New publishing house creates a platform for British Asian talent
UNTOLD STORIES: Sara Razzaq (left) and Habiba Desai
NEW Bradford-based independent publisher Fox & Windmill Books aims to give a platform to British Asian writers. The exciting new voice on the British literary landscape founded by Habiba Desai and Sara Razzaq in 2021 aims to give a home to new talent.
Eastern Eye caught up with Habiba and Sara to find out more.
What made you set up a publishing company?
Habiba: When we were in university, we identified a gap within the publishing industry for British south Asian writers, especially from the north. Fox & Windmill was established to bridge this gap in the industry and maintain accessibility within publishing, so aspiring writers had a place to go.
What kind of books are you looking for?
Habiba: At the moment, we are looking for YA (young adult) and adult fiction. Particularly stories about fantasy, sci-fi and romance. We want as much variety within these genres as possible.
What is the biggest challenge of setting up a new publisher?
Habiba: I think it has to be managing the financial side. We are very creative people and crunching numbers is not something that we excel at, although we are overcoming this with guidance from our mentor, who is the director of central finance at PRH.
What kind of response have you had towards your venture?
Sara: We have had such a positive and overwhelming response. Much of it is thanks to our friend and mentor Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books, who supported us throughout our journey. The responses from the indie publishing scene have been so encouraging, especially when they tell us that what we’re doing is needed and necessary.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Sara: Keep sharing your stories. More often than others you become busy with the practicalities of life and feel demotivated when writing or looking for your work to be published. Keep putting yourself out there and always tell people to read your stories.
What do you think makes for a good story?
Sara: When the writing takes you somewhere else. The power of words that enables you to travel away from your daily routine is a great story. Once you share your experiences through a story, readers are able to reflect and view themselves as part of this world that you have created.
Can an independent publisher compete with an established one?
Habiba: Yes, absolutely. There are many independent award-winning publishers around the country, especially within the north. Because each indie has its own focus and some accept unsolicited manuscripts, they open up opportunities for aspiring writers to directly submit without having to go through an agent. Many incredibly successful writers have been discovered through this way.
What is it like working as a team?
Habiba: It’s great to have someone who’s dependable and passionate about similar things. Sara and I have divided jobs to our strengths. I established strong contacts within the creative industry, so it made sense for me to handle partnerships. Sara’s current job is within customer service and marketing, so it was natural for her to look after submissions and care for our writers.
What are your plans for your company Fox & Windmill?
Sara: We are dedicated to bridging the gap in publishing and making it accessible and inclusive. We want Fox & Windmill to become a hub for aspiring writers where they can ask questions and get advice regarding publishing. We want to show that great stories can be found from our communities. If we publish a book that resonates with you then we’ve achieved this goal.
What books do you enjoy reading?
Habiba: Recently I’ve been enjoying children’s classics, like the Tales of Beatrix Potter, Paddington, Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh. I have a fascination with anthropomorphism which is why I’ve gone back to these books, but it’s interesting reading these stories as an adult.
Sara: I love to read literary classics and am also an avid reader of historical fiction. Some of my favourite authors include Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. I love the escape that these novels offer. In particular historical fiction is of great interest, and I am currently researching this genre in my master’s thesis.