Linen Press is a labour of love.
Founder Lynn Michell shares her vision, passion and hopes for Linen Press.
I want to read beautifully crafted writing that speaks to women. I want to fall into a novel and not emerge until its ending. I want to gasp at sentences that defy literary gravity.
My first amateur sortie into publishing came when 93 year old Marjorie Wilson joined my writing group in Edinburgh and revealed a rare writing talent. Her turn-of-the-century memoir had been rejected by almost every publisher in the UK so I took it on – without any knowledge of the business. Childhood’s Hill sold out, was re-printed, and beat Ian Rankin one week in Blackwells’ best sellers. It is described by The Scotsman as ‘luminous, episodic, sensual, rather like memory itself’.
Several years and a dozen books later Linen Press is evolving to accommodate a fast-changing book trade. While the bigger companies have become cautious, restricting their choices to crowd pleasers, Linen Press continues to publish books which are diverse, challenging, and surprising. The collective background of our writers is a multi-coloured patchwork of cultures, ages and writing styles. Established women writers have spotted Linen Press and set up camp with us, but alongside these literary amazons I will continue to publish books by emergent and minority writers.
My talent and passion for editing remains unchanged. I understand structure and voice, pace and tension, character and dialogue. At Linen Press, the editing process is crucial – a close collaboration and dialogue, often chapter by chapter, between author and publisher until a very good book becomes a superb one.
Linen Press has grown from an amateur venture into a young publishing house with a reputation for passion, energy and integrity. I’ve been called, amongst other things, ‘a plucky little publisher’. It’s less of a one-woman band. Beside me is Louise Santa Ana who manages the website and a lot more besides. And I rely on my loyal, hard-working interns for help with submissions, social media, and the injection of fresh ideas. Their track record for finding jobs in publishing is satisfyingly high.
While Linen Press has been on its character-building journey, I’ve been on a personal jaunt which has ended in a clearing in a French oak forest, up a steep track where, with my husband, I’m building a house. Life is a rainbow rotation of writing, editing, running Linen Press, and labouring inside and out to build a house that slots into the magnificent Languedoc landscape of vineyards and mountains. Hands on, like everything I do.
A reader writes:
I yearn for the stands that once housed the green covers of Virago and the striped spines of The Women’s Press.
The story unfolds…
RICHARD AND JUDY
Breeze From The River Manjeera
THE BIG RED READ
Breeze From The River Manjeera
PARIS PRIZE FOR FICTION
MANGA JIMAN ILLUSTRATED POETRY COMPETITION
GUARDIAN/FABER CHILDREN’S NOVEL
Dance of the Dolphins
WOMAN’S OWN SHORT STORY COMPETITION
SHE SHORT STORY COMPETITION
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON AWARD FOR A WORK IN PROGRESS
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON AWARD FOR AN EMERGENT WRITER
THE LUCY CAVENDISH FICTION PRIZE 2011
Nothing Is Heavy
MACALLAN SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY COMPETITION
MANCHESTER FICTION PRIZE 2009