Friday, 6 November 2015

Behind The Book – Almost Invincible

This month we bring you a guest blog by one of our authors, Suzanne Burdon.  Her fictional account of Mary Shelley’s life is a fascinating read.

“Meticulously researched, Burdon’s novel follows the author of Frankenstein across England and Europe, taking in her scandalous elopement with Shelley, their turbulent relationship and their bohemian circle, which included Lord Byron. A fresh and gripping portrayal of this enigmatic literary genius.”… JC, The Lady

Don't leave me alone with her. She's been the bane of my life since I was three years old!'' This is what Mary Shelley, at fifty, said to her daughter-in-law, who had kindly proposed giving Mary some time with her visiting step-sister, Claire.

I read this some four years ago and found it so intriguing, that it led me on a fascinating journey into the early 19th century. What could have caused such vehemence? Why was Mary so anxious about being alone with her stepsister? I didn’t know much about Mary Shelley. Like many people, I was vaguely aware that she had written Frankenstein when she was quite young. I knew also that she was married to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

That is when I discovered that I am an obsessive researcher. As a sociologist, most of my working life has been spent conducting market and social research and when I started reading Mary’s story there were so many aspects of it that resonated strongly with modern life. It was operatic - even a soap opera! There were more scandals, deaths, tortured relationships, loves and losses than in several seasons of Desperate Housewives. Through it all there was Mary, a strong but also vulnerable young woman in socially unsympathetic times. I glimpsed someone who was a teenage rebel, grieving mother, determined author, and long suffering lover of a man well ahead of his time. I wanted to get to know her better, and especially to understand the insidious and damaging influence of her step-sister, Claire.

There are many biographies of Mary, but she is often crowded out by the famous people around her and the complexities of her lifestyle. Finding the real Mary seemed a bit like trying to find a lost child at central station in rush hour. I badly wanted to understand her emotions and motivations more clearly.

Lock of hair
One of the pleasures of writing this book has been the research, not only visiting many of the places associated with her life, but also spending hours burrowing in libraries around the world. There are two major collections of documents associated with Shelley. One is in the New York Public Library and the other is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. (Since I had daughters living in both the UK and NYC, this was an added incentive to visit). There are many boxes and files of letters and manuscripts from the Shelley’s and those associated with them. Even though most of it has now been digitized, there is nothing like touching and seeing the originals. In the Bodleian boxes there was a lovely little notebook where Mary had sketched a story, with a lock of hair pressed between the pages.

The first thing that struck me was how young they all were. Mary was sixteen when she met Shelley. He was already married with a child. With the Geldof’s sadly in the news, it struck me how like Bob Geldof Shelley must have appeared. He was radical, wanting to save the world, wild in appearance, charismatic, and an atheist - a rebel who had been disavowed by his baronet father. He believed in poetry as a force for reformation and change. Poets, he asserted,  'are the unacknowledged legislators of the world'.

The Old Pancras Churchyard
One of the places I visited was Pancras churchyard in London, where Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, is buried. (She died giving birth to Mary). Mary spent hours there to be near to her mother, and it is where she first met Shelley. I thought it odd that a churchyard would be a place to spend time, but it is still pretty, with lawns and trees and a smattering of monument style graves.

Mary was just back from a year in the hills of Scotland with some family friends. She was strong-minded and clever, raised in a world of books and ideas. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Her father was William Godwin, a philosopher and political theorist, who wrote a groundbreaking book called Political Justice. Shelley was a disciple of her father, and in Mary he saw a girl who had the genes to achieve great things in literature and philosophy, as well as being attractive. His wife was beautiful but could not match him in intellectual aspiration. In Mary he had found his soulmate, but it was a dramatic and clandestine courtship.

When they eventually eloped they were like kids on a gap year, recklessly setting off to France, weeks after Napoleon was defeated, through villages still ravaged from war. They had little money and few clothes and only the optimism of the very young. The only shadow on their bright future was that when they had left London in the early hours of a July morning, they had taken Mary's step-sister, Claire, with them. There seemed to be no good reason for it, especially as Claire and Mary were not blood relations and were not exactly close or even compatible. It was even more incomprehensible, because Claire was in love with Shelley and had a history of jealousy of Mary. Why did Mary let this happen, especially as it was a decision that infected everything that happened to her from then on and impacted on her relationship with Shelley?

Penniless, they had to return to England cheaply and so they travelled on a boat along the Rhine. I discovered that there is an old Frankenstein Castle, near Gernsheim in Germany, where the alchemist Dippel lived, who was reputed to exhume bodies for anatomical research. The seed of inspiration for the novel, Frankenstein, may have been planted there as the travellers passed close to the ruins.

