Welcome to the first edition of Behind the Press; a series designed to showcase the indie publishers we love. Each month we’ll chat with a representative from one of our selected indie publishers, and take you on an exclusive behind the scenes to explore their values, their journeys so far, and exciting projects they’re working on.

Queenless by Mira Marcinow tr. Maggie Zebracka

As our subscribers will know, this month’s book subscription pick is Queenless by Mira Marcinow, translated by Maggie Debracka. It is published by the wonderful Héloïse Press, who longtime subscribers might remember from a past subscription selection: Days & Days & Days by Tone Schunnesson, translated by Saskia Vogel. Therefore, for our first Behind the Press, we thought it would make perfect sense to catch up with Aina Marti-Balcells from Héloïse Press to get the inside scoop. 

Tell us a little about your publishers… what is it that you do differently?

We bring together international female voices that write high quality literature, mostly fiction, in order to explore topics that focus on women's lives or are related to women's experiences. This concept is fully branded through all our design, which in fact is the work of one very talented woman, Laura Kloos. We wanted to transmit a sense of quality, minimalism and elegance that resonated with our idea.

Days & Days & Days by Tone Schunnesson  tr. Saskia Vogel

We publish translations but also books written originally in English. We did not want language to limit us in sharing global experiences of womanhood. Most of our authors are extremely successful in their home countries but remain unknown in the UK, such as Tone Schunnesson, Dawn Garisch or Nina Bouraoui. We are bringing that international female talent together. But we are also publishing emerging authors and debuts that are doing really well and show a lot of potential, such as Erica Mou and Mariette Navarro.

Why did you choose to get into publishing?

My love for literature and female friendship. I wanted to bring together women's stories in the form of literature; I wanted to create a space where women from different backgrounds, countries and languages came to share their voices; an uncompromised and non-judgemental space for all kinds of characters. We had comments from readers who did not like Days & Days & Days because the main female character is unlikeable. This made me smile, Héloïse Press is populated with unlikeable and contradictory female characters. But isn't that the point of literature? Reflecting the grey area of human nature and experience for a better understanding of the human being, including ourselves? I wanted to feminize this literary experience, looking at the many expressions of womanhood across the globe through the lenses of literature. 

Which book throughout history do you wish you’d published?

Mmm... difficult one! Beloved by Toni Morrison. 

When you read the manuscript for Queenless - what made it a book that you simply had to publish?

The style and the rhythm. I immediately fell in love with the orality of the story, as well as with its poetic element. It comes from the heart, it is like listening to a song. Very similar to Thirsty Sea by Erica Mou, in that sense, which is extremely musical yet it reflects many women's hearts. The fact that Queenless is a Polish debut was also a very appealing aspect as we had not yet published a Polish author. It is also the first book-length translation by Maggie Zebracka, which felt very special too.

What can people expect from you in the next 12 months?

The next 12 months will bring surrealism, gothic and realism from across the world! All of that in four books only. A very diverse and exciting mix of stories, all from different countries, including our first Bulgarian and South Korean titles. They will also represent quite a range of generations, with our youngest author in her 20s and the oldest in her 80s. We are also delighted to share that two of these four books are English PEN Awards.

What was the last indie book you read?

Baltic Belles: The Dedalus Book of Estonian Women's Literature, a collection of short stories by Estonian women writers from the 19th century to other days.