Thursday, 8 September 2016

Meet the author – Jessamy Taylor

This month we bring you a short Q&A session from Jessamy Taylor, author of King’s Company, showcased in The People’s Book Prize Autumn Collection.  

Can you briefly summarise your debut book, King’s Company.
King’s Company is a historical adventure story. William D’Amory is growing up in twelfth century England, during a time of civil war, when a chance encounter plunges him into a world of intrigue and betrayal. He meets new friends and dangerous enemies, and learns the truth about his father, as he is caught up in the fight for the throne of England itself.  The book explores the themes of friendship and betrayal, in a vivid and realistic historical setting.

What were your inspirations for writing the book?
I’m fascinated with the similarities between our world now and the same place and people centuries ago, which make historical fiction relevant. In writing children’s books, the historical setting gives a context where children have to be independent and responsible at a much earlier age, so their stories can be more dangerous and exciting. And I’ve always been inspired by poking around in ruined castles, overgrown woodlands, and other grubby places.

Were you aiming the book at a particular age-range? 
The book is targeted at children (boys and girls) aged between 9 and 12. It is relevant to the National History Curriculum, particularly in the aim to ‘understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance’. It has particular relevance for Key Stage 3, particularly to the development of Church, state and society in Medieval Britain following the Norman Conquest.

Did you have any interesting experiences during the research for the book?
I love doing the research: clambering over ruined castle walks and going on long walks through the Dorset countryside, reading lots and lots of historical novels for research (the ones written for children are often the best) and watching any historical dramas and films (particularly if they include some good sword fighting). But I also love studying really obscure history books in the British Library. When I was a teacher I saw how fascinated children are by the ‘true story’. After one of my ‘medieval’ lessons they all galloped out of the classroom one by one as I dismissed them – I was very proud.

Do you know of other books that readers might have read, who may also enjoy King’s Company?
King’s Company falls into the same category as books by Rosemary Sutcliff, Ronald Welch and Geoffrey Trease, although with a less formal, more contemporary feel to the dialogue and political passages. More recent books which deal with a similar period in history are Elizabeth Laird’s Crusade and Kevin Crossley Holland’s Arthur series (The Seeing Stone etc).

Do you have a favourite bookshop where you are a regular customer or in your hometown?
Ink84 on the Blackstock Road in Highbury is my new favourite bookshop. My other regular one is the Waterstones on Islington Green.  There is also the Stoke Newington Bookshop, and the Muswell Hill Bookshop. The Alligator’s Mouth in Richmond is near where I grew up, although it’s relatively recent so I didn’t actually go there as a child.

Do you have any hobbies?
Visiting historical sites and discovering their stories; having bizarre conversations with nine-year-olds about how the world works; long walks in the countryside; reading, and watching good TV.

Are you on twitter?
Yes, my twitter address is @jessamy_taylor

You can read an extract from King’s Company on The People’s Book Prize website where it is being showcased for the Autumn collection. Please visit the site and help support new and undiscovered works.
*  UPDATE  * We are very pleased to give an update - King's Company is a Finalist in The People's Book Prize! The Autumn collection is now closed and final voting will open again on 15 May 2017

King's Company
ISBN 9781908041197
Published by IndieBooks

More about Jessamy:
Jessamy was born in 1975 and educated in Hampton, Middlesex, and at Cambridge University, where she read History.  She has worked in music publishing and as a teacher.  She now lives in North London with her family, and muses on the similarities between twelfth-century England and daily life in her kitchen. She is currently working on the sequel to King’s Company. 

Other related articles:

Friday, 8 July 2016

Jason Drew is Lord of the Flies!

We are just days away from the 7th Awards Ceremony for The People's Book Prize 2015/2016 and very pleased that our author Jason Drew is one of the finalists.
The People's Book Prize is the unique literary competition that is judged by the nation. It is aimed at finding, supporting and promoting new and undiscovered works. Voting is done on The People's Book Prize website where all 36 Finalists are listed, within 3 categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children's and you can vote for one book in each category. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 12 July which will be broadcast by Sky News.

