Elephant's Bookshelf Press. EBP published the anthologies Spring Fevers and The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse, both of which I am proud to have short stories in. EBP's newest anthologies, Summer's Edge and Summer's Double Edge are due out July 15, 2013.
Jello World: Tell us a little bit about the theme for this anthology.
Elephant's Bookshelf Press: In a sense, the summer anthology is a thematic mix of the two previous anthologies, Spring Fevers and The Fall. We have relationships that are facing doom of sorts. I call them relationships at a turning point. It could mean death, divorce, disruption. But it also could mean new discoveries and new directions.
Jello: You decided to split this into two separate books. Why is that? Did you just have an overwhelming number of excellent entries, or was there something else that factored into your decision?
EBP: Honestly, that was exactly what it was about. When we launched The Fall, there was a moment when I feared we wouldn’t have enough submissions that warranted publication. That never happened with the summer anthologies. In fact, it was so overwhelming that before we knew it we’d fallen in love too many times! Plus, we received a lot of strong stories that were on the long side. I’d actually reduced the word
count limit to 7500 and still we found many that exceeded 5000.
Jello: EBP has released two anthologies already. Are there a lot of repeat authors in this collection, or a lot of new blood? Or a good mix?
EBP: There’s both new blood and old favorites (though I know of one of our favorites who seemed to be too busy working on her own collection and wasn’t able to send a submission ;-) Although there’s still a steady stream of writers we’ve gotten to know from AgentQuery Connect, I’m happy to say we’ve attracted a lot more writers who have found out about us by other means. Among the new writers are a young woman from India and a Canadian – neither of whom were familiar to me before their submissions. I was really impressed by some of the new writers who submitted this time.
Jello: What's your favorite part about compiling anthologies like this and your previous ones? Least favorite or most difficult thing?
EBP: I’d say my favorite part is discovering great new voices and the clever minds behind them. I love seeing what a storyteller sees. The least favorite probably is having to tell people their stories were not accepted. There can be all sorts of reasons why. Sometimes it’s because the writing wasn’t strong enough, sometimes it’s because the story sounds too much like something we already approved, sometimes it’s because the characters simply weren’t believable. Sometimes it’s because the story will just need too much work in the short amount of time we have before production begins.
Jello: I imagine it's quite a lot of work to do what you do. I also know you have some trusted helpers who've been invaluable in getting these books together, from cover designers to copy editors and more. Give them a shout out and tell us about them.
EBP: Well, I try to keep our reviewers’ names confidential, though I’m sure some people know who they are. But I will shout out the names of my chief partners – my brain trust, if you will – who are Mindy McGinnis and Cat Woods. For those who don’t know them, they’re very talented writers – Mindy’s debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink, is coming out on September 24 from Katherine Tegen/ Harper Collins -- but also totally in tune with what I’m hoping to accomplish with EBP. They’re part of my editorial advisory board as are Calista Taylor, who also writes as Cali MacKay, and R.C. Lewis -- they’re our cover and book designers, respectively – and Robb Grindstaff and Jean Oram, who served as copy editors of the earlier anthologies. They help with editorial questions as well as marketing questions that cross our paths. For the summer anthologies, we had a new copy editor, Laura Carlson, who edits for a living. Her firm is American Editing Services and she’s based in California. She’s done a tremendous job and I’m so thankful for all the work she’s put in. It was a bigger project than either of us anticipated.
Jello: EBP's first anthology last year was Spring Fevers, followed by The Fall. This year we have Summer’s Edge and Summer’s Double Edge. One can only expect that the next one will be winter-themed. Any hints you can give us just yet?
EBP: Well, we haven’t finalized the theme for the winter anthology yet. One of my ideas is to explore vulnerability. Necessity might be the mother of invention, but I’d twist that around and say vulnerability is the mother of creativity. When we’re vulnerable, we must discover ways to become safe – or at least safer. But that’s not a definite theme, so I’ll leave it at that.
Jello: Do you plan to continue seasonally themed anthologies next year?
EBP: The winter anthology will be released in early 2014, so in that respect, yes. But either in late 2014 or more likely early 2015 we’ll begin publishing a new series of anthologies. I’ll save a more formal announcement for the future, but the goal is to have genre-based anthologies. One will be for science fiction, for example. At the moment, my plan is to expand the number of people I have involved in running anthology projects, because I’ll never get a chance to work on my novels if I don’t delegate. And I’m a writer first.
Jello: It wouldn't be a publishing conversation between the two of us if I didn't ask my favorite question: when does the Elephant get a little sexy? Any erotica or romance anthology plans in the near future?
EBP: Ah yes, our discussions about Elephants After Dark! Possibly. If we go that direction, it’s more likely romance than erotica, I suspect. In fact, it’s one idea for the genre-specific anthologies we’ll do in the next series. Mind you, I don’t have anything against erotica per se, and Lord knows the market exists. I don’t know if I can handle a wave of twelve to fifteen erotic stories in stunning succession. I’d need a little cuddle time in between to let me recuperate.
Jello: Have you been surprised by anything you've learned about or experienced in the publishing process since you founded EBP?
EBP: I think what has surprised me most is how much I’m enjoying it. Put it this way: I’ve barely worked on a novel for more than a year and while I’m a little disheartened about that, I have these wonderful books to show for what I’ve been doing in the meantime! Plus, I’ve developed and improved relationships with wonderful writers, editors, and artists.
Jello: Other than anthologies, what's next for EBP?
EBP: Interesting how you put that, because even with regard to the anthologies, there’s a lot “new” happening with EBP. In the fall, we’re going to launch our first novel, Whispering Minds, by A.T. O’Connor. There’s a preview of it in the summer anthologies. It’s a huge thrill to me, because I always envisioned EBP as a publisher of novels. Eventually nonfiction books, too, though that’s probably at least two years off. I need to get moving on the winter anthology almost as soon as the summer books are out. It might seem far away, but with a January or early February publication date, there’s really not much time. Then in the early spring, we’re going to publish our next novel, which will be a YA baseball book by Steven Carman called Battery Brothers. We intend to publish that around spring training or opening day of the 2014 baseball season. We also have a third novel in the offing, probably for May or June of 2014. Plus, we have that new anthology series I mentioned earlier. So, we’re really busy, and it’s a major thrill to me.