I’ve been pretty open about my praise for the 2011 Night Shade line-up of debut authors. Having positively reviewed The Whitefire Crossing, Seed, The Emperor’s Knife, Necropolis, God’s War, and Infidel, I was interested in finding out what Night Shade’s plan of action was with all these tremendous new authors. Night Shade Books Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Lassen was kind enough to trade e-mails with me to talk about their New Voices Program, last year’s royalties controversy, 2012 debuts, and some great news about their web presence. Hope you enjoy!
Justin: What prompted me to ask for this interview was a comment Mazarkis Williams made on Twitter about the Night Shade New Voices Program. I had no idea that Night Shade had gone so far as to actually institute a ‘program’. First off, what is the New Voices Program?
Jeremy: The program will consist of a branded landing sight on our web site that spotlights upcoming releases from this new generation of writers. The Night Bazaar group blog is one component of this… a regular revolving conversation amongst our authors.
Our print advertising will feature our “New Voices” Branding with links and promotions that tie back into our New Voices web site.
Brad Beaulieu’s The Winds of Khalakovo IS related to Mazarkis Williams’ The Emperor’s Knife (review), which is related to Courtney Schafer’s White Fire Crossing (review), which is related to Teresa Frohock’s Miserere… These are all examples of what we think Fantasy Fiction can and should aspire to in the 21st century.
Likewise, Paolo’s The Windup Girl is related to Will Macintosh’s Soft Apocolpyse, which is related Revolution World by Katy Stauber, which is related to Rob Ziegler’s Seed (review). These are Night Shade’s vision of what Science fiction can be in the 21st century — painful, and painfully relevant.
Justin: What prompted creating the New Voices program? What are you trying to accomplish?
Jeremy: Our New Voices program came about because we wanted to highlight the new direction that Night Shade is going in, editorially. We have 15 first novels coming out in 2011. We realized that a lot of people have a fixed image of what Night Shade is, and what kind of books we do, and many people just didn’t realize the kind of focus and commitment we were making to new writers. The New Voices program is meant to let people know about our new writers, and how this is part of an overall editorial strategy.
Justin: One of the things I’m most impressed about is that none of the 2011 Night Shade debuts sound like anyone else. All of them (that I’ve read) have felt not just new, but unique. Has it been part of the ‘mission’ to steer clear of the thief/assassin, western medieval, and space-opera tropes that are so prevalent genre wide?
Justin: Are you looking to create a stable of authors to build Night Shade around? Or do you anticipate continuing moving forward with the New Voice concept as a niche?
Justin: In looking over the Night Shade catalog it seems prior to The Windup Girl you were bringing a lot of known authors’ work to market combined with lots of anthologies. Was Windup Girl as seminal a moment for Night Shade as it appears to us on the outside? Is that sort of when things started to change?
Justin: Last year there was quite a bit of negative skuttlebutt about Night Shade in reference to some missing royalty payments. It led to you being put on probation by the Science Fiction Writers of America. I just wanted to give you an opportunity to comment on it now that the probation is, or will soon be, lifted.
Last I heard, SFWA was going to be taking us off probation in the wake of the last royalty period, but I don’t want to speak for them… I understand it requires a full vote of the board, and not just a decision by the officers, so clearly they have an organizational process that needs to happen.
Justin: That’s great news. For what it’s worth, I hear the new crop of Night Shade authors singing your praises. We’ve talked a lot about the New Voice program, so here’s your chance – who are the debut authors in 2012 that we should be getting excited about?
In February, We’ve got a second novel coming from Will Macintosh that I’m very excited about. Will’s short fiction was always very diverse and challenging, and his debut, Soft Apocalypse was stunning, but I’m happy that his new one, Hitchers will demonstrate his range. It’s not simply “Soft Apocalypse 2″.
February also has a novel called Enormity by W. G. Marshall that I’m very excited bout. It’s a very funny/ironic near future adventure story.
And in March we have an Alternate History /ancient Greece steam punk adventure novel called The Pillars of Hercules by David Constantine that is a perfect example of one of those books that there’s not exactly a defined marketing category for it, but its damn fun.
Justin: Awesome. I’m already penning my 2012 schedule (I just received the eARC for Faith)! Any plans on adding a FORTHCOMING section to the website? Avid readers and bloggers want to know!