Last year, when the world wasn’t in chaos, I was thrilled to attend the Quercus Word of Mouth Best Sellers evening where I was excited to meet several authors and to receive some fabulous books coming out in 2020. You can read all about that event here.
One of the aspects of life in a Covid 19 world that I have found most frustrating is not being able to meet up with fellow bloggers and authors on an almost weekly basis and if I’m honest, I may have had enough Zoom and online events to last me a lifetime! However, when an invitation to attend the virtual #Quercus2021 arrived in my inbox, I knew this was an online event I simply couldn’t miss and I signed up right away.
Imagine my delight when a box of fabulous goodies arrived the day before #Quercus2021, generating much excitement about the night to come. When I opened it up I found an abundance of treats:
Now, of course, my difficulty was to decide which stage to attend as I wanted to hear every session, but sadly that wasn’t possible. The main part of the evening was introduced by Quercus marketing director Bethan Ferguson.
The sessions included:
Lucy Anne Holmes, author of Women On Top Of The World interviewed by her editor Katy Follain
Lucy-Anne Holmes is a writer, actress and campaigner living in Sussex. She is the author of three previous novels which were published in ten countries, and of Don’t Hold My Head Down, her funny and eye-opening personal sexual odyssey. Lucy-Anne was also the founder of the No More Page 3 campaign to convince the owners and editors of The Sun newspaper to cease its Page 3 feature, which showed photos of topless models. The newspaper withdrew this feature as a result of the movement. When she is not working on Women On Top Of The World, Lucy-Anne is on a training course to become a sacred sexual priestess.
Women On Top Of The World
‘A brilliant testament to those reclaiming their sexual power’ – RUBY RARE
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRISSIE HYNDE, JENNY ECLAIR AND MANY OTHERS
What goes through a woman’s head while she’s having sex?
Women on Top of the World is a collection of 51 first person testimonies by 51 women from around the globe, from all ages and from all walks of life. Searingly honest, they reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings during sex to writer Lucy-Anne Holmes. The result is an incredible compendium of true disclosures that are funny and sad, shocking and tender.
Every experience is different, unique and fascinating. From 19-year-old Melodie in the UK to 32 year-old Wambui from Kenya and 74-year-old Lucy in New Zealand, we as readers are led down as many paths as there are ways to have sex. There are heterosexual women, gay women, bisexual women, queer women, monogamous women, polyamorous women, non-binary women and transgender women. There is beautiful sex, bored sex, auto-sexuality, crazy sex, tantric sex, sad sex and sex that is experienced as colours and melted toffee.
A range of hugely talented, cutting-edge artists from all over the world – both male and female – have given their visual interpretations with rich and remarkable illustrations that convey the range of emotions contained within these intimate revelations.
The result is a stunning, transportive book that will help quench the obvious thirst for narratives for women by women about their journeys of sexual self-discovery.
Published on 25th February 2021 Women On Top Of The World is available for pre-order here.
I was fascinated by the conversation about Women On Top Of The World and think it’ll be a life changer for some women!
Selina Flavius, author of Black Girl Finance
Selina Flavius is a London-based Senior Account Exec who created and runs the coaching platform Black Girl Finance. A conversation with a colleague about investing and financial goals prompted Selina to research how BAME women fare when it comes to their money and finances – and, after reading the ethnicity pay gap statistics, was determined to help women start thriving financially. After carrying out a mini survey about how best women respond to information about finances and doing a web-design course, she put her thoughts into action and launched her website and Instagram account in April 2019 to create a safe space for women to talk all things money. Black Girl Finance is Selina’s first book.
Black Girl Finance
START FINANCIALLY THRIVING WITH BLACK GIRL FINANCE
We don’t like thinking about money, do we? We think maths, we think spreadsheets, we think boring. But Selina Flavius, founder of Black Girl Finance, wants to show that there can be another, better way. A way to start making our hard-earned money work even harder for us.
