Tag Will Schwalbe

BEA 2012: A Spotty Alphabet



Author’s note – yes I know it’s 2013, but I just came across this article I wrote for BookBrunch, the industry news service. I’m just back from this year’s show (my 21st) and it’s still valid – mineral water is now $5 a bottle, people are still wandering helplessly looking for events (possibly from last year) and the queues for the loo are still serpentine. But actually, it’s genuinely about the buzz and IT’S NEW YORK.

From New York, Lisa Highton, Publisher of Two Roads at Hodder & Stoughton, offers a personal reflection from her twentieth BookExpo.

This year, BookExpo is about conferencing and events as much as the trade fair. While the exhibition space has shrunk, the lower level of the Javits is buzzing with people eager to go digital and learn new stuff. Also buzzing with people trying to find their way to lost meeting rooms. Signage people, signage.

All About the Reader
We are reaching out to them – a lot.

Author Events
Possibly because I had three authors at BEA, I have a new respect for what author signings on this scale can do. A great set-up for an author – either debut or established. Packs of ever-patient, smiling publicists organising events and signings for authors. Many are called but few are chosen, so a BEA invitation is a privilege.

BEA’s Greatest Hits
The non-changing location of BookExpo prompted vets to reminisce about previous BEAs, as we still like to call them, which used to take us all over the States. Now we are forever in New York, which of course is never a bad thing. But see Javits. Anaheim – very bad, just one huge car park and no food. Las Vegas – historic, a rotting Cesar’s Palace hotel, equal parts Rat Pack DNA and Miss Havisham. New Orleans – excellent, despite subsequent acute pneumonia from ending up in bar at 4am in swamp. Los Angeles – rubbernecking. Bizarre encounter of British publishing and Playboy Mansion – the grimy grotto never to be forgotten. Chicago – uplifting. We were all much improved by Chicago walking tours and Frank Lloyd Wright. Washington – capitol.

With booksellers, sell-out ticketed events, and now broadcast live; breakfasts with librarians, influencers. Breakfasts: I don’t do breakfasts but thanks to technology I could watch great authors in the luxury of my own PJs. www.livestream.com/authorbreakfasts From Barbara Kingsolver to Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon. All brilliant. (Photo: Kingsolver with, left to right, Jo Nesbo, Junot Diaz, and Stephen Colbert. By SteveKagan.com)

Buzz words
Discoverability, of course, is outstripping curating. Reaching the Reader is the theme. Neil Young will be putting this to music and releasing on his newly announced tour.

Editors Buzz Panel

Favourite Quotes
Barbara Kingsolver – author breakfast talking about physical form of books and how people resist change: “We complain, we get over it and what endures is story.” Bookseller proudly waving her signed copy of Naomi Wolf’s new book (Vagina): “Naomi Wolf signed my Vagina!” Bookseller in mile-long queue for Rachel Ray’s Burger Matters: “Of course I’m a vegetarian.” J R Moehringer’s new book on criminal Willie Sutton… who was asked why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money was.”

Galleys & Giveaways
See Tote Bags. Hottest galleys: Tigers in Red Weather/Harold Fry.

While we’re all very professional now, it was nice to see out-of-work actors and models dressed up as angels/devils/tomatoes giving away Things (see Tote Bags)

Seeing books I acquired with a good shot at US success. No names, no pack drill.

Under scaffolding. A good thing. Attendants with the paddles saying “May I Help You?” They can’t. Dizzying prices – a small bottle of water is $3.65 and a cappuccino $6. Really? Call the pricing commission.

Yes, they’re still going, although few are now open to all, but a special nod to my group’s 175th Birthday Party for Little, Brown. An old-style gracious party for the great and the good – cast-list included Tom Wolfe, Michael Connelly, Donna Tartt, among many others. And a call-out for Janklow & Nesbit cupcakes at theirs.

While things are tight in their market, right now the US has more of this with the possible exception of those Brazilians.

Seeing books I turned down set for US success. No names, no pack drill.

Signings signings signings (I want to buy shares in Sharpies). Cocktail parties, dinners… Wind up an author and let them go make their book work. There’s a charming democracy to this. Everyone works hard in less-than-glam surroundings, from Peter Carey to a first-time novelist. While many signed copies undoubtedly end up being sold, the majority of requests are genuine and it’s a real opportunity to connect with the author and for the author to connect with people who can help make their book work. Cannot be cynical about this process and not even trying.
(above, Will Schwalbe)

The Hot Ticket
Neil Young and Patti Smith. Without a doubt. Couldn’t get in.

Tote Bags
What will we do with all of these? Be buried in them?

US Trade Paperbacks
The nicest, best-produced paperback format in the world. There, I’ve

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said it.


