Zed and the Cormorants Blog Tour

Schedule showing the dates for the Zed and the Cormorants blog tour

With less than a week to go until publication, we are really excited to launch the blog and instagram tour for Zed and the Cormorants, with the first post going live tomorrow on @a_never_ending_story.

Zed and the Cormorants is a page-turning gothic mystery and contemporary coming-of-age story rolled into one. Perfect for readers aged 12-15, it is the debut novel by Clare Owen.

Zed’s family have moved from London to a village in Cornwall. Dad says they need a fresh start but nobody has asked Zed what she thinks. Maybe their new home will help with Mum’s depression and keep Amy, Zed’s sister, away from her drop-out boyfriend, but why does it have to be so remote?

Why has the boathouse at the bottom of the garden been locked up for seventy years? Why do the birds living by the estuary fill Zed with such dread? And WHAT do they want?

Follow the blog tour on the schedule above to read reviews of Zed and the Cormorants, guest posts from Clare Owen and even some Zed-inspired recipes. Plus, we will be sharing some exclusive content from the book!

Follow all the content from the blog tour here too:

  1. @a_never_ending_story gives Zed and the Cormorants 8/10
  2. Check out @bookslovereader’s beautiful Instagram review of Zed and the Cormorants
  3. Read Clare Owen’s guest post “Why I chose to write YA” on Whispering Stories blog and listen to an exclusive extract of the Zed and the Cormorants audiobook
  4. In just over 180 pages, Claire Owen has crafted a deep and haunting story which covers a range of important topics” says @magnifying_reader
  5. The gothic genre being entwined with the young adult genre made this book really interesting and enjoyable… I think it is a book every school library should stock!” Read Emma Suffield’s full review
  6. “Have you ever read a book and instantly wanted to recreate a tasty treat that was briefly mentioned?” @acupofwonderland created a Zed and the Cormorants themed #bookishbake
  7. “Let me just say that the Rebecca comparison? Spot on!” Dark Heart Books calls Zed and the Cormorants atmospheric, fun and a joy to read
  8. Zed and the Cormorants was a magical, mystical read that had me longing for more.” Read the review on Amy’s Bookish Life
  9. For our final blog tour review, Lucy Jakes give Zed and the Cormorants 4/5, loving the “simultaneously claustrophobic and magical setting” and “creepy cormorants”
Promotional image showing Zed and the Cormorants book cover and blog tour dates (24 April - 2 May)

Arachne recommends books for International Women’s Day

Authors and Editors of upcoming titles choose three books  each that they would recommend for International Women’s Day

(Links mainly to our Bookshop affiliate page, except where the book is out of print, where the link will take you to abebooks, or not yet available where the link will take you to the publishers site)

Clare Owen, author of Zed and the Cormorants (April 2021)

The Good Women of China – Xinran

True – often harrowing and heartbreaking – stories of women living during the Cultural Revolution, collected by the host of a Chinese radio call-in show.

Love Among the Butterflies: The Travels and Adventures of a Victorian Lady – Margaret Fountaine (out of print)

The private diaries of a vicar’s daughter who defied her family’s expectations to travel the world collecting butterflies and lovers along the way.

What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt

A beautifully written, intense and intelligent book about art, love and loss from a writer who invariably gets less attention than her husband (novelist Paul Auster)!

Cherry Potts, Arachne Editor in Chief (who gets to choose more than three)

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula le Guin

A powerful and wildly original Science Fiction novel that tackles gender fluidity decades before anyone else, in passionate and often witty observations of human, and alien frailty.

The White Darkness, Geraldine McCaughrean

I could have picked any of McCaughrean’s young adult novels, but this is the one I read first and adored. A tautly written adventure that doesn’t sidestep difficulties, and is truly shocking at times.

Persepolis Marjane Satrapi

A graphic novel/autobiography about growing up as a stroppy teenager in Iran. Funny, distressing and beautiful.

Second Class Citizen Buchi Emecheta

As a bright young thing in the 70’s and early 80’s, I sought out and read acres of books by black women, many of them American, and some no longer in print. This book bucked the trend, being both British and with sufficient enduring appeal to still be available. There are whole passages in this book I remember pretty much verbatim nearly 50 years later.

