Thursday, 20 November 2014

Indie Picks - explore some of the best of Indie Publishing through our author recommendations

by Catriona Troth

It all started after London Book Fair 2014, when Porter Anderson of The Bookseller, in one of his characteristically provocative posts, questioned whether indie authors actually read books written by other indie authors.

I was already in the throes of organising the inaugural Indie Author Fair – bringing forty indie authors together to create a pop-up bookshop at the Chorleywood Lit Fest. We had a unique opportunity to demonstrate the quality of work from indie authors and I wanted to spread the net as wide as possible. So, inspired by Anderson’s challenge, I called for recommendations for the best indie reads. The responses came in from all quarters, and the results were put on display at the Fair on 16th November.

So now, here is our invitation to explore the best of Indie Author Publishing through a selection of our Indie Picks... 

Recommended by JW Hicks: Author of Rats

Roz Morris: My Memories of a Future Life

As soon as I read the title I was hooked; it conjured such speculations! But it was the three dimensional characters in this wonderfully written novel that kept me reading. They leapt from the page, insisting I speed through to the very last one. But even after the book was finished those characters – those people – stayed with me. If it’s true that a good book haunts you, then Memories of a Future Life is a darned good book.

It’s the characters, drawn with such exquisite care by Roz Morris, that make this book unputdownable. For example, Carole, the classical pianist imprisoned in a world of pain caused by RSI. And Jerry, subject to such violent panic attacks he’d once been hospitalised for a suspected heart attack. And there’s Gene, of course – the mysterious face-from-the-past; the puzzle that Carol wants so desperately to solve.

My verdict? Memories of a Future Life is a truly satisfying book and well worth reading.

Inceptio by Alison Morton

This hi-octane, fast moving thriller is set in an Alternate timeline, in a branch that split from ours before the fall of Rome. In this Alternate Earth the Roman Empire has dwindled into the matriarchal state of Roma Nova.

Karen Brown lives in the Autonomous City of New York, but has roots in Roma Nova. She is targeted by Renschman, a government enforcer with orders to eliminate her. Aided by Roma Novan special operative, Conrad Tellus, she escapes to Roma Nova in the nick of time.

But crazed Renschman follows...
You can read more of Carina Mitela’s adventures in Books 2 and 3 of Alison Morton’s Roma series.

Becoming Human by Eliza Green

Becoming Human by Eliza Green, is a powerful tale. I was glued to it by the time I finished the prologue!

Alien space vehicles terraform a planet. For humans of a dying Earth to occupy this New Earth the indigenous species must die. The Indigene survivors find refuge underground ... to plot revenge on the murderous Surface Creatures.

Humans and Aliens – how very different, yet how much alike as they fight for survival.

Just what is the terrifying secret that must be hidden, but which needs to be discovered? The deep, dark secret that underlies the New Earth colonisation?

I defy any reader to experience anything but tingling tension as they read this totally absorbing futuristic hi-energy novel.

Recommended by Kevin Booth: Author of Celia’s Room

House of Silence by Linda Gillard

A young woman for whom family signifies betrayal and abandonment, and who has learnt to maintain her emotional isolation, falls for a seductive young actor whose sprawling web of relatives she welcomes as icing on her romantic cake. Yet invited for Christmas at their chilly old mansion presided over by a flighty matriarch, cracks in the family’s happy façade cause her to question the enigmatic past of this apparently idyllic family. Steering skilfully between the genres of romance and mystery, Linda Gillard has written a captivating read that will keep you guessing till the end.

One Night at the Jacaranda by Carol Cooper

In search of love, a delightful miscellany of contrasting London types sign up for a night of speed-dating at the Jacaranda pub. Following the trials and tribulations of an undercover journo desperate for a feature, a GP with custody issues, a single mother, a terminally ill cat-lover, an obsessive misogynist and an ex-con, among others, Carol Cooper has written a light, witty an enjoyable book about the perennial quest for one’s better half.

Recommended by Rohan Quine: Author of The Imagination Thief

Cured Meat by Polly Trope:

Cured Meat by Polly Trope is a unique and inventive combination of confessional autobiography (with much darkness to confess) and literary/experimental fiction. Its wilful smudging of the boundaries of those two categories, both on the scale of its overarching journey and from paragraph to paragraph, is poetic in itself, veering from stark to gently humorous and transmuting degradation into lyricality.

Songs from the Other Side of the Wall by Dan Holloway

Songs from the Other Side of the Wall by Dan Holloway investigates love, pain, time, identity, coincidence, personal fulfilment and narrative structure itself. Its ambitious and successful embrace of these big themes is served up with tasty and original forays into more specific arenas of human activity – such as the subtleties of Tokaji wines and their culture, currents in contemporary art, and the human politics of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Its hip, sensuous surface smoothly overlays a less smooth landscape of emotional disjunction and quite some existential anguish and alienation. This is challenging literary art, resulting in serious entertainment.