Oh the irony of discussing digital in a concrete bunker, get broadband people, get broadband.

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

After a few months spent on hiatus, the book club gathered once more to discuss the E. M. Forster classic novel Howards End. The meeting was timed with the release of the paperback edition of Will’s The End of Your Life Book Club and although he couldn’t be with us in the Two Roads headquarters, he managed to join in from New York, talking about the book with Lisa, who is in the Big Apple herself: a true transatlantic book club experience!


The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

Will reading HOWARDS END in New York

Surprisingly perhaps, not many people had read Howards End before or even seen the film. The book is about three families in England at the beginning of the 20th century: the Wilcoxes, rich capitalists with a fortune made in the Colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings Margaret, Tibby, and Helen; and the Basts, a struggling couple in the lower-middle class. It explores the underlying class warfare involving these three distinct groups and the source of their conflict – Howards End, a house in the countryside which ultimately becomes a symbol of conflict within British society.

For such an apparently heavy subject, the novel is incredibly engaging (and obviously beautifully written). We found ourselves drawn to some of the most obvious themes (the now famous line ‘Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. was the focus of much discussion) and we were particularly intrigued by the relationship between the highly idealistic Margaret and Henry, the pragmatic defender of social conventions. How could such different characters end up becoming husband and wife?

But most of our conversation revolved around the timeliness of the novel. When it was first published in 1910, E. M. Forster’s book dealt with some of the most profound issues of British society: the relationship between ownership and power, and the huge gap between different social statuses. Most people in the club agreed that Howards End still feels incredibly ‘of the time’ today – class still being a subject worth writing about in these troubled times – but also wondered if Forster would pick a different subject matter (race perhaps?) were he alive today.

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

Zadie’s Smith ON BEAUTY

The discussion turned towards more recent books when someone brought up Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, the Orange Prize-winning novel which is an homage to Forster’s classic. We started talking about the modern ‘reinterpretations’ of the classics, not only in literature but also in films (we spent quite a bit of time analysing how cult film Clueless relates to Emma, the Jane Austen book it is loosely based on): do they introduce the classics to new audiences and ensure their survival? Or is it just a way to exploit some of the greatest works of the past?

In the end we went back to Howards End and we agreed

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to a good 3 out of 4 score. And then we rewarded ourselves with some well deserved cake (check out more pics on Facebook):

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)









Will Schwalbe

Have you ever wondered why publishers play around with book covers so much?

What’s the point of changing the cover of a successful book when it comes out in paperback? Won’t that confuse readers when they browse in bookshops and online?

Actually the move from hardcover to paperback gives the publisher the opportunity to bring the book to a new market (and to those who were waiting for it to come out in paperback!).

Take the case of Will Schwalbe’s book, The End of Your Life Book Club publishing in paperback this June.

The hardback jacket design, with its bright green background and golden leaves, was a big in-house favourite and a hit with booksellers and readers alike, which is why we didn’t want to change it too much. Using the same design, the new bright cream background, gives a fresh (summery) life to the cover, while making sure that the reader knows it’s already a big success (cue the “New York Times bestseller” sticker).

In the end, making sure that the book looks new but maintains the established and easily recognisable feel of its previous edition is always hard, but we believe our art department did a fantastic job with Will’s memoir. But

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The End of Your Life book Club (hardcover)

The End of Your Life book Club (paperback)













Good morning and happy Monday to you faithful followers of all things Two Roads!

Are you feeling down? Did you have a wet, miserable weekend? Did you look like this while crossing the road today?

Well then it’s definitely time for a healthy dose of Two Roads Monday Blues Remedy!


The Stockholm Octavo (out in paperback on February 14th)

Here’s the updated cover for the paperback edition of Karen’s novel.

New look.

Same fantastic feel.

We are also launching a tumblr. blog devoted to the art of creating the perfect Octavo. Do check it out and follow the slow unveiling of this mysterious art of cartomancy on Twitter and Facebook as well.



Doodlemum (out on February 28th)

Angie is hard at work on a secret Two Roads project (more juicy details to follow!). But in the meantime go ahead and enjoy her daily dose of Doodlemum on her website (and remember to like her Facebook page!) Stay tuned for a great update from our publicity department coming next week…


After Cleo Came Jonah (out in paperback on February 28th)

If you haven’t already go visit Helen’s Facebook page and read Jonah’s Blog. Last post: THE ENEMY.

Beware of that cat…




Until I Say Good-Bye (out on March 14th)

As you know a wonderful video has been uploaded on Susan’s page and on the Two Roads website. It’s a powerful message and although it’s Susan’s husband speaking, you can feel her energy coming through. It’s very moving. Watch & share and keep checking Susan’s Facebook page for touching (and quite funny) updates like this.