Selina Flavius created Black Girl Finance to address the unique difficulties Black women and women of colour face due to the gender and ethnicity pay gaps. Since we literally can’t afford to wait for change, we need to start changing things up for ourselves. From challenging money mindsets to teaching key skills, such as how to set up an emergency fund and where to start with budgeting, investing and saving, Black Girl Finance provides a safe space for a community of unapologetic, ambitious, money-minded women to get real about their finances.
Black Girl Finance is the guide every woman needs to kick-start their financial journey. Packed with tips, tricks and tools, as well as statistics, personal stories, goal-setting exercises and straight-talking advice, this will be your go-to helping hand when it comes to making your financial goals a reality.
Published on 21st January 2021, Black Girl Finance is available for pre-order here.
The advice from Selina on the night was crystal clear and incredibly helpful. Don’t miss Black Girl Finance!
Francesca Specter, author of Alonement
Francesca Specter is a London-based journalist and founder of the platform and podcast, Alonement. Prior to launching alonement in 2019, Francesca was the deputy editor of Yahoo! Lifestyle. She has formerly worked as a reporter at the Daily Express, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Telegraph and Grazia. She holds an M.A. degree in Magazine Journalism from City University, London, and she has been nominated for several awards for her work, including the PPA Digital Rising Star award. Alonement is Francesca’s first book.
How to be alone and absolutely own it, by founder of the Alonement blog and podcast, Francesca Specter.
Being alone has a serious branding issue. We’ve only ever had negative language to talk about flying solo – but what about when time spent alone is restorative and joyful? What if it’s something you crave? What if it’s even just an hour you’ve carved out for yourself in the middle of a hectic week?
Enter: Alonement, Francesca Specter’s empowering new word to express valuing your own company and dedicating quality time to yourself, whoever you are and whatever your relationship status.
Between open-plan offices, two-for-one vouchers and co-habiting with partners and friends, most of us don’t know how to be alone – yet our life-long relationship with ourselves is the most important one we’ll ever have. A reformed ‘extreme extrovert’ who struggled to spend even an hour alone, Francesca made the resolution in January 2019 to improve her solitude skills. Having spent two months of lockdown by herself, Francesca knows better than most how to optimise the quality of time spent alone.
Packed with practical tips, insights from key experts and lessons from guests of the Alonement podcast – including Alain de Botton, Florence Given, Konnie Huq and Camilla Thurlow – Francesca reveals how we can all thrive alone, whatever our circumstances, and harness the untapped power of some meaningful time with me, myself and I.
Published on 4th March 2021 Alonement is available for pre-order here.
Ali Benjamin, author of The Smash-Up in conversation with her publicist Ana McLaughlin
Ali Benjamin is the author of the young adult novel The Thing About Jellyfish, an international bestseller and a National Book Award finalist. The Next Great Paulie Fink was named a top children’s book of the year by Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, the New York Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library. Her work has been published in more than twenty-five languages in more than thirty countries. Originally from the New York City area, she now lives in Massachusetts. This is her first adult novel.
Life for Ethan and Zo used to be simple. Ethan co-founded a lucrative media start-up, and Zo was well on her way to becoming a successful filmmaker. Then they moved to a rural community for a little more tranquility–or so they thought.
When newfound political activism transforms Zo into a barely recognizable ball of outrage and #MeToo allegations rock his old firm, Ethan finds himself a misfit in his own life. Enter a houseguest who is young, fun, and not at all concerned with the real world, and Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most.
Ambitious, startling, witty, and wise, Ali Benjamin’s debut novel offers the shock of recognition as it deftly tackles some of the biggest issues of our time. Taking inspiration from a classic Edith Wharton tale about a small-town love triangle, The Smash-Up is a wholly contemporary exploration of how the things we fail to see can fracture a life, a family, a community, and a nation.
Published on 23rd February 2021, The Smash-Up is available for pre-order here.
