Poets turn their hand to the novel form

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A new startup publishing house in Sheffield is launching its first two titles at an event at the Lescar pub on Sunday.

Cyberhouse Media, set up by former singer and music teacher Andrew Nimmo, is unveiling The Fox and the Fish by Bill Allerton and The Jeweller’s Skin by Ruth Valentine.

Andrew Nimmo (standing),  of Cybermouse MultiMedia Ltd, and Bill Allerton, author of The Fox and the Fish, the  first book to be published

Andrew Nimmo (standing), of Cybermouse MultiMedia Ltd, and Bill Allerton, author of The Fox and the Fish, the first book to be published

The Fox and the Fish, a surreal tale set in a world where ‘normality’ is under a process of constant revision, is the first published novel by Crookes-based poet Allerton.

“As I started as a narrative poet moving into the novel form seemed a natural progression and language has always been my main fascination,” says Allerton who first moved into the prose form when he became fascinated by The Antikythera mechanism, a clockwork astronomical device dating back to 86BC which was retrieved from a shipwreck off the southern coast of Greece in 1900 and whose true scientific significance has only recently been revealed.

He spent several years researching its history and visited Antikythera and a 175,000-word novel resulted. “I made several attempts to get people interested in it and got nowhere and so I decided to put it aside for a bit.”

The Fox and the Fish grew out of a short story he originally wrote for a competition in Ireland called, appropriately the Fish Prize. “I didn’t win but I liked the characters so I decided to develop them and to introduce one or two more. The main protagonist has a very quirky view of the world.

“It’s about a guy who perceives himself as a fish,” he explains.

Its genesis coincided with his friend Andrew Nimmo’s decision to set up a publishing business after a stroke and the onset of lymphoma meant he was unable to perform and teach music any more.

““I want to help creativity,” he says. “ realised so many books never get published that I thought I could put a few of them out there, starting on Kindle and then a modest print run,” he says. “I envisage publishing about eight books a year. There is a lot of talent in Sheffield but the writers won’t necessarily be from here and indeed the other one we are launching is by Ruth Valentine who is from London and another first novel by a poet.

“I am using social media to spread the word. Eventually I want to publish music and plays and maybe artwork.”

The publisher has commissioned Bill Allerton to write a manual on self-publishing which will be sent to authors who unsuccessfully submit manuscripts to Cybermouse. “It will soften the blow of a rejection slip because I know how it feels, says Allerton.

Both Bill Allerton and Ruth Valentine will be at the Lescar on Sunday reading from their books. The evening will be shared with Sheffield writer Bryony Doran who collection of short stories, The Sand Eggs.