An ikonic day amid the books in Brum

The Ikon Gallery

I must say, I really enjoyed visiting the Birmingham Independent Book Fair which took place at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham today.  As much for the people as the books!

Time certainly flies when you’re having fun, and it’s testament to the extremely diverse and intriguing range of publishers and authors represented there that hours passed by without me really noticing the time. In fact I could have easily spent days there!

The quality of the work and standard of publishing on show was excellent, and anyone who didn’t have the time to visit this event surely missed a real treat.

As you might expect, though, I immediately gravitated to the usual suspects – my local friends Theresa Derwin and Adrian Middleton of KnightWatch Press and Fringeworks as well as serial event organiser and publisher Alex Davis of new publisher Boo Books from Derby – and hopefully new friends Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards of The Alchemy Press.  It was also good to see author and editor Mike Chinn again, who works with both Fringeworks and Alchemy Press.

Exhibitors at Birmingham Independent Book Fair

Great to chat with Theresa and Adrian about what they’ve got coming up, and future possibilities.  Hope we can do something together before too long!  I snapped up an Angry Robot book from Theresa, Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis, right up my rather weird mean street…  I also took the opportunity to pick up The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2 edited by Mike Chinn, looks like another good read!

Exhibitors at Birmingham Independent Book Fair

Doing the rounds offered plenty to fascinate, though as you might expect it was the steampunk, science fiction and fantasy that held most interest for me.  It was great to meet Sophie Sparham, who was showing off her book Snow in Hell, which looks like great gothic fantasy/sf fun.  Had I enough spare cash on me I would have picked up her hardback edition, but I will just have to check out her publishers Gingernut Books (I wonder if they do biscuits too?).  Good luck with the book, Sophie!

One author whose work I certainly want to take another look at is Adam Millard of Wolverhampton via Shrewsbury, who writes some very distinctive horror, fantasy and steampunk and had a range of his dead good (pun alert!) books on show. I made off with some of his promotional material and will come back to that when I can.

And I really want to find out more about Pigeon Park Press, another Birmingham publisher with a diverse output.  I’ll be beating a path to their Facebook page and website “real soon now”.

There was some intriguing work on show on the table of Black Pear Press from Worcestershire, who aim to bring their local novelists, short story writers and poets to a wider readership, and more power to their elbows!  I came away with a few interesting ideas and food for thought from them.

Exhibitors at Birmingham Independent Book Fair

I also had a very enjoyable chat about suspense and supernatural stories to author Ellie Stevenson, and am looking forward to reading her book of ghost stories Watching Charlotte Bronte Die which she kindly signed for me – who knows, after that I may follow up on one or two ideas myself :O)  Also on Ellie’s table was her fellow author JJ Franklin, who was promoting her Warwickshire-set crime novel, Urge to Kill.

Last but not least I was spotted by eagle-eyed fellow Walsall Writers’ Circle member Dawn Rhind-Tutt who kindly introduced me to another publisher I also need to revisit, Offa’s Press, who are doing some very interesting work in publishing and promoting West Midland poetry and poets.  After Thursday’s poetry workshop at the WWC I know many members will find them of interest.  Thanks, Dawn!


I took just a few panoramic photos at the Fair, some of which you’ll see above (click on the picture for a big version) and all of which you’ll find in a set on my Flickr site here:

– it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that if you’re one of the authors or publishers who were exhibiting today, you are very welcome to use these photos, if they are of any help to you, subject to crediting me as the photographer.  The quality is a bit variable but they’re fun I think :O)


This was a great little event, I hope to see it grow next year and raise its profile to the benefit of everyone taking part as well as of the many readers who don’t yet know what they’re missing.  Who knows, I might even have a table myself next year.  And I’ll be watching out for other similar events in the Midlands.

Finally, since this is a very subjective post by it’s very nature, and not intended to cover everything on show by any means, it’s well worth listing all of the exhibitors below, as I’m sure many of you will find their output interesting and worth supporting. Be sure to check them out – and most importantly, buy some books!

List of exhibitors:

William Gallagher / Twin Books / Fringeworks / Flarestack Poets / Boo Books /Pigeon Park Press / Cinnamon Press / Silhouette Press / The Cassowary Press /Cannon Poets / Shadow Publishing / TJB Press / Offa’s Press / Black Pear Press /The Alchemy Press / Ellie Stevenson / Nine Arches Press / Gingernut Books /Crowded Quarantine / The Foxwell Press / Fair Acre Press / Five Seasons Press

 – A. Stuart Williams

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