Neem Tree Blog

2 Amazing Reads to Start a Conversation on the Environment Ahead of COP26 

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought devastation to millions around the world, disrupting many parts of the global economy. During this time, governments have stepped up to protect our lives and livelihoods. However, climate change continues to be an increasing threat to our planet. Around the world unpredictable weather such as storms, floods and wildfires are intensifying and increasing air pollution affects tens of thousands of people. Although the impacts of climate change are catastrophic there have been many advances in tackling this issue. With less than 60 days to go until COP26 it’s time to start a conversation and raise awareness of the environmental issues facing our planet.  

 The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. This event will allow global world leaders to work together and take action against climate change to protect and restore our forests and critical ecosystems towards a more sustainable future.  

Below we share some of our favourite books for both adults and children, covering a range of meaningful topics about nature, including green technology, environmental activism, and the sustainability of renewable resources.  

Toletis by Rafa Ruiz 
Translated by Ben Dawlatly
Cover designed by Elena Hormiga 

Did you know spending time outdoors can actually improve your physical and mental health, combat illness, and make you happier?  

Recent studies have shown the tremendous benefits of spending time in nature, for both children and adults. This research indicates that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors. Some other benefits suggest nature builds confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, it teaches responsibility and it also helps get kids moving around. Toletis by Rafa Ruiz encourages its readers to become acute observers and engage with the natural world around them; it’s the perfect antidote to smart phones and computers!  

Synopsis: 

The trees and grass are disappearing to make way for a new section of road. Toletis, his dog Amenophis, friends Claudia and Tutan are on a mission to find ingenious ways of replacing them and turning their little valley town, set deep in the mountains, lusciously green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed… with some very unusual help? A deep appreciation for nature, art, language, music, friendship, family, the passing of time, old age, loneliness, and the importance of sitting still and reflecting on life, pervade this exquisite story.  

This story is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations and has been used in schools for teaching descriptive and figurative language, art and crafts (with students exploring different media inspired by scenes from the book), and environmental awareness classes. 

 

“The values contained in the pages of love for the outdoors, animals and plants, friendship, family, being in touch with your emotions -make the world a better place. If you believe that the best hope we have for a safe, peaceful planet is to teach children to love the environment and one another, then I recommend that you read Toletis with the children in your life.” – Green World  

 

About Rafa Ruiz

A journalist and author who has a staunch commitment to culture, art and the environment, and the majority of his career has been focused on these three topics. He spent 10 years at Spanish newspaper El Pais and 15 years at their weekly supplement. He has written numerous children’s books and he co-directs the Mad is Mad art gallery in Madrid which gives a space to up-and-coming artists. He is also one of the partner-founders of the Press Association for Environmental Information (APIA).

Buy Toletis here

The Umbrella Men by Keith Carter 

You’ve probably never heard of rare-earth metals yet they have insinuated themselves deep into everyday life – in ways of which most of us are completely oblivious. For example, if you are reading this article on your smart phone, did you know you’re contributing to the consumption of rare earth metals?  

What are rare earth metals?  

Rare earth metals such as Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium give your phone the power to vibrate. Terbium and dysprosium are also used in tiny quantities in touchscreens to produce the colours of a phone display. 

The term “rare” doesn’t necessarily mean in short supply, but they aren’t plentiful either – they’re spread out in many different places on the planet, and extracting them can be hazardous and time-consuming. The mining and manufacturing processes also have very real environmental consequences such as despoiled nature, widespread pollution and serious health and wellbeing damage to workers and neighbours.  

Rare earth metals, the contradictions of the clean energy economy and their unintended consequences on everyday people are just some of the themes Keith Carter highlights throughout The Umbrella Men; a witty and acerbic novel for our times about corporate greed and the hubris of bankers.  

Synopsis:  

Finance, environmentalism, rare-earth mining and human frailties collide in a complex of flawed motives. We follow Peter Mount, the self-made Chief Executive of a London-based rare-earth mining company as he and his business are buffeted by crisis-torn Royal Bank of Scotland and by his own actions, real and imagined. Meanwhile in Oregon, Amy Tate and her group of local environmental activists do their contradictory part to undermine a component of the green economy, unwittingly super-charged by the Chinese state. The repercussions of events in pristine Oregon are felt in the corporate and financial corridors of New York and London with drastic consequences. This is a deeply involving novel about the current workings of capitalism, miscommunication, causes and unexpected effects, love and survival. 

 

“A highly entertaining romp that very accurately portrays the conflicting objectives and modus operandi of groups of investment bankers, hedgies, environmentalists and a small rare earth mining company as they each try to maximise their own positions, and with abundant human frailties on show.” – Waterstones Reviewer

 

About Keith Carter

Born in Scotland, he read Economics at Cambridge, taking a First in 1981 when he was elected a Scholar. He worked as an investment banker before going straight and running a small pharmaceutical company. Now a writer and business consultant he enjoys travel, politics and economics, reading and writing, languages, music and meals with family and friends. Keith suffered a spinal cord injury in March 2018 and since rides a wheelchair.

For more information on Rare Earth Metals read the articles below. 

The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust – BBC Future 

Our smartphone addiction is costing the Earth | TechRadar 

 

Buy The Umbrella Men Here

 

 

 

 

In Conversation with Tatti de Jersey

Tatti de Jersey has worked in children’s book PR for over 18 years. During that time she has worked for both traditional and independent publishers as well as a wide-range of authors such as Michael Morpurgo and Judith Kerr. She now works as a specialist PR consultant helping to build authors profiles via media interviews, literary festivals and book tours. Tatti talks to us about how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted PR over the last year, her advice for publishing hopefuls and the positive changes she would like to see within the publishing world.

 

To start us off, could you tell us a bit about your journey into children’s book PR?  

