Thursday 14 June 2012

Interview: Bart Leib of Crossed Genres

If you hang around the kind of circles we do, you almost certainly know about Crossed Genres, originally a monthly speculative fiction magazine, now a quality small press publisher of anthologies and novels. Over the past few weeks, CG have been running a very successful Kickstarter fundraiser, first to keep the press going, then to resurrect the magazine, and finally—if they make their next stretch goal—to make the magazine a pro paying venue. Given the fine work CG have showcased over the years, allowing them to pay their authors a professional rate would in my view be an excellent, and natural, idea. I urge everyone to support them with a few dollars (or squid or euro or schillings).

We've asked Bart Leib, co-editor of Crossed Genres Publications, a few questions about their work.

The Future Fire: You put up a Kickstarter appeal to save Crossed Genres Publications, and received the minimum funding in what seemed like minutes. (Congratulations!) Do you have any specific plans for books that you couldn't have released otherwise? What is the first new thing you're going to do? Are you looking for proposals, submissions?

Bart Leib: Thanks for the congrats! We're still kind of reeling, and realizing how busy our schedules have suddenly gotten! ;)

We've never felt that we were restricted from publishing any book on a particular topic. One of the great things about being a small press is that we can publish what we want, and publish more daring ideas that the big publishers can't because they're worried about how much money they'll lose. Being smaller means we can be more flexible, and produce titles unlike anything else available.

We've never been open to proposals for anthology ideas before, but that's mainly because we're limited on the number of titles we can release. However, I've always wanted to be able to bring aboard a guest editor to spearhead a project they pitch that we'd like to publish but don't have time to handle ourselves. The ability to do that is also limited by funding, so depending on how well the Kickstarter does overall, we may do that in the future.

And we're always open to novel submissions! We'll be publishing our third novel, Sabrina Vourvoulias' INK, in October! We'd love to find another excellent novel for publication in late 2013.

TFF: Your stretch goal was to resurrect the fiction magazine incarnation of Crossed Genres, and now you're aiming to make that a pro-paying venue if you receive just a few thousand dollars more. Tell us briefly about the CG magazine format. What made this 'zine stand out from the crowd, in the past?

BL: Each month, we choose a new genre or theme. And submissions for that issue must combine that genre or theme with some element of science fiction and/or fantasy. Hence the name, 'Crossed Genres'! The structure encourages writers to challenge themselves and as a result we've gotten some truly amazing and unique stories.

The zine is published online each month, and collected into quarterlies for print and ebook editions. (This may change to biannuals depending on what the Kickstarter enables us to do.)

We will of course be continuing the practice when the zine re-launches in January. In fact, we've already decided what the theme will be for our first new issue: BOUNDARIES, and all its various interpretations.

TFF: CG has always been a diversity-friendly magazine and you have been involved in advocacy organizations such as the Outer Alliance. In what ways has the magazine actively promoted inclusiveness and social issues in the past? Do you have any new or different plans to do so in the future?

BL: We've had issues of the zine dedicated to under-represented groups like LGBTQ and characters of color. This has carried over into our other titles, as we've published books dealing with women and body issues (Fat Girl in a Strange Land), slavery/racism (Broken Slate), immigration (INK, coming in October) and more. We've always actively encouraged stories which address these topics and include these characters, in addition to what any given submission call is for.

This will always be a part of how CG works, and we're going to step up our efforts in the future. We want writers to know that they don't have to wait for a specific call for characters of color, or LGBTQ, or strong women – they can send us stories with those characters any time! We want those characters represented throughout our publications!

TFF: What else is on the horizon for Crossed Genres, creatively speaking?

BL: In July, we're publishing a collection of short stories by Daniel José Older titled Salsa Nocturna. (In their review, Publishers Weekly called Daniel a "rising star of the genre"!) Then in October we're publishing the above mentioned INK. In Jan/Feb 2013 we're releasing Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction (submissions open through June). And we currently have an open submission call for novellas of strong older women, titled Winter Well, which we're hoping to have ready for WisCon 37 in May 2013! Winter Well will be the first time we publish novellas, and we're very excited about it!

The Kickstarter is also going to provide something new. One of the pledge rewards gives backers input on the subject of an upcoming anthology we'll publish. After the Kickstarter is over we'll talk with those backers and come to some consensus (it's unlikely that everyone will be 100% on board with the final choice, but we'll do our best to satisfy everyone). We've never had this sort of collaborative input before – in fact no one's ever had any say on the topics we've chosen except my co-publisher Kay and I. Who knows, it could bring about an idea that had never occurred to us before!

TFF: Do you have anything else you'd like to tell our readers about CG or any of your other work?

BL: CG has always been a labor of love. We never expected to make money from it – and still don't! When Kay lost her job, the easiest thing to do would have been to shut CG down… no one would even have blamed us, considering the situation. But that option was simply never on the table. We immediately started plotting the best way to save it instead.

We decided to pursue the additional Kickstarter goal of paying pro rates because we felt it would give us the best chance of creating some long-term sustainability for CG. That's damn important, because we want to keep doing this for a very long time.

Someday, we hope to have the flexibility to publish other things, like comics, children's books, and more. All that would be well down the road… so we hope people who enjoy and appreciate what we're doing now will help us get there!

Support Crossed Genres Magazine's Kickstarter campaign, get lots of fiction and other goodies, and be part of more future greatness.

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