Lapwing Books was created by writer Richard W Hardwick as a reaction against advice he was given by publishers and agents.
Having completed his memoir Andalucía in 2011, the subsequent feedback disheartened him. Both publishers and agents claimed the writing was beautiful and the story absolutely gripping, but said they couldn’t take the book because they weren’t sure there was a market for it. The only advice they could give was that to turn the book into a novel may give it a better chance of becoming accepted.
Richard’s memoir had started when his partner Anna was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was simply a way of coping at first, a way of getting things out of his head. Creative writing has great therapeutic power; it’s something he teaches in prisons and has done for years. And then, when the results came back and there was a fifty-fifty chance of his partner surviving, Richard wrote about their past too, because he wanted to record it for their young children in case Anna didn’t survive.
And so, there was no way Richard was going to turn this book into a novel. Instead, he formed his own publishing company, Lapwing Books, and released it himself. Lapwings arrive in the dene at the bottom of his road in South East Northumberland each year. Walking the dog at least twice every day was a necessity that granted him a release, or at least gave him some space to reflect upon what had happened, and what the future may have in store for his family. There’s something about nature, movement, solitude and silence (or at least absence from man-made sound) that allows the healing process to begin, that allows thoughts to wander and eventually settle, decisions to form.
Up into the dene stand trees that have stood for hundreds of years, that have witnessed so much change in their lifetime, that represent beautifully the continuous cycle of life, death and rebirth. To the east, the dene opens up into a small fishing harbour, on the other side of which come the waves, day in, day out, whatever else is happening.
And skittering around with oystercatchers and sandpipers, above the still heron with its watchful eye, tumble the lapwings, with their iridescent green plumage, distinctive crests and digital sounding call. Somehow, trapped in a world of helpless circumstance, they came to represent freedom, and perhaps new life.
When your world has crashed, nothing is taken for granted any more. One group of people know this as much as any other. Prisoners, excluded from the free world, dream of open skies and treetops, of sunsets and the freedom to roam. And when guilt is mixed with beauty it forms spirals of colour and emotion. Shattered Images and Building Bridges, thanks to support and finance from Durham City Arts, became Lapwing Books’ second publication just a few months later. And with it came the realisation that a new publishing company, one conceived with the heart in mind as much as the head, was born …