Our creative partners #5: Bridge House Publishing

Waterloo Festival thrives on creative partnerships, on bringing artists and musicians to collaborate with and showcase their wonderful work to our communities in Waterloo, Lambeth and - thanks to the marvels of the internet - elsewhere. In this series, we meet some of our creative partners for 2020.

This week we meet Bridge House Publishing, the producers behind our writing competition.

Bridge House Publishing was formed as part of a creative initiative by Gill James, university lecturer in Creative Writing at Salford University. She sought unusual short stories and wanted to work with writers to make those stories even better. Part of her earlier work at the University of Bangor put her in touch with Debz Hobbs-Wyatt who later obtained an MA form the university. Debz submitted to the very first anthology, Making Changes and it soon became clear that she had a contribution to make not just as a writer but also as an editor and a publicist.

"We’ve produced a series of themed anthologies over the years, and have gradually settled on producing one a year on vaguely Christmassy themes - and we’re delighted if contributors subvert them. We’ve had a ball and we’ve published and been helped by such lovely people as Richard Adams, Anthony Browne, Sarah Dobson, Charlotte Delaney, Vanessa Gebbie. Alan Gibbons, Gloria Hunniford, Virginia McKenna, Michael Morpurgo and now those involved with the Waterloo Festival. We’ve also supported various charities by donating a percentage of our net sales revenue to them. These include Born Free, the Carol Keating Foundation, Children’s Hospices UK, Havens Hospices, the International Rescue Training Centre Wales, the Mustard Seed Project, the Red Cross and Search Dogs Buckinghamshire. Sometimes our writers donate their royalties to these charities. We’re extremely proud of the community of new and developing writers we’re working with."

"We became involved with the Waterloo Festival when one of our writers, Dianne Stadhams, introduced us to the festival. It has been a great privilege over the last three years to judge entries for the Waterloo Festival Writing Competition."

Gill James continues, "The standards have been high and it’s been difficult selecting sixteen or so stories for each of the e-books, To be …To become, Transforming Being and Transforming Communities which will be out early in June 2020. We’ve selected those which best suited the themes – all of which of course can be interpreted in a variety of ways – and which told the best stories. We’re putting these three anthologies together to make a paperback book which we intend to launch on 5 December 2020."

"Every year we hold a celebration event in London the first weekend in December. The last two years we’ve been privileged to hold that in St Andrew’s and St John’s because of our connection to the Waterloo Festival. We have something else up our sleeve for 2020 but much will of course depend on how much we get back to normal after COVID-19. Typically these events give our writers the opportunity to meet us and each other as well as bring guests along to help with the celebration. There is plenty of opportunity for mingling and buying books. We give out any news and this will include the theme for the next year’s anthology. Of course, we’ve also included details about the Waterloo Festival Competitions the last couple of years. Some authors then read from their work, sometimes from the books we’ve released this year, sometimes from other books they’ve had published or form a work in progress."

"We have also been part of similar events at St John’s in June 2018 and June 2019 to celebrate the launches of To be …To become and Transforming Being. These have included open mic slots."

"We have an online event planned for this year, hosted by the Waterloo Festival, 12 June 6.30 to 8.00 p.m.. Watch out for your invitation!"

"We’ve sometimes accompanied our celebration events with workshops and have offered workshops in other contexts as well. Many of our writers, including Debz and myself, have also run workshops in schools. These include ones about how to write the short story, how to improve your chances of being published by us, marketing, editing and the business of writing."

"We also publish single author collections. If we’ve published three or more of your stories we’re willing to put together a collection. We’ll also consider people who’ve been published on CaféLit."

Bridge House Publishing's sister imprints publish the following:

· CaféLit – Annually The Best of CaféLit (short stories from 50 to 3000 words long from the CaféLit web site)

· Chapeltown Books – Collections of Flash Fiction, The Schellberg Cycle, Children’s Fiction and very soon fiction and non-fiction about extraordinary women

· The Red Telephone - Young Adult novels.

For all of these imprints Bridge House Publishing only consider authors they have already published in one of their anthologies, including those for the Waterloo Festival, or on CaféLit.