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Headline Review

The Long Song

Andrea Levy
Andrea Levy

You do not know me yet. My son Thomas, who is publishing this book, tells me, it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within these pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed. July is a slave girl who lives upon a sugar plantation named Amity and it is her life that is the subject of this tale. She was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and she was also present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story tells also of July's mama Kitty, of the negroes that worked the plantation land, of Caroline Mortimer the white woman who owned the plantation and many more persons besides - far too many for me to list here. But what befalls them all is carefully chronicled upon these pages for you to peruse. Perhaps, my son suggests, I might write that it is a thrilling journey through that time in the company of people who lived it. All this he wishes me to pen so the reader can decide if this is a book they might care to consider. Cha, I tell my son, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just read it for themselves.

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Posted by Tony De Saulles, Author

Blog: 99 Dead Snowmen - Dead Funny!

Creative ideas come at odd times - many arrive in the night and are muttered sleepily into my dictaphone app. But inspiration for the latest title arrived while I was sitting on the coach to London, preparing for a meeting with my publishers.

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Posted by Emily Kitchin, Editorial

Blog: Staff Hot Picks for Autumn 2012 (Part One)

Autumn is upon us. The weather has turned, the mornings are dark, and summer suntans have faded into oblivion. Already the mittens vs gloves debate is starting to rear its sleepy head. Christmas is drawing closer and soon the holiday season will be in full swing. Handily, Headline has a wonderful selection of titles to warm your cockles over the next few months, from laugh-out-loud gift books to stunning photographic books to outrageous celebrity memoirs. Here are a few of our staff’s favourites…

Lynda Page


Following on from the success of The Time of Our Lives, Lynda Page brings us another nostalgic and heartwarming saga set in Jolly's holiday camp in the 1960s...


Our ebook of the month is THE HEIST, the first adventure in an electrifying new series from Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.


September's book of the month is Julia Keller's incredible follow-up to A KILLING IN THE HILLS...

Posted by Ben Willis, Publicity

Blog: Headline Goes To Edinburgh

The Headline Edinburgh Team had no less than FOUR objectives when we planned our trip to the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year: support our awesome authors during their packed-out events; hijack anyone and everyone even marginally famous; glug Irn Bru from a litre glass bottle down a poorly lit side street (pictured); and blast out awesome/ful renditions of One Direction songs at full volume in an overcrowded karaoke booth with people you've only very recently met. And it is with great pride that I can whole-heartedly confirm that we achieved ALL of our goals.

The perfect place to write a novel

Blog: The Writing Shed

What's your commute like? Mine's not so bad. Out the back door, across the deck, down the steps, skip across the lawn on the railway sleeper stepping stones and I'm there. My name is Julia Crouch and I am a shed worker. About ten years ago, I was running a very busy graphic design/illustration business from one end of the attic bedroom I share with my actor husband. When he was home from tour he tended to work there too, writing plays in our bed at the other end. With three kids crammed into our tiny terraced house, there was nowhere else for us to go. But our bedroom was hardly a sanctuary from our busy lives. Instead it was a major part of it all. I had two desks in it (one for computer and gear, the other for dirty work - paint/pencil/charcoal/collage), an A3 printer and a giant plan chest. Every available surface was taken up with bits of paper, books and various other sorts of equipment. And then, from time to time, Tim was there, too, with all his work stuff as well. Something had to give. So, when I had a particularly good year, I decided to invest some of my profits in building a garden studio. I bought it from a company that specialises in what they call 'huts'. All we had to do was make a level concrete base and run out the electrics and, within a couple of days, the prefabricated office was up and standing, ready for me to move all my gear out of the house and down to the bottom of our small garden. With this quiet, leafy retreat, I found that not only had I bought myself actual space, I had also secured a place where my imagination could grow and flourish. Having been with my husband since we were at university, it was the first time since childhood that I had had a room all to myself. I furnished it exactly as I wanted, filling it only with things I wanted to be there. It was, quite literally, a room of my own, kept as tidy or as messy as I feel like, removed from the domestic pressures and distractions of the house and children, yet close enough to be present in case of disaster or need. It was precisely because of all this physical and mental space that, about six years ago, I started to write in earnest. I'd do my money-earning work, then, every day, I'd stay down in the shed and work for an hour or so on short stories and, later, my novels. When I got my book deal with Headline, I happily and quickly gave up the day job, then instantly set about reconfiguring my shed. The plan chest was exchanged with an artist friend for a woodcut and the dirty work table went off to Freecycle. The liberated space now houses a cushion-covered day bed. This is where I read and dream stuff up, although I generally have to write at my desk in my fancy back-friendly chair. I've got some great wireless speakers down here now, so I can fill the space with the background music I've found helps the words out like nothing else. The walls around my desk are decorated with a mixture of artworks and ephemera relating to my current work in progress – currently lots of Greek stuff, because my fourth novel is partly set on the island of Ikaria. And behind me there is a whole wall of books – novels to be read, research items, reference books and writing books. I do about eighty per cent of my writing down here now. Although I have a heater and the shed is well insulated, sometimes, when the weather is really freezing, I prefer to curl up in front of the living room woodburner to work. Other times I need a change of scene just to chivvy things along, so I go out and work in one of the many great little cafés we have here in Brighton. But, on a day like this, when the sun is bright, and the birds are doing their spring thing, there's nowhere better. I have the doors and windows open, paperweights holding everything down against the breeze, my two cats sleep in a spot of sunlight on the day bed, and Nick Cave sings God is in the House on the speakers. What more can a writer girl want, really?

