A big hello from the Fiction Editorial Team–Stacy Bierlein, Alex Chee, Shya Scanlon and yours truly. We’re all so excited to unveil this section of the new-and-improved TNB that if we told you how thrilled we really are, you might be a little alarmed. You might even suspect that we have too much time on our hands . . . which is so far from the truth it would be comical. So suffice it to say that we’re really, really glad you’re here, and both proud and humbled to be on this journey through the terrain of contemporary fiction with you.
First, a little story:
This September my son Giovanni, who is three-and-a-half, started preschool. The plan was that once he was in school, I would finally have enough hours “to myself” to get all my work done. On that list: running Other Voices Books‘ flagship Chicago office (well, flagship may be a rather grand term for a desk in my basement), teaching at two universities, raising three small children–and then, in my nonexistent spare time blogging for both TNB and HuffPo, in addition, of course, to writing my own fiction and prepping to market my second book coming out in 2010. Oh, I think I recall that I was also going to kick up my yoga practice this year in all my “free time,” and start reading some books that weren’t: a) fiction, b) submissions to OV Books or c) by writers I know.
Um, yeah. Sometimes the best laid plans go awry. Or maybe it’s just that sometimes the best laid plans are not really all they’re cracked up to be.
Giovanni had been at his first day of preschool for exactly four hours when my phone rang. It was Brad Listi, who at that time (this now seems like a distant memory) didn’t frequently call me. He proceeded to explain his idea for a TNB Fiction Section. Then, to my surprise, he asked if I would consider editing it.
Absolutely anyone who knows anything about what my life looks like would tell you that I should have run for the hills.
Instead I was ecstatic. I think within a minute and a half, I had basically signed away not only my own name in blood, but that of my longtime business partner Stacy Bierlein, Exec. Ed. of OV’s Los Angeles office, who is now my co-Editor in this venture too. I recall buzzing around my house for the rest of the workday making lists of all the writers I couldn’t wait to let know about TNB. When Shya and Alex joined the fray soon after, the conference calls and barrage of emails that commenced were dizzying.
If you care anything about contemporary fiction (and you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t), you know that review venues are shrinking by the day. Books sections in papers and magazines are closing or radically reducing space; longtime literary magazines are losing funding and folding. Corporate publishers are spending less on book tours and indie presses often can’t afford to spring for them to begin with. It is harder and harder for writers to market their work in traditional ways.
This is where TNB’s Fiction Section comes in. Our aim here is not only akin to that of all good literary magazines–to showcase some of the most vibrant writers working today–but also to help provide these writers with a vehicle to market their books. This is why we provide links to authors’ websites and sales pages: to help directly connect the writers we love with their audience–TNB’s large, loyal and growing readership. We also aim to provide you insights into these authors and their work that you can’t get just anywhere, which is what’s behind the “self-interview” concept. Here, authors answer all the questions they were always afraid to answer in other interviews, or that they wished all those other guys would’ve asked instead of asking what time of the day they write and whether their desk faces west or east. TNB’s Fiction Section is a tantalizing triple-threat on that week’s Featured Author, so that by the time you’re done, you should be as smitten as we are.
Some writers we’ll be showcasing this year include Stuart Dybek, Steve Almond, Stephen Elliott, Antonya Nelson, Jonathan Evison, Joshua Mohr, Aimee Liu and Terese Svoboda . . . among many, many more! Please stay tuned. New work goes up every Sunday night.
Finally, on behalf of Stacy and myself, I’d also like to say how truly fun it’s been to work with such a wide variety of writers again. When we closed Other Voices magazine in 2007 to focus on book publishing, we gained many exciting opportunities to champion indie books out in the world, but we considerably narrowed the pool of writers we were able to champion, since Other Voices Books publishes only two titles annually. So it has truly been a joy to be able to reach out to more writers again, to consider so much new work, and to merge our passion for book and magazine publishing here at TNB.
We hope to hear from you soon and often. Onward, and go TNB!