Phoebe Wynne, author of Madam
Phoebe Wynne worked in education for eight years, teaching Classics in the UK and English Language and Literature in Paris. She is both British and French, and currently spends her time between France and England. Madam is her first novel.
Light a fire they can’t put out…
For 150 years, above the Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises a future where its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher, is the first new hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose feels overwhelmed in the face of this elite establishment, but soon after her arrival she begins to understand that she may have more to fear than her own ineptitude.
When Rose stumbles across the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor – a woman whose ghost lingers over everything and who no one will discuss – she realises that there is much more to this institution than she has been led to believe.
As she uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, Rose becomes embroiled in a battle that will threaten her sanity as well as her safety…
A brooding, mesmeric novel with a feminist kick, perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman, Madeleine Miller and Margaret Atwood.
Published on 18th February 2021, Madam is available for pre-order here.
Having heard Phoebe Wynn speak about Madam and read from it, I’m utterly thrilled I found a proof copy in my box of goodies!
Candice Brathwaite, author of Sista, Sister in conversation with Remi Sade and with a book that is so new that Candice is still writing it and we only got to hear about it last night. Candice was absolutely brilliant – honest, passionate and absolutely compelling.
Candice Brathwaite is the hugely popular influencer and founder of Make Motherhood Diverse – an online initiative that aims to encourage a more accurately representative and diverse depiction of motherhood in the media. She has worked with brands such as Pampers, Ella’s Kitchen and Specsavers, and has appeared on countless panels to discuss modern motherhood. Her writing has appeared in Stylist, the Metro and the Huffington Post. As Sista, Sister is still a work in progress, I’ll tell you about Candice’s I Am Not Your Baby Mother instead!
I Am Not Your Baby Mother
It’s about time we made motherhood more diverse…
When Candice fell pregnant and stepped into the motherhood playing field, she found her experience bore little resemblance to the glossy magazine photos of women in horizontal stripe tops and the pinned discussions on mumsnet about what pushchair to buy. Leafing through the piles of prenatal paraphernalia, she found herself wondering: “Where are all the black mothers?”.
Candice started blogging about motherhood in 2016 after making the simple but powerful observation that the way motherhood is portrayed in the British media is wholly unrepresentative of our society at large.
The result is this thought-provoking, urgent and inspirational guide to life as a black mother. It explores the various stages in between pregnancy and waving your child off at the gates of primary school, while facing hurdles such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point. Candice does so with her trademark sense of humour and refreshing straight-talking, and the result is a call-to-arms that will allow mums like her to take control, scrapping the parenting rulebook to mother their own way.
Published in paperback on 4th March 2021, I Am Not Your Baby Mother is available for purchase here.
Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev in conversation with Sarah Shaffi.
Dawnie Walton was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2018) and holds a journalism degree from Florida A&M University (1997). Formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly, she has received fellowships in fiction writing from MacDowell and the Tin House Summer Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
An idol of Afro-punk. A duo on the brink of stardom. A night that will define their story for ever.
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything.
Provocative and haunting, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev introduces a bold new name in contemporary fiction and a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling.
Published on 20th April 2021, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is available for pre-order here.
Hearing the conversation between Sarah Shaffi and Dawnie Walton about The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, I cannot wait to read it and as it was in my goodie box it won’t be long before I get started!
Jo Spain, author of The Perfect Lie -in conversation with Lisa Howells
Jo Spain is a full-time writer and screenwriter. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller, The Confession, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. Jo co-wrote the ground-breaking RTE television series Taken Down, which first broadcast in Ireland in 2018. She’s now working on multiple European television projects. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.
I love Jo Spain’s writing and I cannot wait for The Perfect Lie. See what you think:
The Perfect Lie
He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with his murder.
Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.
Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.
But it was all built on the perfect lie.
Published on 13th May 2021, The Perfect Lie is available for pre-order here.