Jason's book was chosen in the Summer 2015 Collection.  The Story of the Fly and How it Could Save the World will take you behind the pesky reputation and inside the brain and body of the much misunderstood fly.  It investigates the insect as pest and how man has tried (tirelessly, often unsuccessfully) to kill it – exploring everything from how it walks on ceilings to how it survives Ice Ages and outsmart all manner of fly swats, toxins and traps. The book also reveals how, throughout history, innovative humans – including Napoleon Bonaparte’s surgeon, NASA, various forensic entomologists and the UK National Health Services – have harnessed and researched the fly to help mankind.
But ultimately it introduces the fly as a future hero that could help save the world.
How?  By recycling waste nutrients and generating sustainable protein to spare the fish in the ocean and feed the ever-growing number of people on our Earth.  That’s a story worth telling.  And one worth reading, too.

In the lead-up to the final, Jason was interviewed by The People's Book Prize team and tells how he has been described as 'Lord of the Flies and as 'one of Africa's most inspiring green leaders'.
You can read the full interview here and also includes details on how to vote.
We wish Jason all the best at the Awards Ceremony when the winners will be announced.

If you haven't voted yet, please visit the website now!

Friday, 1 April 2016

April is.... The London Book Fair!

It's that time of year... the evenings are lighter, daffodils and tulips are blooming, newborn spring lambs are bouncing. The new season brings signs of new beginnings and what better place to forge new business relationships than The London Book Fair.

Now in its 45th year, this Fair covers all aspects of the industry and we look forward to meeting clients and customers, old and new. The Fair returns to Olympia London and runs from 12 to 14 April.

Booksellers and Buyers attend the Fair to seek out new contacts, discover new titles and new suppliers. We can show you the range of titles available from our publishers and explain how easily we can supply.

Publishers will find the Fair is the global marketplace for negotiations.  If you are looking for a company who can provide a seamless service, covering both sales representation and distribution fully managed in one place, Vine House Distribution will provide you with a professional and personal solution so that you can concentrate on your publishing.

Whether you are a bookseller or buyer looking for new and exciting titles or a publisher seeking sales and distribution, we would welcome a visit from you. Come and have a chat to see how we can help.

We will be exhibiting a selection of our titles together with information about our services and forthcoming list. Visit us on Stand 6E70 or if you prefer, call or email us first. We look forward to hearing from you.

Vine House Distribution Limited, The Old Mill House, Mill Lane,
Uckfield, East Sussex  TN22 5AA

phone: +44 1825 767396

Monday, 29 February 2016

Welcome to our March is a little bit about what we do.

If you'd like to discuss any of our services in greater detail, and how we can help you in any way, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Vine House Distribution Limited
This month we focus on one of Vine House Distribution Limited key services our platinum standard warehousing and distribution.
What makes our distribution cutting edge

Vine House Distribution Limited client and customer services department support and control a comprehensive range of distribution services:
·         handling the order, picking and despatch of orders whatever the size for all over the world;
·         investing in dynamic service orientated leading edge IT to improve efficiency in operating performance.


·         Maximisation of warehouse storage capacity.
·         Better packing practices with positive environmental effects.
·         Faster despatch times.

So why choose us for your distribution
Vine House Distribution Limited staff understands fully the needs of distribution for their customers and individual staff are assigned as first point of contact and ongoing liaison.

The staff are always on hand to offer or discuss with you any challenges you may have.  We understand that getting the distribution right is the key to getting your book out there. 
And of course we specialise in distribution for the smaller publisher.   

Our client and customer services department support and manage:
·         Slick processes for checking stock;
·         Handling deliveries and returns;
·         Stock husbandry; and  
·         Individual bar coding and annual stocktaking.