Island Wife (out March 28th)

Finally the advance praise is in and it includes quotes from fellow writers, poets and rock stars (yup: you got that right!). Here’s a quick selection:

  • ‘Brave, funny, poignant, beautifully written.’Elisabeth Luard, food-writer, journalist, and broadcaster
  •  ‘The day to day details of a family who have followed the man’s ambitions to the remote island of Mull are  hilarious and very touching. A beautifully told story’Mike Rutherford, founding member of Genesis
  • ‘Humour and honesty prevail throughout and always there is the poetic backdrop of the wild landscape of the island and the wild emotions that come and go with its tides.’Mairi Hedderwick, author of the Katie Morag series
  • ‘Warm but never sentimental… It balances wry humour and lyrical delight, practical toughness and vulnerability in equal measure… A joy to read.’Philip Gross, novelist and poet
  • ‘Island Wife is a breezy (in every sense), frequently funny and often dreadfully sad tale of a madcap adventure with an intrepid farmer husband and five children on a romantic Hebridean island, which often turns out to be not quite as romantic as the wide-eyed author had imagined.’ Christopher Matthew, author and journalist

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (out April 11th)

Great news coming from the US. Z is part of Publishers’ Marketplace BUZZ BOOKS 2013 (spring/summer edition).

You can download the digital booklet here or read the extract on USA Today’s website.





The Still Point of the Turning World (out April 11th)

Will Schwalbe, author of the New York Times bestseller The End of Your Life Book Club, loved Emily’s book. Here’s what he had to say:

  • ‘It’s hard to find words that do justice to Emily Rapp’s The Still Point of the Turning World. It’s one of those rare books that you want to press into people’s hands and simply say, “You must read this. You will thank me.” At every turn, Rapp avoids the maudlin and the expected to get at very deep truths, sometimes painful and sometimes liberating and sometimes both. She looks for wisdom and comfort to a wide range of sources ranging from C.S. Lewis to Marilynne Robinson to Buddhist teaching. And she looks to her son. This is one family’s story of living while facing death, but also an astonishingly generous work about recognizing the pain and grace that exist all around us.’



You can now find Fede on instagram as well: just look for Due_Strade_London. Lots of pics of London, Italy & Italian food (and wine), and of course books, books, and even more books.


Public service announcement!!!

In case you intend to visit Leicester in the future with a dead monarch in the boot of your car…






Until next week..


Mary Anne Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club is launched tonight at an event hosted by The International Rescue Committee UK.  As well as launching Will’s book about his mother and their shared love of books, the event celebrates the life and work of Mary Anne Schwalbe, founder of the IRC-UK, who died in 2009.


Marina Vaizey wrote a moving obituary in the Guardian.

Mary Anne Schwalbe, who has died aged 75, was one of my closest friends for more than 50 years. We met when she was the head girl at school – and a subtly effective leader at that early age. Mary Anne was an outstanding listener and teacher, which even encompassed passing on grandparenting practice.

Her first love had been theatre. She attended Radcliffe college, Massachusetts, and directed American auditions for Lamda, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. As a senior educational administrator, she worked at Radcliffe and subsequently at Harvard University. Returning to New York City, she continued her career in education, but in her last two decades she worked directly with refugeesworldwide.

She spent six months in Thai refugee camps, seeing the plight of the dispossessed. This led to her involvement with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the founding of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. Her British connections inspired her to persuade the IRC to set up a UK office. She recently raised funding for a library in Kabul and travelling libraries for Afghanistan. Hers was an art of persuasion, delicately and effectively employed.

This dynamo of energy was contained in a small, quiet, smiling, elegantly dressed woman, who could appear as conventional as a lady who lunched, but travelled the world often in desperately trying circumstances: she was an electoral observer in the Balkans, and was shot at in Afghanistan. Mary Anne saw the worst and believed the best.

She is survived by her husband, Douglas, sons Will and Doug, daughter Nina and five grandchildren.




Guest blogger: Carine McGinnity, Contracts Executive
Spoiler alert, proceed with caution!

Brooklyn, Colm Toibin, Two Roads book club

Sitting down to a lovely picnic in the park and sipping Pimms, the Two Roads Book Club discussed Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.

We were all interested to read Brooklyn due to the fact that it has received an abundance of praise: it won the Costa award in 2009 and most reviews rave about the book and pin Toibin as one of the best Irish writers today.

Brooklyn is set across Ireland

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and New York in the 1950s. It tells the story of Eilis, a young woman living in the small Irish town of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford (where Toibin was born), who finds herself on a path to New York in search of work. The book, brimming with explicit detail, follows her life in Ireland, her journey on the ship to New York, her work in a department store there, her life in a boarding house, and eventually, a ‘dilemma’.

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