I began my career in children’s book PR 18 years ago when I started to work with Philippa Perry Associates. The main clients were Michael Morpurgo and Judith Kerr. In addition we worked across many literary awards including Wicked Young Writer Awards and Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award. 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your role as a specialist PR consultant for children’s books? 

The work is varied in that this role. As a publicist you organise media interviews across all outlets including broadcast, TV, national and regional newspapers and digital platforms. In addition to build the authors’ profile you propose them for literary festivals and book tours, often you accompany them. Essentially you are always building their profile which leads to increase in book sales. 

 

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted PR over the last year? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?  

All literary festivals were either cancelled or postponed. All book tours were cancelled. Where possible the festivals were put online but one of the most important elements of children’s book festivals is for the children to see and hear their favourite authors live. 

 

What words of wisdom/advice for publishing hopefuls out there? How can they best prepare for a position in book PR? 

  • As soon as you can in sixth form try to get an intern role or work experience in a publishing house so that you understand the daily routine.  
  • You could start your own reading/reviewing blog on your favourite authors. You can also offer to be a reviewer at various publishing houses.  

 

What are some positive changes you would like to see within the publishing world in the next few years?  

For publishing houses to give new authors opportunity to see their work published. Often big publishing houses stay safe for sales and keep the same authors on the front line.  

 

What trends do you see in children’s books for the next few years? 

  • Picture books will always remain popular as young children will always respond to colours and touch. 
  • I see more books about nature, climate change and self-awareness diaries becoming popular. 

 

Favourite publicity campaigns for book(s) you’ve worked on?  

  • Guess How Much I Love You 25th anniversary by Sam McBratney.
  • We are Going on a Bear Hunt 25th anniversary by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.
  • The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer.

 

 What are you reading at the moment – children or adult? 

I am reading Travellers Through Time by Ian Mortimer and Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust Book 3 

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with Neem Tree Press, Tatti! 

 

 

Find Your Perfect Summer Read with Neem Tree Press

Summer is the perfect time to catch up with that reading goal you set yourself all those months ago and whilst many countries have been added to the green list, still so few of us are able to travel abroad. As Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” In honour of helping those with wanderlust find the ‘perfect summer read’ – we thought we’d share three of our own fun and adventurous stories with you.  

Cows Can’t Jump by Philip Bowne 

From debut novelist, writer for The Wombles and winner of the Spotlight First Novel prize, this hilarious and poignant coming-of-age odyssey catapults 18-year-old Billy across pre-Brexit Europe.  

Literary fiction resonating with themes of family, faith, race, love, loss, taking risks, borders and barriers, downward mobility, and growing up under the shadow of Brexit.

Synopsis: 

17-year-old Billy has just left school with no A levels and he’s desperate to escape middle England. As a grave-digger, he’s working the ultimate dead-end job. Billy’s home life isn’t any better. In the evenings, he observes his dysfunctional family: his Grandad’s engaged to a woman half his age, his xenophobic Dad’s become obsessed with boxing, and he suspects his deeply religious Mum is having an affair. All the while, celebrities are dropping like flies and Britain is waiting for the EU referendum. Everything is changing, and Billy hates it. Meeting Eva, though, changes everything. She’s Swiss, passionate about Russian literature, Gary Numan, windfarms and chai tea, and Billy gambles everything for a chance to be with her. When things start to go wrong, Billy’s journey across Europe involves hitch-hiking with truckers, walking with refugees, and an encounter with suicidal cows. But the further he goes, the harder it is to be sure what he’s chasing –and what he’s running from. 

Just in case you’re wondering how Brexit will affect your travel plans see these articles below:  

What does the future hold for UK citizens travelling to Europe? 

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/travel-after-brexit-eu-passport-b1773142.html 

How Will ETIAS & BREXIT Affect UK Citizens? 

https://www.etiasvisa.com/etias-news/etias-visa-how-will-it-affect-uk-citizens 

https://www.etiasvisa.com/etias-news/british-tourists-visiting-europe 

 

About The Author 

Philip Bowne lives in London and works as a writer for The Wombles, a children’s entertainment brand. Like his protagonist, Billy, Phil attended a failing and severely under-resourced school in Bicester, Oxfordshire. However, unlike Billy, Phil ended up studying English Literature and Creative Writing at university. While studying, Phil published short stories in literary magazines and anthologies in the UK, US, Canada and Germany. After graduating, Phil spent time in Europe and the US, working and volunteering in various roles and settings: repairing boats at Lake Como, housekeeping at a mountain lodge in California and working with charity Care4Calais in the former Calais ‘jungle’ refugee camp. Cows Can’t Jump is Phil’s debut novel, which he worked on while managing a bar in London.  

 

The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball by David Ross and Scott Lauder 

The first book of The Three Hares trilogy is a fast-paced adventure story that will teach young readers about history, art and the mysterious Three Hares motif found all over the world – from China to Cornwall  

Synopsis: 

Sara’s school trip to a museum in Beijing seemed pretty run of the mill. The last thing she expected was to find herself inside a 700-year-old Chinese silk painting—and that wasn’t the worst of it. It’s only when she’s running for her life on a dangerous mission to protect the world from an evil shaman that Sara finds out how much danger is lying in wait just below the surface. And she seems to be the only one, despite the help of the Eight Immortals, who has the power to stop it. Thrown between present day Ben Nevis in Scotland and the Palace Museum in Beijing to the metropolis of Kaifeng on the Silk Road in the Song Dynasty, Sara has to dig deep and find wells of physical and emotional strength to stay alive long enough to fulfil her mission.    

The Jade Dragon Ball draws readers into the historical settings the story opens up. The artworks introduced – the Qingming Scroll, the Ktisis Mosaic, the Jade Suit – are pivot points upon which the story is based and encourage interest in the actual historical and cultural context.  

