Round up

Mon 26 Apr 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Catch-up post about recent happenings with our books.

1) April: Alasdair Gray! At last! Nope. Now a June book due to a printer error. Sigh. You can see an excerpt on Scribd.

2) May:  Edward Gauvin (translator of A Life on Paper) was recently blogging on translations, Belgium, and more at the 3% blog. (Surely 3.5% by now?)

4) June: 2 starred reviews so far for Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo!

5) July: good news coming soon on Julia Holmes’s debut novel Meeks.

Ok, bored with numbering now. The Interstitial Arts Foundation has a call for papers for a new interstitial-sounding anthology:

What is Interfictions Zero? Interfictions Zero is an online virtual anthology, comprised of a Table of Contents listing seminal pieces of published interstitial writings (with live links to those texts where possible) and original essays about the focus pieces listed in the TOC. With the online publication of Interfictions Zero, the Interstitial Arts Foundation will begin to create a historical context for how interstitial writing affects the growth and development of literature over time.

There’s also an interesting addition to the ongoing conversation about translations at the IAF blog.

Poets & Writers spotlights one of Chicago’s many wonderful bookstores: Women & Children First.

I Heart Rachel MaddowDo you like Rachel Maddow? Essentials in Northampton has the shirt for you—in white or pink and 10% of all proceeds will be donated to support the Capital Campaign for the Northampton Survival Center.

Apparently the folks at Essentials aren’t having quite enough fun there so there’s this site, too: My Parents Made Me Wear This.

The NY Center for Indie Publishing their 6th Annual New York Round Table Writers’ Conference, May 1 (er, tomorrow!), 9AM- 7PM, where you can meet various people in publishing—including Kelly’s fabby agent Renee Zuckerbrot. Tickets are Members – $69.00/Non-Members – $89.00/Student – $20.00:

Please e-mail [email protected] to reserve or confirm a spot today – we hope to see you all here on May 1st!

And that’s it for now. Maybe there’ll be more later. After all, what else is there to do on a spring afternoon but haunt the web and wait until the tick tick tick hits leaving time!



Katharine Beutner interview

Fri 23 Apr 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Katharine BeutnerA while ago we published a lovely short piece of fiction (or poetry, as we listed it in LCRW 19!) by Katharine Beutner. Earlier this year we noticed that her debut novel, Alcestis, was about to be published by the good folk at Soho Press. All excited, we quickly dashed off some questions for Katharine and in the middle of her debut book launch and doing readings and so on she sent back her answers.

Then we brought punnet after punnet of pomegranates and honeycrisp apples into the office and everyone tried to decide which side they were on. To choruses of “Apples!” “Pomegranates!” (and the occasional “Beer!)” we decided that, yes, we like fruit, but if we were more specific than that it seemed we might be tempting the gods and, really, how foolish could we be? (Moving quickly on.)

Anyway, Katharine’s first novel is in stores now so why not add it to your reading pile? In the meantime, that interview:

SBP: First, what attracted you to the story, or: Why a historical novel? Why Ancient Greece? Why a dead girl?

Katharine Beutner: When I was little, I read and reread the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, which has beautiful Blakean illustrations that are cheery and brutal, just like the myths themselves.

I remember reading a prose translation of the Odyssey when I was maybe ten or eleven, and reading Sophocles and Aeschylus in high school. I majored in classical studies in college (at Smith, yay Northampton!). I’ve always been more attracted to Greek mythology than to any other kind.

As for “why historical fiction,” I like the way that historical fiction foregrounds the process of approximation that all fiction engages in. I have a favorite bit by Samuel Johnson that I sometimes drag out to explain this, from the Preface to Shakespeare, the same essay in which Johnson says that Shakespeare “holds up … a mirror” to nature:

“Shakespeare approximates the remote, and familiarizes the wonderful; the event which he represents will not happen, but if it were possible, its effects would be probably such as he has assigned; and it may be said, that he has not only shewn human nature as it acts in real exigences, but as it would be found in trials, to which it cannot be exposed.”

He’s talking about the fantastical elements of Shakespeare’s work, but I love historical fiction for the same reasons. All historical novels are fantasy, in a way. We can’t ever truly understand the past, but we can create art about the past that allows us to tell ourselves truths, even if we can’t reconstruct the truths of other time periods as citizens of the past would have done.

Regarding Alcestis’s story in particular, my question was actually “Why didn’t she *stay* a dead girl?” Sacrificing your life for someone else is a grand gesture, and I was frustrated that the traditional version of the myth reversed it and brought her back to life. So I set out to write a version of her story in which her time in the underworld would still have profound meaning for her, no matter what Heracles did.

Are pomegranates really your favorite fruit?

I like them, but I think apples are my favorite now, which is odd because I used to despise them for textural reasons. Then I discovered Honeycrisps a few years ago and became a convert. Still Greek myth-appropriate, though I always thought Paris should’ve given the apple to Athena.

Did you go to Greece for research?

I wish. I looked at lots of lucky tourists’ photos of Bronze Age ruins online, though! The Mycenaean period is still pretty mysterious, but I read some archaeological studies of particular sites and researched lots of other little pieces of information — what asphodel looks like in its various life stages, homeopathic treatments for asthma, what sorts of snakes are native to central Greece, that kind of thing.

Did you go to the underworld for research? If so, what brought you back?

