The OF Blog: The wotmania Files: Interview with Gavin Grant (1/7/2003)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The wotmania Files: Interview with Gavin Grant (1/7/2003)

Since I would like to preserve the interviews that I and others did at wotmania (or rather, the pre-2006 ones, as those through the present have been crossposted here or originated with here), about 1-2 times a week, I'm going to be reposting those links here, with little commentaries. The first one, with Gavin Grant, author/reviewer/publisher of Small Beer Press, was my first interview and I think it is obvious just how much I've developed as an interviewer since then. Again, many thanks to Gavin for agreeing back then to do this interview:


here are some answers:


1) Many of our readers are aspiring fantasy/sci-fi writers. What tips would you give them for submitting a work that's more likely to be accepted?

Start with the basics, make sure your manuscript is formatted correctly (double spaced, sans serif font such as Courier, name, title and page number at the top of each page, one inch margins all round, only printed on one side of the page). Include a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) and read the guidelines for the magazine or publisher you're interested in. If they only publish fantasy, don't send them horror, etc., etc. Other than that, write, rewrite, and rewrite, and don't worry too much if your stories keep coming back.

2) What trends have you noticed developing in today's sci-fi/fantasy?

Maybe it's because we publish work that crosses borders, but we get more and more stories that mix things up. Traditional storytelling is getting turned on their heads and old genres are getting a shake-up. Space opera is undergoing a renaissance, which is unexpected, and fantasy has become less obvious -- less quest based, more on how the fantastic might touch everyday life.

3) Some writers also aspire to be artists, and therefore have sketches or drawings of characters or locations in their work. Have you come across such, and if so, have you/do you consider integrating them into a prospective publication?

That's a hard one. Some people are talented in many areas and their art might complement their writing, but that may be unusual. We want to put out books that look as good as we can make them, and that usually involves using experienced artists. How did they become experienced? By studying, training, and/or working their way up. You, the writer/artist can do the same, but it may take a long time. The best thing is probably to send just the book or story and then ask about the illustrations later. Unless it's a comic!

4) Do you have a particular POV that you gravitate towards? How about your co-workers?

No. Except for a slight bias against stories written about characters who seem to exist alone in the world, no family, no friends, etc.

5) Roughly how many people will read a manuscript before it's decided that it's suitable to be published?

For the zine, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, I will read it myself, but for any other Small Beer Press project (book or chapbook) it will be me and my wife and partner, Kelly Link.

6) How active of a reader are you outside of the slushpile? Do you keep up with what other publishers in the genre are putting out, or do you tend to read material from outside of the genre on your own time?

I review books and do interviews of genre and nongenre authors, so I tend to read a wide variety of books. I also read a lot of zines, most of which are nongenre, because I love the variety of writing and creativity in them. Probably like most people, I wish I had more time to read, but the reviewing at least tends to keep me up to date in the field.

7) From what I've seen, Small Beer Press seems to be focusing more on collected works of short fiction. What advantages do shorter works of fiction have over the multi-volume series that seem to dominant in mainstream fantasy today?

In short stories writers can lean slightly more heavily on sleight of hand. In a novel -- or series of novels -- the worldbuilding has to be solid. If Quork the Magnificent is dead in Book Three, he'd better not go rampaging around in Book ten (unless it's a prequel, of course!).

Sales-wise collections tend not to be as big as novels, and yet they can sometimes be easier to read. They can be read on the go, picked up and put down, read backwards and forwards. We are concentrating on short story collections in the hope that more attention will be given to them in

8) There is a growing number of fantasy and sci-fi writers outside the English-speaking world. Are there any plans to publish any English-language translations of their works?

In July 2003 we will publish Kalpa Imperial by Argentinian author Angelica Gorodischer translated into English by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is a great book, a history of an imaginary empire and the translation, as you might imagine, is fantastic. We are very lucky to be publishing it. I can't wait until it's out and other people get to read it.

I'm originally from Scotland, so I am well aware of the many books that come out there and not here, and that makes me very curious about all the books we don't know about because they are published in other languages.

9) Are there any particular authors for which we here at Other Fantasy should be on the lookout?

Well, that is a huge question! Everyone we've published, of course: Carol Emshwiller, an octogenarian who is unstoppable at the moment; Ray Vukcevich who can do in 1,000 words what it takes most writers a book to accomplish; James Sallis, who writes odd fantasy and wonderful mysteries; Jeffrey Ford whose collection The Fantasy Writer's Assistant is a must-have; Karen Joy Fowler, her short fiction is terrifyingly strong; I still like Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, 20 years and 25+ books later; Patrick O'Leary whose novels are so good and so smart; Molly Gloss.... I could go on and on
(and have been known to!).

10) Our site has a large number of non-native English speakers, around 10% of the people who visit there. How do you get the word out regarding your authors to such a global audience? Is it more of a use of traditional marketing techniques, or have newer methods of communication with potential readers been developed?

That's a good question that we haven't touched on very much. Most of the books we've published have received some degree of interest from publishers abroad, and that is through the publishers watching reviews and keeping up with what's going on here. A couple of Kelly Link's stories have been translated into Japanese and she has some slated to be translated into Catalan and Hungarian. We're very open to translations --but we can't help with finding a publisher!

I like Google's translation page, but think it will be a while before we can rely on it!

Gavin Grant

Again, as I said in a reply to Mr. Grant, thanks greatly for doing this. If you are curious about many of the authors he named above, please visit Small Beer Press's site listed below. There are story excerpts provided free of charge for people to sample. I highly recommend people read these fascinating stories.


Anonymous said...

Good interview! However, I've got a small bone to pick - courier is a serif typeface, not sans serif. Specifically a slab serif.

Larry Nolen said...

I'll try to correct that sometime later. Of course, that mistake is a little over 6 years' old now :P

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