Monday, June 07, 2004

Publisher's Weekly Article. 

As some of you might know, I recently illustrated a comics story for Sean Stewart that ties in with his latest novel. This past weekend, his publisher brought me to Chicago to attend the Book Expo America to present the comic.

I'm pretty sure this is the first time a prose author has done this with a comic- created a comics story to be given away to raise awareness of his novel.

The June 7th Publisher's Weekly has an aticle about Sean and his new publisher, Small Beer Press . Here it is:
Sean Stewart describes himself as "a writer who traditionally has fallen between categories." Having moved to Ace after beginning his writing career with the small Canadian press Tesseract in 1992, the World Fantasy Award–winner defines his natural constituency as "the people reading High Fidelity, Fried Green Tomatoes and The House of Seven Gables."

That's why Stewart has decided to return to his small-press roots for his eighth novel, Perfect Circle, which will be published in June by four-year-old Small Beer Press in Northampton Mass. The house, which specializes in crossover fantasy fiction, also plans to publish two of Stewart's previous books—Mockingbird and The Night Watch—under its Peapod Classics imprint, which will launch next year.

Stewart, who created The Beast, a popular Web game inspired by Steven Spielberg's AI, also admits to having been heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings since reading it at age seven. He described Perfect Circle as "a meaning-of-life thriller—I like books about the human experience that don't skip all the sword fights." The title, which comes from a song by R.E.M., points to the other influences in this story of a down-and-seemingly out ex–punk rocker, William "Dead" Kennedy, who is haunted by family ghosts, particularly one that tries to get him to shoot his ex-wife and her husband.

Part of what attracted Stewart to Small Beer is co-founder Kelly Link's publishing philosophy: "a good book is a good book, and these genre lines aren't very helpful." ("Small beer," by the way, is the lighter beer that comes from brewing two beers from a single mash.) He was also impressed by the attention the press has garnered for its first six books, even before inking a deal with SCB Distributors, which will begin representing Small Beer's titles to the trade in June. In 2002, Carol Emshwiller's novel The Mount won a Philip K. Dick Award. The previous year, Link's short story collection, Stranger Things Happen, was chosen by Salon, the Village Voice, the San Francisco Chronicle and Locus magazine as one of the year's best books, and one of its stories won a Nebula Award. Link and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, also publish a twice-yearly zine, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, which they founded in 1996.

Booksellers clearly see Small Beer as the kind of indie press they want to support. Paul Ingram at Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City called it "my favorite tiny little press. They do really weird, far out, imaginative stuff." Susan Jett, a bookseller with Back of Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, said she feels certain that "if they put something out, it's going to be good. I trust their taste." At St. Marks Bookshop in New York City, Link's story collection and her fiction anthology, Trampoline (Aug. 2003), have sold well. "Small Beer is the kind of press we're always on the lookout for to give us distinction," manager Michael Russo told PW.

Link and Grant, who met when they worked at the now-defunct Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop in Boston, are doing their best to apply the lessons of their bookselling years. "We joined Book Sense as a publishing partner," Grant said, "and sent out 450 galleys, which is a different level of galleydom for us." They've also decided to do simultaneous editions, to appeal to hardcover fantasy collectors and paperback mystery readers. And they have enlisted rising comics star Steve Lieber, who did the jacket art for On the Road to Perdition and Hellboy, to create a black-and-white promotional comic based on the book that will be mailed to comic, science fiction and general bookstores in June. In addition, Stewart will do appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York City...


Not sure what's up with that stuff about "the jacket art," but it's nice to be a rising star. And I just want to say that I read Perfect Circle as a word document, in its entirety, and I couldn't put it down. I'm talking about hours and hours staring at a laptop, hitting the down-arrow. My eyes were bleeding by the end, but I HAD to find out what happened next. The book grabs your attention and doesn't let go. I can't begin to recommend it highly enough.

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