For more insight into the history of The Jade Dragon Ball why not check out the videos below and immerse yourself on Chinese culture this summer.  

The Song Dynasty in China | Asia for Educators 

http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/songdynasty-module/animated-version.html 

History comes alive with animated classic Chinese scroll painting – YouTube 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dK-GSLSPmc 

Valerie Hansen Walks You Through the Qingming Scroll – YouTube 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Rp4nMn-Gms 

Along The River During the Qingming Festival – YouTube 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwMwDYEfMy0 

 

The Three Hares: The Golden Monkey Key 

The second book in The Three Hares Trilogy, written by Scott Lauder and David Ross, transports readers to the 6th Century traveling along the Silk Road. Silk was once such a prized commodity that an entire trading network spanning 4,000 miles to connect Europe, the Middle East and North Africa with China was named after it. According to Chinese legends, Lady His-Link-Shih, wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor, was given the title Goddess of Silk as she’s credited with the introduction of silkworm rearing and the invention of the loom. This rich historical background sets the scene for The Golden Monkey Key as one reviewer notes “Depth, insights, action, and surprising twists and turns make this quest fantasy a standout production! – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review 

Synopsis: 

Sanjeev’s dog Jigsaw is missing in the middle of winter in New Jersey. But this tragedy is dwarfed by what happens to him in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Has he really entered the 6th Century and become the slave to monks traveling the Silk Road to Byzantium -and might they just be murderers? Trouble is even if he figures out how to get out of this, he’s got other problems: someone, or something, is coming after him. Part of the answer might be Sara, a girl who contacts him on the net and keeps talking about the Immortals. But who or what are The Three Hares and how can they stop the darkness about to engulf the world? 

About the Authors 

Scott Lauder was born in Ayrshire, Scotland. Having taught in Greece, Japan, and England, he now lives with his wife and four cats in the UAE where he teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and drinking good coffee. His other books include The Right Thing, A Single Shot, and The Boy-King Tutankhamun.   

David Scott Ross has travelled and taught throughout Asia since he first moved there in 1987. He currently teaches in upstate NY, where he lives with his wife and two sons. When David is not writing or teaching, he dreams about becoming a chef, a rock star, maybe an actor, but probably not all at once. At present, he is wrapping up two projects: Pastimes, encounters with a Stone Age people, and Dim, a detective novel.   

If you want to find out more about the Silk Road, see the articles below. 

The Mystery of Silk and the World’s First Intellectual Property Theft 

https://www.chinasimplified.com/2015/05/04/the-mystery-of-silk-and-the-worlds-first-intellectual-property-theft/ 

History of Silk 

http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/artl/silkhistory.shtml 

In Conversation with Victoria Olajide

Victoria Olajide founded TVOTRIBE in July 2019, a Pan-African community building culturally aware creatives in Africa and in the Diaspora. Olajide started this venture on her own and has since expanded her team and community to more than a thousand creatives all from diverse spaces with varying interests. TVOTRIBE recently celebrated their second anniversary with a range of activities focusing on one central theme: “The African Creative; Carving Your Identity.” Olajide talks to us about this event as well as the importance of remaining culturally aware within the publishing industry. She says “I believe that the most important aspect of sharing diverse stories is identifying how individual stories connect with others, and how this creative rhyming unites humanity.”  

As a poet, author, and editor can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?  

My name is Victoria Olajide, I am a creative writer, storyteller and social entrepreneur. Writing for me was an intentional journey towards self-discovery. I started writing professionally in 2018. Even though I started out with my blog in 2016, I could not exactly picture myself as one who would take on writing as a career. I got into writing for leisure, sharing content on my then BlogSpot website that just reflected how I perceived life at the time. However, my creative journey was initiated by writing and has helped navigate my identity. I would say that writing is the foundation of everything I have become.   

You founded the TVO tribesmen writers’ community, how did you find the process of creating this community. What were some challenges that you had to overcome? 

TVOTRIBE is a community for and of storytellers. I would describe the process as a strong process of learning and becoming. I have been able to understand stories in a different perspective (via actively communing with storytellers).  

Building this space was a technical process and was quite challenging because we kept evolving and I had to expand my mind, ideas, the team, financial capacity and so much. Beyond that, I was a female entrepreneur and I had some gender stereotypes flashing at me.  

I want TVOTRIBE to be the global system where creatives can communicate Africa’s existence in the most cultural way possible and African writers can express themselves much more and envision much more for their continent. I hope to be an entrepreneur who would empower women and African Creative communities.  

Can you give us more insight into how you funded this platform and what its growth trajectory has been like over the last 3 years?  e.g. How many authors and creatives have signed up and how will you market and grow the collective?  

TVOTRIBE kicked off on the 19th July, 2019 and It’s been two years of collecting, sharing and promoting African stories and storytellers.  

I managed major expenses by myself. Some would come from little writing opportunities I got. Starting out, I would create designs. send emails and do most of the work by myself. However, later in 2019 five of my friends joined the team. They would help with most of the work, voluntarily. At that time we had less than 50 people join the WhatsApp community and very little on other spaces.  

 Right now we have more than a thousand creatives on the tribe. From diverse spaces and with varying interests. We have a team of about 21 volunteers, an advisory board (which are patrons and mentors, we call them Elders), Media and Publicity Partners across Africa, 10 awarded creatives, various literary publications on writing, reading, publishing and so much more.  

 We plan to have more than a million creatives sign up from every country in Africa. And we are constantly growing, teaching, collecting stories towards promoting community.  

 We have monthly literary engagements with creatives in our community and we have had sessions with publishers (Eleventh House Publishing, Shallow Tales Review) and great storytellers within Africa.  

We plan to reach more creatives, and open them up to greater opportunities in the coming year. 

I’d love to know more about your creative venture with TVOTRIBE, can you tell us more about this and how what inspired you to create this platform?  

