The Double Drive-by: Russell B. Farr

Ticonderoga Publications is a punchy indie press operated by the delightful Russell B. Farr. TP has produced (amongst others) Sean Williams’ Magic Dirt, Terry Dowling’s Basic Black, Simon Brown’s Troy, and the upcoming Dead Sea Fruit by Kaaron Warren, the anniversay re-release of Kim Wilkins’ The Infernal, Sara Douglass’ The Hall of Lost Footsteps – oh, and my The Girl With No Hands & Other Tales.  AND! several awesome anthologies (I love anthologies): Belong, Fantastic Wonder Stories, Scary Kisses (with his partner, the lovely Liz Grzyb wearing the editing hat) … with Scary Kisses II and  Dead Red Heart open for subs as I type.

Because I am incompetent (but rather adorable), I managed to ask Russell two lots of questions … and because he’s terribly nice, he answered them both. So, who am I to deny the People access to both sets of answers? Voila!

1. Editing or writing, because …
Editing. I’m much better at being involved in the refining of the creative process than having to to all the slog work. I admire the talents of those who can throw words at the page and produce visions, spectacles, new worlds. This doesn’t come easily to me. I think I have fairly strong internal filters, so when an idea does come to me I’m pretty good at shutting it down. Editing comes more naturally to me, I’m more a fixer than a maker.

2. I choose my writers by ….
Honestly? Mostly it’s a scattergun approach. I try to keep an eye on who is publishing, who is getting noticed, who is getting talked about, who is solid at marketing themself, who is good, and who seems to have a compatible mindset. This gives me a fairly large list, growing all the time, and then I have bursts where I ask them, a handful at a time. A lot of the time i\I’ll get a polite “thanks but no thanks”, or an “I’ll get back to you”, and that’s usually the end of the matter. Sometimes it’s a case of catching the right person at the right time.

I usually have a vague idea of how many books each year I want to do, and it’s then a case of asking until I get enough.

3. I know a book’s done when ….
Sadly, a book is never done. Or it reaches “done” many times. The first time it’s done is when it goes to the printers, as that’s the last chance to tinker with the design or contents. Then it’s done when it comes back, and I’m holding the finished product in my hands, there’s a sense of closure there.

Then it’s a case of selling and pushing and selling and pushing. I guess a book is done when all copies are sold and everyone’s paid. Such days are the things of dreams…

4. The worst newbie mistake I ever saw was …
I honestly have no idea. I don’t assume a writer is a newbie, unless they tell me that they’re a newbie. I guess that could be it.

1. The future of the small press in Australia is …
… so bright I gotta wear shades.

There are a bunch of fine presses out there right now doing a bunch of good stuff. If I wear the pessimistic hat I could question if there are sufficient buyers to maintain things, but over the past 15-20 years things have ticked along merrily and I don’t see that stopping. Different presses have had their highs and lows over that time, some have disappeared, new ones have emerged. There’s always 3 or 4 presses going strong, and a handful of others ticking over. Right now that seems to be the likes of Twelfth Planet and Fablecroft, both with ambitious plans, while there are niche players like Brimstone, Coeur de Lion, CSFG, Mirrordanse and Tasmaniac providing an extra layer of depth.

I don’t see why this shouldn’t continue. Presses will come and go, as it takes a lot to keep a press going consistently for more than 5 years.

2. The major things that drive me nuts about submissions I receive are …
… covering letters. For me there is nothing worse than having to wade through a list of publications, recommendations and other stuff. If the story is good, then I might want to know more about the writer. I judge stories based on the words on the page, and the less I know about a writer before I start reading, the better.

3. The worst thing that ever happened to me at a con was …
… during the SwanCon 17 Waking Nightmares presentation. My first con, my first con related injury. The short version is that I got up to get some air, walked into a door and bled everywhere.

4. If I could be a fictional character for a day, I would be …
… Oh, that’s tough. William Miller would probably be my first pic (the lead character in Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical Almost Famous). Get to hang out with musicians, talk with Lester Bangs, and write for Rolling Stone magazine back when it was worth reading. There are a bunch of fictitious characters that I like, but I’d rather be myself hanging out with them than be them.

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Churros, and rich chocolate sauce. And more churros. Otherwise fresh doughnuts with sugar and cinnamon, straight from the fryer.

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