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Clouds from Both Sides, a call for submissions and a call for readers

Friday, 1 December 2017

There was a lovely cartoon that appeared in Thrutch (that’s a university caving magazine btw) around about the mid-80s. Frame one was a drawing of a woman, wearing all the kit, titled: Her First Caving Trip. Frame two, same woman sat in a car, rain pelting the windscreen, she’s knitting, caption says: Her second caving trip.

Firstly I’d like to say that I no longer go caving, let’s clear that up. Clearly adventure sports, climbing, caving, trail running, whatever, there doesn’t appear to me to be any sort of gender inequality, long gone are the days when you would see a woman on the crag and think punter! Or dare to overtake one in the early stages of a race, as women are generally much better at pacing than men, and she will clearly come gliding past later towards the finish.

I’d like to say I knew this all along, I knew that fifty per cent of our publishing market was always going to be women. Our first book, and hopefully every book since (but I haven’t checked), had a fair number of woman in the pictures, on the covers, helping with the work, and in as many cases as possible, on the copyright notice as the author. We indeed actively seek out female authors with a story to tell.

I have two moans: firstly, where are the submissions? We get a few by women, and we have a number of regular female authors we work with – Bernadette McDonald, Deirdre Huston, Sarah Mussi, Ruth Eastham, Helen Mort, Heather Dawe, Lily Dyu to list a few for starters, but we could be publishing more books by women. Second moan: where is the support, I can quite understand why female mountaineers would get a bit jaded reading one egotistical book after another by retired white men with battered ice axes and twenty Himalayan expeditions under their belt, but why are our sales of Julie Tullis’s book, Clouds From Both Sides so insignificant? We recently republished this having secured the rights from the long-out-of-print edition, but interest is very small, compared to similar titles by … men. I’ve read it and it is a brilliant book. Perhaps woman are so used to the genre being dominated by male writers that they long ago lost interest in it. That said I’d like to do more outdoor adventure memoirs by woman, I’m struggling to get the rights for Alison Hargreaves’s book, and I wont give up, but we do need men and woman to support these titles I’m afraid, or I’m going through my back copies of Thrutch and posting that cartoon again.

– Jon Barton

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