Sheri S. Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country and Connie Willis’s Passage and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead were my underworld research.

The gender relations in the novel are not exactly equal. How did you get your head around them?

I was reading a lot of eighteenth-century fiction and Victorian fiction while I worked on Alcestis — my dissertation focuses on eighteenth-century women writers. There’s nothing like reading Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa to give you an immersive sense of how alien men and women can appear to one another when they exist within a culture of restrictive gender relations. (Or for a far more light-hearted version of this divide, see Fanny Burney’s Evelina, which was one of Jane Austen’s favorite books and has a monkey melee scene at the end. I like to think that Jane Austen loved it even more because of that.)

Is this your first novel, or your first published novel?

First published novel. My actual first novel was fairly traditional second world fantasy, written in slapdash fashion my first year after college. I might overhaul it some day — I still think the central relationship in the book is interesting — but for now it’s trunked.

Did you find being in a writing program helped?

It helped a great deal, even though writing program workshops are designed for short fiction, not for novels. (I fantasize about teaching a novel-workshopping class someday.) But I had great friends in the program and an excellent thesis adviser who helped guide me through my first revision of the novel. And I had two years to write, which is the best part of any writing program, I think.

What has the publishing experience been like for you? Did you find it hard to find an agent and publisher?

I was lucky — a number of my friends have become writers or agents, including Diana Fox, who represents me. She’d liked my first novel, unbelievably enough, and was encouraging about Alcestis from the beginning. Over about a year and a half, we collected a reasonable number of rejections from publishers, some just polite, some complimentary but unsure how to sell the book. Then Soho made an offer, which Diana called to tell me about twenty minutes after I’d finished defending my dissertation prospectus. (It was an exciting day.) So far, the experience has been great. Soho has been just wonderful, especially my editor Katie Herman and Justin Hargett, the director of publicity. I love getting to hear what people think about the book. And I’m usually busy with grad school work, which keeps me from obsessing too much about the many elements of publishing I can’t control.

Are you working on something else/taking a break/moving to LA with a screenplay in your pocket/disappearing never to be heard from again?

I’m currently being squashed under the weight of my dissertation, like Atlas. After I finish it, I’ll begin writing the novel I’ve been researching, which is about the disappearance of a Mt. Holyoke College student in 1897. I doubt I’ll ever move to LA, but the slightly too-long Hollywood elevator pitch for that novel is “Alias Grace meets The Prestige meets Fingersmith meets The Secret History” — it’ll be New England gothic, weird and twisty.



Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 25

Fri 23 Apr 2010 - Filed under: LCRW | 6 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

stapled · 8.5 x 7 · 60pp · Spring 2010 · Issue 25 · Available on paper (wall, flat, or airplane-shaped) or onscreen

We’re very happy to release a new issue of LCRW into the world. Away, zine, away! And now with more translation! Edward Gauvin provides a taster of his upcoming collection of French author Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s lovely, weird stories in “A City of Museums” and Chinese author Haihong Zhao translated her own award winning story, “Exuviation.”

Apart from that, this issue contains no BHCPs, LLCs (we’ll get there one day!), manganates, managements, or manatees. Maybe next time.

Reviews: SF Revu · Tor.com · NewPages · “As fine as ever.”—Locus

Fiction
Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, “A City of Museums”
(translated by Edward Gauvin)
Jennifer Linnaea, “Fire-Marrow”
Ben Francisco, “This is Not Concrete”
Sean Adams, “The Famous Detective and His Telepathy Goggles”
Richard Gess, “Circumnavigation, With Dogs ”
Eilis O’Neal, “The Sleeper”
Richard Parks, “The Queen’s Reason”
Daniel Braum, “Music of the Spheres”
Sarah Tourjee, “The Problem With Strudel”
Thomas Israel Hopkins, “Elephants of the Platte
Haihong Zhao, “Exuviation”

Nonfiction
Gwenda Bond, “Dear Aunt Gwenda”
The Patient Writers

Poetry
Susannah Mandel, “Box.”
Jeannine Hall Gailey, “Three Poems”
Christa Bergerson, “Heliotrope Hedgerow”

Comic
Abby Denson, “Tales from Dolltopia: The Candies”

Read more



Ebook price experiment

Tue 6 Apr 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Just added a new DRM-free PDF ebook: Sean Stewart’s Mockingbird here and on Weightless for an introductory price of $5.95.

Once it goes live on other sites the price will have to rise to $9.95—otherwise they will drop the price to match ours and the author would get a pittance*. So get it cheap while you can! We also dropped the pb price on it (and a few other titles—including the Working Writer’s Daily Calendar which has dropped at least 25% in price as the year is 25% over!).

At $5.95 (call it $6) the author gets $3 a pop (yay!) from here/Weightless which is actually more than from Fictionwise or on the iPad/Kindle, etc., where the split goes:

Price: $10
Seller: 50% = $5
Publisher: 50% of 50% = $2.50
Author: 50% of 50% = $2.50

So the experiment is to see whether we can sell a decent number at $6 and maybe see if we should drop our prices on other ebooks. (Because after all, isn’t demand price elastic? So that demand should increase with lower prices? Well, so we are told and so we will experiment and see!)

* OK, that pittance would pretty much match the p-book rate! So maybe we will drop the price later. There’s always later, right?