TVOTRIBE is a literary community created to expand ideas relating to culture, community and pan-Africanism. Beyond these core reasons for creating the tribe, we want to have a mixed society with diverse perspectives and ideas that will be able to mediate through conversations and focus on the core essence of being African. The tribe started as a conglomeration of creatives like me. And is really a platform with a spiritual sense of community – which I needed at the time, to improve ideas and focus on the African narrative. I created what I couldn’t find, with the tribe.  

In building this Pan-African community of culturally aware creatives in Africa and in the diaspora, what has been the more important aspect of sharing stories from an array of different writers.  

Storytelling is fundamental to the Human experience. And Narration or foretelling can only be comprehensive or better told by a well-equipped narrator. Storytellers layer words, meanings to their story, surviving in a wide array of literary themes; they pass on words with the hope that an audience would find meaning in this strong convocation of letters. Literature explores identities and even beyond the story we want to find a position for the storyteller. A unique multiuniverse where individual identity beyond the characters matter. And with this chore of identifying the narrator comes understanding the cultural background and selective status of this person. I believe that the most important aspect of sharing diverse stories is identifying how individual stories connect with others, and how this creative rhyming unites humanity.  

How important is it that people remain culturally aware of others? How can people achieve this? In what ways can the publishing industry improve on their representation of African communities?  

It is indeed peremptory that everyone tells their own story. Various cultures intersect with peculiarities from different angles and families. However, we must remain intentional about being culturally aware. Because it is easy for us to reduce or ignore the impact cultural difference has on thought, perception and living in its entirety.   

Literature, Communication and Collaboration can help achieve a culturally aware society. Reading works from a diverse group, exploring art and philosophy. Because we cannot exactly “travel the world” to understand every society, but digesting materials from various sources helps.  

Publishing industries can help improve by supporting African Authors and their diverse narratives. It will help minimize cultural myopia, and expose true, relevant African narratives to a large audience.  

Congratulations on the second anniversary for TVOTRIBE. What have you been most proud of during this journey, and can we expect any upcoming events soon? 

Thank you! It’s a bright moment for us at the tribe and we are excited about this season.  

I’ve been so proud of the encouraging support from literary agencies within the literary space, my resilient team (working through a very short time period), the immerse support of the Tribe elders and how we are -in the process of planning the anniversary- sustaining narratives and creating bold memories.  

Yeah! Our anniversary event – TVOTRIBEVERSARY 2021. 

TVOTRIBEVERSARY 2021 would shine a spotlight on top and emerging creatives from various creative niches, to showcase their art, tell defining stories and share unforgettable experiences.   

This event would also put light on defining historical moments of the past year 2020, with mentoring and education, as its core element.  

Our theme: “The African Creative; Carving Your Identity”, will focus on education and mentoring, with a view to instilling African creatives, with the consciousness of who they are or who they should represent. Featured Activities include: “The Identity Series – A DOCUMENTARY”, OPENING SUMMIT Event and BREAKOUT SESSIONS. 

For more information please visit (www.tvotribe.com/anniversary) 

Connect with us online @tvotribe on all platforms. 

What are you reading at the moment? 

I am reading Arts of Being Yoruba by Adeleke Adeeko at the moment. It is a collective documentary and array of essays sharing vastly how humanity connects with Yoruba aesthetics. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 

I quote, Prof. Wole Soyinka;  

“I don’t see any other responsibility for a writer, beyond expanding the horizon of his/her community of humanity.” 

Understand that Africans and Humans thrive in a network of stories. Share your story because storytelling is a big part of sustaining relationships and defining society. Whatever path you take, become a storyteller; slowly sipping every nib of that story. You have the power to define humanity with your words.  

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with Neem Tree Press, Victoria! 

 

 For more information on TVOTRIBE click here: https://tvotribe.com/ 

Find Victoria on Twitter: @TheVictoria_O

TVOTRIBE Instagram: @tvotribe

TVOTRIBE Twitter: @tvotribe

 

 

 

The Books You Should Read For Women In Translation Month! – August

August is Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth) – an annual celebration (which, if we’re being honest, might as well be yearlong for Neem Tree Press) of literature written by women that has been translated from a different language into English. The celebration started back in 2014 by book blogger Meytal Radzinski (@Biblibio) after she began to notice the lack of translated titles by women on her bookshelves. Radzinski grew up bilingual speaking both English and Hebrew, and her family often encouraged her to read literature in translation.   

According to an interview from The American Literary Translators Association, Radzinski wants to “hold publishers more responsible for parity in what they choose to publish.” However, she also says that “the problem [with translated literature written by women] definitely goes back further.” She goes on to say that “just about every step of the pyramid has its problems, from translator bias (men translating fewer women, according to Women in Translation) to a general lack of reviews and publicity to gender bias in other countries” but overall responsibility lies everywhere.  

At Neem Tree Press we are dedicated to the enthusiastic discovery of both British and international literature that will change and broaden perspectives, we are truly global in scope and have a number of titles under contact from across the world.  

This month is the perfect time to discover new independent authors and we’d love to encourage and challenge readers to seek out translated texts by women. For our blog today, we’ve bought together a selection of titles written and/or translated by women that we have published and are available in store or online right now!  

 

Distant Signs By Anne Richter 

Translated by Douglas Irving 

Distant Signs is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall. 

In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor’s daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in the Thuringian forest. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families’ hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Click for information on Distant Signs: https://neemtreepress.com/book/distant-signs/  

Buy Distant Signs: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1911107097  

About the Author

Writer and poet Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. Since 2003 Anne has lived with her daughter in Heidelberg, where she combines her writing career with teaching German as a second language. 