Villa Diodati
Claire engineered a meeting between Shelley and Byron in Geneva, because she had made a play for Byron. Frankenstein was conceived there in Byron’s Villa Diodati on the Lake, as a result of a challenge to write a ghost story. The Villa Diodati is still there and overlooks the Lake as it would have in 1816. I had always been puzzled that it was July, yet there was driving rain and thunderstorms to set the scene. Then I discovered that 1816 was known as The Year Without A Summer.

My researches also took me to the Buckinghamshire village of Marlow, where they lived a happy year in spite of trying to hide Claire’s baby by Byron. I then went to many places in Italy where they spent the last four years of their time together.
Casa Magni
In Pisa, in particular, they felt happy. They called it the Paradise of Exiles. When I was there I was surprised to discover that at that time they had camels pulling boats along the Arno, the wide river that runs through the city.

The Arno in Pisa.  No camels now!
Casa Magni, on the Gulf of Spezia is hard to imagine as the wild and isolated place of their last days. Now it is overrun with holiday makers, but there is still the veranda where Mary and Jane scanned the sea in hope that their men would return alive.

Another discovery was that Frankenstein was adapted for the stage several times in Mary’s lifetime. She seemed to feel no concern that they added music and meddled with the script. One production was so scary that women in the audience fainted.

I have loved every minute of the years I have spent with Mary Shelley and I hope that readers will, like me, see her as a complete person, flawed as well as favored, applaud her courage and sympathise with her trials, as well as understanding something about life in the early nineteenth century.

The title of the book Almost Invincible, is taken from a letter that Mary's father wrote to friends whom Mary was to visit, describing his daughter. He said: 'She is singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind. Her desire of knowledge is great, and her perseverance in everything she undertakes, almost invincible.'  Mary certainly had to prove that prophecy in the nine years she spent with Shelley.

For a taster of Suzanne’s novel, you can download a sample chapter here.

The book is available to buy from all good bookshops and online.
Almost Invincible by Suzanne Burdon  ISBN 9780992354008
You can also order directly from Vine House Distribution.
Email  Phone +44 1825 767 396   Fax +441825 765 649

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I'd just like to remind everyone of this fantastic title which has just been releases as a new edition for 2016 and makes the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves their malts.


The Facts, The People, The News, The Stories

Reviews of 2015 edition:
"A "Dram" Good Read"
"A perfect reference book, informative and interesting"
"A great companion to sipping a malt"
"Everything you need to know about Malt Whisky"
"This is every whisky lovers annual guide to purchase"

Whisky enthusiasts all over the world look forward to the Malt Whisky Yearbook every autumn. This 11th edition is again fully revised and packed with new and up-to-date information on more than 300 whisky distilleries from all over the world. Distinguished whisky experts contribute with new features written exclusively for this new edition along with details of hundreds of whisky shops, whisky sites and new bottlings. 

Whisky profiles from around the world explain how whisky in enjoyed in their respective countries. The Independent Bottlers chapter gives you all the details about the world´s most successful blenders and bottlers complete with tasting notes. 

A comprehensive summary of the whisky year that was and all the latest statistics is also included. Malt Whisky Yearbook 2016 includes more than 250 tasting notes describing the flavour of single malts from all working distilleries in Scotland and Japan. Finally, with more than 500 colour photographs, Malt Whisky Yearbook 2016 is as much an essential reference guide as a book to read for pleasure.

Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: MagDig Media Ltd;
11th New edition edition (28 Oct. 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-0957655324

Available from all good bookstores

Monday, 28 September 2015

China in your hand

This month we review why a book distributor and particularly Vine House Distribution Limited are so important to an author.

Your dream of being a successful author is china in your hand, you don’t know what you might have set upon yourself but you know how delicate it is.
It is not always easy to get noticed but you can depend on Vine House Distribution Limited to get you noticed whatever the size of the distribution of your dream.  

The hills are alive
Do you like writing? of course you do, the hills are alive with the sound of furious tapping of the keyboard as your mind explodes with rapturous enthusiasm of the words that just keep flowing.  Your dream, write a book, publish it and get it out there among your eager public hanging on every word of your page turner book, be a successful author. 
Good representation will forever be the key to selling books into book trade outlets whether they be shops or electronically driven.  The word from the hills is call Vine House Distribution Limited, masters in the top to toe process of successful book distribution.  
Who would believe it!
Who would believe that there are so many cogs in the wheel of successful book distribution. You may have thought writing a book was tricky, you may have even thought about self publishing and distribution, but do you really want to spend your time creating:

·         a customer base;

·         sorting invoices;

·         cash collections;

·         credit control;

·         sales stock reporting;

·         shipping orders;

·         space in your garage taken up with books; or

·         disposing of excess stock.   

