Aliens, Viruses, Neanderthals, & Shapeshifters

Tue 21 Feb 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Today we publish The Bodies of the Ancients, Lydia Millet’s final novel in her middle grade Dissenters series through our Big Mouth House imprint for books for readers of all ages:

It has been fascinating to work with Lydia on these books and to see the fight against global warming used as the basis for a fantasy series. The final volume includes aliens, bugs, neanderthals, changelings, and a few world-shaking surprises for the Sykes family as everything is (well, sort of) tied up. Along with the shapeshifters and magic there is some actual satisfying climate science, of course, since Lydia has worked at the Center for Biological Diversity for many years.

You can start reading the first book in the series, The Fires Beneath the Sea, right now on Wattpad and the second book, The Shimmers in the Night, has just been added. To reintroduce the series on the publication of the final book we have put the whole series on sale for up to 50% off here!

Back in stock: The Serial Garden

Wed 30 Sep 2015 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

With all the celebrations and reviews for the new Virago edition of The Serial Garden in the UK — for example, The New Statesman:

“Virago Modern Classics reissues The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken (£8.99, eight-plus), a long-lost collection of stories about the imperturbable Armitage family, whose small village must endure unicorns, fairy godmothers and more. Inexhaustibly imaginative, Aiken was one of the 20th century’s greatest children’s authors. Witty, zany and entirely sane, this is a necklace of diamonds.”

— I’m very happy to say that we had the opportunity to reprint our Big Mouth House edition. It arrived from the printer a couple of weeks ago and has been shipping out to (I would suppose) very happy readers since.

Our edition has a cover by Beth Adams and interior illustrations by Andi Watson and the Virago edition, which I’m very much looking forward to seeing, has a cover and interior illustrations by Peter Bailey.

The Serial Garden cover


“It’s a delightful summary of one side of Aiken’s talent: whimsical, funny, a series of brilliantly imaginative ideas stitched together with dream logic. But along with the happiness, there is often a tug of melancholy, of love unrequited and yearnings unsatisfied – as in the title story, in which a cut-out cardboard garden on the packet of an obscure German brand of cereal is the gateway to a vanished past. It is the mixture of irrepressible gaiety and invention with the tragic that makes Aiken one of the great children’s authors.”
The Telegraph

“A delightful whimsical set of stories about young Mark and Harriet Armitage and the fantastical things that just happen to them, where if the lawn is full of unicorns you can count on their father to rush out and try to stop them eating the roses. These stories are funny and often unexpectedly poignant. They also don’t have a wasted word or scrap of information. They’re both charming and genuine in a way that few things manage.”
—Jo Walton

UK edition of The Freedom Maze

Thu 26 Mar 2015 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

So pretty! Very glad this book will be find a readership in the UK thanks to Corsair!

Typoes (sic)

Mon 19 Mar 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

The Serial Garden cover - click to view full sizeWe’d always rather hear about typos in our books rather than just have readers suffer in silence. Please do email us at info @ smallbeerpress . com if you come across any. It’s always an email that makes me wince, but it’s great to be able to fix future editions.

One happy example: in the next couple of weeks we’ll be publishing the paperback edition of our first Big Mouth House title, Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories, and thanks to Jed Hartman and some few others this edition will have a few less typos. But, again, should you find any typpos (sic . . .), please do tell, thank you!

New Lydia Millet cover

Tue 13 Sep 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

We’ve just gotten a near final cover from Sharon McGill for Lydia Millet’s second middle grade novel, The Shimmers in the Night—the second book in the Dissenters series after The Fires Beneath the Sea. BTW, Lydia will be on a blog tour later this fall for Fires. Anyway: jacket!

t’other day we

Thu 20 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

signed contracts with Delia Sherman for her latest novel, The Freedom Maze. Yay! Delia’s been working on this novel for years and we can’t wait to get it out to readers. Well, because of how this biz works, “can’t wait”= November! (Which, daftly, seems just around the corner in publishing terms. Bet this book is on our Best Books for the Holidays 2011 list. Ha!) The Freedom Maze is a Big Mouth House hardcover:

13-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending summer at her grandmother’s old house in the Bayou. But the house has a maze Sophie can’t resist exploring once she finds it has a secretive and playful inhabitant. When she makes an impulsive wish, she finds herself suddenly one hundred years in the past, in 1860. And, she is taken for a slave.

