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Keeping it in the family

Rebecca and I give great weight to the idea of Hobeck Books being a family. To some this may seem a tad twee or idealistic, but when we sat down to establish the way we would operate and the values we would work by, creating a family ethos was at the core of what we would do. Everyone we work with is part of that family, be they authors, editors, cover designers or narrators.

The stuff of childhood nightmares

Our latest author signing, Judi Daykin, entered the Hobeck fold as a narrator. That means that before we signed any contracts, she was already in the family. As a trained actress, theatre company owner, and successful author, we were delighted she accepted our offer to narrate Wendy Turbin’s Sleeping Dogs for us. Produced by her husband Rhett Davies, the audiobook went live last week. It’s a great interpretation, and Rebecca and I enjoyed the way the collaboration came together. So, when Judi mentioned she had an unpublished work for us to consider, we were only too delighted to read it.

Wayland Babes is a classic horror story, or should I say, collection of interconnected tales based on Norfolk folklore. Many of us will know of the pantomime version, Babes in the Wood, but how many of us will have encountered the darker myth that it is based on? Set around the mysterious Wayland Woods in Norfolk, it’s believed that the story originates from the real-life tragedy of the de Grey family who owned Griston Hall in the mid-16th century.

The Wayland Woods

Young Thomas de Grey was due to inherit the hall when his grandfather died. As a child, he was left in the care of his uncle, Robert de Grey and his stepmother. All was well until his stepmother remarried four years later and moved away. Thomas set off to find her and never returned. Suspicion fell on the uncle, and rumours flew. From then on, Wayland Woods became known as a place where children were abandoned.

In Wayand Babes, Judi takes this theme and conjures a series of atmospheric, moving, and eerie tales where the ghostly apparitions of a young boy and his little sister foreshadow terrible events, be they personal or more widespread. We move from the immediate aftermath of the English Civil War, through to two tales set in the 19th century, to the knife-edge drama of World War Two, to a modern-day story of a police officer and his family battling a harsh winter. Each tale is brilliant in isolation, but taken together they are compellingly creepy and chilling.

Once we had both read it, we agreed immediately, we wanted to publish it. We’re thrilled to be signing an author of Judi’s pedigree. She’s enjoyed huge success with her DS Sara Hirst novels published by Joffe Books, and she is the latest Hobeck author from the ‘Norwich School of Crime’, as like Antony Dunford, Wendy Turbin and Lin Le Versha and Mark Wightman, Judi is a graduate from the University of East Anglia’s MA Creative Writing Crime Fiction course.

And speaking of family, as well as considering our authors, editors, designers and narrators as family, we encourage real family members to contribute to the Hobeck pot if they have the skills, enthusiasm and ideas. Rebecca’s middle son designed a poster for Robert Daws’s Killing Rock which was used in bookshops and her youngest is working on an online scheduling system for us as the white board we currently use has run out of room. We are thrilled that a member of Judi’s family is contributing as well. The image we are going to be using for the front cover of Judi’s book is an original artwork by another creative family member, this time Judi’s daughter Gwynira Daikin. Judi showed the artwork to us to give us an idea of what she imagined for the cover and we both decided it was more than an idea, it was the cover. It paints the mood of the book perfectly. It’s both a nod to the gothic, the fairy tale and wood-cut tradition and to the modern digital. In fact, it is a very clever blend of the two worlds. Ghosts, after all, aren’t just of the past. They are of the present, and the future, too.

Wayland Babes will be released by Hobeck in time for Hallowe’en.

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