Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spotlight on Ennyman: Part V

David Beard is associate professor of rhetoric in the department of writing studies at the University of MN-Duluth. Our mutual interests in writing, teaching and Steampunk have resulted in number of positive outcomes including a joint lecture at Duluth's Steampunk Spectacular titled Utopoian Memories: Steampunk 101 in which David presented the literary and cultural roots of steampunk culture and I shared its contemporary rust belt iterations. 

At some point along the way he asked if he could interview me and I consented. What follows here is the fifth section of this interview as it pertains to my publishing-related collaborations.

DB: You've recently stepped into life as a freelance publisher -- an intergenerational project, as you've worked with interns and with a partner much younger than you. How has this collaboration brought your work into a new phase?

EN: In recent years I began to see the power of collaboration. John Heino’s 3N6D in 2010 -- with Chani Becker, Jill Ellen Hall and Alan Sparhawk -- blew me away. After that weekend John and I made an unspoken but intentional decision to do some kind of collaborative project ourselves, and when the time was right we assembled the Red Interactive show for Phantom Galleries Superior. It was exhilarating for me and I think for many others.

The success of Red Interactive, and the subsequent Red Interactive Facebook community was personally rewarding and taught me a number of lessons which were reinforced by my involvement in a pair of Artist Kamikaze events assembled by Limbo Gallery.

All this to say that when I made up my mind to publish my novel and some of my short fiction, the collaborator for this venture entered my life, a student whom I met through the Proctor DECA program, TJ Lind. In spring 2011 as he finished his sophomore year in high school we made a plan to publish four books by the end of the year, a goal which we achieved in November. After that we entered a marketing phase, which we subsequently processed and evaluated. TJ is an exceptional young man who probably overextends himself (like me.) At the beginning of 2013 we have been working on a plan to bring several new books to market.

DB: What are three projects by N&L we haven't mentioned that you'd like to mention?

EN: I’ll mention four. The first is a book on how to teach writing to home schoolers tentatively titled Writing Exercises: How to Teach Writing and Prepare Your Favorite Students for College, Life and Everything Else. I developed the exercises while teaching my own home-schooled kids. Currently I have a UMD writing student, Grace Moores, helping me to move the original manuscript to a higher level. TJ and I are discussing publishing this in a print version as well as making it available as an eBook.

The second is a picture book titled A Remarkable Tale from the Land of Podd. Like the first it, too, involves a collaboration. Twenty years ago I had a work experience which led me to create an imaginary tale, in the form of a poem, that depicted a lesson from that event. Last fall I met a recent grad from the UMD fine arts program whose work fascinated me and felt perfectly suited to my story. He agreed to partner with me and we’ll see where it takes us.

The third is another picture book of sorts called Intergalactica. This is yet another collaboration involving a steampunk fashion artist, a photographer, a model from the Twin Cities and myself. It proved to be an incredibly rewarding project for me personally and this eBook is an attempt to share some of that experience with a wider audience. We’re planning to give the eBook away free simply to share the fruit of that experience.

The fourth will be a box set of my first three volumes of short stories with a few additional stories added in for a value-added experience. After this TJ and I have several other book ideas lined up, but we learned in 2011 not to rush and to allow each to get birthed in its own time and not to force it.

DB: If I wanted to work with N&L, as a young writer, what would that experience be like? Is this a technical service, a copy editing service, a mentoring service for manuscript development?

EN: Each situation is different. Currently Grace, who’s assisting on my book on how to teach writing, was simply helping to bring complete the book. Before long, I found myself wanting to teach her everything I’ve learned about the writing industry, from how to write in a more engaging manner to how to prepare a book proposal and make publishing decisions. The experience brought back memories of my home schooling experience. There’s a thing called “learning rage” and you can see when the fire is burning inside students. That’s the time to throw more logs on the fire, not when it’s almost out. My natural desire is to make the experience count for them as much as possible.

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