Authors, Publishing

Book Launch: The Bras and the Bees

This week, I attended the launch of a very special book, hosted by Falmouth Booksellers in Cornwall. I’ve been patiently waiting for The Bras and the Bees by FA Notley to come out ever since I heard about it, partly because it sounds like such a wonderful reflection of true life events about a beekeeper-turned-global-business-entrepeneur, and partly because the cover artwork for this book is simply so beautiful.

FA Notley (co-editor for Cornish Short Stories) is the author of this stunning book. It tells the true life events of Brian Sherriff, now 91, who was at one time a beekeeper and factory director manufacturing women’s bras, before he went on to establish his own business selling beekeeping suits around the world. As a leading brand that’s still recognised today, The Bras and the Bees tells a fascinating and inspiring story of how you can go from one life path to the next with one simple idea. Namely, Why aren’t there any safety measures in place when working with bees?

The Bras and The Bees book_launch.jpgThe Bras and the Bees

As a lover of all things literary, I’m always a sucker for any type of author event, so to meet the author, the man the book is written about, and the illustrator, all in one night was particularly exciting for me. How often do you really walk into an author event and leave with not just one, but three signatures within the first few pages of the book?

This night was full of sparkle and I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the evening at this wonderful independent bookshop.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_BrianBrian signing my copy at Falmouth Bookseller

At the launch, Brian jokingly admitted he never realised his life was so interesting to a smiling audience. He suggested that, to anybody who wants to write their life story, all they have to do is write little anecdotes down about what happens to them, collate them in date order, and then put them all together to create a book. Of course, it’s a little more technical than that, which is where FA Notley steps in and brings Brian’s wonderful story to life with her words.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_FA Notley and Lucy Smith

Author FA Notley and illustrator Lucy H. Smith

Lucy H. Smith, the illustrator, even signed my copy with a unique drawing of a tiny buzzing bee. As a massive fan of her artwork, I loved that she included this; I’ll be holding this book close for a very long time. The detail on the page is exquisite and I particularly love the wings.

Illustrator Lucy H. Smith signing my copy

The exhibition space for this event was also beautiful. It included one of the corsets made from Brian’s factory on a mannequin so gorgeous I wanted to take it straight home with me. There was also an amusing graphic showing how Brian used to wear his own miniature ‘bra-kerchiefs’ in the front pocket of his shirts, a story which is all detailed further within the pages of the book.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_exhibitionExhibition space

I’ve never seen anything quite like it – and it definitely added characterful charm to the event, as well as to the entire book.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_exhibition_brasThe Bra-kerchief

Feeling happy with my evening, I left Falmouth Booksellers the way you always should: with a book in hand. My TBR pile might be teetering over the edge right now, and I definitely have a lot of my own writing I also need to get to, but I seriously can’t wait to start reading this delightful tale.

Poetry, Publishing, Writing

Sarah Cave and Ben Smith – Featuring Lost in Books!

Last night, I attended a book event in the cosy and intimate setting of Lostwithiel’s very own independent bookshop, Lost in Books. For the event, published poet, Sarah Cave, and debut novelist, Ben Smith, read aloud from their works, speaking about setting and place, how it’s used, and the tantalising consequence of how the absence of human life can have a deep effect on the confines of our minds when left alone out in the world.

Sarah Cave, who has published two poetry collections (with another on the way later this year!), tells the story of Slava, a Russian individual living in the Arctic inspired by the real-life Arctic weatherman in her striking collection An Arbitrary Line. The poignancy of her poetry, echoing themes of loneliness, humanity and the isolation within a huge and harsh climate, such as Northern Russia, is incredibly rich and evocative in its powerful use of language. While her poetry might be deep and wistful at times, there were definitely several shared laughs between her and the audience as she read her work aloud. Inspired by a reflection of the abstract and the effect the human mind can have once humanity has disappeared, this collection is a prize to keep close to your heart. Listening to her work and being drawn in by her rhythmic words was a pleasure.

SARAH CAVE READING FROM AN ARBITRARY LINE

Ben Smith, whose debut Doggerland, a dystopian exploration of family, fear and ever-prevalent climate change, also read at this event. Again, weaving in themes of loss, humanity and an isolated setting, hearing Ben’s prose being spoken aloud was mesmerising. Surviving in a world where the only two characters interact with each other and the sea, Ben’s debut has been described as a stylistic mixture between Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam and Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic prose. Needless to say, it was a treat to listen to his words and listen in on the details of how he wrote the book.

BEN SMITH READING FROM DOGGERLAND

And where would a fantastic author event be without its fabulous host? Lost in Books, situated along the idyllic riverbank of Lostwithiel, is a gem in itself – and a wonderful find if you happen to be walking that way in Cornwall.

Recently opened, it shares its space with rustic, home decor shop, Atticus & Willow, filled with natural plants, greenery and delicate trinkets and treasures you can just as easily get lost in. The whole feel of the space as you walk in is like stepping into another world. A world of art and books. Doesn’t that sound just like heaven?

The more I visit, the more I believe that this is such a perfect and unique setting for a landscape filled with books. They line the shelves, creep up the walls, and lay stacked in plucky little piles beneath the rustic table centred in the middle of the room. Those books in turn breathe words, and those words weave into much-loved stories. The only thing they need is for somebody to step in, pick one up, and start reading. Did I mention the shop has a cat who visits frequently too?

SARAH CAVE AND BEN SMITH HOLDING BOOKS

Last night was such a wonderful experience to be among the audience for this fabulous event. Lostwithiel is such an ancient town. To know its literary spirit is being kept alive and well is a gift to its community – I hope to be back for many more events to come!

Fancy visiting Lost in Books? You can visit their website here.