It's back. The Influx Literary Heroes blog has returned for 2017.
Rather than write about our favourite books of the year as every newspaper in the land does, we prefer to write about the people in the publishing industry who we think were absolute heroes during this year.
These are the people we couldn't do without, the people the literary world needs and should cherish, the best of the best.
So we present, in no particular order, 10 Influx Press Literary Heroes of 2017
1) Sharmaine Lovegrove and Dialogue Books
No one has made a bigger impact on publishing this year than Sharmaine. Rumours abound that she walked into Hachette and said, 'Gimme an imprint, you mugs' and the MD wrote a blank cheque. But even if you don't believe that made up story, the hype is real. Sharmaine's signed some amazing books this year and we are looking forward to seeing them released throughout 2018 and 2019. Over the years Sharmaine has supported so many writers, it's great to see her running her own imprint and changing the game from the inside. Also she can recommend very good wine. Like, really good wine.
2) Silver Press
The new imprint on the block and already making waaaaaves. Silver Press had an excellent 2017, publishing Audre Lorde and Leonora Carrington, and throwing a particularly good summer party at LRB Bookshop. We know how difficult it is to start a new publishing house, the late nights, the arguments, the complete lack of money, but Silver Press appear to have glided their way into the scene with consummate ease. We're jealous, if anything - it took us about four years just to figure out how to typeset properly. Founded by Joanna Biggs, Sarah Shin and Alice Spawls, Silver Press is a feminist publisher that is already vital, interesting and only ever going to get bigger.
3) Scott Manely Hadley
Scott, dear Scott. Blogger of books, king amongst men, video-maker extraordinaire. This year, Scott has produced some absolutely belting book reviews. He was insistent that one of our publications (Signal Failure by Tom Jeffreys) amounted to southern, or London-Centric propaganda, which, on reflection it wasn't. But don't let that stop you reading or following Scotty too Hotty. Just look at that cheap gold outfit he's wearing on his Twitter profile. He turned up to an Open Pen summer party wearing it. No shits given. And that's what makes him a real hero. Scott is not afraid to say whatever is on his weird and wonderful mind. 100% legend.
4) Owen Booth
*The* Owen Booth. Yes, the one that signed the BIG BOOK DEAL WITH 4TH ESTATE. Owen is our boy, he's been supporting us since day one. He even wrote a fabulous story for us in our under appreciated coastal anthology, Connecting Nothing With Something. We're delighted to see him thrust into the spotlight that he hates shining on him and couldn't be happier that such a brilliant writer will be unleashed on readers in 2018. Been a long time coming, but soon the world will know that the Booth is the Truth.
5) Mostly Lit Podcast
Like the Fantastic Four, but there's only three of them - The Mostly Lit crew are super heroes of 2017. Taking their excellent podcast to higher heights and then on to the road with brilliant live shows, Alex, Rai and Derek have made this year a certified audio banger. Listening to their podcast is always a joy and they celebrate great books, old and new with the vigour that only people who are younger than 35 years old can do (unlike grizzled has beens like us). On top of this, Derek hosted a brilliant event with Jeffrey Boakye for us at Stoke Newington Literary Festival. 2018 is ready for a Mostly Lit take over. Flame on!
6) Nathan Connolly and the Know Your Place crew
Know Your Place was hands down the best anthology to come out this year (closely followed by Comma Press's Protest: stories of resistance). Nathan has worked tirelessly this year and Dead Ink is smashing its way across the literary landscape like an Indelible Hulk. Know Your Place has generated a much needed conversation about working class literature (this BBC doc with Kit de Waal is a must listen, if you haven't already). The essays in the book address all manner of things but one of our favourites was Abondance Matanda's 'The First Galleries I Knew Were Black Homes' which kicks off the book so well. Nathan and Dead Ink are changing the game; innovating and captivating, we are very, very proud of the team.
7) Sam Fisher at Burley Fisher Bookshop
Sam is such a hero this is the second time he's been on our 'heroes' list, and there's only been two! Sam is Batman, Robocop, Braveheart, Super Ted, Bananaman all in one. A full time legend, 24 hour lad, 100% darling. Burley Fisher bookshop has been brilliant for us this year, hosting Influx launches and selling shed loads of our books. They have consistently interesting shelves, great events and are very willing to drink booze with us. On top of all this, Sam's only gne and written a book himself (Salt) and they've just started a publishing house. Astonishing work for a man who gets 'oi, Harry Potter!' shouted at him from people on the road outside the shop.
8) Helen Marshall
Asides from being a fantastic writer in her own right, Helen Marshall has proven this year that she has the editorial skillz and nous to match. Guest editing the fourth installment or Year's Best Weird Fiction from the the ever excellent Undertow, she's bust open the definitions of the genre and made it a whole lot more interesting in the process, directly linking the weird and bizarre with (and let's be honest) the weird, bizarre and horrific reality we find ourselves in post-Trump and post-Brexit . Maybe we're biased as the anthology features some Influx faves like Aki Schilz and Irenosen Okojie, but unfortunately it also features Gary.
9) Sam Missingham
Another Sam makes our top ten! What is it with these heroic Sams. The Missingham variety has been peerless in her support for independent publishers and Influx. Sam's had many years in the 'big' publishing game and now it's wonderful to have her expertise and passion on hand for everyone else. She started her brilliant Lounge Books website this year and it's taken our world by storm, with features like 'Meet the Indies' and competitions to promote overlooked books. Sam's got more energy than a Tesla coil and a family bucket load of ideas to improve and change the book industry. 2018 will be Missingham Action.
10) Austin Burke
Austin, a tall man from the Emerald Isle with a penchant for fisherman's beanies, does most of our cover designs. He's the man responsible for Attrib and Ghosts On The Shore. He also takes the front cover illustrations from excellent artists such as Dan Evans (Hold Tight) and Maxim Griffin (Signal Failure) and makes sure the rest of the book, spine, back and all looks peng AF. Without sick book design, where would we be? It also helps that Austin likes a drink and a dance as much as the rest of the Influx gang and organises excellent nights out to see Channel One or Trojan Sound system. What more could you want from a man? He's all hero, no zero, 10 out of 10 rude boy.
So there it is another year of heroes. Of course, we must give a shout out to our amazing supportive fellow publishers, particularly Sam and Elly at Galley Beggar, Nicky and Stefan at And Other Stories, Thom at Dodo Ink, George at Unsung and Jacques at Fitzcarraldo.
Next year's gonna be some next hype. Bring on 2018!