A cut above
66,000 sq ft distribution centre operating a high capacity quick turn-around system within twenty hours of receipt.

A successful warehouse distribution supported by Vine House’s strong management team, leaving you time to market your book.
Our pledge to you 
Vine House Distribution Limited sets itself apart with its cutting edge service and pledges to you a service second to none:
Value for money
International distribution
Nothing is too much trouble
Encouragement and support
Help at your fingertips
Orders of any size 
Understand our business
Sales and Marketing bespoke to you
Excellent communicating with our customers at all times

Distribution Limited   

And finally
If you need a professional efficient cutting edge distributor contact Vine House Distribution Limited now.
Phone +44 1825 767 396Fax +441825 765 649

Friday, 8 January 2016

Firstly we would like to wish you Happy New Year and hope you all had a good Christmas and that you're not sitting at home watching the rain and wondering how your 2016 will pan out!

1. You could write a book and let us distribute it for you.......we are waiting for your call!
2. Read a good book...does wonders for your brain and imagination.
3. Turn off the TV....reading at night settles your mind for a better night sleep than watching TV.
4. If you have children or other to them or help them read to you.
5. Take a trip to your local's great to browse...take your time, you never know what you'll find
6. The 'Catch 22' of January is trying to speed up a long month with new things to do or slow it down because of looming bills...better still read the book of the same name and grow your sole by the same measure!
7. When it's dark outside read the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and feel the light.
8. Before watching a film where there is already a book, read the book first and see how it changes your perspective.
9. If you didn't get a Kindle Fire for Christmas, get your duffel coats on and light one in the garden and read stories to each other.

10. Finally....Even the intellectual of readers will take most of January to plough through ‘The Luminaries’ but at least we can all blame it on the hangover of Christmas.

....OK that was 10, I got carried away!

So Moving on......

What we can do for you:

Your book is your passion, and if you’re the author then you’ll have spent months, maybe even years, finishing it and if you’re the publisher then your authors are important to you so let us take care of the distribution and sales.

Book distribution is our passion. Vine House has been around for over 25 years and have gained a wealth of knowledge and contacts to get your book out there.
The book distribution process may be new to you, but we’re here to help with every step. From the actual warehousing, distribution, invoicing and cash collection to the sales and marketing, with a tailor made service so you can rest assured that your book will receive the personal attention it deserves.

To read our full services please visit our website:

What our Publishers say...

“We have been a client of Vine House for more than 17 years and have had consistently excellent service from them for the whole period.” Dance Books

“Easy On The Eye Books were pleased with the attitude and enthusiasm of Vine House to our initial proposals, and as a new publisher have found them helpful and supportive”. Easy On The Eye

"To Picnic, ‘Vine House’ means Pauline Gosden, Julie McCarron and Sarah Squibb. They have been steadfast throughout a very difficult time for Picnic and I cannot rate them or the service they provide more highly. Efficient, always supportive and helpful, nothing is too much trouble. They specialise in sales and distribution for the smaller publishers - and I don't think you can get much smaller than Picnic! - and do so with dedication, thoughtfulness and great kindness." Picnic Publishing

"Vine House, having been MRP's distributor for 12 years, has demonstrated that a small, enthusiastic, friendly and efficient team is ideally suited to the requirements of a specialist publisher such as ourselves." Motor Racing Publications

Read more on our website -

If you would like further information and would like to have a chat or arrange a meeting, please get in touch – email:
Vine House Distribution Ltd, The Old Mill House, Mill Lane, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 5AA

Tel:  +44 1825 767 396  Fax: +44 1825 765649

                     FORTHCOMING TITLES SCHEDULE 2016

Path of Duty - £9.99   Fiction

The 7th Python - £16.99      Biography
If Only They’d Met -  £16.99       Historical Fiction

The Hunt Shanghai - £7.99          Travel
Organic Wine: A Marketer’s Guide - £22.95        Business/Wine
Concepts of Wine Chemistry PB - £49.00       Wine/Winemaking

