Matt Sinclair and The Fall

Today’s blog post is a Q&A with writer, publisher, elephant lover, and all-around great guy Matt Sinclair. Just in time for Halloween his company Elephant’s Bookshelf Press will be releasing its newest anthology THE FALL. But first, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been working as a journalist since the early 1990s in a variety of contexts – internal communications at a university; reporting or editing for local, regional, and national publications; many years at a national trade journal covering the nonprofit sector; and several years editing a national online publication about philanthropy both in the United States and increasingly on an international level. But ever since I was in grammar school I’ve written stories, created characters, and sung original songs. Aside from my dream of playing major league baseball, writing was all I ever really wanted to do.

What kind of stories can we expect to find in your new anthology THE FALL?

Broadly speaking, they’re about individuals facing the destruction of the world as they know it. You can call it the apocalypse, but they’re also about that moment when you realize life will never be the same and you either change or you die. Sometimes death is the way to go. But this is not a collection of doom and gloom by any means. It includes a humorous one-act play, some romance, even a baseball game – and I didn’t write that one! We found and attracted talented writers who not only can show how scary the end of the world can be, but also how funny or even cathartic.

You also previously published an anthology entitled SPRING FEVERS. What inspired you to put these two collections together?

Spring Fevers came about from discussions I’d had with Cat Woods, who is one of the many writing friends I’ve met at AgentQuery Connect, which honestly has changed my writing life. It’s a supportive community of writers that aren’t blowing sunshine up each other’s backsides, but instead are offering honest critiques and accurate information to point writers in the right direction. Cat and I developed the idea of an anthology. I’d been toying with the idea of starting a literary journal or a publishing company but it seemed like an overly daunting task. After Cat and I bandied the anthology idea about, however, I realized this was the way I could launch a publishing company. The title of the first anthology was suggested by Robb Grindstaff, who served as copy editor on Spring Fevers, and toward the end of that project the idea of The Fall came up. As a result, we’ve decided to do what I call our seasonal anthology series. Next will be Summer Burn in 2013 and a winter title to be named.

Are there any returning authors? How about new authors?

We’ve got both. Cat Woods is back, of course, and she introduced me to Alexandra Tys O’Connor, who I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from in the future. Other writers returning in The Fall are Mindy Ginnis, R.S. Mellette, A.M. Supinger, J. Lea Lopez, and me. As for new authors, we’re happy to include EBP’s first stories from R.C. Lewis (who did the book design for both anthologies); Jean Oram, a Canadian author who was the copy editor on The Fall; P.S. Carrillo; Amy Trueblood; and Judy Croome, who is from South Africa.

Earlier this year you began Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, LLC, which is the publisher of both these anthologies. Can you tell us a little bit about your mission?

Elephant’s Bookshelf Press is a traditional, albeit small publisher. I’m fortunate to have put together a team of that I call my editorial advisory board: Cat Woods, Mindy McGinnis, Robb Grindstaff, R.C. Lewis, Jean Oram, and Calista Taylor. All of us expect excellence. Sometimes I feel like I’m the weak link because I’m the only one who hasn’t had an agent or a publishing deal. Our goal at Elephant’s Bookshelf Press is to help talented writers not only earn publication but develop an audience. We aim to build long-term relationships with these writers, to complement the work that they’re already doing to advance their careers, spur them to do more to help boost themselves and build their visibility, and establish a lasting reputation for the company as a publisher of quality work. I think our writers have been impressed with our dedication to the craft of writing. I’m a little biased, but I believe Spring Fevers is excellent, and I think readers will very much enjoy The Fall, even though they’re quite different anthologies.

Are you open to submissions at this time?

Not quite, but we will be soon. To be honest, I’d like to put some time into my novel in progress, which has been mostly on hold while I’ve been working on the anthologies and the company. But later this year — January 2013 at the latest — we’ll officially request submissions for our summer anthology, which will address relationships that are unlikely to last. For example, a story could be about a couple of teens who are going to different colleges, a child whose grandparent is dying, a marriage that is at a moment of transition, a goldfish whose bowl has a ping pong ball floating at the surface… We were able to offer laughs for the apocalypse, I think we’ll be able to find joy and mirth even when a relationship is doomed or in danger of falling apart.

You’re both a professional writer and editor. How has that played into your success with Elephant’s Bookshelf Press?

I don’t think I’d be doing this if I didn’t love writing and creating characters. The increased acceptance of writers developing ventures of their own helped me believe the company wasn’t a foolhardy venture. Having worked as a reporter and editor, I’ve worked with publishers, so I’ve gained some understanding of what’s needed on that side, too. It helps immensely that I’ve gotten to know several other writers through AQC who are as committed to establishing themselves and building their careers as I am. Ultimately, any success that Elephant’s Bookshelf Press enjoys will be due to having a quality product at the beginning. Compelling stories with a foundation in strong writing attracts readers.

What great things can we expect from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press in the future?

Well, we’ll have at least two more anthologies in this series, with Summer Burn in the summer of 2013. We’ve begun discussing the winter anthology, which we’d either release late in 2013 or early in 2014. I’ve also had some preliminary discussions with a novelist who is impressed by what we’re trying to accomplish. If the stars align the right way, we might publish our first novel in 2013 with others to come in 2014 and beyond. Looking further down the road, we likely will also publish nonfiction.

Around the Internet you seem to be known for your elephants. Is there any special significance behind the pachyderm?

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve loved elephants. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

When will THE FALL officially go on sale and what are the different ways readers can pick up a copy?

The release date is October 29 – just in time for the ghouls and goblins of Halloween and with enough time to prepare for the Mayan apocalypse or the fiscal cliff or whatever natural or man-made disaster you might imagine happening before the end of the year. We’ll be available through Amazon, Nook, Barnes and Noble, via Kindle and Smashwords and CreateSpace, and just about anywhere you buy books these days.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank you for your time and willingness to share what we’re doing – and for your great questions. I’m a staunch believer that writers need to support each other and develop as a community. We’re all different, but our goals are essentially similar. So, thank you!

No problem, Matt. Thank YOU for taking the time to do this interview. I’m really excited about the book coming out and I can’t wait to get my own copy!