Whittrick Press Launches

Innovative new digital publishers releases Bernie McGill short story collection, Sleepwalkers, as ebook

Northern Ireland’s newest digital publisher, Whittrick Press, launched this month with their first publication by award-winning novelist and playwright, Bernie McGill.

Whittrick Press is releasing Sleepwalkers – a collection of short stories that has already been long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize – as an ebook and limited edition paperbook.

Darkly moving and beautifully written, McGill’s debut collection of short stories explores the lives of women across the generations. From the storm-battered coastline of the north of Ireland to the sleeping villas of Andalusia, McGill’s characters grapple with the consequences of affairs, bereavement, alcoholism, illness and murder.

‘I’m absolutely delighted that Whittrick has chosen Sleepwalkers as its first publication,' says McGill. 'In many ways, digital publishing feels like a natural fit for short story writing. This is a very exciting time.’

Founded by David Lewis and Hugh Odling-Smee, Whittrick Press sets out to bring new writing and new ideas to readers in innovative and interesting ways. It is also one of the latest recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF), which aims to stimulate innovation, research and development and creativity in the Northern Ireland economy.

David Lewis explains the background to the new company: ‘Both Hugh and I have talked about setting up a publishers for years. With the advent of digital technology, it’s now possible to produce ebook titles relatively cheaply and distribute them to readers around the world through platforms such as Amazon, iBooks and Kobo.

‘Whittrick Press brings the traditional values of literary publishing to the digital age, working with writers to package their work in the most appropriate formats, whether that’s an ebook, an app or a limited edition print copy.’

With an eye-catching brand created by renowned artist and designer, Rory Jeffers, and submissions already pouring in, the team intend Whittrick Press to become synonymous with quality, interactivity, innovation and literary excellence.

‘The name is from the Scots word for weasel, “whittrick”,' says Odling-Smee. 'We chose the name after being inspired by the title of a poem of the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, 'Whittrick in 13 Dialogues'.

‘The poem is about the joy and colour that art brings to our humdrum lives. The rare glimpse of a beautiful creature such as a whittrick is the spirit we want to express in our publishing, creating a lasting bond with the reader.’

Lewis and Odling-Smee hope to bring 20 ebooks to the market by the end of 2014, with plans to develop a non-fiction imprint as well as developing new products to enhance the reading experience.

Damian Smyth, Head of Drama & Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: ‘At the Arts Council we want to put our support firmly behind local companies and to help them develop and transform their creative ideas into commercial success.

'The source of our wealth, job creation and economic competitiveness is shifting to our burgeoning creative sector and we need to make these businesses as best equipped as possible to compete at the forefront of the global market.

‘David and Hugh have clearly used their combined skills and experience to establish Whittrick Press. The potential is bright for digital publishing and we wish them all the success for the future.’

Whittrick Press has an open submissions policy, meaning anyone can submit work to be considered. Visit the Whittrick Press website for details on the submission process