BLOG POST: ZunTold Stories
A new, independent publishing house, specialising in children's and young adult fiction, aims to place Manchester authors on the front cover.
ZunTold is the brainchild of Elaine Bousfield, from Chorlton, whose long-held dream has been to combine her twin passions, literature and therapy.
'I've been a writer, myself, and my background is in mental health,' explains Elaine, a former counsellor, working with children and young people.
'I thought it would be fantastic to have a North West space to support new writers and also to publish books that have some therapeutic value, as well as being really good fiction in their own right. I've worked with a lot of writers and I also understand the power that literature has in helping people to find themselves through the process of story-telling.'
Another aim of ZunTold is to support young people in developing their own writing. The company is currently involved with the Hideaway Project in Moss Side, working with a group of young women on a novel-writing project.
'We're working with a published author to create a novel and the young women are involved in writing it with us.It's about getting Manchester voices heard,' says Elaine.
In the notoriously tough world of publishing, new and diverse voices are, all too often, sadly ignored.
'The big publishing houses don't take risks,' says Elaine.'So, if something sells well, then it's all about imitiation.It's about finding the next Hunger Games or vampire novel.I don't want to do that; I'm looking to publish writers who are a bit different, who don't fit into the same sort of mould.'
ZunTold has so far launched four titles, including Gangster School and Brotherhood of Brimstone, both by Kate Wiseman, and The Year I Didn't Eat by Sam Pollen.And there's also Jiddy Vardy, a rollicking, smuggling tale set in 18th century Robin Hood's Bay, by Chorlton author, Ruth Estevez.Ruth's teenaged protagonist, half-Italian and separated from her birth parents, struggles to fit in with the close-knit community in which she lives.
'When I set out, it was the smuggling tale I was so taken with,' says Ruth, a former theatre worker and script writer for Bob The Builder.
'Jiddy Vardy is based on a real character, a woman who lived in Robin Hood's Bay, and that really fired my imagination.'
'But just thinking of her as a child, living at that time, I imagined her wanting the same things as any 16 or 17-year-old today.So, yes, there's the smuggling, the secrecy and the danger, but alongside that, there's the sense of not belonging, of wanting to fit in and to have friends.As a child, one of my favourite books was Anne of Green Gables because, like me, the main character stood out because of her red hair.Diversity and difference can be social, as well as to do with ethnicity, or where you come from.That's why it's important for all young people to read characters who are like themselves.'
Ruth Estevez and Elaine Bousfield will be in conversation with Deborah Grace on Friday 28 June (7.30 pm) at Didsbury Parsonage. More information here
Picture caption l-rt: Ruth Estevez & Elaine Bousfield