The dark days aren’t looking so dark anymore! The void isn’t so void…ious? In case you didn’t hear, Origami Zoo Press is not closing anymore–at least, not exactly. Instead, our books are being brought under the excellent Bull City Press umbrella, along with our founding editor Rebecca King, who’ll join as an associate editor and help to expand their fiction section!
Still, there are more small/independent presses we’d like to feature in our What Will Fill the Void? series. You can read part one, with Michael J. Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms, here, part two, with Justin Lawrence Daugherty of Jellyfish Highway, here, part three, with Leesa Cross-Smith, here, part four, with Amanda McCormick and Tracy Dimond of Ink Press Productions, here, and part five, with Jedediah Berry and Emily Houk of Ninepin Press, here.
Brent Rydin: As of right now, Wyvern Press is just me and Wyl Villacres, our first author. (I include Wyl because I really do see this press as a collaborative effort with authors. I want to take the same approach as I take with all the stories at Wyvern Lit, which is that the editor is responsible to the writer and not vice-versa.) As of right now, my focus is primarily on fiction, as it was initially with Wyvern Lit (before the incredible Emily O’Neill came aboard as our poetry editor), but I don’t know where the future will take us from a genre perspective. As for the question of where, I’m in Boston and Wyl is in Chicago.
OZP: Having already established a great online journal, what made Wyvern want to create a press to go along with it? How do you see the press and journal being related–will they strive to publish similar things? Or does the press have particular goals that differ greatly from the journal’s?
BR: Oh, shucks, well thanks for saying that. I definitely see the press and the journal as being intertwined – I actually first got to know Wyl because his story “Junk Mail and Hospital Bills” was in our first issue (and will be included in Here Is Where I Was Lost). I want to publish all kinds of stuff, but might try to make an extra effort to get my hands on manuscripts from contributors to the journal. I think Wyvern Lit has had a very eclectic aesthetic, but one that somehow comes together, and that’s something I want to keep going with everything I do. As for how it got started, I was actually working with the unbelievably talented and all-around fantastic Justin Daugherty in the formative days of Jellyfish Highway, but realized after a few months – I have no shame in admitting this – that I’m not a great collaborator in editor-editor relationships. I’m definitely a bit of a perfectionist, but I’m also a bit of a procrastinator, which can be incredibly frustrating when trying to make mutual decisions. A little after my (amicable; Justin is wonderful) split from JHP, I was reading Wyl’s manuscript and just figured the time was right. And as for the goals of the press and the journal going hand-in-hand, I’d love to use Wyvern Press as a way to get things moving with Wyvern Lit print issues and anthologies.
OZP: With new presses popping up pretty much every day, how does Wyvern hope to stand out, beyond publishing excellent work? What sets Wyvern apart?
BR: That’s a good question. Honestly, I want it to be set apart by a kind of recklessness (if that makes sense). Not irresponsible recklessness, but the same kind of recklessness that’s made the journal what it is, the attitude of publishing what I/we enjoy and not being concerned with the marketplace or the marketplace of ideas or whatever. Not being concerned with what else is out there, what’s being well-received, all that stuff. And that’s led to a surprising amount of cohesiveness, despite the degree of difference between so many of the stories. On top of that, it’s what I was saying about the way I want to work with the writers – their work is their baby (so to speak), and my top priority is to respect that. I try to make a point of not accepting any work if I wouldn’t theoretically be happy publishing it as-is, and I don’t suggest any changes unless I can either perfectly defend them or be completely okay with being told “no.” (Other than things like typos, etc., obviously.) And that’s not something that jumps out at a reader when they first look at a book or a journal, but I do think it makes a difference in the final product and how people experience it, and it’s definitely made a difference in building good relationships with the writers I’ve worked with.
OZP: Tell us a bit about the forthcoming first book, Here Is Where I Was Lost by Wyl Villacres, whose work seems to be popping up everywhere lately (and with good reason!).
BR: Wyl is just an incredible writer and an incredible human being, and I devoured the manuscript when he sent it my way. It’s a collection of stories, and Wyl’s got an incredible range – magical, anarchistic, lovelorn, mournful, optimistic, and a bunch of other adjectives that my brain is having trouble accessing right now, but just so real and so human – that manages to never be disjointed. I truly couldn’t be more proud and excited to have this opportunity to work with him in such depth, and couldn’t be more grateful to him for taking the leap on something new and untested and entrusting his work to me (again).
OZP: What else can we expect on the horizon of Wyvern Lit/Wyvern Press? Any other books in the works?
BR: My focus right now is on this particular book and on our upcoming issues (Issue Seven and our annual Haunted theme issue), after which we might be taking a brief hiatus. I’m new to the publishing game, and I want to do the best job I can of it, so I’m making sure I don’t rush anything. I don’t want to cut corners or get sloppy in the interest of output or momentum – that’s not fair to the writers. Also, like I said, I’m something of a perfectionist, so I have difficulty delegating responsibility on anything that I would normally do myself, which makes the whole process slower and more deliberate by necessity. I just want to approach the press in the same way I approached the journal – focus on whatever the task at hand is, and reassess the approach once that’s done. I can’t publish something great if I’m focusing on what’s coming after it; I know some people can, but I’m not one of them, and I also worry that that could lead (me, at least) to a kind of stagnation or avoidance of change, both of which I want to do my best to avoid.
OZP: Given unlimited time/resources, what’s a dream project you’d like to do with Wyvern Lit? Or a dream writer you’d like to work with?
BR: I have no intention of taking anything that isn’t a dream project or a dream writer. I’m living that dream right now.