Last week marked the official launch of Cold Fish Soup, by Adam Farrer. The event was hosted by our friends at Blackwell’s in Manchester and was chaired by Adam’s friend and mentor, Jenn Ashworth – herself a widely published author and Professor of Writing at Lancaster University.

Cold Fish Soup launch

About the Cold Fish Soup launch

Joined by an enthusiastic crowd which included Adam’s friends and family, the event was a total success. Anyone who knows Adam knows how funny and quick-witted he is, but he also allowed himself to be completely vulnerable and opened up to the audience about some of the darker topics discussed in his book.

Adam read passages from two of his essays, including anecdotes about his teenage quest to become Steven Tyler, and a fond remembrance of his late brother, Robert. The extracts he chose perfectly encapsulate the essence and range of the book, with the first making the entire audience laugh out loud and the second leaving Adam emotional and the crowd thoughtful as he paid tribute to Robert.

After Jenn had finished interviewing Adam, she opened the evening to questions from the audience. There were plenty of raised hands. During the Q&A Adam revealed aspects of his writing process and how it felt to write about his family.

When Wendy, a former colleague of Adam’s from a magazine they had both worked for in the late ’90s, asked a question, Adam answered – and was reminded of a pivotal moment for him. She asked when he first realised he was a writer, to which he replied that it was in fact Wendy herself who had given him the confidence to pursue writing as a career, when she had praised his work.

Another audience member described Adam as a ‘literary rock star’ – which certainly felt apt after the event, when the book signing queue ran the length of the entire shop floor.

Cold Fish Soup launch

We had the best time celebrating Cold Fish Soup with Adam and everyone who attended. We can’t thank the team at Blackwell’s and Jenn Ashworth enough for making the evening so brilliant, and of course Adam himself, for being on top form!

 

Cold Fish Soup

About Cold Fish Soup

WINNER OF THE 2021 NORTHBOUND BOOK AWARD

“Witty and introspective … moving … vivid evocations of the landscape … Echoing the canny writing of David Sedaris, Farrer has a knack for wringing hilarity from life’s grim moments … this meditation on the beauty of impermanence charms.” Publishers Weekly

Before Adam Farrer’s family relocated to Withernsea in 1992, he’d never heard of the Holderness coast. The move represented one thing to Adam: a chance to leave the insecurities of early adolescence behind. And he could do that anywhere. What he didn’t know was how much he’d grow to love the quirks and people of this faded Yorkshire resort, in spite of its dilapidated attractions and retreating clifftops.

While Adam documents the minutiae of small-town life, he lays bare experiences that are universal. His insights on family, friendship, male mental health and suicide are revealed in stories of reinvention, rapacious seagulls, interdimensional werewolves, burlesque dancing pensioners, and his compulsion towards the sea.

Cold Fish Soup is an affectionate look at a place and its inhabitants, and the ways in which they can shape and influence someone, especially of an impressionable age. Adam’s account explores what it means to love and be shaped by a place that is under threat, and the hope – and hilarity – that can be found in community.

About Adam Farrer

Adam Farrer is a writer and editor who has per­formed at festivals and events including Manchester Literature Festival and the Northern Lights Writers Conference. His work has been published in the anthology Test Signal and he edits the creative non-fiction journal The Real Story, as well as teaching writing workshops. Cold Fish Soup is his first book.

We’ve had a jam-packed few weeks celebrating the return of the full, glorious, in-person Edinburgh International Book Festival, and we loved it! Our ever-brilliant Saraband authors joined forces with a range of interesting panellists and chairs, pulling in audiences both in-person and online to hear more about their books and ideas at Edinburgh’s iconic festival.

If you missed out on visiting EIBF this year, here’s Saraband’s highlights reel from the festival, with a few behind-the-scenes images at the end… Keep scrolling!

Starting with our Booker-longlist star Graeme Macrae Burnet, in conversation with Jenny Niven

Graeme Macrae Burnet at the EIBF

Reading an extract at the beginning of the event

Graeme entertained a packed audience in the Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court with tales of studying women’s magazines from the ’60s to get into the head of his narrator, and whether his novels are modern, postmodern, or neither. Full of Graeme’s signature wit, this was an event not to be missed.

