Meet the Members: Sharmaine Lovegrove
This week we caught up with Sharmaine Lovegrove – virtually of course! Sharmaine is the Publisher of Dialogue Books, the UK’s only inclusive imprint and home to a variety of stories from illuminating voices often excluded from the mainstream – shining a spotlight on stories for, about and by readers from the LGBTQI+, disability, working class and BAME communities.
Vibrant, intelligent and always up for a party, Sharmaine brings so much energy and joy to the Gather Round community. We talk music, food and work and Sharmaine shares some of her all-time favourite reads.
Can you tell us what you do and what an average work day looks like?
My days in Bristol consist of me homing in on my creative and focused work as a publisher. I edit novels and works for non-fiction and I come up with ideas for the publicity and marketing campaigns across my titles. I write a lot of copy for a range of materials for the publication, marketing and publicity of the books and I have long editorial conversations with my authors about the progress of their manuscript. Quite often I speak to influencers and writers about my books for praise quotes and I sometimes even get to read a manuscript at my desk!
What are you listening to/watching at the moment?
I absolutely love listening to Rosie and Chris Ramsey’s podcast Shagged, Married, Annoyed. My work is intellectually engaging, and the news cycle is challenging. This podcast by a married, comedic couple focuses on the best bits of British humour and is a great relief.
Before that, I was listening to Have You Heard George’s Podcast? which is the epitome of boundary-pushing, experimental social and critical analysis of Black British culture and the issues of racism and the state whilst being reflective and inspirational.
I am always listening to music, it’s a huge part of my life. On any day I can switch from classical – (usually Bach Cello Suite in G Major) to Jorja Smith to Biggie to Nirvana. I love deep bass lines, smooth rhythms and wicked lyrics.
What excites you most about the creative process when it comes to sourcing and publishing a new story?
Ooooh the tingle that runs through me when discovering new worlds or new approaches. There is so much joy in signing an author and knowing their work will make it out into the world. I usually start the editorial process 6-8 months after acquisition and it’s great to go back to a work and find new elements to help enhance the book. My favourite thing is talking to the author when we’ve sent them the first copies of their book. It can be a two-year process for us and a lifetime for the author and it’s just the best feeling in the world – second only I suspect to delivering babies!!
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is probably one of the best books I have ever read
What kit/tools can you not live without?
My laptop is key for obvious reasons and the world around me for constant sources of unexpected inspiration.
Anything you’re working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
YES!! Finished copies of an incredible debut called Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez landed on my desk recently and I am thrilled! Paul, I and my team have worked so hard on this book and it’s based on his life as a black, gay young man who is excommunicated by the church and moves to London and becomes a sex worker. It’s amazing.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is probably one of the best books I have ever read. I cannot wait to help her find her readers in June.
Where is your favourite place to eat in Bristol?
I love the food scene in Bristol. With my family, firm favourites are Bosco Pizzeria, The Malago for a roast, Salt and Malt in Wapping Wharf and Bravo’s Caribbean Restaurant on North Street. I also love Wilsons, Bravas on Cotham Hill, Box E and Root in Wapping Wharf, Bianchis and Rice & Things (although it bugs me that it’s not Tings!) in Stokes Croft.
Can you share some of all your all-time favourite reads?
This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun
Going Dark: The secret social lives of extremists by Julia Ebner
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Twits by Roald Dahl
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrision
Nudibranch by Irenoson Okojie
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
The Shape of a Pocket by John Berger
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Open City by Teju Cole
Why did you choose Gather Round?
My family and I have relocated from Berlin to London to Bristol and although I have a study at home, moving to a new city can be isolating so I wanted to find a creative, engaging place to connect with interesting others and do my work. I absolutely love the community which has been created here and the range of jobs that people do. Apart from my bookshop in Berlin, it’s the best place I have worked from.
Thanks for the chat Sharmaine! For more information on Dialogue Books and their latest releases, head over to their website or follow Sharmaine and the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Alternatively, for your daily dose of insights and anecdotes directly from Sharmaine, hop on over to her Twitter feed.