We love producing our weekly podcast, The Hobcast Book Show. We published our 123rd episode this week, which, if we stop long enough to think about it, is a remarkable achievement. When we conceived the show originally, we wanted to spread the Hobeck message, and offer our listeners an honest insight into the challenges of running a small start-up creative business.
We think we've achieved that, even if there are weeks when we hit the 'stop' button and look at each other and wonder if we've gone too far and been too honest. It's hard to mask your feelings when the week has been a tough one – whether it's overwork, cash flow issues, ill health or wider life concerns. Rebecca and I are not Holly and Phil: we can't fake it like a pair of daytime TV presenters. Nor would we want to. What you hear is what you get with Team Hobeck.
What we hadn't anticipated was the impact of The Hobcast in a wider sense. It's become a valuable focus for us, a set-piece weekly event that offers a slither of shape to our sometimes chaotic lives. It's been a wonderful record of our development as a company and as a partnership. Above all though, it's been a brilliant calling card, helping us to build a network of contacts and friends in the wider publishing world. We're both natural introverts, who would happily hide in a corner at a social occasion if given the choice. The Hobcast has forced us to find the courage to find guests and fight through our hidden force wall of isolation.
Now we can add another benefit of podcasting. Julie Anderson was our guest on episode 108 of The Hobcast. It was a great interview, drawing on Julie's experience as an author, a key organiser of the Clapham Book Festival, and Julie's career as a senior civil servant within the corridors of power in Westminster. As so often happens, the three of us enjoyed an extended post-recording conversation, during which we learned that she was looking for a home for her latest novel, The Midnight Man.
'What's the genre?' I asked.
'Historical mystery, set just after World War Two,' Julie replied. 'It's based around the remarkable South London Hospital for Women and Children near the Common. The building still exists, but the hospital closed some years ago. I've been speaking with former staff.'
'We'd like to see it,' Rebecca responded. 'We're looking to strengthen our historical fiction list.'
Now, almost four months on from that first conversation, we're delighted to welcome Julie Anderson as our latest Hobeck author, and we're thrilled to be publishing The Midnight Man early in 2024.
Julie is one of those writers, not dissimilar to fellow-Hobeckian Mark Wightman, who through their careful choice of language, is able to take a reader to a time and a place that they may not have ever experienced, but with an authenticity that feels genuine and real. The past isn't seen through a nostalgic lens, it is a past that is as tangible and visceral as the present. Reading The Midnight Man, you are taken back in time, you see it, you feel it and you even smell it at times. When Rebecca read the book (and she read the second half in one day) she emerged, blinking and slightly disorientated. It was as if she'd been submerged. That's the mark of a good historical novel. Frankly, it’s the mark of any good novel.
We are planning to publish The Midnight Man in Spring 2024 and cannot wait to share it and give readers the chance to delve deep into the time and place described by Julie, and emerge blinking just as Rebecca did! (Incidentally, she has recovered from the experience and is now firmly in the year 2023.)
We love moments like this - adding a new member to the Hobeck team and a brilliant novel to our schedule. We have much to thank our podcast for.