In August 2021 I sat down with Marta Pacini, founder of the unapologetically leftist, social justice publishing house Disturbance Press, to discuss her latest book and her journey to becoming a publisher. Disturbance Press aims to bring stories with a social and environmental justice focus into the mainstream reading culture and aspires to create a community of engaged writers and readers. They publish thought-provoking fiction for both adult and young adult audiences, kicking it all off with ‘The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown’ released this month.
Disturbance Press was officially founded in June 2021, and when asked what inspired her to start a publishing house with this theme, Marta says ‘In the spring of 2020 I started writing a book after a very long time of not writing anything. It was a book called ‘The (Unlawful Killing of Daniel Brown’ and was a YA book that will now be released in 2022.’ Marta began writing this novel the day before the tragic murder of George Floyd, which went on to spark protests and unrest across the United States and other parts of the world against police brutality and institutional racism. Although her book was not written about this particular event, Marta did want to explore these issues within her book, particularly how they do not seem to be discussed in the same way in the UK as they are in the US. While George Floyd’s murder did start more discussion and debate on this in the UK and the wider world, Marta said ‘In a way, I am glad it wasn’t ready in the summer of 2020 because I didn’t want to look as though I was riding a trend,’ with the feeling that these issues should continue to be discussed no matter what is a hot topic on the news.
‘This is what brought me to starting Disturbance Press,’ she continues, ‘as I was looking for potential publishers for this book and I realized that there wasn’t a UK publisher that focuses specifically on fiction with a social justice theme.’ Marta acknowledges that there are a lot of independent publishers who fit the socialist theme and offer translated works, and even bigger publishers who have published books in the UK with these themes, but a lot of these titles have been imported from places like the US, rather than writers in the UK, or other presses that offer non-fiction stories. ‘I think stories have so much power and I think that’s why memoir is having such a big moment…and I just didn’t see how that wouldn’t work (with these themes) the same but with fiction.’ It was with this in mind that Marta decided to establish Disturbance Press to bring together writers and readers in the UK and Ireland, who are passionate about social and environmental justice, together through thought-provoking fiction.
‘The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown’ is certainly an excellent first book for Disturbance Press. Set in Hackney, where Marta used to live, the book focuses on the central protagonist, 15-year-old Marcus Brown who is dealing with the aftermath of the death of his father, Daniel. Daniel Brown was shot dead by Police Sergeant Talbot Blair in an apparent anti-terrorism investigation that goes wrong. Talbot had been cleared of blame from his peers in the police force. Something doesn’t add up for Marcus, however, and the story follows his fight for justice. But the question remains, will an inquest make any difference?
Marta was inspired by real-life cases such as the shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011 by British police, and the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 in a racially motivated attack while he waited for a bus in southeast London. She wanted to explore these issues in more depth and ask how much has really changed in the years since these events, as well as problems with profiling, police brutality, and abuse of police power in the UK.
2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Disturbance Press with the release of ‘The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown’ on February 17th, as well as two more books coming later this year.
You can purchase ‘The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown’ here.