I've just been reading a post made on the Guardian's Book Blog this week about an apparent dearth of fiction set in the north. The author's possibly disengenuous lack of awareness of so many writers has provoked lots of comment, including one from me, directing him to our very own website.
Sometimes I wonder why I'm so enthusiastic about encouraging our libraries to be aware of and champion writerswho write about our region, but then an article like this one reminds why. So many books are published that its really difficult for individual titles and writers to stand out from the crowd. Books that are brilliantly written, enjoyable and deserving of a huge reading public can remain under-celebrated, under-reviewed and under-read. The problem the author of the Guardian article could have acknowledged is not that the books aren't written, its that they don't get enough marketing, publicity and on-going attention. Perhaps it would be a good idea for publishers to co-operate in marketing their writers via websites according to locality, as well as genre or theme.
Now I'm really glad that for National Libraries Day this year I funded and co-ordinated 33 library events for NW writers and bought sets of their work for reading groups, hopefully bringing their books to the attention of readers who will contuinue to talk about them and look out for future titles. In the autumn I'll be running a promotion of some NW poets, a sector that finds it even harder to generate sales and audience.
The author of the Guardian piece was looking for writers who write about their region, not just live in it. Just in case you want a quick reminder of the fiction writers we supported on National Libraries Day, they were Jenn Ashworth, Carol Birch. Gladys Mary Coles, David Gaffney, Robert Graham, MJ Hyland, Zoe Lambert, Qaisra Sharaz, Jane Rogers, Caroline Smailes, Cath Staincliffe, Michael Stewart, Emma Jane Unsworth, Helen Walsh, Paul Wilson. Virtually all of these, though not exclusively, have taken their inspiration for at least some of their work, from the places they have come from or live in now. The NW region is so diverse in its communities, landscape and environments that it provides ample inspiration for a wide range of high-quality fiction.