 

About The Translator

Douglas Irving was born in Scotland in 1972. He studied German and Spanish at Aberdeen University, then in 2014 completed a Masters in Translation at Glasgow University. His first translation, Crossing: A Love Story – a later work by the great German writer, Anna Seghers – was published in 2016 in the US to positive reviews. His translation of Anna Seghers’ last work published in her lifetime, Three Women from Haiti, is set to follow. Another translation, Distant Signs, the debut novel by German writer Anne Richter, will appear in the UK in 2019. 

 

In The News 

Why East Germany was for lovers | Sleek Magazine 

https://www.sleek-mag.com/article/why-east-germany-was-for-lovers/ 

Why young eastern German voters support the far-right AfD | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.06.2021 

https://www.dw.com/en/why-young-eastern-german-voters-support-the-far-right-afd/a-57847028 

The dark side of German reunification | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 21.09.2016 

https://www.dw.com/en/the-dark-side-of-german-reunification/a-19566834 

Germany faces old problems 30 years after reunification | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 03.10.2020 

https://www.dw.com/en/germany-reunification-2020/a-55131890 

 

Trees for the Absentees By Ahlam Bsharat 
Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Sue Copeland 

Young love, meddling relatives, heart-to-hearts with friends real and imagined – Philistia’s world is that of an ordinary university student, except that in occupied Palestine, and when your father is in indefinite detention, nothing is straightforward. 

Philistia is closest to her childhood, and to her late grandmother and her imprisoned father, when she’s at her part-time job washing women’s bodies at the ancient Ottoman hammam in Nablus, the West Bank. A midwife and corpse washer in her time, Grandma Zahia taught Philistia the ritual ablutions and the secrets of the body: the secrets of life and death. 

On the brink of adulthood, Philistia embarks on a journey through her country’s history – a magical journey, and one of loss and centuries of occupation. 

As trees are uprooted around her, Philistia searches for a place of refuge, a place where she can plant a memory for the ones she’s lost. 

 

Click for information on Trees for the Absentees: https://neemtreepress.com/book/trees-for-the-absentees/  

Buy Trees for the Absentees: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1911107232  

 

About the Author

Ahlam Bsharat is a Palestinian novelist, poet, and children’s author, as well as a teacher of creative writing. She is a prominent and highly regarded author of YA novels in the Arab world, and her books have met with great success at the local and international levels. They have been included in IBBY lists, shortlisted for the Palestine Book Award (UK) and Etisalat Award for Children’s Literature (UAE). Two of her novels, Code Name: Butterfly and Trees for the Absentees, have been translated into English and her most celebrated recent Arabic YA novels are: “مريم سيدة الإسطرلاب ” Maryam Sayida al-Astrolab ,“جنجر” Ginger and “مصنع الذكريات ” Masna’ adh-dhikariyat 

 

About the Translators

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a British literary translator working from German, Russian and Arabic into English. Ruth graduated from the University of Oxford in 2003 and completed an MA in Translation and Interpreting at the University of Bath.                                                                                               

 

Sue Copeland is a British translator working from Arabic, French, Italian and Spanish into English. She enjoys translating fiction and non-fiction, particularly that associated with human rights and refugees. 

 

In the News 

Youth Wellbeing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: An in-depth, multi-level and disciplinary study into wellbeing and gender equality among Palestinian youth – occupied Palestinian territory | ReliefWeb 

https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/youth-wellbeing-occupied-palestinian-territory-depth-multi 

Children of Palestine – Humanium 

https://www.humanium.org/en/palestine/ 

War Child in occupied Palestinian territory | War Child 

https://www.warchildholland.org/occupied-palestinian-territory/ 

 

Code Name: Butterfly By Ahlam Bsharat 
Translated by Nancy Roberts 

With irony and poignant teenage idealism, Butterfly draws us into her world of adult hypocrisy, sibling rivalries, girlfriends’ power plays, unrequited love…not to mention the political tension of life under occupation. As she observes her fragile environment with all its conflicts, Butterfly is compelled to question everything around her. 

Is her father a collaborator for the occupiers? Will Nizar ever give her the sign she’s waiting for? How will her friendship with the activist Mays and the airhead Haya survive the unpredictable storms ahead? And why is ‘honour’ such a dangerous word, anyway? 

 

Click for information on Code Name: Butterfly: https://neemtreepress.com/book/code-name-butterfly/   

Buy Code Name: Butterfly: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/191110702X  

 

About the Author

Ahlam Bsharat is a Palestinian novelist, poet, and children’s author, as well as a teacher of creative writing. She is a prominent and highly regarded author of YA novels in the Arab world, and her books have met with great success at the local and international levels. They have been included in IBBY lists, shortlisted for the Palestine Book Award (UK) and Etisalat Award for Children’s Literature (UAE). Two of her novels, Code Name: Butterfly and Trees for the Absentees, have been translated into English and her most celebrated recent Arabic YA novels are: “مريم سيدة الإسطرلاب ” Maryam Sayida al-Astrolab ,“جنجر” Ginger and “مصنع الذكريات ” Masna’ adh-dhikariyat 

About the Translator

Nancy Roberts is an Arabic-to-English literary translator who also translated Salwa Bakr’s The Man From Bashmour, for which she received a commendation in the Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Translation. 

 

Upcoming Books 

We are also in the process of publishing two international literary translations written by women. The first will be a fiction book written by Doina Rusti, translated from Romanian into English. The Book of Perilous Dishes won a ‘major grant’ from the Romanian Cultural Institute.  

About the Author

Doina Rusti is one of Romania’s most successful writers of historical and speculative fiction. Rusti is the recipient of many major Romanian awards, and her books have been translated into multiple languages. She is known for exploring aspects of fantasy and the supernatural,

 

The second book is a Young Adult Algerian crime novel written by Djamila Morani and translated by Sawad Hussain from Arabic into English. This book won a prestigious English PEN Translates grant and features a strong female protagonist who breaks cultural and historical stereotypes. 

