Welcome along to the first post to celebrate Indie Publishing! I am delighted to introduce you to Urbane Publications run by the lovely Matthew Smith, who endeavours to bring some of the best books to the reading populace as possible.
Today I have the great privilege to share with you a review of The Gift Maker, the debut novel by Mark Mayes which will be published on 23rd February 2017 and a fantastic short interview with Urbane author David Gaffney.
Published: 23 February 2017
4.5 out of 5 stars
Gifts ought to be free, but they never are. They tie you to the wishes of others. To your own sad expectations. To the penitentiary of your dreams.’
Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These ‘gifts’ will change their lives forever. In the far-off border town of Grenze, a play is to be performed at the Sheol Theatre. Reynard the impresario expects a very special audience. Thomas and Liselotte, together with their friend Johann, are drawn into Reynard’s seductive web, as Daumen, the gift maker, must decide who his master really is.
The Gift Maker is a story about identity, about fulfilling your dreams and becoming the person you always were … at whatever cost.
My Thoughts & Review:
“The Gift Maker” is a book I would struggle to restrict to any one genre other than fiction really, there are elements of Fantasy (Dystopian), Metaphysics and something that borders upon a fairy tale all cleverly cloaked in intelligent language with some incredibly impressive plotting.
Followers of The Quiet Knitter will be somewhat used to my occasional reading tangents, merrily wandering off into the abyss of an intriguing sounding book, beguiled by a concept that challenges my logically restricted brain. I have to say this is one of those books I am happy to branch out of my comfort zone with.
The overarching theme that runs through this novel is one of self discovery, each of the main characters sets out on their own journey and in doing so takes on the challenges that lie in their way to fulfil their dreams, regardless of the cost. There’s just the right level of suspense in this and something almost haunting about the story that moves the pace along well. I almost want to describe it as disturbing at times but not in a negative way, more in the way that this book leeches into your subconscious. I found that even when I wasn’t reading it, my mind was wandering back to Thomas, Liselotte and Johann, imagining the thrall of Reynard or contemplating how it all evolved into something bigger, in essence a tale of morality. A very philosophical read and one that challenges how you perceive things, is it as simple as good and evil? How far would you go to achieve your wildest dreams? And in doing so, at what cost?
Despite being completely out of my comfort zone I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was challenging but rewarding to read, the skill that Mark Mayes demonstrates through is writing is superb. It’s refreshing to see an intelligently written book that does not shy away from linguistic excellence (and yes, I admit there was the occasional word that I checked on the dictionary of my kindle – I love finding new words). The atmospheric description of Grenze was haunting but absolutely fantastic.
David Gaffney comes from Cleator Moor in West Cumbria and now lives in Manchester. He is the author of Sawn-off Tales (2006), Aromabingo (2007), Never Never (2008), The Half-life of Songs (2010) and his latest collection of short stories, More Sawn-Off Tales (2013). David has written articles for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine and is a judge for the 2015 Bridport prize as well as heading up the Arts Council in the North of England.
David’s novel “All The Places I’ve Ever Lived” will be published by Urbane Publications on 26th February 2017.
As part of the “Celebrating Indie Publishing” I thought it might be good to get to know some of the authors behind the books. David kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his likes and dislikes of being an author as well as sharing where he prefers to do most of his writing.
What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
Being an author is like being given your own big private storage unit where you can put all your ideas and thoughts. Because without this storage unit, what can you do? Haul it all around with you everywhere. So it’s such a relief when you are a creative person to be given a repository, an outlet like that. Like the pages of a book or a novel. Writing books is like bleeding your radiators. If you don’t bleed them, they get clogged up with creative ideas and everything else in your head stops working unless you have a way to get rid of all the imaginative gunge.
What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
People expect you to be able to answer questions about grammar and punctuation – like hey David what’s the definition of an Oxford comma? Or define the correct use of a semi colon, would you please? You’re an author aren’t you?
If you could have written any book what would it be and why?
I wish I had written the Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. Everything from the title onwards is like a compelling dream, and so incredibly funny and serious all at the same time, a mix of surreal and banal that is very European and somehow also very northern English.
How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up in plotting your next book?
I also play music so I’d be ideally playing piano or guitar – but the writing takes over I’m afraid most of the time.
Do you have a set routine ?
I like to write on trains if I can so that’s where I do a lot of it. Sometimes I go away to work, such as my friend’s cottage in Wales, or a place in a city. I don’t really like remote places in the country side. The last place I stayed in with the purpose of completing a book was in the middle of Lisbon, and I’ve done the same in Paris. Writing in a city means that at the end of the day there’s something to go out and do rather than just look out of the window at the sheep or stare at the fire and wonder what it would be like to have the internet. Oh and I often hold a pen in my hand while I type. I think it helps me to think.
A huge thank you to David for taking part and letting us know more about him, if you’d like to know more about David and his books you can check out his website www.davidgaffney.org or follow him on Twitter @ggaffa
If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page