And from there, things get interesting.

We’re working on a cover (with a maze, natch), and we’ll have galleys by May if not before and we’ll try and keep y’all up to date with the happenings!

Going Ironside

Sun 28 Feb 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

Here’s a link to Holly’s Modern Illustration by Theo Black Faerie Tale “Going Ironside” at the late lamented Endicott Studio Journal of Mythic Arts.

Also, an interview with Holly on LibraryThing:

Several of the stories are permutations of the Modern Tales of Faerie series. Do you feel there is more to come out of that world?

One of the stories—”Going Ironside”—was a short piece I wrote before Tithe was finished. It influenced Valiant, although at the time I wrote it, I didn’t know that it would. The second story, I wanted to tell to check in with the characters and show what I think they’re doing and what I think they’re dealing with. It was a fun story to write. I always like having Roiben and Corny talk about their views of the world, because they both are so dysfunctional that they almost see eye-to-eye in a way that no one else does.

I love the Modern Faerie Tale world, but right now I don’t have any plans to write a fourth book, mostly because I am busy with an entirely new series, The Curse Workers. I have two more books in that series to write before I can even consider anything else.

If you want to ask Holly a question for the March 11th event in Boston, email it to [email protected].

What’s your poison?

Wed 24 Feb 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Send us a pic if you see Holly Black’s debut collection out in the wild!

Meanwhile here’s Steve Berman (see the dedication for who he is!) writing about the book on Guys Lit Wire and also a couple of pictures of Holly with actual copies (which, due to various logistical things, I haven’t seen yet!) of the book.

What’s your poison? Werewolves? Vampires? Devils? The Poison Eaters has them all!

While waiting for the delivery truck

Fri 19 Feb 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Today’s the day when The Poison Eaters should be showing up the office. Dum-de-dum (waits, impatiently). Nice reviews have recently shown up in School Library Journal (“Although they are often centered on bleak, dark characters, the pieces inspire hope, are touching and delightful, and even turn the most ghoulish characters into feeling beings.”) and in BookPage (she shows “amazing range”—yes indeed she does!).

Update: Powell’s say they have it in their remote warehouse! Any remote viewers who can see it?? Maybe they mean Ingram, as they have it.

So in the meantime a few things:

Alasdair Gray (Old Men in Love) writes about the importance of place. Consider, he suggests, Dumbarton (which means “fortress of the Britons”).

We dropped the price of last year’s hottie The Baum Plan for Financial Independence to $9.95.

Fantasy Magazine reviews Interfictions 2 and suggests it’s an “anthology of literary fantasy.” Yours to agree or disagree about. Get your copy.

Con or Bust is running a fundraiser auction to assist people of color who want to attend WisCon from Feb. 22—Mar. 13. They’re looking for donations and buyers! Any suggestions for what we should donate??

BTW, if you’re going to WisCon, I’ll see you there! Sans baby, sadly (will try not to whine too much. But will some, so there). Maybe 2011.

We just signed up another book. Well, verbally. Will wait for the contracts (always good to have it on paper before announcing things) and then spring it upon the world. Fun fun fun!

The post office just delivered an empty envelope that should have been full of zines. Woe is me.

Past-LCRW contributor Katharine Beutner who is “currently being squashed under the weight of my dissertation” slipped out from underneath it to do an interview with us about her Ancient Greek underworld novel Alcestis which is out this month. Interview will go up next week or so.

Joe Hill’s second novel Horns just came out. Read the first chapter here. There’s also an app for it. Phew. He’s on tour now.

Kelly’s contributor copies of Ellen Datlow’s new anthology, Tails of Wonder and Imagination just came in—her story is “Catskin” is one of many many other stories about cats. Who knew people wrote so much about the little beasties?

Might be imagining seeing a copy of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 4.

Jed is back from tour — he managed to write that floaty bike all the way to the west coast and back and even managed to escape Chicago despite its many charms and massive amounts of snow.

Tra la la la la. Wait. Dum-de-dum. Wait some more.

Good morning!

