Favorite New Fiction
from Small and Micro Publishers

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...

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The Forgotten Roses: A Novel

The Forgotten Roses: A Novel

In 1940s Boston, Rose Gabrielli, a tough girl who “ran around with men” is sent to a women’s prison by her shamed father. She dies there, reportedly by her own hand. But her family suspects that she was murdered, because “she knew something” about the goings-on at the prison—“something terrible.”

In later years, Serena Deitzhoff, another tough young woman—and daughter of the prison’s one-time psychologist—mysteriously disappears after her mother’s suicide, generating rumors in her hometown.

And in the present day, in the same town, teenager Dana Griffin is immersed in her own set of troubles and heading quickly down a path of self destruction.

Bringing together these three stories is Dana’s mother, Rebecca Griffin, the protagonist of Deborah Docette’s briskly paced and thought-provoking début novel, The Forgotten Roses. A real estate agent, Rebecca is in charge of selling the home of Harold Deitzhoff, Serena’s father and the former prison psychologist. As she visits Deitzhoff, whose failing physical and mental state echoes the deteriorating condition of his house, Rebecca finds herself haunted by her family’s stories of Rose, a distant relative. And she begins to be troubled by questions: Did these stories have any basis in fact? What about the “respite therapy” that Deitzhoff was said to offer prison inmates, like Rose, at his home? Was it the beneficial intervention it was claimed to be or something far more sinister? Finally, why did Serena Deitzhoff disappear? And what was behind her mother’s suicide?

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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.

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The Fiery Alphabet

The Fiery Alphabet

“When I think of all I tried to create in this world, your mind is the one unqualified success.”

 For Daniela Messo, math prodigy and heroine of The Fiery Alphabet, Diane Lefer’s sweeping and illuminating new historical novel, these words are a fond memory of a father’s admiration. But they are also a kind of warning, for Daniela and her father live in eighteenth-century Rome, where female intellectuals confront suspicion and far worse threats from religious authorities and society at large.

 The novel movingly describes Daniela’s efforts to persist and occasionally thrive in the face of such threats, and to shrewdly rebel against the limits they impose on her. It also allows readers to share Daniela’s journey, both intellectual and literal, toward a greater understanding of herself and of the larger world. Along the way she discovers that while her active mind puts her in danger, it can also be a saving grace.

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Interview with J.J. Hensley, author of Resolve

Interview with J.J. Hensley, author of Resolve

In J. J. Hensley’s captivating new thriller Resolve, Dr. Cyprus Keller, a criminology professor at a fictional Pittsburgh university, finds that he has to put his expertise in criminal behavior into practice. The reason: a former student is murdered, and Keller comes to suspect that some people very close to him are involved. As Keller uncovers possible motives and clues, and as the death toll rises, he becomes a potential victim himself—and a suspect.

All the while, Keller never stops training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, determined that a fellow racer—and the person he has identified as the mastermind behind the killings—will not live to cross the finish line

Like Keller, J. J. Hensley is a runner, and he spoke about the connection between his running background and the novel in interviews with TheRUNiverse.com and with Trium Marketing.

In this interview with Small Press Picks, Hensley discusses, among other things, Resolve’s exploration of justice and the moral ambiguity that sometimes accompanies it. (As the interview went to press, Resolve was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.)

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A Bug Collection

A Bug Collection

A mayfly, newly aware that her lifespan is but a day, quotes Dylan Thomas to her also-dying love: “Do not go gently into that good night.”

A firefly, with something “a little off in his bioluminescence,” is all but sidelined during his companions’ spectacular nighttime light shows.

A ladybug, despite his powers to charm, is justifiably suspected of serial-killing fellow beetles.

Love and mortality, aspiration and disappointment, evil and the sometimes-futile attempts to overcome it: In her dazzling new book A Bug Collection, Melody Mansfield takes universal concerns like these and boils them down into concentrated, microcosmic packages—several stories, two poems, and one play. Though written from bugs’ points of view, all of the works offer insightful glimpses into the lights and darks of living in this world.

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Interview with Ron MacLean, author of Headlong

Interview with Ron MacLean, author of Headlong

Ron MacLean’s Headlong (published earlier this month by Last Light Studio) did for me what the best novels do: It pulled me wholly into its world while I was reading it and burned like a steady flame in the back of my mind whenever I wasn’t.

Headlong tells the story of Nick Young, who returns to his hometown, Boston, after his difficult and distant father suffers a stroke. The life Nick has left behind, in LA, is nothing he seems eager to return to. Though still in love with his ex-wife, an actress whose career he helped manage, Nick sees that she is well on her way to a new and happy life without him. He is at loose ends not only in his personal life but in his work life; having walked away from a promising career as a reporter, Nick has no idea what he’ll do next.

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