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Manchester-based writer pens Notting Hill riots story

POSITIVE VIBRATIONS: Karline Smith has written several books, including Moss Side Massive

A MANCHESTER-BASED author Karline Smith will be releasing her new short story The Whistling Bird later this year, in an anthology called Resist: Stories of Uprising.

The fictional story, based on the Notting Hill riots of 1958, is guided historically with the help of Dr Kenny Monrose, an affiliated sociology researcher at the University of Cambridge.

The narrative will discuss the effectiveness of uprisings in defeating the far-right “against a powerful and emotional backdrop”.

Smith is the award-winning author behind the short story Ezekiel’s Valley and powerhouse crime thriller series Moss Side Massive, which tells the story of the harsh realities of gang culture in Manchester.

Prior to her literary success, Smith often struggled to get her work published, spending “30-odd years banging on doors” and “receiving the usual ‘sorry it doesn’t fit with what we’re looking for’ back”.

She said: “We [BAME writers] have a hard time getting our work out there.”

INDEPENDENT
In response, Smith founded Black Sapphire Press last year, “an independent publisher formed by a consortium of writers to publish, edit, support and showcase talent” pioneered towards, but not exclusive to, BAME writers.

All royalties are retained by the author and writers are encouraged to promote their work via readings and tours, as well as social media.

The Manchester-based author was born to Jamaican parents in the 1960s and started writing aged just seven, but she struggled with literacy and English in primary school.

“But the world has changed since I first started to write,” said Smith.

A 2018 study by academic Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold revealed the number of books published by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) authors in young adult fiction, for example, has been falling since 2010.

And according to the industry survey of 6,432 individuals working for 42 organisations, only 11.6 per cent of respondents identified as BAME.

But Smith said: “I can help.” Welcoming anyone with a talent and passion for fiction or poetry, Black Sapphire Press seeks to establish a collective of writers with “positive vibrations” to ensure a steep trajectory for all involved.

With constructive criticism, editorial advice and publishing guidance, Smith hopes Black Sapphire Press will support aspiring authors for years to come.

The Whistling Bird will debut at the Manchester Literature Festival this October, alongside fellow contributors Steve Chambers and Irfan Masters.

Smith will also be hosting a book launch for Goosebumps and Butterflies are Fairy Tales on September 25 at Chorlton Library, Manchester.

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