 

About the Author 

Djamila Morani is an Algerian novelist and an Arabic language professor. Her first novel, released in 2015 and titled Taj el-Khatiaa, is set in the Abbasid period, but in Kazakhstan. All of her works are fast-paced historical fiction pieces. 

 

About the Translator 

Sawad Hussain is an Arabic translator and litterateur who is passionate about bringing narratives from the African continent to wider audiences. Her translations have been recognised by English PEN, the Anglo-Omani Society and the Palestine Book Awards, among others. 

 

 

We hope that’s given you some ideas for #WITMonth.  

 

Happy reading! 

 

In Conversation with Chris Moody

Chris Moody is the founder of Bang the Drum. He has over 35+ years of experience in publishing and has worked with some of the largest UK publishers prior to going freelance and moving to working with smaller publishers which he says, “was a real eye opener.” He set up Bang The Drum to handle sales to UK booksellers on behalf of independent publishers. According to Chris, “sales is a great place to learn about the business of publishing. You are exposed to customers, pricing, scheduling, content, marketing, profitability, the whole ecosystem- and you can use this experience and knowledge to make a real contribution to a publisher.”  Read on to get a further understanding of what it’s really like working in sales for the publishing industry. 

 

What does Bang The Drum do? When and why did you start it? 

Bang The Drum handles sales to UK booksellers on behalf of independent publishers.  I have been freelancing as a sales person for about 5 years and set up Bang The Drum about two years ago 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself, and what drew you to publishing? Do you think the route you took is possible in the current marketplace?  

I have worked in publishing for 35+ years, for the majority of that time in sales. I started at 18 as a publishing trainee at Hodder. This involved spending around 2/3 months in each publishing function within the business – from the warehouse to editorial – and at the end of two years you would be offered a permanent post. A mixture of a love of books and where I lived at the time (I was within walking distance of the offices in Kent) meant publishing seemed a good fit for me. I am sure this route doesn’t exist now– I was able to live at home initially (not London), I didn’t have a degree, and I got a great grounding in how the ecosystem of publishing worked. 

 

What’s been the most challenging part of running this business, before and during Covid?   

To be honest the challenges generally have been the same, getting books into the available customers. During the pandemic there were obviously fewer titles being published and fewer booksellers open. I was able to dip into government support at the beginning of the pandemic and as I sell across a range of different customers it meant I wasn’t exposed to relying on sales through one particular sector being forced to close.  

 

You’ve worked with various independent publishing houses over the years. How do you feel the size of a publishing house impacts your day-to-day at work? What are looming challenges or positives trends we should look out for in the next five years in book sales and distribution.  

I had worked at some of the largest UK publishers prior to going freelance and moving to working with smaller publishers was a real eye opener. When you are carrying an established publisher’s lists your emails get answered quickly and your phone calls returned. Representing smaller publishers has meant a lot of chasing customers and clients, constant following up and thinking about how to use fewer resources effectively. It took me a while to get my head around the change. Selling now means so much revolves around presenting titles at the right time with the right information to the right customers at the right price. Not all smaller publishers have the resources to do this– so part of my challenge is to work with them to maximise the return on their resource. I would hope that one of the positive trends that will emerge is indie publishers working with sales agencies effectively to combine their efforts, giving those sales agencies compelling lists of publishers with which to engage retailers,  

 

What are you most proud of in your publishing career so far? 

Still being here, having good friends in the industry and that people still come to me for advice. 

Favourite book(s) you’ve worked on at Bang The Drum? 

I have had the privilege to work on so many great books during my career both at larger publishers and my indie clients. If you are forcing me to make a choice from my Bang The Drum clients I would say Nature’s Toybox from Storyhouse, Chill With Lil from Ragged Bears and The Most Important Animal Of All from Mama Makes Books. 

 

Do you have any advice for people aspiring to work in the publishing industry and specifically in sales and distribution? 

Sales is a great place to learn about the business of publishing. You are exposed to customers, pricing, scheduling, content, marketing, profitability, the whole ecosystem- and you can use this experience and knowledge to make a real contribution to a publisher. I know many people who have married their knowledge of sales to a creative drive and made their way in corporate publishing or created wonderful indie publishers.  

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with Neem Tree Press, Chris! 

 

 

 

In Conversation with Rumana Yasmin

Rumana Yasmin is the founder of BokBok Books, an independent book publisher specialising in both English and Bengali children’s books. Starting the company with no industry knowledge, Rumana’s journey into publishing went hand in hand with being a mother. Inspired by the lack of Bengali representation on the bookshelves today, she decided to address the gap in the market by growing a community of authors and illustrators of Bengali heritage to tell their stories to her children and to the next generations.  Although this did not come without its challenges, Rumana shares her advice for new publishing hopefuls – “I would say not to be put off by a lack of the right educational background/work experience. I have found that there are always people who are willing to come forward and help you learn the ropes.” 

To begin with, what do you love most about being a publisher? 

Every project opens up possibilities for new collaborations, a space where a rich exchange of ideas and know-how can take place, and a chance to really fall in love with a book while creating it.  

Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to set up your own publishing company, BokBok Books?  

My journey as a publisher and a mother went hand in hand. One of my strongest urges as a new mother was to become a storyteller for my children and raise them amongst the tales that I had grown up listening to. My mother was an amazing storyteller and I wished to carry on her legacy. Stories were also my way of building a bond between my children and my homeland, Bangladesh, which I had left behind 12 years ago to live in the UK. But I soon realised that my stories, my words, just weren’t enough. I needed to have a whole village to tell them stories – and that’s when I thought of this idea of growing a community of authors and illustrators of Bengali heritage to tell their stories to my children and to the next generations.  

Did you face many challenges doing this? How did you finance the company initially?  

Learning to juggle my babies – my children and my business – is an ongoing process that I know can never be mastered. What I am learning is to have reasonable expectations for myself in all my roles.  