MARCH 2016
The Hunt Chicago - £7.99          Travel
Superbrands Annual 2016 - £60.00          Marketing/Branding
Greece – Lesbos - £23.95        Travel/Wildlife
Spanish Pyrenees Revised - £24.95       Travel/Wildlife
APRIL 2016
The Hunt Barcelona - £7.99      Travel
JUNE 2016
The Hunt Rio de Janeiro - £7.99    Travel
The Hunt Sydney - £7.99       Travel
Ibiza Nudes Vol 2 - £43.00      Photography

The Hunt Washington - £7.99       Travel
Ethiopia – Traveller’s Handbook - £17.99         Travel

JULY 2016
The Hunt Vancouver - £7.99        Travel
French Poems of the Great War - £10.99       War Poetry

If you would like further information please get in touch 
Vine House Distribution Ltd
The Old Mill House
Mill Lane
East Sussex
TN22 5AA
Tel:  +44 1825 767 396  Fax: +44 1825 765649

Friday, 6 November 2015

Behind The Book – Almost Invincible

This month we bring you a guest blog by one of our authors, Suzanne Burdon.  Her fictional account of Mary Shelley’s life is a fascinating read.

“Meticulously researched, Burdon’s novel follows the author of Frankenstein across England and Europe, taking in her scandalous elopement with Shelley, their turbulent relationship and their bohemian circle, which included Lord Byron. A fresh and gripping portrayal of this enigmatic literary genius.”… JC, The Lady

Don't leave me alone with her. She's been the bane of my life since I was three years old!'' This is what Mary Shelley, at fifty, said to her daughter-in-law, who had kindly proposed giving Mary some time with her visiting step-sister, Claire.

I read this some four years ago and found it so intriguing, that it led me on a fascinating journey into the early 19th century. What could have caused such vehemence? Why was Mary so anxious about being alone with her stepsister? I didn’t know much about Mary Shelley. Like many people, I was vaguely aware that she had written Frankenstein when she was quite young. I knew also that she was married to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

That is when I discovered that I am an obsessive researcher. As a sociologist, most of my working life has been spent conducting market and social research and when I started reading Mary’s story there were so many aspects of it that resonated strongly with modern life. It was operatic - even a soap opera! There were more scandals, deaths, tortured relationships, loves and losses than in several seasons of Desperate Housewives. Through it all there was Mary, a strong but also vulnerable young woman in socially unsympathetic times. I glimpsed someone who was a teenage rebel, grieving mother, determined author, and long suffering lover of a man well ahead of his time. I wanted to get to know her better, and especially to understand the insidious and damaging influence of her step-sister, Claire.

There are many biographies of Mary, but she is often crowded out by the famous people around her and the complexities of her lifestyle. Finding the real Mary seemed a bit like trying to find a lost child at central station in rush hour. I badly wanted to understand her emotions and motivations more clearly.

Lock of hair
One of the pleasures of writing this book has been the research, not only visiting many of the places associated with her life, but also spending hours burrowing in libraries around the world. There are two major collections of documents associated with Shelley. One is in the New York Public Library and the other is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. (Since I had daughters living in both the UK and NYC, this was an added incentive to visit). There are many boxes and files of letters and manuscripts from the Shelley’s and those associated with them. Even though most of it has now been digitized, there is nothing like touching and seeing the originals. In the Bodleian boxes there was a lovely little notebook where Mary had sketched a story, with a lock of hair pressed between the pages.

The first thing that struck me was how young they all were. Mary was sixteen when she met Shelley. He was already married with a child. With the Geldof’s sadly in the news, it struck me how like Bob Geldof Shelley must have appeared. He was radical, wanting to save the world, wild in appearance, charismatic, and an atheist - a rebel who had been disavowed by his baronet father. He believed in poetry as a force for reformation and change. Poets, he asserted,  'are the unacknowledged legislators of the world'.

