Favorite New Fiction
from Small and Micro Publishers

Interviews

The Farm at the Heart of My Stories

I’m getting back up to speed with my small-press reading, and I’ll be posting more reviews shortly. In the meantime, in honor of my dear mother, Barbara Castrodale (1928-2015), I thought I would share this essay about a place central to both of our lives.

 The farm in Washington County, Pennsylvania, where my mother grew up, is the setting for much of my second novel, Marion Hatley. It was also the setting of a novel I attempted in my twenties, a work now (justifiably) moldering in my cellar. And it has made cameo appearances in a couple of my short stories.

It was—is—a small farm, taking up just 130 hilly acres of southwestern Pennsylvania. The home at its center is likewise modest.

“I can say that it was not the most comfortable place,” my mother wrote in her memoirs. “It was a frame house with eight rooms, one bath, and front and back porches. There was a basement, which had a floor that was partially dirt. There was no insulation in the walls [until] I was in high school (around 1944 or 1945). … As a child, I can remember getting out of bed in winter, hurrying down the stairs to the living room, and getting in front of the fireplace, the only one in the house, to dress. The windows would be covered with frost so that you could not see out.”

Read More

Interview with Pamela DiFrancesco, author of The Devils That Have Come to Stay

Interview with Pamela DiFrancesco, author of The Devils That Have Come to Stay

In her starkly beautiful, poetic novel The Devils That Have Come to Stay (to be published by Medallion Press in February), Pamela DiFrancesco takes us into a dark and violent world that only gets darker with each turn of the pages. The novel brings us to California in the midst of the Gold Rush, and into the life of a saloon keeper whose wife has taken leave of him to care for her desperately ill mother in a town to the north.

Early in the novel, the saloon keeper (also the narrator) crosses paths with a Me-Wuk Indian, who’d vanished from the bar after stealing gold from another customer. When the narrator discovers the Indian scattering this gold, leaving a trail of white feathers, the Indian explains that he is only returning to the earth what has been “stolen” from it. “Perhaps if I can make it back to where the gold came from,” he explains, “my bag will empty, and the last feather will fall.” The place he has come from is close to where the narrator’s wife is caring for her mother, so the narrator decides to set off with the Indian. In the interest of not giving too much away, all I’ll say is that their journey is dark indeed, bringing the two men (and readers) in contact with the large-scale slaughter and the environmental, and spiritual, degradation that marked whites’ settlement of the West.

Read More

Women: Please send me your fiction.

Over the fourteen months since I founded Small Press Picks, I’ve noticed a troubling trend: during that time, about 85 percent the review queries I’ve received have come from male authors. I’ve learned about some great books that way, books it’s been a pleasure to review. But given my personal goal of ensuring that at least 50 percent of the books I review are by women, I would like to encourage more women to send me their small-press novels or story collections. (See this link for details on the types of books I’m most inclined to review.) And, of course, I will continue seek out small-press books by women on my own.

Read More

Small-Press Spotlight: Red Paint Hill Publishing

Small-Press Spotlight: Red Paint Hill Publishing

With this post, Small Press Picks continues its series of interviews with editors and other key figures at small and micro presses throughout the country. Here, we speak with Stephanie Bryant Anderson, publisher and editor of Red Paint Hill Publishing, a new press that is looking to publish full-length poetry collections, novels, plays, short story collections, translations, and anthologies. How (and when) did Red Paint Hill Publishing get started? What motivated you to launch it? Red Paint Hill Publishing began very recently. In fall of 2013, I organized a poetry reading to raise money for the Autism Foundation of Tennessee. Through that event I felt very connected to my community. When that event was over, I wanted to do more. So, after soul searching, I decided to venture away from Up the Staircase Quarterly, which I co-edited with my longtime friend April Bratten. I wanted to sell books to help raise money for the foundation. Putting my two passions (literature and advocating for autism) together just made sense to me. The name Red Paint Hill is a nod to my hometown. Red Paint Hill [located in Clarksville, Tennessee] was a navigational landmark–a rock bluff at the confluence of the Cumberland River and the Red River. Clarksville has an interesting history of writers, which is another reason why I chose the name. I see that you have published two poetry collections: The Blackbird Spirituals by Jonathan Treadway and Windsock Etiquette by Zach Fishel. What drew you to these writers and their poems? The Blackbird Spirituals is a brilliant collection of poems. The poet, Jonathan Treadway, is someone who is very connected to his Kentucky roots. The poems began from his time spent in Portland. There is a great dichotomy in his poems that I truly connect to. Some of us yearn for new people, new places, new experiences in life; place has such a strong impact on who we are – whether in staying or yearning to leave. His writing is a validation of my own emotions. He has what a lot of writers lack – intimacy. There is an incredible closeness between reader and writer. Spiritual tones carry the collection, and yet there is that sadness that weighs it down – the loneliness, the desire for acceptance and companionship. The poems are brutally honest. No one describes a woman’s moan like Jonathan Treadway! Zach Fishel’s book, Windsock Etiquette, is a collection of sonnets. Each poem leads into the next poem. They are eclectic and intelligent. They are blue collar and front porches. There is a sense of spirit that cannot be broken. This is very different from The Blackbird Spirituals; in that group of poems the soul hangs from...

Read More

Small-Press Spotlight: Press 53

Small-Press Spotlight: Press 53

With this post, Small Press Picks is launching a new feature: regular interviews with editors and other key figures at small and micro presses throughout the country. Here, we speak with Kevin Morgan Watson, the founding editor of North Carolina-based Press 53, which is focusing on publishing short story and poetry collections.

How did Press 53 get started?

 I edited a short story anthology for a New York City arts foundation in 2001 and caught the publishing bug. I enjoyed finding stories I loved and then designing a book to share them. When I lost my day job in 2004, I decided to start Press 53. I initially planned to publish only local writers and sell the books locally, but very soon after I opened the press in October 2005, a few award-winning authors I had published in the anthology began sending me manuscripts. The press quickly took on a life of its own. All I could do was hang on.

Read More

Facebook

Twitter

Subscribe by email