If you haven’t heard of Orenda Books, that might be because the independent publisher has only been up and running for 17 months. So you may think that Orenda won’t have published many books in that time – wrong. 22 books have been published so far. Karen Sullivan who runs Orenda brought 12 of her 17 authors to Waterstones in Piccadilly for a roadshow.
First up was Michael Stanley who is not one man but two – Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, both from South Africa. Their detective series is based in Botswana. The idea for their first book, A Carrion Death, came from watching a pack of hyenas eat a complete wildebeest and it got them thinking – what a great way to get rid of a body!
Kati Hiekkapelto is from Finland and The Defenceless is her latest book. Kati didn’t give too much away but the story is a mixture of illegal immigration, drugs and gangs. It’s up for the Glass Key Award, the highest award in Scandinavian Crime Fiction. And since there’s only be one winner from Finland, It’s high time there was another!
Matt Johnson is a former MET officer and soldier. He’s come to writing later in life and his book was borne out of writing for therapy. Matt was diagnosed with PTSD after living through several traumatic events, including the shooting of Yvonne Fletcher at the Libyan Embassy (something I remember clearly). Wicked Game was initially self-published but came to Karen’s attention later on. Matt has combined his real experiences and emotions with fiction to create Robert Finlay, a royal protection officer, with a secretive past.
I’ve already reviewed Amanda Jennings stunning book In Her Wake. After the death of her parents, Bella discovers that her life is not what she thought and has to go on a journey to discover her past before she can move on to her future. For Amanda there were two roots for this story. Firstly Ben Needham who went missing as a small child from the Greek island of Kos. It made her wonder who would take a child from their family? And the other strand is Amanda’s love for Cornwall. Being half Cornish she has deep affection for the county. She likes to think that maybe she can start Cornish Noir!
Yusuf Toropov is an American Muslim and his book is Jihadi: A Love Story. His protagonist, a former US intelligence officer, now converted Muslim, is accused of terrorism. As the story unfolds, the reader has to decide who the reliable narrator is and who is the real terrorist. Jihadi: A Love Story has been put forward for The Booker Award.
How To Be Brave by Louise Beech has been a big hit. Combining two real life events from her family, How To Be Brave tells the story of nine-year-old Rose and her battle with illness. In order to keep her daughter alive, Natalie tells Rose stories of an ancestor who survived in a lifeboat in the Atlantic Ocean for fifty days in 1943.
Paul Hardisty was Orenda Books first author. The Abrupt Physics Of Dying was Thriller of the Year in the Telegraph and the story follows Claymore Straker who is working with the oil industry in Yemen. When he’s kidnapped at gunpoint, Claymore has no option but to help his kidnappers discover the truth as to why a village is afflicted with a strange sickness. The Evolution Of Fear is the sequel and this time, Claymore Straker has to travel to Istanbul and Cyprus, in the search for truth.
David Ross is from Scotland and his book, The Last Days Of Disco, has been described as Trainspotting with music. Set in Ayrshire in 1982, it follows the trials and tribulations of two friends trying to start up a mobile disco business. The Ayrshire music scene continues in the sequel, The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas. Both books are written in vernacular and are described as incredibly funny.
Michael Grothaus is an American journalist and author and has worked in Hollywood. Having spent many years investigating the effects of sex trafficking , it’s unsurprising that this takes centre stage in Epiphany Jones, his new novel. Jerry, who’s traumatic past has left him vulnerable to mental health issues, becomes the main suspect in the case of a stolen Van Gogh painting. It isn’t long before Jerry becomes embroiled in something far deeper and sinister than he could ever have imagined.
Michael J. Malone is another Scottish writer. His latest book, A Suitable Lie, will be published in September. But we did get a sneak preview when he read the prologue. Andy Boyd lost his first wife through childbirth and believed that he would never be happy again. But Anna has changed all that and appears to love his son as much as he does. After they’re married though, things start to change…
Steph Broadribb aka Crime Thriller Girl is more used to talking about other people’s books than her own. This was the very successful book blogger’s first panel to discuss her debut novel Deep Down Dead and it will be published next year. Lori Anderson is a single mum with a nine-year-old daughter, living in America. She’s also a bounty hunter. Author research is always important but Steph took it to another level. She went out to California and trained to be a bounty hunter herself.
Su Bristow’s new book is Sealskin and will be published soon. It’s a reworking of the Selkie story and tells of a fisherman who goes out on his boat and sees the seals taking off their skins and turning into young women. He hides one of the skins, thereby trapping of the women and takes her home to be his wife. Although the legend is seen as romantic, there is the horror of abduction at the centre of the story.
It was a fantastic evening listening to all the authors and naturally there were plenty of Karen’s amazing cupcakes to go around. There was also the excitement that, apparently, Yuko Ono was in Waterstones at the same time but I didn’t actually see her. However, there was one star of the evening for me and that’s Karen Sullivan herself. What she’s achieved in 17 months is nothing short of miraculous. Orenda Books is going from strength to strength.