Anne Baker


Set in Liverpool during the Depression and the Blitz of the Second World War, Anne Baker's dramatic saga brings a close-knit community vividly to life...

Headliners choose their favourite summer reads


The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon 'I think The Wrong Knickers would be my perfect beach read. Totally relatable and absolutely hilarious, it’s the perfect book for a busy day of tanning – I can just picture thousands of women all along the Marbella shoreline spitting out their holiday cocktails with laughter.' Holly Harris, Non-Fiction Editorial Summer House with a Swimming Pool by Herman Koch 'If you found Herman Koch's The Dinner an addictive yet uncomfortable read, wait until you read this! A book that draws on obsession, guilt, paranoia and asks the toughest ‘What would you do?’ question you can imagine. I guarantee you'll finish this in one sitting by the pool as the protagonist’s world slowly collapses around him. A gem of a read.' Beau Merchant, Marketing The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas 'I have two absolute must-reads this summer, the first of which is The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas. When Fiona Clutterbuck finds herself stranded in a remote village along the west coast of Ireland, utterly alone having being jilted at altar, things seem just about as bad as they can possibly get. But chance has it that the mysterious and somewhat infamous local oyster farmer is in desperate need of an assistant. Fi throws herself into the role and what follows is an utterly uplifting, life-affirming story filled with warmth, laughter, tears and a romance that will sweep you away. I promise that The Oyster Catcher will capture your heart this summer!' Poppy Does Paris by Nicola Doherty 'My second summer pick has to be Poppy Does Paris – an irresistible e-short from Nicola Doherty which marks the beginning of her fabulous new digital Girls on Tour series. Think deliciously Parisian fun, flair, food and fashion. Brilliantly escapist, laugh-out-loud funny and a romance for you to really root for, Poppy Does Paris is everything that you look for in a summer read. It will leave you dying for your own holiday and longing for the next in the series … so watch out!' Christina Demosthenous, Fiction Editorial Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt 'This impeccable debut novel will introduce you to the most fascinating character you’ll encounter for a long time. Mr Chartwell is big, he’s black and he’s furry. Mr Chartwell is a dog. He can stand upright, he can talk, drink tea from a china cup and bathe himself (though it is easier if you help him). This book will furrow your brow and make the corners of your eyes crease, it will make you feel brave and it will fascinate you. This is no ordinary story, it is no ordinary summer read. Hunt’s writing is mesmerising, every page has a sentence I wish I had crafted and, now that I think about it, the only thing that might have made this book better would have been to read it on a beach.' Darcy Nicholson, Fiction Editorial The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish. 'My summer read is The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish. Louise is one of my favourite authors and I have been pressing copies of her books into the hands of friends to take on holiday for years. The Disappearance of Emily Marr is no exception – it is addictive and full of intrigue. Mix that with the irresistibly gorgeous setting of Il de Ré, which Louise so vividly describes, and you have a perfect suspenseful summer read with a twist I defy anyone to see coming. The plot and characters will stay with you long after you have left the beach.' Fran Gough, Publicity The Proposal byTasmina Perry 'My favourite read for this summer is Tasmina Perry’s new paperback The Proposal. Set in modern-day Manhattan but also taking you back to the 1950s debutante era, this is a magical and brilliantly escapist book which kept me guessing until the very end! Perfect to get absorbed in on a hot summer’s day!' Laura Ricchetti, Sales The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson 'This quirky book is a great summer read. Following in the style of The 100 Year Old Man, it tells the tale of Nombeko Mayeki and her unusual journey through life, from her upbringing as a latrine worker in Soweto, to receiving a small fortune in diamonds (through rather unorthodox means) and becoming friends with (unsuprisingly) the king of Sweden! Over the decades her luck and location constantly changes, and her bizarre adventures, eccentric friends and the ridiculous plot make this book a fun and breezy summer read which keeps you guessing and asking 'whatever next?' until the very end.' Bekki Guyatt, Creative With such a variety of stunning escapist reads here, hopefully you can indulge in one or two of them this summer!