The Old Pancras Churchyard
One of the places I visited was Pancras churchyard in London, where Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, is buried. (She died giving birth to Mary). Mary spent hours there to be near to her mother, and it is where she first met Shelley. I thought it odd that a churchyard would be a place to spend time, but it is still pretty, with lawns and trees and a smattering of monument style graves.

Mary was just back from a year in the hills of Scotland with some family friends. She was strong-minded and clever, raised in a world of books and ideas. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Her father was William Godwin, a philosopher and political theorist, who wrote a groundbreaking book called Political Justice. Shelley was a disciple of her father, and in Mary he saw a girl who had the genes to achieve great things in literature and philosophy, as well as being attractive. His wife was beautiful but could not match him in intellectual aspiration. In Mary he had found his soulmate, but it was a dramatic and clandestine courtship.

When they eventually eloped they were like kids on a gap year, recklessly setting off to France, weeks after Napoleon was defeated, through villages still ravaged from war. They had little money and few clothes and only the optimism of the very young. The only shadow on their bright future was that when they had left London in the early hours of a July morning, they had taken Mary's step-sister, Claire, with them. There seemed to be no good reason for it, especially as Claire and Mary were not blood relations and were not exactly close or even compatible. It was even more incomprehensible, because Claire was in love with Shelley and had a history of jealousy of Mary. Why did Mary let this happen, especially as it was a decision that infected everything that happened to her from then on and impacted on her relationship with Shelley?

Penniless, they had to return to England cheaply and so they travelled on a boat along the Rhine. I discovered that there is an old Frankenstein Castle, near Gernsheim in Germany, where the alchemist Dippel lived, who was reputed to exhume bodies for anatomical research. The seed of inspiration for the novel, Frankenstein, may have been planted there as the travellers passed close to the ruins.

Villa Diodati
Claire engineered a meeting between Shelley and Byron in Geneva, because she had made a play for Byron. Frankenstein was conceived there in Byron’s Villa Diodati on the Lake, as a result of a challenge to write a ghost story. The Villa Diodati is still there and overlooks the Lake as it would have in 1816. I had always been puzzled that it was July, yet there was driving rain and thunderstorms to set the scene. Then I discovered that 1816 was known as The Year Without A Summer.

My researches also took me to the Buckinghamshire village of Marlow, where they lived a happy year in spite of trying to hide Claire’s baby by Byron. I then went to many places in Italy where they spent the last four years of their time together.
Casa Magni
In Pisa, in particular, they felt happy. They called it the Paradise of Exiles. When I was there I was surprised to discover that at that time they had camels pulling boats along the Arno, the wide river that runs through the city.

The Arno in Pisa.  No camels now!
Casa Magni, on the Gulf of Spezia is hard to imagine as the wild and isolated place of their last days. Now it is overrun with holiday makers, but there is still the veranda where Mary and Jane scanned the sea in hope that their men would return alive.

Another discovery was that Frankenstein was adapted for the stage several times in Mary’s lifetime. She seemed to feel no concern that they added music and meddled with the script. One production was so scary that women in the audience fainted.

I have loved every minute of the years I have spent with Mary Shelley and I hope that readers will, like me, see her as a complete person, flawed as well as favored, applaud her courage and sympathise with her trials, as well as understanding something about life in the early nineteenth century.

The title of the book Almost Invincible, is taken from a letter that Mary's father wrote to friends whom Mary was to visit, describing his daughter. He said: 'She is singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind. Her desire of knowledge is great, and her perseverance in everything she undertakes, almost invincible.'  Mary certainly had to prove that prophecy in the nine years she spent with Shelley.

For a taster of Suzanne’s novel, you can download a sample chapter here.

The book is available to buy from all good bookshops and online.
Almost Invincible by Suzanne Burdon  ISBN 9780992354008
You can also order directly from Vine House Distribution.
Email  Phone +44 1825 767 396   Fax +441825 765 649