Oxfordshire author adopts novel approach to getting her second book into readers’ hands
7th May 2014: Oxfordshire author Jo Eames, who co-owns the local independent pub company Peach, is taking some rather imaginative routes to put her second novel Not Only The Good Boys, a gripping story set in the year up to D-Day, in the hands of readers.
The Deddington-based writer is offering local book clubs a sneak preview of her new novel, before it reaches local book shops, generating interest on social media and getting people talking about the book at a time when all eyes will be on the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.
Book clubs from Banbury, Northampton, Daventry and Chipping Norton will be among the first to read the book, and then be invited to The Fishes in North Hinksey, Oxford on the night of Thursday 15th May for a literary evening with the author over wine and nibbles. Jo will be asking these readers to post comments on Facebook and Tweet about the book there and then, and send postcards to friends recommending the read, to help spread the word.
She is also planning a 1940s style garden party launch at The Fishes next month. On Sunday 8th June, the pub’s beautiful riverside gardens will be the scene for live swing music, street party food and readings from the book by actors in 1940s dress, with rewards for guests who come in the best 1940s outfits.
It’s not the first time the successful author has adopted an unconventional way of launching her work. In 2010, when she published her first book, Jo revived the age-old tradition of writers and pubs by inviting book clubs into her pubs and asking regulars to set up their own new reading groups. With Tolkein and CS Lewis meeting regularly at The Eagle & Child in Oxford and Dylan Thomas frequenting The Fleece in Witney, a pub she now owns, the idea worked well, helping to sell thousands of copies.
Like her well-received first novel, The Faithless Wife, which explored the Spanish Civil War on Menorca, her new book delves into history again, telling the incredible true story of one man’s race to invent crucial secret weapons for D-Day. Major-General Hobart’s work on building a range of experimental tanks, strange Heath-Robinson devices known as Hobo’s Funnies, arguably changed the direction of the war, not once but twice. Not Only The Good Boys weaves fact and fiction in a deft, witty and moving narrative, with some of the story set in Jo’s own Oxfordshire house where the Hobart family lived during the war.
“It was whilst renovating my own house that I discovered a link to the Major-General that compelled me to want to tell Hobo’s story seventy years on from the historic day on which he faced his sternest test,” says Jo.
“Under the bathroom lino I found some Egyptian newspapers dated 1939. I was intrigued as to who left them there. Major-General Hobart’s name on an old title deed gave me the clue and led me to the story of one of World War II’s greatest unsung heroes.
“This summer, when people will remember the D-Day landings and the allied victory in Europe, it’s fitting to be able to focus on some of the extraordinary events that took place in the run-up to 6th June 1944. As well as launching my own book, which is a tribute to one of the many heroes of the war, I’ll be doing my bit to arrange a fantastic celebration that will appeal to book lovers, retro enthusiasts or anyone just seeking a great afternoon out at a great pub,” she says.
Not Only The Good Boys will be on sale in all Peach pubs and selected independent book shops from 1st June, priced £9.99. It will also be available as an ebook.