When the fates first led me to Victorina Press, I had just finished the manuscript for my debut novel The Ardent Witness. And while I had no idea what would come of it, I knew that as a first time author of a piece I hoped to call literary fiction, publishing would be an uphill battle. One I might never win. So when I read about Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes, the founder and director of Victorina Press, and her mission of bibliodiversity, one dedicated to fighting against the confines of traditional publishing and its marginalisation of voices that don’t easily fit into the marketable package that most publishers look for, I realized that not only had I found a publisher I’d be proud to submit my manuscript to; I had also found a movement.
So, what does bibliodiversity mean? The term was originally used by a group of independent publishers in Chile and has since been adopted by the International Alliance of Independent Publishers. The core components of the ideology are set out in Susan Hawthorne’s book Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing but, in essence, bibliodiversity is way for independent publishers like Victorina Press to challenge the status quo. Something that seems to become more and more important in these increasingly divided times.
Personally I have always believed that art, in all of its forms, has the power to unite us precisely because it exposes us to points of view, experiences, entire worlds, that we might never discover otherwise. This in turn, hopefully, helps to create a more compassionate and empathetic world. That’s why the concept of bibliodiveristy is so important to me, but I decided to ask some of my fellow authors -
What led these authors to Victorina Press and, most importantly, what bibliodiversity means to them and to their work?
M. Valentine Williams
The Marsh People
“Bibliodiversity - it's a big subject. These days I don't want to read anodyne predictable accounts of nice people doing nice things in nice countries, I need the challenge of having my complacency upturned and to hear different voices. There are many sure-fire genres - chick-lit, crime, romance etc. that hit the same notes every time. Safe, predictable, easy reading. They have their place, but let's hear from the other people out there on the margins. It seems to me that Victorina offers this opportunity to its writers and readers, to open their eyes and minds to the possibilities of being different, 'other', challenging the stereotypes and roles we've all come to expect. Years ago I had an agent, who eventually told me that unless I could write historical bodice-rippers or teenage romance she probably couldn't sell my work. When I heard about Consuelo and Victorina, I jumped for joy, showed her The Marsh People, and she accepted it.
A glance at the author pages of Victorina Press indicates the incredible range of voices, from many diverse regions, that have been part of Victorina's beginnings. Long may they continue - bibliodiversity is badly needed in this troubled world.”
Redención (Coming in 2019)
“I feel very lucky to be one of the writers soon to be published by Victorina Press, such a dynamic and vibrant independent publisher. I was very fortunate to meet its founder Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes through writing workshops and artistic events since we not only share a passion for literature but also the love of our American continent and its people.
Bibliodiversity conveys to me a landscape rich in species of trees and plants, of wild and exotic birds and all sorts of animals, of oceans, rivers and streams, where we all can breathe, I am talking about a Soul Landscape, vital to the survival of our craft.”
You can find out more about Paloma Zozaya and her writing on her blog https://palomazoy.blogspot.com
The String Games (May 2019)
“The idea for The String Games began as a piece of short fiction about a child lost on a beach in France. In 2013, when I joined the MPhil programme in creative writing at the University of South Wales, I wanted to develop the story into a novel. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to lose their child and as the story took shape, this event became the catalyst. However, rather than viewing this from an adult perspective, I decided to explore what this would mean in terms of guilt and responsibility for a sibling tasked with looking after her brother.
I poured five years of my life into writing The String Games and continued my studies to doctoral level. During the journey, I acquired literary representation but then my agent became pregnant and decided not to return to work. After this setback, I submitted only to independent publishers and I was delighted when I received an offer from Victorina Press.
Bibliodiversity means freedom. I don’t have to write in a particular way that will suit a commercial market and I have choice over the subject matter I write about. I wouldn’t want to give that up. “
An Artist’s Muse (Coming In 2019)
“Victorina Press has the feel and approachability of a local publisher, but it also represents talent and voices on a global scale. As a writer awaiting the publication of my debut novel, I couldn’t hope for better company amongst authors who between them express such a diverse wealth and breadth of experience, who have the ability to entertain, educate and illuminate the minds of their readers. The ethos of bibliodiversity is one that has limitless potential and can only be a force for good in a world where although we may feel separated by great distances, we are in fact closer than ever.”
One Woman’s Struggle in Iran
The Secret Letters X to A
“Consuelo’s background – because she was imprisoned and tortured during the rule of Pinochet, that made me think she might take my books. I felt that she would be drawn to both my books: The Secret Letters from X to A, and One Woman’s Struggle in Iran, A Prison Memoir.
Bibliodiversity means everyone having an equal chance of being published; but at the moment a few corporate publishers are deciding what people should read. We are also witnessing colonisation of the English language, because translated books and books that are written by non-UK authors are not being published.”
Bone and Blood
“I am grateful to the network of friends who led me to Victorina Press and bibliodiversity. The promise of bibliodiversity lifts my heart with hope of international and intercultural creativity. The fusion of our imaginations can give us the strength to understand our differences, to celebrate diversity and resist aggressive polarisation.”
You can find out more about Margo Gorman and her writing on her website www.margogorman.com
Vengeance Has Landed (Coming in 2019)
“Victorina Press has excelled itself in working with the likes of us unknown and inspiring writers. I know how difficult and competitive the publishing world is. The barriers of entry are increasingly taller and difficult to overcome, but fortunately for us and many people we can reap the benefits; on one hand, the writers whose work can be made available to a wider audience and the public, who can access some wonderful and powerful literary work which the mainstream publishing industry ignores. Blibliodiversity in itself tells us of a very rich literary work from those of us who come to this country from all corners of the world, spreading poignant personal experiences expressed through fictional characters, who can sometimes even speak on our behalf in the harsh reality of the day -to- day real world.”
Dirt Clean (Coming in 2019)
“The idea of bibliodiversity - apt that it comes from Chile - reminds me of M.M. Bakhtin’s ideas, the linguist and literary theorist writing in Russia in the 1920s, and my hero. For him, the novel is the most social of literary art forms because of its diversity of languages or dialects or language registers, each in dialogue with the other, where language itself is fundamentally dialogic: ‘Each word tastes of the … contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life. …The word in language is half someone else’s.’ (M.M. Bakhtin, 1975, Moscow. English translation 1981, 2006, published as The Dialogic Imagination).
A novel’s ‘heteroglossia’ distinguishes it from poetry and drama. ‘Diversity of voices … enter the novel and organize themselves within it into a structured artistic system.’ (M.M. Bakhtin, ibid) And subject matter is fundamentally shaped by this dialogue of diverse languages. For those who know Bakhtin’s work, please forgive massive oversimplification.
If bibliodiversity maintains the health of the book world, so diversity of languages/dialects/social registers maintains the health of the novel.”
You can find out more about Judith Amanthis and her writing on her website https://jamanthis.wordpress.com/
I am Adila from Gaza
“For me the idea of bilbiodiversity involves inclusion. On the one hand, the authors that are published. On the other hand, the characters. In my case, I am interested in exploring children's voices, and particularly children in their diversity are fundamental for me. Children have the right to know about cultural diversity in the world, and for minority children, they need to find themselves in books.”
You can order your copy of I am Adila from Gaza from the Victorina Press website.