Today’s interviewee is the fantastic Michelle River, author, publisher, editor and much more! Enjoy the wide-ranging interview below.
You’re a person who wears many hats! As well as being an author in your own right, you edit and run a publishing house – Eerie River Publishing. Where do you get the time for all this and which aspect do you enjoy the most?
That is a loaded question! The simple answer is I make the time. My full-time job during the “day” is being a mother to a feisty and demanding two-year-old, that has the habit of ripping my phone out of my hand when she sees it, so I can’t do too much during the day beyond pop onto Twitter or Facebook. She also hasn’t napped since she was 19 months old, so nap time work is out the window.
I do all my publishing and writing at night after everyone is in bed, or first thing in the morning before she wakes up. I try to take at least one night off a weekend so it isn’t just all work. But I still find myself checking my emails like a weirdo at 2 a.m. out of habit.
I am not sure I can decide which part I like the best. Every part is rewarding. Reading the material that comes in gets me excited about the book we are putting together. Working on covers relaxes me because art is in my bones, I have always created. But writing is where my heart is, and something I am desperately trying to make some more time for.
Also – I do not edit. That is all Alanna. I have a very precarious relationship with the rules imposed by grammar and spelling. We do not see eye to eye.
Eerie River Publishing has just released Forgotten Ones: Drabbles of Myth and Legends your first collection of drabbles. Tell me a little about what a drabble is, the theme of the collection and what gave you the idea to pursue this?
A drabble is a short story that follows only one rule. It has to be 100 words. No more, no less. I like to think of them as one moment in time. A glance through an open window. For me I like them impactful and I want them filled with emotion.
This particular collection is all about old gods, myths and legends. We chose this particular theme because Alanna and I both have a love of mythology and horror. We thought it would work well together and really wanted to see it done. We talked about making it a full anthology but since I already planned the 2020 schedule we didn’t want to wait and we decided it would work as a drabble collection. And man did it ever.
As an editor of putting together anthologies, what hooks you when you’re reviewing a piece of work? On the other hand, what’s a complete no-no?
I honestly enjoy so many aspects of a story I don’t know if I have a specific “hook” for you. But what I can give you is what can make a good story great. Character development. I like a bit of back story, give me a reason why I am taking this journey with them. Don’t overdo it with exposition, I don’t need to know this person’s entire life history, just a snippet of info.
Big no-no’s … soooo many. ← that is one prime example! Don’t write a manuscript like you are texting me. We may be friends, but come on. This is a publishing house. If I see Idk or lol … I automatically want to stop reading. I will finish it, but it will be with an eye roll. This is obviously in context. If you are writing a story that has text messages in it, those things are allowed.
Also, changing the narrative between characters every few paragraphs. Pick a point of view and stick with it. Now again, this does depend on the story but almost every time it is better told by one voice.
Eerie River Publishing is building a strong horror presence with its released and planned collections – what do you have in store for us in 2020?
So many things!
We have our “It Calls From … “ series that will be going into 2021. That will be a total of four titles (some with volumes) for the series with “Forest”, “Sky”, “Sea” and “Doors”.
Then we have our first Dark Fantasy Anthology call out opening April 1.
And we also have our monthly short story contest through our author only group. So lots on the docket. We may also be throwing in another drabble collection, but that is still being discussed. I don’t want to add more than we can handle.
You have just announced that you are publishing T.J. Lea’s debut novel ‘The Spaces In Between’. Are single author novels you see a big future in for Eerie River and do you anticipate in pivoting to other genres?
T.J. Lea will be our only single authored book released in 2020 through. We are really excited about how it is coming along
With all the other releases, we aren’t planning on opening up queries for a little bit. We will be eventually, but I really want to make sure I have the systems in place to really do justice to the books that will be offered. I don’t want to over-promise things to authors that I can’t deliver.
Michelle the writer; What was your hardest scene to write?
The hardest thing I have ever had to write has nothing to do with struggling to find the right words. I use to write as a way of grieving out loud but silently. It was my therapy in a way, screaming into a void and unburdening myself at the same time. I would email the letters and stories to myself and read them when I needed a good cry. No one has ever seen them and no one ever will. Those by far have been the hardest things I have written.
Do you believe in writer’s block? And if so, what tips do you have to navigate it?
Yes. Sometimes your brain needs a break. It happens.
Everyone is different, what works for one will not work for another. My advice is to try everything. Take a break for a week or two. If that doesn’t work, start writing 100 words a day, then add 100 the next day. Do that for a week.
If that doesn’t work read. Read and keep reading. Read and watch an awesome show and get inspired. Go for a walk and have a drink. Life is too short. Go live it.
Which authors – past, present, established or independent – inspire you?
All of them? Honestly, I have very rarely read a book and thought, “That was a load of garbage.”
Not saying that has never happened, but no matter what I am inspired that people have the confidence to be able to not only put their words to paper but to go out and publish the thing. That takes courage and gusto. That is inspiring.
What are your own personal writing goals for 2020; and those for Eerie River Publishing?
My goals have changed over the last few months. Although I am still writing it is not my priority at the moment. I would like to get a short novella series together and released in 2021, but that is a long way off.
For Eerie River Publishing, I am hoping to keep the pace up. The goal is to release four short story anthologies a year and I think we can maintain that with the schedule we have. Also one or two drabbles collections on top of that.
I am also hoping to open up the book formatting portion so authors that are self-publishing can get their books formatted soon, along with editing that Alanna will be offering. This will most likely be coming in a few weeks. But no official date yet.
I would love to add more projects but I am restraining myself. Just like how I don’t want to over-promise, I don’t want to find myself in a situation I cannot handle and have authors upset about the quality I am putting out because I am overworked. I have to keep reminding myself that we are still a very small press, and still very new. As the owner, I handle all the day to day things with emails, social media, author copies, formatting, website and Patreon. Alanna has signed up to be the editor on the books this year which is amazing because I can’t grammar. I also have a few friends and authors that act as some second looks to offer feedback on stories. But it is still a lot. Hopefully one day we can grow and expand and bring on more people, but until then we will maintain as is.
Thank you Michelle for the interview! Links below, be sure to check out all things Eerie River!