It was tough at the beginning, having to learn all the ropes, since I had no previous experience in publishing, but what I quickly learnt about indie publishers is that we’ve got each other’s backs, and whoever I have asked so far for help or advice has happily provided it. 

I started BokBok Books with very little funding from my own pocket, but now we are stronger, with financial support from Arts Council England and Beximco Bangladesh, who believe in our aim as an organisation to support underrepresented talent in the arts.  

Did your previous educational or work experience help or did you find yourself starting from scratch? 

I started from scratch in terms of my knowledge of the publishing industry. What did come in handy was an immense love for words and stories, which I am lucky enough to have explored through my first degree in literature and linguistics.  

I’d love to know more about BokBok Books! Could you tell us a bit more about your publishing house.  

We are a publishing house focused on representing Bengali authors and illustrators in children’s literature. Anyone who gets involved in creating a book with us shares our passion to bring about positive change, through one children’s book at a time.  

My two children are my constant inspiration for BokBok Books. We love doing bokbok (the word for ‘endless chatter’ in Bengali) in our household, and books contribute greatly towards fuelling the endless chatter. So I always find myself wanting to make books about subjects that I would like to bring up in conversations with my children as they grow up, be it our heritage, equal rights, or environmental justice. No subject of discussion is off limits in our household, and I hope our books too can make way for open conversations amongst all our readers. 

How do you source your books? Are there literary agents that you work with or is it more word-of-mouth and organic? 

People either send in their manuscripts to me, or we develop ideas for in-house projects and then match the right team members with each project. 

What are you most proud of in your publishing journey so far?  

Our village of authors and illustrators already numbers more than thirty, not bad for a fairly new publishing company. I love how we can connect through the process of making books, and it fills me with pride that we can represent them in children’s literature worldwide.  

Favourite book(s) you’ve worked on at BokBok Books? 

I get immensely attached to every book that we work on. Currently, we are developing the content for ‘Sensing Bangladesh – A Children’s Guidebook to Art from Bangladesh.’ We are running a residency with six poets to develop the content for the book, which is going to feature artworks by Bangladeshi artists, accompanied by poetry responses, interactive prompts, guides and facts. Working together as a team, watching this book unfold, is truly a captivating process. This book is my current passion.  

Finally, do you have any advice for people aspiring to work in the publishing industry?  

From my own experience, I would say not to be put off by a lack of the right educational background/work experience. I have found that there are always people who are willing to come forward and help you learn the ropes; and also, there are many roles in the industry, so there is always the potential to transfer skills. I guess what matters most is a love for books, and a hands-on attitude to learning and working collaboratively.  

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with Neem Tree Press, Rumana! 

 

 

In Conversation with Sanjee de Silva

Sanjee de Silva is a relatively recent addition to the Sweet Cherry team and comes from an amazingly diverse background – from being an accounts manager and brand manager for companies like Ralph Lauren and Selfridges but also as a fashion stylist and as a general manager in the construction industry. He brings a wonderfully varied perspective to the company and values a truly inclusiveness and collaborative management style.  

To start us off, what do you love most about the publishing industry? 

What I love most about the industry is the power to influence young minds through young eyes, and it’s a responsibility I take seriously. I would like Sweet Cherry Publishing to be a supporter of parent and teachers, not only as an educational tool but as a source of inspiration and escapism for every reader we reach. 

Coming from a background outside of the industry, what drew you to publishing, and more specifically, to children’s books? 

I am always looking for a way of leaving a legacy for future generations. We all have responsibility to make the world a better place and children’s book publishing gives me the opportunity to make a difference. 

Congratulations on being named the British Books Awards Small Press of the Year 2021! What do you think makes Sweet Cherry Publishing unique? 

Our Leicester roots make us stand out from the crowd and naturally this makes our workforce so diverse. As it’s Pride Month, we are proud of the fact that we are owned and run by LGBTQ+ individuals. We think it makes a real difference to our creative processes and the books we publish. 

Why do you feel it’s important for there to be diversity within the publishing industry itself?  

Diversity should be natural, like it has been for us. It shouldn’t be about hitting a quota or reaching a statistic. Winning Small Press of the Year 2021 has made us look inwardly to see how we can do any more. There is a lot we can all learn from each other and I would encourage other publishers to do the same. 

Do you have any advice for people aspiring to work in the publishing industry? 

Keep at it, keep going and keep submitting. You only have one life to live and you should live it doing something you love. We support the independent publishers of the future get into publishing and think outside the box when it comes to recruitment. Often we find that by recruiting outside of the industry we not only bring transferable skills but fresh thinking, which is exactly what the industry needs. 

Thank you so much for speaking with Neem Tree Press, Sanjee!

 

In Conversation with Divia Kainth

Divia Kainth is Head of Sales and Marketing at independent children’s publisher, Sweet Cherry Publishing. The company recently took home the Small Press of the Year 2021 prize at the British Book Awards. Divia began at Sweet Cherry as an intern in 2018 after graduating from Oxford Brookes University and has gone on to make a huge impact on the company. Divia went from joining as a Sales and Rights Assistant, to Publicity Executive, to Head of Sales and Marketing over the course of just three years.  The company was founded by Abdul Kadir Thadha and prides itself on its Leicester heritage. The team are deeply involved with their local community, working hard to promote reading to a young audience. They are also working hard to promote diversity in children’s literature and within the publishing industry and in this they view their location as a huge advantage. “Being based in Leicester we have only diverse candidates to choose from and we recruit without prejudice…We do not need to fit into a demographic or diversity agenda because we are inherently and organically diverse. Authentically so.”

Tell us a bit about yourself, and what drew you to publishing? 