Mon 15 Feb 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

Or, great morning! Given that our latest book, Holly Black’s The Poison Eaters, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. Wow! That link is behind a paywall but here’s part of it — it has to be one of the most positive Kirkus reviews we’ve ever seen:

“Black’s first story collection assures her place as a modern fantasy master…. Sly humor, vivid characters, each word perfectly chosen: These stories deserve reading again and again.”

The book shipped out from the printer on Thursday, Friday, and today (big shipments!) so it will start showing up in the world bang on time for publication day, February 23rd.

Read a Holly Black story

Mon 25 Jan 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

9781931520638Today at BSC Review: read the very first story in Holly’s first collection: “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.” It’s a total knockout — and may give second thoughts to anyone who thinks they might be attracted to vampires!

Getting excited

Thu 3 Dec 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Holly Black, The Poison Eaters and Other Storiesabout Holly Black’s short story collection! She just handed in her excellent (and funny) new story, “The Land of Heart’s Desire,” which has something to do with these characters Roiben, Kaye, Val, and a few others that might be familiar to some.

The book comes out in February which means it goes to the printer soon, what fun!

And, we just heard back from some early readers who are as excited as us about this book:

“Gritty, grim, and fabulous—Holly is a master of dark magic and dark reality!”
—Tamora Pierce (author of Bloodhound)

“Holly Black is the Real Thing: a gifted writer with a solid grounding in what matters. Her stories are dark and splendid blooms rising from roots sunk deep in myth and tradition.”
—Ellen Kushner (author of The Privilege of the Sword)

“Simply put, Holly Black is one of our best writers. Enchanting and edgy, yes, but it’s the big heart in her stories that brings me back to her writing, time and again. Reading a new book by Holly is like meeting up with an old friend. They might be a little messed up from the last time you saw them, they might have some serious drama going on in their lives, but the connection is immediate, and when they’re packing up to head off again, you don’t want to let them go.”
—Charles de Lint (author of The Blue Girl)

In which we are awarded!

Sun 1 Nov 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Lovely news from San Jose: Gavin & Kelly have been awarded the World Fantasy Award, Special Award, Professional, for Small Beer Press and Big Mouth House: yay, we say, yay! John Kessel, whose collection we were proud to publish, was on hand to pick up the Howards which seemed appropriate as it is all about the books.

Other winners include: Jeff Ford (twice!), Margo Lanagan—Jeff and Margo: they rule this award!—Rick Bowes, Kij Johnson, Paper Cities (ed. by Ekaterina Sedia), Shaun Tan, and Michael Walsh of Old Earth Books for his two Howard Waldrop collections.

Don’t know that we’ll keep counting, but this year we did some gender breakdown of a few of the genre awards and back in August we posted the  World Fantasy Award nominees and the gender breakdown:

  • 26 men
  • 21 women

And the winners  (not counting the two extra Life Achievement Awards to Jane Yolen and Ellen Asher):

  • 6 men (1 AUS, 5 USA)
  • 4 women (1 AUS, 3 USA)

Would you like some Poison?

Fri 25 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Posted by: Gavin

We have five advance copies of Holly Black’s new collection, The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, to go out to readers and bloggers (in the US + Canada, as we don’t have international rights to the book) who will post something about it before it comes out — all the long way away in the future of February 2010.

Interested? Tell us your favorite poison (and why) and we’ll send out five copies to the five shiveriest and scariest!

What we’ll have in NYC

Wed 27 May 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Hound by Vincent McCaffreyA good time? Knishes?* A trip back in time to the 1890s?

Or, maybe, books to show off — and even some to give away — at BookExpo. Which books? Lots to show off since last year, including The Baum Plan, The Ant King, The King’s Last Song, The Serial Garden, and now Cloud & Ashes.

Wait, wait, wait, though. Did we ever mention the books we’re going to be publishing this autumn and winter? The books we have been reading and playing with and designing and sometimes talking to the authors and thinking about covers but never actually doing anything about them? No?

Hot dang and Whoops!