The Stone Age Jen Hadfield

Not actually out yet, (18th March) this is my first ‘choice’ selection from the Poetry Book Society. I’d been resisting signing up on the grounds that I like to choose my own books, and poverty, but I finally cracked and I’m really glad I did. This is one of those ‘I wish I’d published that’ books, and taps into all sorts of things that I love, in particular the standing stones of Shetland. Hadfield gives them voice in an entirely convincing way. A total delight that made me want to visit Shetland again.

Ness Owen, co-editor A470 (March 2022)

Inhale/Exile Abeer Ameer  (Seren). The poems I’ve heard so far are a fascinating mix of the personal and political, of language and place. Between Iraq and Britain, the poems move from tender family histories to shocking atrocities.

Flashbacks and Flowers Rufus Mufasa (Indigo Dreams forthcoming, can’t find any information though!) I really enjoyed the journey in this collection deeply rooted in time, place and lives lived with a wonderful interweaving of languages.

Aubade After a French Movie Zoe Brigley (Broken Sleep Books)  This pamphlet includes some of the wonderful Gwerful Mechain’s poetry, bringing it into the 21st century (including an interpretation of the infamous Ode to a C*** in a brave modern voice). The poems are a spoken celebration for what it is to be a women without shame.

Laura Besley, Author of 100nehundred (May 2021)

Mrs Narwhal’s Diary by S.J. Norbury (publisher Louise Walters Books). I heard the author read an exert of Mrs Narwhal’s Diary at an LWB event and completely fell in love with the style of the book and the main character’s unique voice.

The Thin Line Between Everything and Nothing by Hannah Storm (Reflex Press). Hannah Storm’s flash fiction is searing in its honesty, attention to detail and emotional resonance. This collection will, without a doubt, be fantastic.

The Yet Unknowing World by Fiona J. Mackintosh (Adhoc Fiction). Fiona J. Mackintosh’s writing is a sublime combination of lyrical and startling. I’m very much looking forward to reading her full collection.

Lily Peters, author of Accidental Flowers

The Hazelnut Grove, by Paula Read: [Disclosure: Paula is Lily’s mum, and we’ve published her in the past.] I might be slightly biased, so don’t just take my reviews for it. If you want to escape for a while into the European dream and in turn, discover the harsh reality of how much work it takes to make such a dream come true, this is a satisfying and comforting read.

The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld: This is the story of three women, in some way related, across three time periods. It is set by the wild North Sea in the Scottish borders and the landscape is a character in its own right. It is unsettlingly written, and it has everything you need: scandal, spooky empty houses and a hint of witchcraft.

Weather, by Jenny Offill: The way Offill writes is gripping and quick. It is the closest thing you can get to instant gratification in literature. This book is all about the relatively unknown under-world of ‘preppers’ – those who are preparing for a potential world-ending apocalypse. Right up my ever-darkening street!

Audio Book plans

We have taken a leap into the world of Audio Books, with nine books due for publication this year to be simultaneously released as Audio books.

Arachne Press Director, Cherry Potts, says “Thanks to a grant from Arts Council England, we are able to take a broad spread of books into the audio market – short stories, poetry, a dystopian novel and a YA novel, plus three anthologies.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Listening Books for the mastering and remote production, while our actors work from a variety of home studios, from the professional to the airing cupboard! Lockdown has meant we needed to make the most of every route to the reader, and audio books fit well with our commitment to accessibility, and working with Listening Books means we are also supporting a charity with similar aims. An added bonus with this venture is that we can support actors prevented from working on stage.”

Claire Bell, Deputy Membership and PR Manager, at Listening Books says

“I’m delighted we are working with Arachne to produce these titles. Having launched our new website this year, we know how important accessibility is and are very happy to be working with Arachne to provide their titles in the audio format. Having provided an audiobook service to children and adults since 1959, this partnership will not only support the charity through Listening Books Productions,  but will make a whole new range of titles available for the print impaired.

Cherry Potts added “We are auditioning actors now, and are thrilled to announce that our YA novel, Zed and the Cormorants by Clare Owen, will be narrated by Sophie Aldred (Dr Who, Dennis the Menace).”

https://www.listening-books.org.uk/

And now for some GOOD News

We could all do with some cheer in the bleak days of January, especially this year, so courtesy of Arts Council England, we are here to do just that.