Of course you don’t, you want more time being an author and writing your next work. You have arrived, look no further Vine House Distribution Limited are here right now with twenty five years of experience at your doorstep to nurture your book through their vast  network to get to the eyes of readers. 

Vine House Distribution Limited is professional and efficient whether you have a small or large distribution.  So:

·         forget admin;

·         forget accounting;

·         forget distribution and warehousing;

·         forget publicity; and

just leave it to us and get writing, that’s what lights up your world and that’s your goal, leave the rest to Vine House Distribution Limited
Listen to the hills
 Vine House Distribution Limited staff fully understand the needs of distribution for their customers and individual staff are assigned as first point of contact and ongoing liaison.
And of course we specialise in distribution for the smaller publisher.   
Our pledge to you
Vine House Distribution Limited sets itself apart with its cutting edge service and pledges to you a service second to none:
Value for money
International distribution
Nothing is too much trouble
Encouragement and support
Help at your fingertips
Orders of any size
Understand our business
Sales and Marketing bespoke to you
Excellent communicating with our customers at all times
Distribution Limited  
And finally
If you need a professional efficient cutting edge distributor contact Vine House Distribution Limited now.
Phone +44 1825 767 396
Fax +441825 765 649

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A Top to Toe Service

We’re back again to tell you why we are the right choice for you. This month we take a meander at another of Vine House Distribution Limited key services, Order Fulfillment.
Having previously looked at what goes on behind the scenes ensuring how we can best represent your book to trade outlets; good representation being the bread and butter in selling books, let’s take a top to toe look at how we provide a further vital service of order fulfillment.
So what’s this about? Well, you need to be totally confident that orders for your book are dispatched quickly and efficiently backed up with excellent record keeping tracking and receipt of payments. Vine House Distribution Limited has an experienced and motivated customer service team who are quick to respond to queries together with awareness and empathy for the needs of independent publishers, married with efficient sales and a dedicated distribution network.
We offer a slick end to end process – our speciality to work professionally with all our clients and always to encourage and support the smaller publisher.
Pick Pack Ship
Vine House Distribution Limited receives orders from:
  • Members of the public.
  • Companies
  • Institutions etc and
We can receive these orders by:
  • Phone
  • Fax
  • Email or
  • EDI
Vine House Distribution Limited prides itself on being a single source to handle all your fulfillment and distribution needs. With our industry leading warehouse management system we can support your book distribution with a seamless pick, pack, and ship approach.
Vine House Distribution Limited can provide tight inventory control backed with a strong management team who deliver a highly flexible and responsive customer service.
Vine House Distribution Limited top to toe fulfillment services include:
  • Control and banking of payments (Credit card facilities available).
  • Stock control and reporting.
  • Sales Analysis.
  • Retention of your customer’s details.
  • Worldwide fulfilment.
  • Database management and
  • Speciality packaging.
Let us take the strain
Sit back and relax, you’ve done all the hard work. Now you can be assured that whatever solution you are looking for we have the expertise and facilities to deliver.
You can expect nothing more than impeccable customer service from Vine House Distribution Limited. We pride ourselves on the partnerships we form with our customers which makes us their number one choice for fulfillment.
So don’t delay run with us today.
And finally our pledge to you
Although the book distribution industry is very competitive Vine House Distribution Limited sets itself apart with its diamond edge service and pledges to you a service second to none:
Value for money
International distribution
Nothing is too much trouble
Encouragement and support
Help at your fingertips
Orders of any size
Understand our business
Sales and Marketing bespoke to you
Excellent communicating with our clients at all times
Distribution Limited
Contact us
Get in touch with Vine House Distribution Limited now to find out more about how our diamond edge service can help you get noticed whatever the size of your publishing.
Phone +44 1825 767 396
Fax +441825 765 649

Friday, 7 August 2015

Children's bedtime reading

As much as we love the summer holidays I think we all find it hard to get the children back in to a routine when it comes to September.  After fun-filled exciting days and often later bedtimes than normal, the holidays can cause havoc with bedtime routines and sleep patterns.  Don’t leave it until the start of term; get your children into a good routine now!