Festive giveaway: A Heart Bent Out of Shape

Escape the winter cold with an exclusive festive giveaway of signed copies of Emylia Hall's new novel and Hotel Chocolat goodies – the perfect reading package

25 Sep

Kimberley Walsh Book Signing At Tesco Leeds


It's finally here, the book fans have been waiting for!! Kimberley Walsh will be signing copies of her new autobiography, A WHOLE LOT OF HISTORY. Where: Tesco Leeds (Seacroft), York Road, LS14 6JD Since she shot to fame in 2002 after appearing on Popstars: The Rivals, Kimberley Walsh has been best known as one-fifth of Girls Aloud, the most successful British girl-band ever. Her career has gone from strength to strength, and after twenty top-ten singles with the band, she's now striking out on her own. A starring role in West End smash Shrek The Musical was followed by a glittering turn on Strictly Come Dancing, where she made it all the way to the final - a true test of her popularity. Now embarking on a solo career, Kimberley has finally decided to tell her story. Don't miss out on the opportunity to get your copy signed.

Posted by Nicola Doherty

10 Top Tips for Los Angeles

If people ever ask me about my favourite holiday ever, I don’t even have to think twice. California, October 2011. We drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco – stopping off along the way at Santa Barbara wine country (as seen in the film Sideways), San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, and Monterey. I then stayed on in San Francisco for a further two weeks, writing my second book. Living the dream! It was easily the most memorable trip I’ve ever had and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Weirdly, one of my favourite parts of the trip was Los Angeles. LA has a bad reputation – you could easily imagine it’s a smoggy, tacky, endless sprawl full of identikit shopping malls. It can be all of those things but if you stay by the ocean, or go up in the hills, you’ll find a vibrant, arty, outdoorsy and endlessly fascinating place to explore. (It does help to be able to drive though, and have a GPS). I’d love to go back, but meanwhile I sent my heroine, Lily, there, for a family wedding that turns into a fabulous romantic adventure … Here are my top tips based on where Lily and I went: 1) Stay beside the beach – in Venice, Santa Monica, or (if you can afford it) Malibu. These places are also very handy from the airport. The Venice Beach House (where we stayed) is an adorable old-fashioned guest house that dates from the early 1900s; or try Shutters on the Beach for more updated luxe. 2) Hire a bike and cycle from Venice to Santa Monica (about two miles). You will see an unbelievable variety of local characters – think snake charmers, muscle men, rappers on segways and dogs on skateboards. 3) Be a culture vulture. Some people think there is no culture in Los Angeles. As Cher Horowitz would say: hello? As well as doing a Clueless tour, you can check out architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, the John Paul Getty Museum, LA County Museum of Art, La Brea Tar Pits, the Watts Towers, Griffith Park Observatory ... or of course do the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, where I met Actual Tom Cruise (though he may have been an impersonator because I don’t think the real Tom Cruise would accept tips). 4) Walk, don’t drive. Walk around the Venice canals which to my mind are just as pretty as the ones in Italy; hike in Runyon Park; or walk in Griffith Park where you can see the Hollywood sign AND the original Bat Cave! Or just get up early and go for a jog along the beach – you might see surfers out catching the morning swell, or photo shoot taking place, or (if you’re Lily) a cute boy out jogging barefoot … 5) Eat amazing food. You can keep up with the latest in the food truck craze at, or dine at Gwyneth Paltrow’s favourite restaurants (yes, Gwyneth – she really does know her food). 6) Go vintage shopping. I’m not sure if it’s the ageing hippies, the film costume departments or the Beverley Hills ladies who wear and discard, but LA is a treasure trove for vintage clothes. The Way We Wore and Hidden Treasures (which looks like a madhouse, at the top of Topanga Canyon) are two of the best. 7) Visit the flower market, where Lily and Jesse go shopping for wedding flowers. Fact fans note: Ashton Kutcher works here in the movie Valentine’s Day! 8) Head for the hills: explore Mulholland Drive and Laurel Canyon. We ended up there by mistake because we asked the GPS to ‘avoid motorways’ when leaving Los Angeles. It was scary at the time as it was late at night, very steep and we were totally lost, but hey, we saw Mulholland Drive. 9) Don’t stay downtown or at Chateau Marmont. The Chateau is lovely but it’s on a pretty tacky part of the Sunset Boulevard strip. But do go for a drink in Bar Marmont (just don’t get hammered and miss an important family party, the way Lily does). 10) You probably don’t need this one but: drink Californian wine. It is expensive compared to wine in Europe, but it is divine – plus they don’t export it much, so it’s something you can’t get at home. An excuse for a glass of Pinot Noir if ever I heard one … For more fun in Los Angeles, don't miss LILY DOES LA, out now in ebook. And be sure to catch the rest of the Girls on Tour...


Sarah Hilary's incredible debut crime novel, SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN, is published on the 27th of February. We loved it so much we thought we'd invite Sarah along to be our author of the month, which means tackling the Crime Files quiz. Here's how she responded...

Steven Dunne's TOP 5 Character kills

Crime writer Steven Dunne discusses his favourite fictional killings...



Headline's very own Jo Liddiard explains why she loves A KILLING IN THE HILLS...