We are the proud and happy recipients of a £45,000 grant from Arts Council England

This will pay for our next ten books, and (drum roll) audio books! Which means we can smack Covid on the nose by providing another way to enjoy our books without leaving home, and provide some work to actors who aren’t allowed into a theatre just now. I’m anticipating it will also be huge fun. Putting the plans together now with our audiobook partner Listening Books

Thanks to everyone who gave us their thoughts on whether this was the right way to go. It’s one of the fastest growing sectors in literature, but it’s tough to get right, and harder still to market, so the funding will also pay for …

A part-time marketing person, and a (separate) part-time admin person for a few months, so that I can concentrate on finding and supporting new writers and guest editors. We will be advertising these posts very soon. They will be remote working, so if you think that could be you, start polishing your CV, but don’t send anything until you see the advertisment please!

The Books

The books that are being supported by the ACE grant are:

This Poem Here – Poetry collection by Rob Walton (Just the audio book, as we’ve already done the rest)

Zed and the Cormorants -YA Novel by Clare Owen, illustrated by Sally Atkins. We are talking to Sophie Aldred about reading the audio book)

100neHundred -100 x 100 word stories by Laura Besley

Incorcisms -short, strange tales by David Hartley

Accidental Flowers -Novel in short stories by Lily Peters

Strange Waters -Short Story Collection by Jackie Taylor

Jackie

A Voice Coming from Then – Poetry collection (illustrated with collages) by Jeremy Dixon

An Anthology of poems and short fiction from UK based Deaf writers (no title yet) edited by Lisa Kelly and A N Other

Lisa

An Anthology of poems and short stories from UK based Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Writers (no title yet) edited by Laila Sumpton and Sandra A. Agard

Solstice Shorts 2021 Anthology (provisional theme: time is running out but we’ll come up with a better title!)

Lockdown reading: The Cormorant by Clare Owen

Collateral damage from Covid-19 has been having to delay the publication of Zed and the Cormorants, by Clare Owen. It was a tough decision but, it turns out, the right one; and next year we will be able to put together a really strong campaign to support the book.

In the meantime, here is Clare reading her short story from An Outbreak of Peace, The Cormorant which was very much a calling card for Zed, sharing, as it does, a location and character names, although not characters, unless you count the cormorant!

 

 

An Outbreak of Peace Launch Video: Clare Owen

Author Clare Owen reads from her short story, The Cormorant, at the launch of An Outbreak of Peace, an anthology of stories and poems in response to the end of WWI at Housmans Radical Bookshop

Next launch event Blackwells Manchester 30th November

Cormorant takes flight in Lostwithiel

Those of you joining Clare Owen at the mini launch for An Outbreak of Peace at Lost in Books at Lostwithiel tonight are in for a treat – she’s been making snacks to fit with her story, The Cormorant.

Launching An Outbreak of Peace – Photos at Housmans

Launching An Outbreak of Peace to a full house at Housmans.

Thanks to everyone who came along and in particular to Housmans for hosting and to CB,  Clare, Karen, Katy, Peter, Sarah and Chantal (all pictured) and Valerie (not pictured) for reading so magnificently – sold out Housman’s stock of the book!

An Outbreak of Peace: Clare Owen

After working as an actor and arts administrator in London, Clare married a boat builder and moved to Cornwall.  She promptly had three children and set up an improvised theatre company, re-enacting the stories of their audiences around the county.  More recently she has co-written and performed with the all women ensemble, ‘Riot of the Freelance Mind’ and she regularly reads her short fiction at spoken word events and local festivals.  She has just finished her first YA novel Zed and the Cormorants, which will be published by Arachne Press in  2019/20

Clare will read from her story The Cormorant at the An Outbreak of Peace Launch at Housmans TOMORROW 14th December 7pm

AND

at Lost in Books, Quay Street, Lostwithiel, PL22 0BS

on 16th November 2018 6pm

Coming up: An Outbreak of Peace

LONDON! Housmans 14th November

The official publication date for this anthology of new short stories and poems in response to the end of WWI, An Outbreak of Peace is the 8th November, but we are having the launch party on

7pm Wednesday 14th, at Housmans radical bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, N1 9DX,

with readings from Clare Owen, CB Droege, Katy Darby, Chantal Heaven (fiction);

clare owencb-biopicKaty Darby headshot Moby big

Karen Ankers, Valerie Bence, Peter Kenny, Sarah Tait (poetry).

Karen AnkersValerie BenceP Kennysarah tait

There will also be a poppy-seed cake, and other, liquid, refreshments.

£3 on the door, redeemable against purchase of the book.