Orenda Roadshow Comes to London Piccadilly

I always knew Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books was a formidable woman and a passionate publisher, but she really outdid herself this evening. Where else can you see 15 excellent and diverse writers, from 7 different countries (8 if you count Scotland), all in the space of two hours on a Wednesday night in central London?

The concept was simple but effective: each writer introduced themselves and their book briefly, then each read a passage. There was a bit of time for Q&A at the end, but time just flew by and I could have listened to them for hours. They are a fun bunch of writers, who have gelled together really well and build upon each other’s words at public events. While it was predominantly a psychological thriller/crime fiction sort of evening, there are also some authors who have written outside that genre: Su Bristow with her poetic retelling of the Selkie myth, Louise Beech with her heartbreaking portrayals of children and Sarah Stovell with the story of an obsessive love which reminded me of Notes on a Scandal.

Four Nations Game. From left to right: Gunnar Staalesen and Kjell Ola Dahl (Norway), Michael Malone (Scotland), Sarah Stovell, Matt Wesolowski, Steph Broadribb (all England), Kati Hiekkapelto (Finland).

This was followed by an enormous and delicious cake, aquavit to celebrate the National Day of Norway alongside more usual beverages, and lots of informal mingling and book signing.

Aren’t they all gorgeous? Sometimes I think Karen picks them for their looks as well as their talent. From left to right: Kati Hiekkapelto, Thomas Enger, Paul Hardisty, Louise Beech, Johanna Gustawson, Antti Tuomainen, Stanley Trollip from the writing duo Michael Stanley, Ragnar Jonasson, Su Bristow and Karen Sullivan.

It was great to also meet some of the others on the Orenda team: editor West Camel, distribution group Turnaround, cover designer Mark Swan. There were familiar faces of bloggers as well. Karen has managed to create a real feeling of community and genuine enthusiasm around her authors and publishing house, which feels more like family than corporate care.

Antti and Ragnar contemplating nautical tomes at Waterstones.
Two more Nordics for you: Ragnar Jonasson and Kjell Ola Dahl.

On the way there I was musing about Orenda’s ‘brand’. Karen makes no apologies about offering entertainment, but it is page-turning, original, good entertainment, rather than one relying on ‘more of the same cliché-churning drivel that is currently making money’, which some of the publishing giants are turning out. I may not love all of the books equally (I am not a huge action thriller fan, for example), but I have not disliked or left any Orenda book unread. I can count on them to entertain and enlighten, make me laugh and cry, while some of them have become huge favourites.

Of course I already owned all of the books, thanks to Orenda’s wonderful habit of involving bloggers and reviewers pre-release, but that didn’t stop me buying a few more to be signed or to give to friends. I also started Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski on the train on the way to the event and was so riveted that I did not stop until I finished it last night (or early this morning, rather).

Matt with his original, inventive debut novel.

The Roadshow will be stopping at Crimefest in Bristol next, so go and see them there if you get a chance. Congratulations to all, and I can’t wait to see what you are all up to next.


20 thoughts on “Orenda Roadshow Comes to London Piccadilly”

  1. Quote:”Of course I already owned all of the books, thanks to Orenda’s wonderful habit of involving bloggers and reviewers pre-release” How happened that? You applied or were they reaching out to you?

    1. I’ve been reviewing them for Crime Fiction Lover, so got on their list and am now pretty much receiving each one bar the one or two that are not crimey.

      1. Sounds interesting and tempting. But me? Male not living in the UK, very tiny blog. Don’t think I may be someday on the radar of a publisher

  2. “If you count Scotland”??? The Highland Fling and Haggis-Hurling Society of Auchtermuchty is on its way south to sort you out, madam…! 😉

  3. What a brilliant idea!! It must have been a wonderful time, Marina Sofia. Thanks for sharing the ‘photos and the story.

    1. I’m afraid I may have blathered on about my love for Norway and Finland, rather than asking intelligent questions about their books. A little star struck!

  4. That sounds wonderful. I went to my very first book launch (that is, the very first book launch I have ever been to, not the launch of my first book – I have no such animal) at Waterstones Piccadilly a couple of weeks ago, and it was marvellous. I had a great conversation (and probably bored stiff) a lovely vintage literary agent, having felt the need to tell her I was NOT a writer and would not be thrusting a manuscript upon her, so we chatted about books, authors, and the publishing industry. Her side of it a mystery to me and ‘why do bloggers do it’ a bit of a mystery to her, too. There were quite a few ‘just a passionate reader and blogger’ and also some writers as well, I might very well attend a few more. But yours, with a whole panel of writers, sounds especially fab

    1. It must be a relief for all the book industry people to actually meet fans and readers, rather than just those that have something to pitch at them! I have attended a couple of book launches by single authors, but this one was a little overwhelming, with so many to choose from. And all rather lovely!

    1. They had been touring the north of the country (in a smaller formation) and I was rather envious, especially since I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to any of the crime festivals this year. So, that was my small chance…

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