Ok then, here are our next four titles (plus we have more more more TK after these, ha!) of which we will have early early not-at-all-real copies at BookExpo this week (as they are in various stages of discomportment and have just arrived in from a couple of different local printers):

  • September: Hound by Vincent McCaffrey. A debut novel about a Boston bookhound, books, death, and maybe the death of books. This is the first in a series and it will come out in hardcover.
  • Second Line by Poppy Z. BriteOctober: Second Line: Two Short Novels of Love and Cooking in New Orleans by Poppy Z. Brite. This paperback collects two of Poppy Z. Brite‘s chaotic and fun short novels (The Value of X and D*U*C*K) featuring two New Orleans chefs, Rickey and G-man, who grow up together, fall in love, open a restaurant, Liquor, and have some fun along the way. Poppy is writing a new afterword to go with the novels. Love this series, love that we get to be a part of publishing it. Huge thanks to Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press for helping put this together.
  • Interfictions 2: edited by Delia Sherman and Christopher BarzakNovember: Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing edited by Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak. The editors went out into the fields and found 21 pieces of excellently border-crossing material. They’re also putting together an online launch party and auction which will be filled with wonderful art, music, and stories. The book will be the icing and the cake, though.
  • January: Suprise! We are still eating Christmas cake and not thinking about books. Not all true, though, as Feb. is going to be a big mouth month:
  • February 2010: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black. Our second Big Mouth House title is a debut collection of young adult stories from New York Times bestseller (and one of our neighbors), Holly Black. Holly’s stories have just gone from strength to strength over the past few years — as evidenced by her appearances in various Best of the Year anthologies and lists. The Poison Eaters includes a new Modern Faerie Tale as well as some of our favorite stories of recent times.

So, if you’re going to the big show in NYC, drop by the Consortium (our distro) area and say hi. Jed will be there all the time (except for knish breaks), Gavin should be there on Friday & Saturday, and, with luck, Kelly will be there on Saturday. Books, baby, all about the books!

* Order! Order!

Joan Aiken in the LA Times

Mon 26 Jan 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Yay! In his latest Astral Weeks column, Ed Park says:

“The Serial Garden” is my happiest discovery this year. I say this without being influenced in the least by what happens to Mr. Armitage in “The Frozen Cuckoo.” As I conclude my hymn of praise, I am certainly not thinking of how, shortly after Mr. Armitage pans A. Whizzard’s “shockingly bad book on spells and runes,” the incensed author requisitions the Armitage house, then turns him into a bird that later gets trapped in an ice cube.

Happy Crowley Day, too

Mon 1 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

Go wish John Crowley a Happy Birthday—but let’s not depress him any more than the Writer’s Almanac already did. Wonder if this means John will be on Prairie Home Companion one day? (And, what would he sing?)

It’s the birthday of the writer John Crowley, (books by this author) born in 1942 in Presque Isle, Maine. His most famous novel is Little, Big (1981). It’s a fantasy story, full of fairies and enchantment, but it’s also an epic saga of a New England family, complete with historical details. The critic Harold Bloom chose Little, Big as one of the books that changed his life. He said, “I have read and reread Little, Big at least a dozen times, and always am startled and refreshed.” John Crowley has a cult following, and his novels always get great reviews, but they still don’t sell very well, partly because they’re so hard to categorize.

Endless Things actually sold ok. If we’re to believe Bookscan, it has outsold the paperback collection of Novelties & Souvenirs and will soon overtake the pb of Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land. More interestingly, The Solitudes has blown it out the water which bodes well for the whole series. Given the recent National Book Award win by Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country, maybe we can persuade John to rewrite the whole Aegypt sequence into one massive novel. Hmm!

Iain Emsley recently met up with Lizza Aiken to talk about her mother, Joan:

“She had a curious childhood. She didn’t go to school until she was 12, she was brought up not in much contact with children at all. Her mother married her step father when she was 5. He was essentially a Victorian much in the same way as the books in the house. There were no children’s books, and there weren’t that many books for children in the 1920s, so she read whatever was in the house which were Dickens, Dumas and Austen.

LCRW 23 is at the printer. Yay!

Anyone online at (Not that we are, just looks like an interesting site.)

Serially Amazoned

Wed 12 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

There’s a movement online to buy books for Christmas—or the holiday of your choice—which is a fine idea (although we also like gifts given to Heifer, Greenpeace, Amnesty, Habitat, etc.) especially as this year we have the perfect gift book: Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden—we just got a great note from Politics and Prose in DC saying they are “delighted to carry it; Joan Aiken is a favorite of ours.” Yay!