It is available to watch until September 30th, 2022. You can watch it here.

You can read more about Graeme’s event in The Scotsman here.

Catherine Simpson: Our Bodies, Ourselves, with Tanya Shadrick and Maddie Mortimer

Our Bodies Ourselves event panel

One Body author Catherine Simpson was joined by another of this year’s Booker-longlisted authors, Maddie Mortimer (Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies)  and Tanya Shadrick, author of The Cure for Sleep, in the Northside Theatre. Chaired by Casi Dylan, this was a deep dive into women’s health, shame, fear and how the authors’ own experiences infused their writing. Of the event, The Scotsman said, “You can never predict when a conversation between writers will catch fire, but this one emphatically did. I only wish more people could have seen it.”

You can read more about the event in The Scotsman’s article here and on the Portobello Book Blog here.

Olga Wojtas in conversation with Jenny Brown: Murder, Martial Arts and Macbeth

In the Wee Red Bar Olga’s sold-out conversation with Jenny covered the adventures of Olga’s indomitable Shona McMonagle, aka Miss Blaine’s Prefect. Olga explained how Shakespeare had completely misrepresented the history of the real Macbeth, which she has ‘corrected’ in Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Weird Sisters. Pure festival gold!

You can read more about Olga’s event on the Portobello Book Blog here.

Adam Farrer & Jon Ransom: Washed Up on the East Coast

With an audience filling Baillie Gifford West Court, and viewers tuning in online, Adam Farrer’s debut at EIBF was a smash success. During this event with fellow debut author Jon Ransom, chair Lewis Camley discussed the influence of the east coast on Adam and Jon’s writing in Cold Fish Soup and The Whale Tattoo. The talk was a deeply personal introspect on the writing process of each book, and is definitely worth a watch.

Adam’s event is available to watch online now.

Ewan Morrison with C.A. Fletcher: Great Pandemic Novels

Back in the Wee Red Bar, How to Survive Everything author Ewan Morrison and C A Fletcher (Dead Water) discussed themes around pandemics, prepping for survival, and the impact of Covid-19, with chair Zoe Venditozzi. They covered what it was like to write in isolation during the height of the pandemic and how people have responded to their novels, as well as answering all kinds of pandemic-related questions.

Rosemary Goring, Andrew Greig & Sue Lawrence: Mary, Quite Contrary

On the festival’s final day, Sue Lawrence was joined by fellow historical novelists Rosemary Goring and Andrew Greig to talk all about Scotland under the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, when Sue’s The Green Lady is set. Chair Lisa Highton posed an interesting question: what do you wish Mary Queen of Scots hadn’t done?

This is available to watch online until September 30th, 2022. You can watch it here.

You can read more about the event, and the answers to Lisa’s question, on the Portobello Book Blog here.

 

And now for those behind-the-scenes images! First, Graeme outside the festival entrance on a glorious sunny morning.

 

Graeme Macrae Burnet at EIBF outside in sunshine

Critic and podcaster Alistair Braidwood of Scots Wha Hae with Olga Wojtas and Gail Wylie, of Bookmark Festival, Blairgowrie:

Ali Olga and Gail

And Graeme comparing notes on the Booker longlist, Class of 2022, with Maddie Mortimer.

Graeme Maddie

See you there next year! It’s been fantastic.

Slainte!

Last week we were at Waterstones Edinburgh West End for the launch of One Body, the latest memoir by Catherine Simpson.

One Body launch

Chaired by Mary Paulson-Ellis, on Thursday evening we celebrated with Catherine in an evening of fun. Kindly hosted by Waterstones Edinburgh West End, the launch included a Q&A, a reading by Catherine and a chance to have your copy of One Body signed.

In One Body, after her diagnosis Catherine discusses the support she has from her family, husband, Cello, and daughters, Nina and Lara. It was great to see some of our Saraband family at the event too, including Case Study author Graeme Macrae Burnet.

Catherine, Mary and Graeme

Image by Kristin Pedroja

About One Body

One Body

By the time she reached her fifties, Catherine Simpson and her body had gone through a lot together – from period pain, an abortion and early menopause to shaming and harassment. But there had been success, joy, love and laughter too: far more freedoms than her mother had, a fulfilling family life and career, and the promise of more gains for her daughters.