Robert Jones Jr., author of The Prophets in conversation with Simon Savage
Robert Jones, Jr. is a writer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He earned both his B.F.A. in creative writing and M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Essence, Gawker, and The Grio. He is the creator of the social justice social media community, Son of Baldwin, which can be found on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Medium, Tumblr, and Twitter. He is also currently working on his second novel.
In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.
The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love – away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs – where they can be alone together.
But, Amos – a fellow slave – has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them.
The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr’s breathtaking debut, The Prophets.
I thought The Prophets sounds fantastic and I cannot wait to read it as it was in my goodie box.
Published on 5th January 2021, The Prophets is available for pre-order here.
Luvvie Ajayi Jones, author of The Fear-Fighter Manual in conversation with Sarah Shaffi
Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning author, podcast host, and sought-after speaker who thrives at the intersection of comedy, justice, and professional troublemaking. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellerI’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, and her site, AwesomelyLuvvie, is where she covers all things culture with a critical yet humorous lens. She runs her own social platform, LuvvNation, which is a safe space in a dumpster fire world.
The Fear-Fighter Manual
From the New York Times bestselling author of I’m Judging You, a hilarious and powerful book that talks about how to tackle fear–that everlasting hater–and live boldly and audaciously in spite of all the reasons we have to cower
Luvvie Ajayi is known for her trademark wit, warm voice, and exceptional integrity. But even she’s been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer because she was afraid of the title. She nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. Also, she’s deathly afraid of bugs. And, as she shares in Professional Troublemaker, she’s not alone.
We’re all afraid of asking for what we want because we’re afraid of hearing “no.” We’re afraid of being different, of being too much or not enough. We’re afraid of leaving behind the known for the unknown. But in order to do the things that will truly, meaningfully change our lives, we have to become professional troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say.
With humor and honesty, and guided by the influence of her inspiring and professional troublemaking grandmother, Funmilayo Faloyin, Luvvie walks us through what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we’ve been silencing–because truth-telling is a muscle.
The point is not to be fearless. It is to know we are afraid and to charge forward regardless, to recognize the things we must do are more significant than the things we are afraid to do. This book shows you how she’s done it, and how you can, too.
Published on 2nd March 2021, The Fear-Fighter Manual is available for pre-order here.
I loved the interview an am definitely going to start taking up space as Luvvie suggests!
Sarah Knight, author of I Knew This Was A Bad Idea in conversation with Clemmie Telford
Sarah Knight’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, has been published in more than twenty languages, and her TEDx talk, “The Magic of Not Giving a F**k,” has nearly five million views. All of the books in her No F**ks Given Guides series have been international bestsellers, including Get Your Shit Together, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for sixteen weeks. Her writing has also appeared in Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Red, Refinery29, and elsewhere. After quitting her corporate job to pursue a freelance life, she moved from Brooklyn, New York, to the Dominican Republic, where she currently resides with her husband, two feral rescue cats, and a load of lizards.
I loved the energy with which Sarah spoke and will be investigating her books as soon as I can.
(My *!) Again, I don’t have details to share yet of I Knew This Was A Bad Idea, because Sarah hasn’t finished writing it yet, so I’ll share Sarah’s latest No F**Ks Given book instead.
Are you stressed out, overbooked and underwhelmed by life? Fed up with pleasing everyone else before you please yourself? Finding it hard working from home? Then it’s time to stop giving a f**k.
This irreverent and practical book explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt – and give your f**ks instead to people and things that make you happy. From family dramas to having a bikini body, the simple ‘NotSorry Method’ for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f**k and will free you to spend your time, energy and money on the things that really matter.
Published on 29th October 2020, is available for pre-order here.
So you can see, an evening with Quercus is an eclectic and entertaining experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope you’ll find a book or two that appeals to you too!
If you’d like to see the full catalogue of brilliant looking new fiction coming in 2021, see the Quercus Word of Mouth Bestsellers Digital Catalogue.