I was born and raised in Leicester and have loved reading books ever since my childhood. My mum would take my sisters and me on a walk to our local library every weekend and I’d always leave with two or three books. As I grew up, my love for reading turned from a space for imagination to a means of escaping the woes of teenage life – especially A-Level Chemistry! Reading books taught me a lot of life lessons outside of the classroom, but what I didn’t really know then was that there’s a whole world behind making books besides writing or editing them. When it came to making university choices, I fell in love with the campus and Publishing Media course at Oxford Brookes during an Open Day and after that, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. It was somewhere I could combine my entrepreneurial skills with my passion for books – and suddenly everything fell into place! 

You started working in the industry from a young age, what would you say are some of the most important lessons you’ve learnt during your time at Sweet Cherry Publishing? 

The most important thing I’ve learnt in a busy and fast-paced environment like publishing is to never lose sight of your passion. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a hectic schedule or aching feet at a book fair so sometimes I take a minute to remind myself that I’m here because I’m a reader and a book lover, first and foremost. 

As the Head of Sales and Marketing at Sweet Cherry, what do you feel are some of the key aspects of a successful marketing campaign for a book? 

The key aspect to a successful campaign is to really know the audience. At a small indie publisher, time and resources are limited so it’s important to establish the ins and outs of your target reader and/or who has the spending power.  

What are some of your favourite books you’ve worked on at Sweet Cherry, and are there any upcoming projects you’re particularly excited about? 

My favourite campaign was the 2019 launch for Gill Stewart’s contemporary teen book, Lily’s Just Fine. We took it to YALC in the summer and it was great to be surrounded by a community of fellow YA book lovers. Oh, and celeb-spotting at YALC was a bonus! 

More recently, my favourite publicity campaign has been the launch of Lauren Hoffmeier’s yoga-themed picture book, Mula and the Fly. Lauren is a children’s yoga teacher based in NYC and brings so much energy, passion and enthusiasm to her book launch. We secured coverage in a wide range of yoga and mindfulness publications, including YOGA Magazine, as well as a children’s event in New Jersey and some fun YouTube videos of brand new yoga moves inspired by the characters. 

Do you have any advice for people aspiring to work in the publishing industry? 

We’re all book lovers but it’s important to have commercial awareness, too. Visit bookshops, browse charts and keep an eye on what’s happening on social media. Also, don’t let internship rejections get you down. There are plenty of ways to gain experience without working in a publishing house – tutor English, volunteer at a charity bookshop or offer your services to a self-published author. You’re guaranteed to have something different to talk about during an interview if you think outside of the box. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with Neem Tree Press, Divia!

In Conversation with Sade Omeje

Sade Omeje is an Editorial and Publisher’s Assistant at HarperCollins, working across the William Collins and 4th Estate divisions. A proud Mancunian, Sade completed her degree at the University of Manchester before coming to London to pursue publishing. We connected through a virtual open day at HarperCollins, a new initiative providing publishing hopefuls with a glimpse into the industry. Sade spearheaded this scheme, an impressive and admirable feat for her first year in publishing.

Lisa: How did your role in publishing come about and when did your interest in the industry develop?

Sade: I got my degree in English Literature and American Studies at the University of Manchester and it was only in my second year that I learned about publishing as a job. Anna Kelly, Editorial Director at 4th Estate, gave a talk at my university. I proceeded to research the industry, realised it was something I wanted to pursue, and eventually did a two-week work experience placement at Penguin. Through this placement, I discovered how much I loved the culture and the people in the industry. I started to apply for open-ended jobs across various departments and after lots of ups and downs (and far too many train tickets to London!), I finally got my current job at HarperCollins.

L: Particularly as someone who was coming from a completely different industry and who started off with no connections in publishing (or in London more generally), I was thrilled to discover the virtual work experience scheme at HarperCollins, and I hope other publishers follow your lead. How did you come up with the idea for it?

S: I take part in the SYP mentoring scheme and one of the mentees was talking about how helpful it is to use work experience as a jumping off point. This made me reflect on the value of networking and of welcoming a wider range of voices and ideas into the industry. When the Black Lives Matter movement emerged last summer, there was a lot of talk about diversity in publishing. As a division, we were thinking about what we could do internally to bring in more people from different backgrounds, and the idea for the virtual open days came about through those conversations. We wanted to make sure we were offering experience to people with a range of backgrounds and ideas, and also, for example, to those who might be in their thirties and forties wanting a career change. It can be difficult to open up the bubble and make the industry accessible to those people. I wanted to ensure we did our very best to do so.

L: What do you love most about working in editorial? Was it a department you knew a lot about beforehand? Have you been surprised by what the day-to-day entails?

S: I didn’t know anything about editorial when I came into this role! A lot of people think of editorial first when imagining a career in publishing; it sounds fun and exciting and very author-focused. For me, the first few months mainly involved figuring out how our editors operate. As I work across two imprints, I’m exposed to such a spread of authors and genres, from commercial to literary fiction to political non-fiction, and more. What I love most about my role is the ability to dip into different submissions and speak to editors about their process: how they communicate with authors, how they pre-empt and reject books, how they handle relationships in the industry. I’ve discovered just how relationship-based the publishing industry is and it has been such a unique experience getting to see how each editor navigates this.

L: How were you able to excel in your role in the first few months? What are some things to keep in mind for someone starting out in their first publishing role?

S: What helped me most was building connections. I would advise anyone to speak to as many people as you can and don’t be afraid to ask loads of questions. You’ll feel far more confident in meetings once you’ve taken the time to network and get on people’s radars. It can be hard when you’re first starting out if you don’t already know people in the industry, as this is such a small industry in which everyone knows each other. There is so much value in building connections with people in junior roles, as you’re all in the same boat, so you can develop more natural relationships and friendships. One of the biggest issues in publishing is retention and I think it’s important to feel the passion to stay in it. Feeling well-connected to others helps massively with this.

Thank you so much for speaking with Neem Tree Press, Sade!