So when a cancer diagnosis upends her life, Catherine is forced to reflect on her body, then and now. From having been brought up on a farm where vets were more common than doctors, and where illness was ‘a nuisance’, she finds herself faced with the nuisance of a lifetime.

One Body is the candid, searing and often darkly funny story of how Catherine navigates her treatment and takes stock of the emotions and reflections it provokes, until her cancer is in remission. And how she comes to appreciate the skin she is in – to be grateful for her body and all that it does and is.

About Catherine Simpson

Catherine Simpson

Catherine Simpson is a novelist, journalist, poet and short story writer based in Edinburgh. Her memoir When I Had a Little Sister was published by 4th Estate in February 2019 to great acclaim, and her debut novel Truestory was published in 2015. In 2013 she received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Her work has been published in various anthologies and magazines, published online and broadcast on BBC Radio. Born on a Lancashire dairy farm, she is now based in Edinburgh.

Were you at the One Body launch?

If you were in attendance on the night, please tag us in your photos of the event on social media (@sarabandbooks)!

It was wonderful to celebrate the launch of Sue Lawrence’s latest historical page-turner, The Green Ladyat Waterstones Edinburgh West End with a full, in-person, appreciative crowd! Alongside Sue was literary agent and event chair extraordinnaire Jenny Brown, asking some fascinating questions.

 Sue Lawrence with copies of The Green Lady at the launch  Sue Lawrence and Jenny Brown at the launch of The Green Lady  Sue Lawrence and Jenny Brown at the launch of The Green Lady

The evening included a discussion around the inspiration for The Green Lady and Sue’s interest in the experience of women in Scotland’s past. Sue also descried how she researched the lesser-known byways of history for her characters and authentic period details. She chatted to guests individually during the book signing. She had brought along some delicious period treats she had baked for the occasion. Her home-made Holyrood Tartlets, Cheese Shortbread, and Cheese and Basil Puffs look as good as they tasted!Food by Sue for the launch of The Green Lady

You can read a full write up of the event by Joanne Baird on her Portobello Book Blog, here.

About the book

1567, Scotland: no place for a woman. Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son. She can rely only on the loyalty of her ladies-in-waiting, chiefly Marie Seton. Meanwhile, the political turmoil in the country is mirrored behind the walls of beautiful Fyvie Castle. Lilias’s marriage to Marie’s nephew, the ruthlessly ambitious Alexander Seton, goes awry after the birth of yet another daughter. He blames her, and contemplates drastic action. To what lengths will a man go to secure a son and heir?

The Green Lady is a shocking tale of intrigue, secrets, treachery and murder. Based on true events, but seen from a different perspective than is found in most history books. Casting a fascinating light on the ruthless nature of power, the story highlights the precarious position of sixteenth-century women. Even those in the most privileged of circumstances.

About the author

Sue Lawrence is the author of absorbing, popular historical thrillers that cast fascinating light on the perils and injustice that characterised women’s lives in Scotland through centuries past – whether born into penniless or powerful families, including The Green Lady, The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange and Down to the Sea. She is also one of the UK’s leading cookery writers and broadcasters: former Cookery Editor of the Sunday Times and a regular contributor to leading magazines, appearing frequently on BBC Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet. Born in Dundee, she was raised in Edinburgh, where she now lives.

Paperback of Case Study with quotes by critics

 

Graeme Macrae Burnet loves meeting readers and is a fantastically entertaining speaker. It’s a marriage made in heaven! Graeme is on tour meeting readers and booksellers UK-wide, plus a few dates in Europe through 2022.

The first part of the book tour celebrated his hardback launch. Since receiving such an outstanding array of reviews, he’s now planning plenty of new dates for his paperback tour.

We have events in many locations, some with online access, so there is something for everyone. Get the dates in your diary and check Twitter for updates.

Case Study BOOK TOUR – the paperback

Launch at Primrose Hill Community Library | 20.04.22, 7.00pm

Ullapool Book Festival | 06.05.05, 10.00am (opening the festival)

Aye Write – Glasgow’s book festival, 15.05.22, 3.00pm

Derby Book Festival, 21.05.22

Between Fact and Fiction: with Daniel James at Newcastle City Library | 22.05.22, 4.00pm

Goeland Masque, Brittany, France, 4th to 6th June

More dates to come. Watch this space!

