Victorina Press at the London Book Fair

At the London Book Fair yesterday and meeting up with Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes (founder and director of Victorina Press), Sophie and Jorge. The Victorina Press stand was part of the Independent Publishers Guild section. Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes is phenomenally supportive of new writers, and deserves high praise for publishing so many fresh voices, all within the space of a year. 

Me, Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes, founder and director of Victorina Press, Sophie and Jorge.

Me, Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes, founder and director of Victorina Press, Sophie and Jorge.

A lovely post from the Anglo Chilean Society

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Mi Querido Imperial by Rhiannon Lewis

February 13, 2019

At the beginning of 2018 Anglo Chilean Society member, Rhiannon Lewis, enjoyed success with her novel “My Beautiful Imperial”, launched at the Chilean Embassy in 2017 under Ambassador Rolando Drago’s time. The novel was chosen by the Walter Scott Prize Academy for its list of books to read.
Today we are pleased to announce that, My Beautiful Imperial, has now been published in Spanish as Mi Querido Imperial.

Mi Querido Imperial tells the story of a Welsh sea captain who finds himself embroiled in the turbulence of the 1891 Chilean Civil War. Based in true facts and written by his great-great niece, Rhiannon Lewis.

See the original post here.

BBC Radio Cymru/ BBC Radio Cymru

Roedd yn braf cael fy nghyfweld gan Aled Hughes ar ei raglen radio ar 11 Hydref.

Dyma’r linc i’r rhaglen, ac mae’r darn yn cychwyn tua 1:18:31

It was great fun to be interviewed by Aled Hughes on his programme on the 11 October. This is the link to the programme (Welsh language) and the interview starts around 1:18:31

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Review of 'My Beautiful Imperial' by Adam Feinstein

I would like to introduce Adam Feinstein. Adam is an acclaimed author and journalist. He has written for the Guardian, the TLS and the New Statesman, and broadcast for the BBC on subjects as diverse as Pablo Neruda and autism. In 2010, he published, A History of Autism: conversations with the pioneers (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). He founded the international autism magazine, Looking Up, and runs monthly online autism conferences for Autism Cymru, as well as an annual online Awares conference which has been referred to as the ‘finest online event of its kind on the planet’. In July, he published, Autism Works: a guide to successful employment across the entire spectrum (Routledge, 2018).

As if this isn’t enough talent for one person, Adam is also an acclaimed translator, and Hispanist. Adam’s translations from Neruda, Lorca, Benedetti and others have appeared in many publications, including Modern Poetry in Translation and Agenda. His book of translations from Neruda’s Canto General was published by Pratt Contemporary in 2013. He wrote the introduction to the Folio Edition of Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths, which appeared in 2007.

His biography Pablo Neruda: a passion for life was published by Bloomsbury in 2004, and reissued in an updated edition in 2013. It is a wonderfully gripping biography which transports the reader into Neruda’s world. The real art of the book is to make us feel that we are retracing Neruda’s footsteps, and travelling the poet’s journey through life along with him. I would recommend it. Harold Pinter called it ‘a masterpiece’.

Unsurprisingly, Adam was asked to advise on the film Neruda, Oscar-nominated director Pablo Larraín’s recent biographic feature film. Adam is a major authority on film, Latin American cinema in particular. He has written about and given talks around the world on Michael Curtiz - the man who made Casablanca.

When My Beautiful Imperial was published, I was delighted that Adam took the time, not only to read the book but to write such a great review. We all hoped it would be picked up by one of the national papers. Perhaps the book is too Welsh for the English papers, and too English for the Welsh papers? Who knows. Whatever the reason, the review went unpublished. Consequently, I would like to share Adam’s impressions of the novel with you here. Many, many thanks, Adam.

Adam Feinstein’s review of My Beautiful Imperial.

Rhiannon Lewis’s novel, My Beautiful Imperial, is a masterly mixture of grippingly suspenseful historical adventure and character study set amid the political upheaval of nineteenth-century Chile. It is admirably researched - but the facts are introduced tactfully and tastefully. We are swept along not just by the action but by the dialogue, which bristles right from the start - and more than anything else, by the central figure of Davy Davies, the Welsh sailor caught up in the Chilean revolution.

Davies is an utterly memorable creation, erupting with believable life. (The image of him prancing around the room naked in a malaria-fuelled delirium will live long in the memory.) Davies’ doubts, foibles and passions become ours, and the innocence of his love affair with the unhappily married Estella is almost unbearably affecting, at times. But the secondary characters are almost equally vibrant, because Lewis has the enormous gift of summing up a person in a single, telling line: Estella’s husband, Laurence, for example, makes every caring remark sound like a rebuke. We ourselves genuinely care about Davies’ friends and colleagues and share his distaste of his appallingly spiteful, embittered superior, Walker.

