However, once I had gone through the tortuous process of buying ISBNs (which are MUCH cheaper by the hundred and even cheaper still by the thousand) and setting up distribution through Nielsen, I realised that many self-publishing authors would want help with the process, and so the idea was born to publish other local North Devon authors if they wanted it.

Beyond Devon’s Borders

Fast forward almost four years to the present day, spring 2020 (in the middle of a global pandemic and lockdown) and we are publishing more authors and books than I can hold in my little head. And by no means all of them are from Devon any more. In fairness, one of the first authors I had the privilege to help publish was Joni Dee, who lives and works in London. His gripping contemporary political espionage thriller “And the Wolf Shall Dwell” is largely set in that great city with a vivid and harrowing depiction of terrorism which is written so well it walks a tightrope of conflicting emotions… well, read it you’ll see.

But apart from Joni, we kept it pretty much exclusively North Devon/Devon for a few years. But this year, we are pushing the boundaries and I am scared! Scared bcause it is MUCH harder to sell a book in Devon if the customer cannot relate to it. We do really well with “Barefoot on the Cobbles” set in Clovelly, or “A Breat of Moonscent” a memoir of growing up in wartime Dolton. But we don’t do half as well with my own books, set in iron-age Europe, or with something like “Ethereal Tenant” a tense speculative fiction novel about a child who develops an alter ego which begins to take over his life, but is set largely in Leicestershire and London.

So here I am now with books that are not only set outside Devon, but also written by people from outside Devon as well. So let’s do a quick rundown of what we have on offer.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Somerset and Cumbria

Three Extraordinary Years: The Coleridges at Stowey by Bethany Askew
The Two Saras: Coleridge in Cumbria by Bethany Askew

Not only are these two books both set entirely outside Devon, but the author, Bethany Askew, is from Somerset! Shock horror!

The first, “Three Extraordinary Years” is set in Nether Stowey, Somerset, at the cottage now known as Coleridge Cottage and run by the National Trust. The second, “The Two Saras” takes place in Cumbria when Coleridge lived at Blake Hall, Keswick. We have already enjoyed god success selling these books which I can only attribute to the combination of Bethany’s already well established author credentials and the broad interest in anything to do with STC and the Lakeland Poets.

Children’s Book from the Land of Jam-First

A Clattering Beneath the Woods by Sally Hubbard

Cornwall, or Kernow as I habitually call it, is the setting for “A Clattering Beneath the Woods”. This is a delightful children’s chapter book which is set on the banks of the Tamar River, the ancient boundary between Devon (cream first) and Kernow (jam first). The story is written in the style of the classics of children’s literature. I’m not saying it is in the same league as Winnie the Pooh, Swallows and Amazons, Wind in the Willows, or the Secret Garden. I am happy and confident to leave that comparison to you. I’m just saying that you won’t find a fart joke anywhere in the book and we didn’t go through the text and remove any words that a child might not have learned yet. (Because if you never read a new word, you will never learn a new word).

We are also working on another book for Children which is set even further into Kernow, but more of that later.

Portugal – Yoga – Rescue Dogs

A Dog Called Buddha by Steve Jamison.

We also have a book which, although written by Steve Jamison from North Devon, he now lives at least half the time in a place called Cha in Portugal. “A Dog Called Buddha” is the story of him escaping the Iberian wildfires of OCtober 2017 in an old Landrover with four rescue dogs. If I were to try and think of a book that was further from what we have previously done then I would struggle to come up with anything better than this, but I am pleased to say it is selling well. I must again presume that this is Steve’s reputation among those who know him, but I perhaps the appeal of dogs and true life stories is also driving sales. I do know that our editor, Sarah Dawes was sufficiently impressed to preorder a copy, and that’s always a good sign since she has of course, already read it several times.

Did I Mention Yorkshire?

Yorkshire Rebel by Ron Riley

So now we come to the book that inspired the title of this post. “Yorkshire Rebel – The Life and Times of John Lindley 1770 – 1850” (coming soon) is a straight up history book. Not historical fiction, not a memoir, but a proper well researched well writen history of the West Yorkshire revolt of 1820. The book was written by Ron Riley, a very meticulous amateur historian, who had some copies printed previously but just as ring bound A4 books. This edition is a 200th anniversary hardcover with brand new artowkr specially painted for the book.

The subject matter is the events leading up to and following the West Yorkshire Revolt, including covering the Luddite, and Chartist movements, with attention paid to social conditios in the industrial revolution, and of course covering the transportation of convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).

Yorkshire Rebel is now available to order in hardcover for £19.99 with Free P&P to UK addresses (£4 to EU and £8 to the rest of the world) ORDER PAGE

You can also buy a paperback version. I’m sorry, it is not as nice, but it is a little cheaper if all you want is to read the book. It is on Amazon UK for £15.99 and on all other Amazon sites for a (hopefully) similar price in the local currency.

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