Becoming a reader for a publishing house can leave you overwhelmed by how many of your friends suddenly reveal that they are writers and plonk inch thick, dust coated manuscripts on your lap. You kindly state that you can’t read work from people you know because of bias and the friendship lives to see another day. But when I met Carly Holmes in 2012 it was through her writing and our friendship bloomed subsequently. She arrived in my life via the Cellar Bards (a live literature event in Cardigan’s Cellar Bar) which was at the time my new born baby of a project. Rather than her plonking a dusty manuscript on my lap it was I hounding her for drafts of her baby, The Scrapbook, which she’d raised from a dream into a reality during her PhD at Trinity St David’s. Once I’d read the finished novel in its entirety I knew it needed to be in the Parthian catalogue. There was no question of personal bias- this was a skilfully crafted and unique piece of writing and it was going to get snapped up. It seemed a perfect synergy for this first-time, Cardigan based author to be published by a house which itself flourished in Cardigan before spreading its wings south to Swansea and then beyond. I set up a meeting in a typically west Walian way. Carly met with me, my (then toddler) daughter Poppy, Richard Davies, managing director of Parthian and his dog Megan in a field in St Dogmaels. In the rain. In October. I think my endurance during the following hour of snagged tights, strained shoulders from toddler carrying and enthusiastic dog bounces were undeniable proof of my belief in Carly’s work. Carly’s trademark fathom long strides took her across the countryside like a mythical creature and Richard kept pace with her as they discussed The Scrapbook and I scampered soggily along behind. A deal was struck that in the wilds that day. And The Scrapbook left Carly to begin a journey and make its own way in the world. In April 2014 The Scrapbook was launched in the Cellar Bar, Cardigan, the venue where we and so many other writers and friends first met. It looked beautiful. Carly looked beautiful; radiating pride, relief and joy in equal measure. There was cake, wine and queues of Scrapbook admirers waiting to get their copies signed. Now, 6 months later all across the world The Scrapbook is lying tangled up in people’s bedcovers, nestling into suitcases, sand between its pages and proudly taking pride of place on a myriad of bookshelves. Readers are losing themselves as they read this novel of absence or perhaps remembering and questioning scraps of their childhoods as The Scrapbook examines the reliability of memory itself. Others could be forgiving their mothers or sisters for loving too much or too little. People are walking in the rain, sending up incantations and being reminded of the extraordinary, the strange, the beautiful and the magic inside all our lives, thanks to this novel. The Scrapbook has been met with much critical acclaim but my favourite review came from another talented Cardigan based, female writer, Liz Whittaker, who in a piece for the Tivyside newspaper wrote: ‘[A]n engaging first novel exploring themes related to the eternal verities of life and how they are dealt with by the women; with lovely writing that has been captured and nailed to the page in case it takes flight into poetry.’ Carly is now writing her second novel and is enjoying considerable success with her short stories. For further information on her readings and publications, including where to buy The Scrapbook check out her website: http://carlyholmes.co.uk and for further information on Parthian: http://www.parthianbooks.com
Subscribe to Blog via Email
My Ceredigion and Cardigan Bay
Welcome to the blog of Paul Williams, Ceredigion resident since 1970. I am a graduate of what was once known as St David's University College, at Lampeter. I played bass in Dyfed's first punk band, The Repeaters. Then living in Llandewi Brefi, we had a grandstand view of Operation Julie. Eventually, after 2 years playing bass in Brighton's 256th punk band, I returned to Wales to deal in books and then antiques. I have trained and worked as a counsellor, I am a photographer, blog and web builder and I publish the annual Wales Antiques Guide. I am married and a father of one.