In its ability to enthral us at every moment, My Beautiful Imperial has the cohesive perfection of a great Hollywood movie like Casablanca. Indeed, the spontaneous singing of Welsh songs on board the Imperial as the ship faces possible annihilation is as poignant a scene, in its way, as the memorable moment the refugees burst into a chant of the Marseillaise in that legendary film.

Adam Feinstein

Adam Feinstein

My well thumbed copy!

My well thumbed copy!

Adam’s most recent publication

Adam’s most recent publication

Novelists know no boundaries (or walls)

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I’ve never liked putting people into pigeonholes, and I don’t like to be pigeonholed myself. Likewise, I’ve never understood people’s desire to be confined to tribes. We’re all different, and that’s what makes us interesting and unique. I love Wales, but I also love being in London. I love the Welsh language, but also love English authors. I love French, Italian and Spanish and if I could speak all of them fluently, I would. How fantastic would that be!

So, it’s with great pride that I saw this in Waterstones, Abergavenny, today. It’s lovely to be seen as an ‘Abergavenny author’. We’ve lived locally for 6 years now, and it’s a great town. I also know that ‘back home’, in Cardigan, I’m considered a ‘Cardigan author’. I was brought up there, and I will always be drawn back to the sea.

I spend a lot of time in London, so who knows, maybe one day, if I’m lucky, I’ll be considered a London author? And when the Spanish translation is launched in Valparaiso/Santiago/Concepcion later on this year, how lovely it would be to be referred to as a Welsh/Chilean writer!

Perhaps an author can be like a sailor, and call many places home.

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Clwb Hanes y Ferwig - 'My Beautiful Imperial'

We had a great evening at Clwb Hanes y Ferwig on Monday evening, discussing the historical background to ‘My Beautiful Imperial’. It was good to be back at my old primary school in the company of old friends and new. Several people in the audience had already read the novel but even so, I sold 9 books, which I was absolutely delighted about. Thank you, Ferwig, for the warm welcome. Jon Meirion Jones was the very deserving winner of the hardback copy.

Cafon ni noson hwylus iawn yng Nghlwb Hanes y Ferwig ar nos Lun. Roedd yn braf i fod nôl i fy hen ysgol gynradd yng nghwmni hen ffrindiau a newydd. Roedd nifer o bobl yn y gynulleidfa wedi darllen y nofel yn barod, ond er hynny, gwerthais 9 llyfr, oedd yn syndod braf. Diolch i Ferwig am y croeso cynnes. Jon Meirion Jones oedd ennillydd haeddiannol iawn y copi clawr caled.

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Cymdeithas Ceredigion, 7.30pm 6 Hydref, 2018

Rwy’n edrych ymlaen at noson ddifyr yn trafod cefndir My Beautiful Imperial gyda Chymdeithas Ceredigion ar nos Sadwrn, 6 Hydref. Bydd y cyfarfod yn digwydd yng Nghaffi’r Emlyn, Tan-y-Groes am 7.30pm. Mae croeso i bawb. Os nad ydych chi’n aelod yn barod bydd angen talu £2 mynediad (bargen!) neu beth am ymaelodi am flwyddyn am £5 (bargen arall!).

I’m looking forward to discussing the background to My Beautiful Imperial with the members of Cymdeithas Ceredigion (the Ceredigion Society) on Saturday evening, 6 October. The meeting will take place at the Emlyn Café, Tan-y-Groes at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome. If you aren’t already a member, you will need to pay £2 entry (bargain!) or why not join for a full year for £5 (another bargain!). This is a Welsh language event.

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Review by Jon Meirion Jones/Adolygiad Cymraeg gan Jon Meirion Jones

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The Welsh speakers amongst you will be familiar with the poet, author, historian and genuine all-rounder Jon Meirion Jones. Jon has agreed that I can share his review of 'My Beautiful Imperial'. I won't attempt to translate it as he writes beautifully (an incentive to learn Welsh perhaps?) but I thought that the week of the National Eisteddfod would be an ideal time to share this. Although the novel is written in English, its heart is in Ceredigion and Chile. I'm obviously very grateful to Jon for his thoughts on the book.