There’s a great interview with Lizza Aiken on Omnivoracious:

The Serial Garden by andi watsonThe story of The Serial Garden had always haunted her, and many of her readers too, and I think she felt a real duty to try and resolve the terrible sadness of its ending. It was her idea to use the name of this story for this collection, and I understand that this was why she chose it. She had written a couple more stories about its hero, Mr Johansen and his lost Princess, and gave them the possibility of a happy ending, but perhaps was still worried that she had been unduly harsh to Mrs Armitage, whose brisk spring cleaning had caused an unwitting tragedy. Mrs Armitage was in many ways a portrait of Joan’s mother, and it is she who is really redeemed in a later story, Milo’s New Word and remembered as the patient and loving mother she really was.

The book has an illustration for each story by UK illustrator Andi Watson (who we’re going to interview here, if you have any questions for him, send them along).

The Serial Garden was reviewed on The Cultural Gutter: (“It would be perfect for reading to kids”) and on Green Man Review (“Readers of all ages have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best writing by one of the most superb and timeless fantasy writers”) and is a pick of the week on a kid’s radio show(!):

This week’s show’s Book Time with Ella will be about the late Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden.

and was a recent critic’s pick at Salon: “Buy it to read to your kids, and you’ll find yourself sneaking tastes on the sly; a little Aiken is a fine thing to have in your system at any age.”

This Sunday we’ll be in New York City for an event at Books of Wonder celebrating the book’s publication (and picking up a few cupcakes!) with one of our favorite writers, Michael Dirda, Joan’s daughter (which makes her Conrad Aiken‘s granddaughter) Lizza Aiken, and Joan’s long-time US literary agent, Charles Schlessiger.

Sunday, November 16th 1-3 pm, Books of Wonder 18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011. 212-989-3270. Free.

Aiken on Salon

Mon 10 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Here’s good news: Laura Miller including The Serial Garden in Salon‘s critics picks:

The Serial Garden“The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories” by Joan Aiken
Throughout her life, Aiken, one of the 20th century’s greatest authors of children’s fiction, wrote stories about the Armitage family: a mother, father, sister and brother whose lives in a rural British village are routinely disrupted by magic — mostly on Mondays. Unicorns overrun the garden, the Board of Incantation attempts to requisition their house for a school for wizards, and the annoying kids next door get turned into sheep. The delicious unflappability of the parents is one of the most amusing aspects of these tales. Mrs. Armitage barely looks up from her knitting when her husband observes that the two children are riding broomsticks in the backyard: “I think it’s much better for them to get that sort of thing out of their systems when they’re small.” Buy it to read to your kids, and you’ll find yourself sneaking tastes on the sly; a little Aiken is a fine thing to have in your system at any age. — Laura Miller

New Joan Aiken site

Thu 23 Oct 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Ooh, pretty!

I know you’re a big mouth but what are we?

Wed 17 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Publishers Weekly introduces our new imprint, Big Mouth House, to the world in a nice piece that also mentions Kelly’s new collection, Pretty Monsters:

When Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, founders of Small Beer Press in Easthampton, Mass., first considered publishing children’s books several years ago, they had a problem: the name of their press sounded like a brewery.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Beer? Anyway, it’s true: we are slowly and carefully opening out a new imprint for readers of all ages: Big Mouth House.

The Serial GardenThe first title comes out at the end of October, The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories, by the late Joan Aiken that has 4 previously unpublished stories. There are illustrations by Andi Watson and introductions by Garth Nix and Joan Aiken’s daughter, Lizza Aiken. It’s a Junior Library Guild pick and we got the best and most generous quote for it:

“Joan Aiken’s invention seemed inexhaustible, her high spirits a blessing, her sheer storytelling zest a phenomenon. She was a literary treasure, and her books will continue to delight for many years to come.”
—Philip Pullman

At some point soon the Big Mouth web site will become better and we’ll put up more about forthcoming books, guidelines (queries only, no picture books for the foreseeable future), and so on.

For the moment, The Serial Garden is Big Mouth House: one book that is so lovely and has been such fun to work on that we can’t wait to get it back from the printer (the proofs are due tomorrow!).

Preorder it: here, Powells, Local Bookstores: Yours, Ours, (ebook available soon from us and Fictionwise).