The BookBlast® Diary
The BookBlast® Diary is the online journal which showcases independent publishing and writing from France. It is the offspring of BookBlast® writing agency, founded in 1997. Georgia de Chamberet was dubbed “L’enfant terrible of British publishing” by Le Figaro newspaper. BookBlast® has always been cosmopolitan in spirit, and gravitates towards the best independent-spirited and diverse writing.
A brand is your personality, so the saying goes. In the same vein as Flaubert’s statement that “Madame Bovary c’est moi“, I often say that “BookBlast® c’est moi“. I am an active idealist and a blasty kind of person when it comes to cross-pollinating ideas, connecting the dots and contributing to making major writing projects happen, by whatever means possible.
The agency’s early successes include Empire Windrush: Fifty Years of Writing About Black Britain ed. Onyekachi Wambu; and XCiTés: the Flamingo Book of New French Writing which showcased a new generation of French writers unpublished and unknown in English at the time — Frédéric Beigbeder, Tonino Benacquista, Virginie Despentes, Michel Houellebecq, Abdourahman Waberi among them. I have moved from a background in print anthologies to curate an ever-expanding online anthology showcasing the best of independent publishing.
BookBlast® Celebrates Independent Publishing
Books and writing and ideas are to be savoured as slow reads: an antidote to the demands of the hectic world around us. Independence matters in this increasingly corporate age.
Mavericks from a ‘traditional’ book publishing background, alongside newcomers, have embraced the new digital opportunities on offer. Indie publishers like Balestier Press specialising in contemporary Asian literature, Bluemoose Books showcasing new writers and working class voices, leading poetry publisher Carcanet Press, Comma Press releasing groundbreaking short stories by new and established writers, Dedalus Press showcasing contemporary English and European fiction, HopeRoad Publishing specialising in African and Caribbean writing, Istros books which publish and promote literature in translation from SE Europe and the Balkans and have had six winners of the EU Prize for Literature, Galley Beggar Press with their new British modernists, Peirene Press publishing world writing in translation, and Saqi Books the leading publisher for writing from the Middle East.
Other indie trade publishers which we have featured include: CB Editions, Galileo Publishing, Little Island Press, Charco Press, Les Fugitives, New Vessel Press, Dodo Ink, Eland Books, Gecko Press, Salt, Papillote Press, Gallic & Aardvark, Eyewear Publishing, Darf Publishers, Bitter Lemon Press, Hispabooks, Grub Street, RedDoor Publishing, Interlink Books and Aurora Metro.
And Other Stories, Unbound and The Pigeonhole are successfully applying new business models to their ventures. Many of the new breed of indie booksellers are releasing their own books thanks to the digital revolution. Book buyers who choose to support indie bookshops know they will get great service and stumble upon titles they have never heard of − with the added bonus that to support your local economy feels good. The Hive Network and Wordery offer readers a combination of high street and 24-hour online retailing. Whether reading printed books, on an e-reader or a tablet, we are lucky to have so much choice. Independence matters!
The BookBlast® Diary showcases some of the best independent publishers at work who exemplify a non-conformist mindset looking beyond the mainstream. Our copyrighted format is a Q&A interview with our indie publisher (of the week), a Q&A with their featured author and/or translator (of the week), and a review of their book (of the week). We also run monthly top 10 or top 5 reads, and seasonal reads from France, events news, and clips from YouTube.
Our Guest Writers include C. J. Schüler (journalist and cultural historian specialising in European fiction in translation, travel and the arts); Henrietta Foster (freelance producer/director at BBC TV); Philip Marsden (award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction); and Philip Mansel (author and historian).
The indie ethos is increasingly influencing the corporate sector as new imprints that are subdivisions of bigger publishers are founded (such as Tinder Press, Fleet, Spring, Trapeze, Bloomsbury Circus). They break up monolithic companies, give space to individual editors, and reassure authors that they are not disappearing into the corporate ether. BookBlast® runs monthly reviews of their books. A favourite is Maclehose Press.
BookBlast® writing agency also manages various literary estates: letters, photos and articles by the late Lesley Blanch and Gael Elton Mayo from the BookBlast® archive give a glamorous and unashamedly European atmosphere to the The BookBlast® Diary.
Lastly . . . it has been a privilege to contribute to words without borders, 3:AM magazine and various print publications, as an occasional writer, since 2005. Some of this journalism is also featured on BB Diary.
BookBlast® is inspired by the visionary ideas and humanism of Elton Mayo, the Australian-born psychologist, industrial researcher and organizational theorist who influenced Dale Carnegie, among others.
BookBlast® is energized by the creative fire of Wyndham Lewis (author of BLAST magazine, with Ezra Pound) and the Vorticists at the turn of last century. Lewis stated: “The moment a man feels or realizes himself as an artist, he ceases to belong to any milieu or time . . . Blast is created for this timeless fundamental Artist that exists in everybody . . . Blast will appeal to the fundamental and popular instincts in every class and every description of people, TO THE INDIVIDUAL.”
The Bodleian Libraries & BookBlast®
In 2009, we registered the trademark BookBlast® in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America in Classes 35 and 41 for services relating to promotion, marketing, advertising, writers agency matters, publication of electronic books and the provision of information in relation to books. The first company website went live in 2000. Since which time much of the writing and self-publishing community has been inspired by the concept of BookBlast® online.
On 5 March 2015, the company website bookblast.com was selected by the curators of Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford as being of lasting research value and worthy of permanent preservation in their Web Archive.
BookBlast® ePublishing released its first e-book in December 2014 − an acknowledged ‘classic’ by Lesley Blanch: The Wilder Shores of Love which pioneered a new kind of group biography. Four nineteenth-century European women − Isabel Burton, Jane Digby, Aimée Dubucq de Rivery and Isabelle Eberhardt − chose to escape from ‘the boredom of convention’, leaving behind them the industrialized West to find ‘the heart of adventure’ through love and fulfillment in north Africa and the Near East.
The Sabres of Paradise: Vengeance and Conquest in the Caucasus about the Muslim chieftain and military leader Imam Shamyl, and his fight against 19th century Imperialist Russia; and The Nine Tiger Man, a witty satirical romance dedicated to Lesley Blanch’s friend, Nancy Mitford, followed in January 2015. Pierre Loti: Portrait of an Escapist and Regency England Undressed: Harriette Wilson, the Greatest Courtesan of her Age, were released a year later.
Gael Elton Mayo’s memoir The Mad Mosaic, which opens with traumatic escape from Nazi-occupied France in 1940, is as disturbingly relevant now as when it was first published in 1983.
Format, IP & content copyright © BookBlast Ltd, London,14 February 2015. Photographs & graphical images copyright © their respective copyright holders. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, the content herein is only for your personal and non-commercial use. Post updated April 2016 & August 2017.
The lead image of the cafe at MERCI 111 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris and of Balzac’s desk at his home in Passy are copyright material and may only be used for associated reports about this post. It is not permitted to change them, to add to them, reproduce or modify them in any other way. In case of violation, we reserve the right to withdraw the right of use.