HarperNorth was set up with the aim of doing things differently. What we hadn’t banked on was 2020 being the kind of year that meant our launch would be very different.

The aim of establishing a new northern-based imprint of HarperCollins, publishing fiction and non-fiction for adults from our new Manchester office, was to come and join the vibrant northern arts scene, find and promote new writing talent, engage directly with readers, booksellers, libraries and celebrate the rich and diverse voices across the country. Luckily, while this year has brought many changes, those core aims remain not simply unchanged – but strengthened by all that we’ve gone through this year.

Now more than ever we need stories to share our experiences, we need books that recognise our homes and our hearts and tell those tales to readers everywhere. We need expert eyes to spread their ideas and share the lessons of history while firing us up with ideas for the future. We want books to transport us, entertain us and inspire us to build back better.

Initially, we’d imagined our first months would be a time to open the doors of our office on the edge of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, open up conversations and meet readers and writers across the north at festivals, bookshop events and wherever people like to talk books. Of course, that’s had to happen over Zoom rather than in person, but we’ve been still been able to connect to fantastic talent. Our logo was designed by Glorious, a brilliant design company who will be just around the corner from us when we are all back in the office. Our plans to start buying books to publish from next summer onwards got brought forward when Jon de Peyer, our senior commissioning editor for non-fiction, saw an opportunity to publish a book by Melissa Reddy, football correspondent for the Independent, on Liverpool’s historic Premier League title win: Believe Us: How Jürgen Klopp transformed Liverpool into title winners.

Melissa is a fabulous and fresh new voice in sports writing – bringing expertise, passion and her close contacts to bear in a book about the club, Klopp and how belief can transform a team. Believe Us is out on November 12th and we hope it will grace many a fan’s Christmas list.

But sport is only one of the many categories we’ll be publishing. In non-fiction, we’re looking for history, politics, memoir, business, nature writing, science and music to name only a few of the areas in which we’re sure we’ll find strong northern voices. Books with a message, full of knowledge and shared experience. When it comes to fiction, again, it’s the breadth of the market that excites us. We’d love to find historical novels rooted in hidden places and unsung heroes, saga writing to bring to take readers to the struggles and triumphs in ordinary lives almost disappearing from our reach, bookclub novels that make you ask the kind of questions that not only trigger debate but also make you press the book into other people’s hands because you want to share it. We want novels about the secrets that lurk inside families and stories that help us understand different experiences – young, old, different cultures and life choices; rom-coms to brighten the dark days and ghost stories that make you look into the shadows; crime novels with unguessable endings and twists that make you think twice.

We’re open to submissions directly from writers (see our website, www.harpernorth.co.uk), from agents and wherever and however stories are told. Our books will be in all formats depending on how readers will engage with them – some will be hardback, paperback, e-book or audio. This isn’t our idea of what a northern voice is – as always the ideas come through the words and flourish in that magical space between writer and reader. We’re here to connect them, and we’d love to hear from you.