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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).”
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 that are being supported by the ACE grant are:
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!
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!
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