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Book-lover Keith Skipper's exciting new venture - publishing company Harnser Press

PUBLISHED: 18:12 04 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:12 04 October 2019

Keith Skipper in his Cromer study surrounded by thousands of books

Keith Skipper in his Cromer study surrounded by thousands of books

Archant

Writer, broadcaster and entertainer Keith Skipper is celebrating 35 years as a published author - by setting up his own publishing company.

Keith pointing out delights of Norfolk humour from an early book to sons Robin and Danny – his Skips off rhe old block!Keith pointing out delights of Norfolk humour from an early book to sons Robin and Danny – his Skips off rhe old block!

Keith, 75, has spent more than half a century fighting the county's corner by championing its characters, dialect and quirky ways of life in a mission he says to stop the county "from becoming a boring photocopy of everywhere else."

Now, though, he has a new challenge, setting up a Norfolk-focussed company which will celebrate local authors and local stories.

Along with elder son Danny, Harnser Press, will be officially launched at the Jarrold book department in Norwich on Wednesday, October 9.

He is kick-starting this new venture with a book, The Norfolk Almanac, which has been printed by long-established family firm Barnwell Print of Aylsham.

The Norfolk Almanac by Keith SkipperThe Norfolk Almanac by Keith Skipper

Keith explained how he's kept this new venture in the family. He said: "Danny's fiancee, Sophie, is providing illustrations, she's very good at what she does.

"My wife Di, who has proof read all my books, is proof reader again and younger son Robin will continue to help with my publicity drives from his Cheltenham base."

So why make this move?

He said: "I thought that I can do another book as I've got plenty to write about but I sensed that I needed a new challenge and a stimulus to keep going.

Keith's diaries which he has kept since 1984Keith's diaries which he has kept since 1984

"It's never easy to write books but no matter how many times you do one there's one thing that never changes and that's the tingle you get when it's delivered - I was looking back to at my first book from 1984 the other day and you still get that same feeling once it's done - that lovely feeling of creation.

"I love signing sessions too. I will be signing copies on the night at Jarrold and before Christmas at sessions in Cromer and Holt. I enjoy signing because you meet people who are buying the books and find out more about who is going to read them. A lot of the books go to exiles - they want a breath of home - there really is still a big strong market abroad for Norfolk material.

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"The books world is buoyant and has survived the Kindle revolution. I still love them and in this modern age it has reignited my passion to go to bookshops. I've lived by words for years and the written word still give me so much pleasure. I'm mystified at how many good books still come out."

Keith's Cromer home is testament to his love of books. His ground floor study is like a warren with possibly a couple of thousand books crammed on his shelves.

He has possible plans to one day write a novel or move into children's books. So how did he compile The Norfolk Almanac?

He said: "You take everything you've heard over the years and twist it to your advantage. I've kept a daily diary, a full page every day since 1984. I hand write it. It's a mix of solid news, impressions and meetings. I tell my boys every day of their lives has been chronicled and they are singularly unimpressed.

"There are things you hear in town - I write them down and give them an extra coat of paint. They give character to the place.

"The thing about Norfolk is, it always puts you in its place.

"I was once at a fete in Northrepps and a very smart looking bird came up to me and asked for a signed photo - I said 'Of course'. She then told me it was for her granny. You don't get a big head living in Norfolk."

The Norfolk Almanac is a lovely keepsake that anyone who has lived in the area will savour. It fits in well with the Harnser Press plans to celebrate this glorious county.

Keith said: "We want to have local authors and we want stories about Norfolk characters as they give some sort of credence to what we do. I can weave these old characters in to my stories. I think that dilution of the character of Norfolk is the one big thing that has changed throughout my life.

"People who make big decisions for Norfolk aren't from Norfolk anymore. You don't hear that many Norfolk accents and you find places have changed so much. You really feel it in up here in north Norfolk where so much of it has been gentrified.

"Thankfully Cromer sticks to its old-fashioned principles, it's not like Southwold - or 'Cromer with an A-level' as I call it…"

Harnser Press will be launched at the Jarrold book department in Norwich on the evening of Wednesday, October 9 at 
6pm. There will be additional signing sessions at the Holt Bookshop on Saturday, November 16 between 11am-1pm and at the Jarrold store in Cromer on Saturday, December 7, between 11am-1pm.

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