Adolygiad Jon Meirion Jones o ‘My Beautiful Imperial’

Mae’n gyfrol swmpus a hardd. Mae iddi ddiwyg crefftus drwyddi – yn enwedig y clawr blaen a’r cefn. Nid yw’r penodau yn faith - yn seicolegol gryno. Mae iddi stori gyffrous, anarferol, a brigau uchel fel y tonnau cyn disgyn i gafnau o fyfyrdodau a dialog rhwng cymeriadau sy’n grefftwaith ynddynt eu hunain. A’r holl stori wreiddiol yn sieliedig ar y llun yn y cwtsh glo!! Rheiny yw’r gorau bob amser. Hoffais y ffordd roeddech wedi gwau eich profiadau o’r hiwmor Cymreig – yr emynau a’r meddylfryd gwerinol – i gefndir y co’ o ddyffryn Teifi, y Preselau, yr arfordir a threftadaeth morwrol. Mi fyddai Nhad wedi ei mwynhau mâs draw ynghyd a’i gefndryd a’r halen yn eu gwaed. Roedd y dyfyniadau o emynau yn ddramatig ac yn tynnu deigryn wrth eu darllen. Yn wir roeddwn yn adnabod peiriannydd o’r enw Glanmor Evans o Blaencelyn.

Ysgrifenwyd y gyfrol gan awdur deallus, sensitif wedi ei breintio â dawn greadigol ddramatig. Roedd gwead drefnus yn llawn disgyblaeth iaith ac yn cwtogi neu ymestyn hyd brawddegau i greu yr effaith drawiadol. Roedd y dewis o ambell air anarferol ac annisgwyl yn ychwanegu at y blas.

Enw bendigedig i’r arwr – y Capten Davy Jefferson Davies. Roedd fel petawn yn ei adnabod – a’i lygaid a’i feddylfryd tua’r gorwel a thu hwnt. Roeddwn yn adnabod 15 – 20 o gapteniaid yn ardal Pontgarreg. Drws nesa’ roedd Capten Davy Rees a fu’n morwra gyda’r Blue Funnel Line. Aeth 11 o fechgyn y Cilie i’r môr.

A fyddai’r gyfrol wedi gwneud ffilm dda? Byddai yn sicr. Mae’r cymeriadau o’r Arlywydd, i Moraga, Mrs Ebrington, Hervey, swyddogion y capten i’r rocyn ifanc a’r asyn – yn fyw a chredadwy. Roeddwn wedi ceisio gosod y cymeriadau a’u cymharu a phobl roeddwn yn adnabod.

Llongyfarchiadau ar eich llwyddiant. Edmygais eich gwaith ymchwil – nid oedd yn sefyll allan ond yn gorwedd yn naturiol yn natblygiad y stori. Roedd yr enwau Sbaeneg, y tirwedd a’r enwau cynhenid – yn rhoi blas, fel sinsir mewn cacen – ac yn gwneud y cyfanwaith yn gredadwy.

Dechrau a gorffen yn eich milltir sgwâr.

Rhodder iddi ‘Oscar’.

Jon Meirion Jones



The Bristol Short Story Prize

Ymlaen at y rhestr fer!

On to the shortlist!

What the Bristol Short Story Prize says about the judging process:

Chair of this year’s judging panel, literary agent Kate Johnson, says “It was such a joy to read and discuss these stories alongside my fellow judges Lucy, Polly, and Roshi. Selected from a high-calibre longlist, the twenty that will appear in the anthology are ambitious, smart, and wide-ranging in voice and experience, and the best of them made all four of us light up in awe and say, ‘This! This is why we tell stories. This is what a story can do.’ It will be a thrill to see them in print this October, and they are sure to linger in readers’ minds long after.”


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Diwrnod Mawr Heddiw / A Big Day Today

Diwrnod mawr heddiw i fi, Steffan Glynn (dylunydd y clawr a mab werth y byd) a Victorina Press. Ar ôl chwe mis o lythyron, galwadau ffôn, ymweliadau ac e-byst oddi wrthyf i a Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes, heddiw fe ymunodd Waterstones Picadilly (siop lyfrau fwyaf Ewrop) â chwmni nodedig Awen Teifi ac Awen Meirion i werthu copïau o 'My Beautiful  Imperial' o'r silffoedd. Tipyn o gamp i wasg fechan annibynnol. Diolch yn fawr i James Gilbert am wneud hyn yn bosib, ac i Joana Suta am ddelio mor urddasol ag awdur oedd wedi cyffroi'n llwyr. Rwy' wedi bod yn ymweld â'r siop ers blynyddoedd, yn ceisio dychmygu sut fyddai'n teimlo i weld fy llyfr ar y silff. Sylwer ar y llyfrau islaw ac uwchben: Hilary Mantel, Hannah Kent...