Case Study BOOK TOUR – the hardback

Tidelines Book Festival, Irvine |  25.09.21, 7.30pm

Wigtown Book Festival |  02.10.21, 2.00pm

Ilkley Literature Festival (online) |  02.10.21, 4.00pm

Sauchiehall Street Waterstones, Glasgow | 06.10.21, 7.00pm

Bookshop Day: a whistle-stop signing tour of bookshops in the North,
starting with The Book Case, Hebden Bridge | 09.20.21, all day

Cheltenham Literature Festival: Scottish Writing Today |  11.10.21, 8.30pm

Gower Street Waterstones, London | 13.10.21, 6.30pm

Topping & Company, St. Andrews | 19.10.21, 8.00pm

Topping & Company, Edinburgh | 20.10.21, 8.00pm

Mainstreet Trading Co., St. Boswells | 27.10.21, 7.30pm (booking available soon)

Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh | 28.10.21, 7.00pm

 

Order a copy of Case Study here

 

A panel discussion with three NorthBound Book Award winners and the launch of the winning novel from 2020, Approval by John D. Rutter.

 

The NorthBound Book Award was created in 2019 to celebrate the richness of writing from the North of England and the innovative spirit of independent publishing. Find out more about the award here. Our three winners so far, J.A. Mensah (2019), John D. Rutter (2020) and Adam Farrer (2021) will be discussing the prize, their books and the northern literary landscape – followed by an audience Q&A.

Our inaugural winner, Castles from Cobwebs by J.A. Mensah, was published in February 2021 and went on to be longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Chambéry Festival du premier Roman. It is a magical tale of a young woman’s transition from innocence to understanding as she untangles her complicated past. “From start to finish, I was spellbound … I absolutely love this book.” Yvonne Battle-Felton

Our second winner, Approval by John D. Rutter will be published on 26 August 2021 and will be launched as part of this event. “John D. Rutter’s Approval is many things at once. A powerful meditation on judgement. A transfixing fable of a Kafka-esque application process. A complex tragedy about fatherhood. But it’s also a simple, affecting and beautifully wrought story of one couple’s journey towards what they most desire – a child – and the cost of reaching out for one. A hugely promising debut.” Rodge Glass

Our most recent winner, Cold Fish Soup by Adam Farrer will be published in August 2022. Reflecting on aspects of life in the author’s former hometown, the Yorkshire coastal resort town of Withernsea, Cold Fish Soup is a darkly humorous memoir that is deeply rooted in place. Farrer explores themes such as economic decline, severe coastal erosion and mental health with candour and wit, confronting grave subjects with clarity and sensitivity. The judges called it “insightful, challenging, moving and entertaining”, “a love letter to Withernsea and all the people in it”.

Buy Castles from Cobwebs, J.A. Mensah (signed)

Pre-order Approval, John D. Rutter

Jim Crumley in conversation with fellow nature writer Karen Lloyd to launch Lakeland Wild.

The Lake District is one of our busiest national parks. Many people believe that wildness is long gone from the fells, lakes, tarns and becks, yet, within its boundaries, Jim Crumley sets out to prove them wrong – to find “a new way of seeing and writing about this most seen and written about of landscapes”.

With a naturalist’s eye and a poet’s instinct he is drawn to Lakeland’s turned-aside places where nature still thrives, from low-lying shores to a high mountain oakwood that’s not even on the map. Through backwaters and backwoods, Crumley traces this captivating land’s place in the evolution of global conservation and pleads the case for a far-reaching reappraisal of all of Lakeland’s wildness.

Jim Crumley is an ardent advocate for our landscapes and animals, and the reintroduction of species like sea eagles, beavers and wolves. He is a nature writer, journalist and poet with decades of field observation and some 30 books to his name. He has won and been shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards.

Karen Lloyd is a writer of non-fiction and poetry based in Kendal, Cumbria. The Gathering Tide and The Blackbird Diaries won Lakeland Book Awards and were selected as books of the year, in the Observer and the Birdwatcher’s Handbook.

