Paper Lanterns by Christine Coleman

Paper Lanterns by Christine Coleman is a self-published novel and the first I’ve ever read. I may be naive (and I admitPaper Lanterns by Christine Coleman to knowing nothing about publishing) but I was expecting something amateurish, lacking in editing and with a cheap feel to it.

How wrong can you be! Paper Lanterns looks and feels like any professionally published paperback and, most importantly, it is a great read.

Christine was inspired by the discovery of a bundle of love letters written in China in the 1920s by two different women to the same man. The story is one of family secrets and the impact of their revelation. The narrative flicks between England and China in the 1930s, 1970s and 2008. Christine handles this complex structure without a hiccup. 

Christine’s first novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, was published traditionally by Transita in 2005. Unfortunately, Transita are no longer publishing fiction and hence, Christine’s decision to publish her second book via NovelPress. NovelPress was formed by a group of writers, including Christine, who met on the Creative Writing M.A. at Nottingham Trent University in the late 90s and Paper Lanterns is the first book they’ve produced. 

Both of Christine’s books are available via her website

Reading Paper Lanterns raised two points in my mind:

  • If someone who had a successful first novel published, can’t get their next book into print the traditional way – what hope is there for the rest of us who have yet to break into print at all? The growth of ebooks is making it easier for anyone to make their work available to the public but, for me, reading my work on a screen just wouldn’t have the same excitement as handling a book with my name on the cover. 
  • Paper Lanterns was inspired by a legacy of letters. Today we communicate via email and text. As current technology becomes obsolete these missives will disappear into the skip along with the computers and mobiles that generated and received them. Similarly, many of us take more photos than ever before but often they remain as digital images on disks that may be unreadable to future generations. Technology is making life easier today but will we be leaving anything of our lives behind us when we are gone? 

  1. #1 by Christine Coleman on February 17, 2011 - 8:20 pm

    Thank you, Sally!
    I’m not sure which pleased me most – your comments on the professional appearance of Paper Lanterns, or that you found it ‘a great read’.
    When I finally realised I would need to bring it into print myself, I was determined to take control of all the processes and produce a ‘thing of beauty’ in its own right. It’s been hard work, but well worth it.Though I have to say that writing is my first love!

    Yes – the publishing situation right now isn’t exactly easy for writers, but you never know what’s round the corner.I’ll be posting more about my publishing venture when I’ve finished posting about the writers and the recipient of those letters.

    Thanks again, Sally


  2. #2 by Victor on February 20, 2011 - 12:10 pm

    Interesting! I have a bundle of letters from a family to their son in the Pacific during World War two and his replies back to them…..might prove to be a very useful source for a book.

    • #3 by Sally Jenkins on February 20, 2011 - 8:02 pm

      Victor – it sounds like you have the basis for some sort of historical novel there. Go for it!

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