For those little ones who struggle to get to sleep after an exciting day, we have the ideal companion for the bedtime routine.  Pillow People is the perfect bedtime story to set your children up for a great night’s sleep.

The Sleep Council stated that reading is one of the most preferred ways for children to wind down at bedtime, yet less than a third of today’s kids read before bedtime.  Knowing how important it is for children to learn how to relax before bed, the Sleep Council were very excited about Pillow People, describing it as beautifully illustrated, it is a charming rhyming story which gently encourages the bedtime routine.

The Pillow People are tiny, fluffy winged creatures who awake from inside pillows to whisper happy dreams to children at bedtime.  Talking about the illustrator, Patrick Hawkins, one book buyer said he has brought the sweetest little characters to life just perfectly and I am completely in love with them.

Pillow People occurred to the author, Annie Sullivan, in the form of a short poem while she was travelling by train in Europe. Struggling to sleep, she imagined who could help it happen. As a singer and songwriter, Annie sometimes shares her songs and poems with friends, and one night, illustrator Patrick Hawkins, was lucky enough to be there.  Together, they developed the idea, evolving the poem and the characters into a positive and colourful little book that can help ease children into a peaceful dreamy slumber.

Pillow People is available to buy from bookshops and online (ISBN 9780992839109) or can be ordered from

For a little taster of Pillow People, here is an extract:-

If you have any questions or would like further information about Pillow People please contact us:-
Phone: +44 1825 767 396
Fax: +441825 765 649
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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Welcome to our July blog...actually it's our late June blog...a bit late...sorry

I had to share this picture from 'The Book People Ltd' - wouldn't it be great if all beaches could provide a library?

Come Rain or Shine
Come rain or shine Vine House Distribution Limited are awaiting your contact to get your book on the road.  A key part of our business is promoting individual titles with the main aim of getting reviews to help us ensure the right distribution package for you. 
We can outshine the best 

Think about all your hard work to prepare all of your material sorting out and perfecting all the details, you’ve set up your whole book promotion campaign and plan to distribute through new releases, send out review copies etc. 

The wheels are in motion you are ready. You put your best plan into place, initiate your publicity campaign feeling on fire about how well you book will be published and then you sit back and wait,

and you wait,

and wait.

So why isn’t the phone ringing, surely someone wants to buy the book!

Then the penny drops, but you forgot one thing, to sort out your supply system, you didn’t hire a distributor so who you going to call, look no further, Vine House Distribution Limited outshine the best.   

Look no Further

Vine House Distribution Limited are here raring to go, so stop worrying even if many people have read about your book and have failed to find a copy at their local store or online, Vine house Distribution Limited can soon put that right using all their experience your book will be on the shelf in a blink of an eye. 

All the colours of the Rainbow

We may not have every shade of the rainbow covered but in distributing Vine House Distribution Limited is the full monty.

We will:

·         research into suitable contacts in the media;
·         take care of despatching title press releases use the reviews gathered to increase sales; 
·         also encourage advertising in various trade magazines; and
·         get your book into multiple stores across the country. 

Don’t delay choose us today?
Vine House Distribution Limited staff understand fully the needs of distribution for their customers and individual staff are assigned as first point of contact and ongoing liaison.
The staff are always on hand to offer or discuss with you any problems.  We understand that getting the distribution right is the key to getting your book out there. 
And of course we specialise in distribution for the smaller publisher.   
Our pledge to you
Vine House Distribution Limited sets itself apart with its cutting edge service and pledges to you a service second to none:
Value for money
International distribution
Nothing is too much trouble
Encouragement and support
Help at your fingertips
Orders of any size
Understand our business
Sales and Marketing bespoke to you
Excellent communicating with our customers at all times
Distribution Limited  
And finally
If you need a professional efficient cutting edge distributor contact Vine House Distribution Limited now.
Phone +44 1825 767 396
Fax +441825 765 649

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Here is our top selection for some relaxing summer reading 

Almost Invincible
The Silent Village
Black Star
Tale of Ten Wickets
The Network
Wings of The Morning

Manchester United: Tales From History Volume 1
Ypres Memories
Scouts' Honour

Billy Hill Gyp & Me
The Final Curtsey
Life Between The Lines
The Naked Heroine

Adventures in the Movie Biz
Churchills Rebels
Jane Austin and Adlestrop
Joy's Journey
John Adam

Brighton:  The New Encyclopaedia Of Brighton

Apples & Orchards In Sussex

Mediterranean Gardening