UK book launch of SHOCKED EARTH, the timely environmental novel by acclaimed Dutch author Saskia Goldschmidt, translated from Dutch by Antoinette Fawcett.

Readings and conversation with Dutch author Saskia Goldschmidt and translator Antoinette Fawcett, hosted by author Helen Sedgwick. They discuss Goldschmidt’s latest novel, Shocked Earth, translated from Dutch by Fawcett – covering themes such as the danger of gas extraction/fracking, the neglect of rural communities and the generational and geographical divides that separate us.

Buy Shocked Earth

Femke, her mother Trijn and her grandfather have very different ideas about how to run their family farm. Tensions between mother and daughter are growing; Femke wants to switch to sustainable growing practices, whilst her mother considers this an attack on tradition. To make matters worse, their home province of Groningen is experiencing a series of earthquakes caused by a gas extraction operation near their farm. While the cracks and splinters in their farmhouse increase, the authorities and the gas company refuse to offer the local farming community any help.

In Shocked Earth, Saskia Goldschmidt investigates what it means to have your identity intensely entwined with your place of birth and your principles at odds with your closest kin. And how to keep standing when the world as you know it is slowly falling apart.

“Exquisitely captures the way our lives and identities are interwoven with the land we live on, and how its destruction will ultimately be our own. A powerful portrait of a family … an essential call to action.” Helen Sedgwick

“A powerful and moving story of love, loss and determination to look ahead to the future.” Ben Smith, author of Doggerland

Saskia Goldschmidt studied at the Arts Academy Utrecht. The Hormone Factory (Saraband 2016) was nominated for several prizes and translated into seven languages. Her latest novel, Shocked Earth (Saraband 2021) is out 13 May.

Antoinette Fawcett is an award-winning member of the Translators Association of the Society of Authors. Her most recent literary translation is The Limits of My Language: Meditations on Depression, by Eva Meijer. Her 2018 translation of Eva Meijer’s Bird Cottage was shortlisted for the 2019 Vondel Prize.

Helen Sedgwick is an author of literary fiction and crime fiction, a literary editor, and a research physicist. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University, and has received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.

From Mayo Dark Skies‘ International Dark Sky Week virtual road show.

Anna Levin is the author of Incandescent: We Need to Talk About Light.

Our world is getting brighter – but is brighter always better? The living world evolved to an eternal rhythm of dawn-day-dusk-night… In her book Incandescent, journalist Anna Levin explores the consequences of disrupting this rhythm, on human health and the rest of the natural world.

 

On Earth Day Saraband hosted showcase of readings and discussions to drive meaningful action to protect the environment, promote conservation and tackle the climate crisis. Saraband has the pleasure of publishing many authors whose work does just that and we want to share their wisdom with as many people as possible. We showcased readings from authors you know well alongside some you may not have discovered yet – including two exclusive readings from forthcoming titles. Each has a unique and valuable perspective to share with you and hopefully you’ll be inspired to dive into more of their work once you’ve heard them speak. The day will end with our headline author, Saskia Goldschmidt, whose compelling novel Shocked Earth (out 13 May) explores the physical and emotional damage caused to the land and its people by industrial gas extraction and how industry and farming can and must change before their effects become irreversible.

 

 Nature writer Jim Crumley (The Nature of Summer) | Environmentalist and writer Mandy Haggith (Bear Witness)

Academic David Howe (Extraction to Extinction, Oct 2021) | Artist Amanda Thomson (A Scots Dictionary of Nature).

Award-winning nature writer Karen Lloyd (The Blackbird Diaries) | conservationist Roy Dennis (Cottongrass Summer)

Journalist and author Jill Hopper (The Mahogany Pod)

Nature writer and broadcaster Stephen Moss (Skylarks with Rosie) | Author Anna Levin (Incandescent)

Acclaimed Dutch author Saskia Goldschmidt, discussing her forthcoming novel, Shocked Earth.

The novel was inspired by the author’s experience of living in a rural part of Groningen province, in the Netherlands, which was plagued by earthquakes in the 2010s following extraction from the huge gas field beneath. The quakes caused – and are still causing – widespread damage to land, drainage dykes and the historic built heritage, with disastrous lasting effects.