Thursday, October 17, 2013

Small Presses press ahead in Thunder Bay

Jullian Watts holding her new novel Become, a New Adult book, published by Split Tree Publishing in Thunder Bay
How is it possible?? Two small publishing companies are now open and running in Thunder Bay. Yeah!
The good news lightens up  a rather glum literary month (the shrinking shelf space for books at The Finn Book Store; the purge of local columnists at the Chronicle-Journal) as the publishers of two new presses, Vince Ponka from Emmerson Street Press and Stacey Voss from Split Tree Publishing, took part in a panel and then a Q&A with the audience at the Fireside Room, Brodie Library.
There are differences between the two.
Stacey Voss, Editor of Split Tree Publishing
Both are committed to local authors but Ponka is aiming for  literary fiction, plus hand made binding and beautiful papers. Voss also has lovely books with colourful covers which feel like velvet in the hand but she is aiming more mass market.

For example she showed my a copy of her cookbook Superior Flavours and Taste Tour which leapt into my hand of its own accord. Voss had to wrestle me to the floor to get back her single copy. (It will be available Nov. 2). The book features my favourite local restaurants (such as The Sweet Pea,) and their wonderful recipes.  Thunder Bay rocks when it comes to eateries and I want that book! A great Christmas gift too.
Ponka is not too interested in genre fiction although he does not close the door to non-fiction. Voss is more interested in genre (see the description of Jullian Watts novel below) as shown by her next project, a mystery, Serenity Stone Murders, by Marianne Jones, a well known Thunder Bay writer. It will be released November 19.  But Voss will also consider non-fiction and in fact, the press started off when she helped a cancer patient, Michael Antcliffe,  write his memoir called Hope is my Wingman.
Jullian Watts was present  to sell her new book, "Become," launched at The Foundry on October 15.  Here is the blurb..
If Abbie wants to survive, she must Become . . . .
 After a near-death experience, Abbie Thomas finds herself at the mercy of the olichon–a human-like species that has, until recently, remained hidden from the rest of the world.  Staggered by the news that she can never go home, Abbie is forced to renounce her humanity and take up the sword. Fighting to stay alive by mimicking those around her, Abbie’s mortality is tested again and again.

Sounds good to me. Become is a "new adult book", a new genre written for the 18-25 year old age bracket. New Adult is sort of  YA but it might contain sex. Also sounds good to me.
Split Tree Publishing makes its home in the old Hillcrest High School. Emmerson Street Press is, well, on Emmerson Street. Both have web sites. Hang on to your hats, Thunder Bay. We're in for a wonderful literary ride!

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