With the work of local authors on display in book stores, gift shops and gas stations across the island, it stands as testament to the infatuation readers have with the history, culture and stories unique to this province.
Garry Cranford, president of the publishing company Flanker Press, says manuscripts are continually submitted. While this year and in 2016 Flanker published roughly 20 titles, Cranford says they usually receive around 200-300 submissions each year.
“There’s a lot of criteria to choosing what to publish,” Cranford told the Northern Pen. “Is the writing good, does it explore Atlantic themes, is the author comfortable with media interviews — to list a few.”
While no area particularly stands out for the number of submissions, in the province’s unique and abundant book industry Northern Peninsula writers have been continuously involved.
This year, Flanker Press released a memoir that has been steadily growing in success – Life on the Great Northern Peninsula by Adrian Payne. Cranford says the book has been very well-received thus far, and Payne will likely have a second work published with Flanker in the future.
“It’s very well written, genuine and entertaining — it’s getting noticed,” Cranford said.
Many Newfoundland and Labrador books detail historical and regional themes specific to the communities and background of the authors. But with an avid readership, this has not prevented the province-wide appeal of most titles.
“Our books will find an audience all over the island,” said Cranford. “Readers here are loyal and proud of our culture.
“We love reading our own history.”
Other popular titles of past Northern Peninsula writers include the works of prolific writer Earl B. Pilgrim, Francis Patey, Freeman B. Cull and Candace Cochrane. Flanker Press worked with the Grenfell Historic Trust to republish the long out-of-print Adrift on an Ice Pan by Sir Wilfred Grenfell.
Along with a future work from Payne, whose manuscript for Life on the Great Northern Peninsula was cut in half for its publication, several other titles by Northern Peninsula authors are under development from Flanker Press.
They are currently reviewing a manuscript from Francis Patey, and are developing a children’s book surrounding a historical event along the peninsula. The project is still in its conceptual stages and Cranford would not reveal any specific details on the under-wraps book to the Northern Pen.
In a province with 271 municipalities, making sure the literature of the island gets distributed far and wide can be a challenge. To tackle it, Cranford and his wife hit the road together from St. John’s to St. Anthony, topping up and refreshing their numerous bookstands.
“We call it our warehouse on wheels,” Cranford said. “We’ve made two trips so far this year and serviced all our accounts.”