These Fragile Things by Jane Davis

In These Fragile Things, the characters’ thought processes, emotional machinations and motivations are unfolded with thoroughness and clarity in real time, giving us a feeling of being intelligently anchored in reality throughout. But there are heights and spaces aplenty above this grounding. One of this novel’s many energetic and skilful successes is perhaps in suggesting that whether or not there are Miracles as such, each of us does nonetheless retain the option of remaining richly alive to the Miraculous within the fabric and the mysteries of the everyday world around us.

Recommended by Elizabeth Woodcraft, author of A Sense of Occasion 

Lillian's Last Affair by Sue Katz-

The interesting thing about this book is its subject matter. This is a collection of short stories about seniors and their sex lives - something we never read about - told with humour, sensitivity, lust and dignity. A good read.

The Irish Twins by Susan Hill

I have loved Susan Hill's writing for a long time, Strange Meeting is an all time favourite. I was interested when she began publishing her own books. This in fact is a novella - with an unfortunate title - but demonstrates her unquestionable skill of pulling you in to the story as we follow the destiny of two smart determined girls and the twin brothers that they meet.

Recommended by Patrick A Parish

Amulet: Book 1 of the DragonBlade Series, by Nancy Lee Parish

Amulet is a debut novel, intended to be a fun fantasy that's suitable for most ages (however, is not intended as a strictly Young Adult works). It's a professionally edited novel that couples a unique writing style with a fast paced rhythm and best of all, dragons. I would actually recommend the entire series (there are currently two books and a third WIP), however, it always seems fitting to start at the beginning.

Banshee in the Well,  by Robin Lovejoy

Banshee In The Well is intended to be a debut Young Adult story. This story tells of a young boy who finds a girl in the well on his farm. The girl turns out to be a 13th century banshee who needs to find a way to get her magic back and return from our time to hers. The relationship between the two main characters is really well written as is the way Sathra, the banshee sees modern things which she has obviously never seen before. As well, it was written by a Tolkien, what more can be said?

Beyond Hades, written by Luke Romyn

Beyond Hades is another beginning selection of a series that I believe would be suitable for most age groups, however isn't strictly speaking Young Adult. From the gripping prologue which immediately seizes your attention, Romyn hurls you into an endless vortex of action through unexpected dimensions which leaves you trying to catch your breath. Where many have tried to create the next fantastic adventure which resulted in a remake of some past epic novel, Romyn has successfully created a series of parallel worlds the likes of which I'd never seen and he has done so seamlessly as to make the reader believe this could actually be.

Recommended by RJ Lynch: author of the James Blakiston Series 

The Red Hill by David Penny

The Red Hill is a historical novel set in Muslim Spain at a time when Islam is about to lose the foothold it has had there for a long time. Islamic characters and views are presented with an unusual degree of sympathy, while the details of ordinary life both for those in power and for the common people, are entirely convincing. 

The Testament of Mariam by Ann Swinfen

This is a story we all know – a basic item in the British canon – but presented from an unusual point of view. We see the life of Jesus (and the role of Judas) but we see them from the point of view of the sister of Jesus and the fiancée of Judas and not, as we usually do, filtered through the eyes and wishes of the Churches. The characters and events are presented with a freshness and a feeling of reality that carries the book forward. 

Recommended by Roz Morris: Author of My Memories of a Future Life and Lifeform Three

Breathing For Two by Wolf Pascoe 

It is a curious responsibility to drug a person to immobility and unconsciousness. Then you must keep them in that precarious state until the surgeon has done his work. And while those moments or hours may be blank for the patient, they're sometimes way more of a struggle than the sleeper would ever suspect. The style is poetic through its simplicity, sensitivity and insight. Wolf Pascoe takes you on an unforgettable journey between night and day.

The Survival of Thomas Ford by John Logan

A story about a man who survives a crash in which his wife dies. But the driver who caused the collision is hunting him down because he is worried about being identified.

From this apparently straightforward premise comes a story that is tense and gripping - but far from simple. The characters Thomas must outwit are unhinged, amoral lowlifes, from a milieu that gentle Thomas has never before had to encounter - like most of us who live normally and quietly. This gives the novel a universal, mythical quality. This is a story of survival, but not just physical escape. It is a crawl back to life after a clash with barbarous, feral forces. It is also a clash with conscience - if someone died beside you, and you feel responsible, how do you survive? Do you even deserve to? The prose is bold and unfancy, yet supple enough to connect with the vast and elemental. I frequently found myself rereading pages - not because of any problem with clarity, but because a phrase drummed in my head long after the plot had dragged me past, demanding a second look. The storytelling is effortless, the echoes are long lasting.


  1. Please join in the fun and add your recommendations here!

  2. What a fascinating list. So nice to see a collection of indies honoured. Great book covers and some intriguing-sounding content. I'm adding to my TBR list right now!

  3. Thanks, Helen. You won't be disappointed!

  4. I'll second Helen's comment, I've seen a couple of these titles around (I'm an indy author myself) but many others are new to me.