 A big day today for me, Steffan Glynn (cover designer and top son) and Victorina Press. After 6 months of letters, phone calls, visits and e-mails by myself and Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes, today Waterstones Picadilly (the largest book shop in Europe) joined the illustrious company of Awen Teifi ❤️ and Awen Meirion ❤️ in selling actual physical copies of 'My Beautiful Imperial' from their shelves. No small achievement for a tiny independent press. Diolch yn fawr, thank you to James Gilbert for making it possible and Joana Suta for dealing so gracefully with one super excited author. I've been visiting this branch for years, wondering what it would feel like to see my book on the shelf. Notice the books above and below: Hilary Mantel, Hannah Kent...

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Bristol Short Story Prize Longlist

Mae'r stori fer, The Significance of Swans, wedi cyrraedd rhestr hir y Bristol Short Story Prize. Roedd dros 2,000 o ymgeiswyr. Croesi bysedd am y cam nesaf nawr. Gallwch ddarllen mwy am y gystadleuaeth fan hyn.

My short story, The Significance of Swans, has reached the longlist of the Bristol Short Story Prize. There were over 2,000 entries. Crossing my fingers for the next step now. You can read more about the competition here.

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Yn Llyfrgell y Fenni - At Abergavenny Library

Bore braf ddoe yn cwrdd â phobl yn Llyfrgell y Fenni. Had a great morning yesterday meeting people at Abergavenny Library.

Cafon ni gyfle i drafod 'My Beautiful Imperial' ac i edrych ar rai hen luniau sy'n berthnasol i'r ymchwil cefndirol. Dyw pawb ddim yn y llun yn anffodus, ond roedd dau eisoes yn darllen, neu wedi darllen y llyfr. Diolch i Clare a'r staff yno am yr holl help.

We had a chance to talk about 'My Beautiful Imperial' and look at some old photographs relating to the background research. Not everyone's in the photograph unfortunately, but two had either read or were reading the book already. Thank you to Clare and the staff there for all their help.

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My Beautiful Imperial is translated into Spanish


I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the amazing Guisela Parra Molina, who is translating My Beautiful Imperial into Spanish. This new version will be launched in Chile at the end of the year. 

Guisela is a very experienced translator and I am thrilled that she has agreed to take on the translation on behalf of Victorina Press.

Guisela sent me some background information about herself and she has agreed that I can share it with you here. Diolch, gracias, thank you Guisela. 

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My name is Guisela Parra Molina, originally from Concepción, Chile, but I’ve had to migrate, as it were, to other cities within the country, because it was very difficult to find and keep a steady job during the dictatorship, and I had a daughter to take care of. I have called it migration, even exile, because it has meant feeling homesick, away from my family and friends, all these years. As you know, Chile is long and narrow (“Chile es una larga y angosta faja de tierra” is the first notion on Geography we are taught at school), and it takes quite a lot of time and money to travel along all the places our beautiful Imperial got to. So I lived in Arica, then in Iquique, and finally came to La Serena. I studied and graduated as a Translator English-Spanish in Universidad de Concepción (something I am very proud of). Apart from working as a translator, I taught in translation programmes at Universidad de Tarapacá in Arica, and Iquique English College in Iquique. I finally got a steady teaching post in Universidad de La Serena, where I taught Literary Translation, among other Translation and Spanish courses, for 20 years or so. I was known among students as a rigorous and strict teacher, because I aimed at showing, spreading, and sharing with them my love for language. In the meantime, I got a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies, major in Literature, by the same university. My thesis was a feminist study of works by María Luisa Bombal (20th century Chilean writer) and Virginia Woolf: La que procede del país próspero y el que procede del país glorioso: diálogo intertextual entre María Luisa Bombal y Virginia Woolf (an off-the-cuff translation would be something like “She who comes from the prosperous country and he who comes from the glorious country –intertextual dialogue between María Luisa Bombal and Virginia Woolf”). I had a great time writing it, by the way.

I am a feminist, therefore, I participated in Universidad de La Serena Gender Studies Programme, which unfortunately didn’t last long (it’s quite difficult for this kind of programme to survive, especially in an extremely conservative place such as La Serena). I have also formed and participated in feminist groups and organizations, among others, Casa de Encuentro de la Mujer in Arica, and Nayax Warmitwa in Iquique, aiming at contributing to women’s awareness, basically.

I retired three years ago, and that has enabled me to devote all my time to writing, and translating literature, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. At the moment I am also part of a team in charge of a fiction workshop, called “Los Viajeros del Mary Celeste”. You will probably meet them if you present My Beautiful Imperial in La Serena, I’ll do my best to arrange that.

Having a book published in this country is very difficult because of the enterprising focus prevailing over the literary one. So I’ve had only two plaquettes published, in a “marginal” way, so to speak: Crucifixión, and In Tempo de Réquiem. And I’ll have a book published soon, Piel de Culebra, in the same marginal way. I write political criticism columns, more or less regularly, which are published in online media, mainly in