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Posts Tagged ‘J.A. Tyler’

I’ve long admired J.A. Tyler  as much for his prolific and brilliant output as a writer as for his work as the founding editor of Mud Luscious Press. So, it was my great pleasure to sit down with Mr. Tyler to chat about the relationship between editing/publishing/ and authorship.

Q: Could you discuss the relationship between your own tastes and aesthetic as awriter and those of MLP?

A: My own aesthetic as a writer and the aesthetic  of Mud Luscious Press are super similar. I write in what I hope it a solidly experimental yet poetically readable approach, something that skirts a line, and what we seek with MLP in all forms (online, novel(la), Nephew) is that as well. However, I accept greater experimentation with MLP than I would personally write, simply based on how well the writers do it. Darby Larson’s The Iguana Complex is a great example of this – writing that I couldn’t pen myself but that is absolutely, without question, the aesthetic of Mud Luscious Press. It helps too that we have Andrew Borgstom on board as our Associate Editor, as he keeps my own aesthetic preferences from over-running any of those areas of Mud Luscious Press.

 

Has the rise of MLP influenced you as a writer? Editing in general?

Honestly, every aspect of editing has absolutely influenced me as a writer. Editors get to see first-hand the easy narrative mistakes that writers commit alongside the depth and complexity that great writers can achieve with techniques we wouldn’t have thought of ourselves. It is really an unbelievable and amazing learning curve. And editing-proper, working to hone an author’s final manuscript for print, is another layer to that beautiful education, teaching editors to see the concrete reality of their words, no matter what style or approach. Editing (and reviewing) is something that every writer should do for a least a portion of his or her life, it is an evolution.

 

I think of your work and the writing at MLP–both print and online–as being very distinctive–but you’ve edited for a number of different journals over the years and you’re very widely published. Does your approach change depending on a venue? Or has it developed over the years?

I like to believe that I’ve carried some of my own ‘distinctive’ editing style with me to those journal gigs. When I was editing for Pindeldyboz (R.I.P.) I was probably the most experimental leaning editor there, straying more often away from narrative than the others, though of course the diversity of selections was what made Pboz the great beast that it was.

As for my own writing, I often write with specific journals in mind – I am writing a book, so it has an overarching style or super-objective, but then in the small moments, in the beats, I write for specific submissions periods and/or journals, so that I’m close to hitting what they want while also furthering my book goal. I’m not sure if this is normal (or acceptable) practice, but I do it.

 

Has there ever been any tension between your role as a writer and your various roles as publisher and editor? How do you reconcile these?

The only tension between the editor/publisher side and the author side is that of time. There are only so many minutes in the day and when it comes down to it, I work on MLP projects first. Their books deserve the first time, to edit and design and publicize and sell, they are what I do before I do anything else. Their deadlines are the first deadlines, their demands the first to be sated. I write with what is left. It is that simple. And though this means that due-dates for my own work have to remain flexible: when you don’t have all the time in the world, when writing is imperative, you write better. Or at least I do. Or at least I think / believe /hope I do.

 

You have a series of releases coming out this summer (and beyond). And between Mud Luscious and your own work you have come up with a number of innovative ways of promoting interest and community–the MLP stamp stories, for one. Could you talk a little about the connection between creativity and marketing for indie presses and writers? Does the potential format of a release effect your writing process?

In terms of publicity, I try to do the same for my own writing as I do for our Mud Luscious Press authors, I just use a much louder voice for MLP. I believe it is imperative to make waves when you are releasing a book, whether you are the editor or the author, but I also know that you must believe in the publicity you chose, no matter the approach.

The Stamp Stories project that you mention came from the idea to publicize writers from small presses using the power of each press’ own mailings, asking them to include a Stamp Story with their shipments but also to suggest their authors for future Stamp Stories. For our first Nephew imprint title, Larson’s The Iguana Complex, we live-messaged on facebook our editing of the final design proof. We couldn’t speak enough about the book itself, it is so complicated and dense, so we thought why not post our favorite lines, favorite moments, questions we had about the text, and praise of it so that our facebook followers could see how much we love this book.

As for my own work, with the release of A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed from Fugue State Press, I decided to show readers how much I believed in these words by offering to write a new book, just for them, inside of that book, if they read it and didn’t like it. The idea being that I believe in my words and trust that if people read the book, they will enjoy it, and if they don’t, well, then they get something special and new. And as you mention, I have a handful of new books slated throughout the coming months of 2011, and I’m sure with each I’ll put my creative muster behind their publicity. Getting people to purchase and read a book is not easy, but there are ways to help it happen.

Earlier you mentioned “poetic” and “readable” as distinctive traits in your writing. I would agree with that assertion. How important is audience to your work and to the work you accept for MLP?

What a fantastic question, thanks for asking it. Audience is, to me, super important. There is obviously a point where you can say ‘fuck it, I wrote it and I stand behind it and I don’t care what anyone thinks about it’, but if we lose our audience, what do we have? I want, more than anything, to straddle that line with my writing. I want words and language that are thick and complex yet still enough to hold on to, still enough to pull you through its guts. And as an editor for MLP I want the same thing – works that challenge us to see language in its wrecked state, where it is broken but we still see in its damaged mass, the semblance of reality. This for me is the pinnacle of audience / writer connection, and I work towards it in all the writing and editing I do.

 

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The sophomore novel by J.A. Tyler, one of my favorite prose writers, is now out for consumption. I’ve started reading my copy and it is, as ever with Mr. Tyler, a brilliant forest of words. While that alone should be enough to sell the book, the author has come up with a fairly interesting way of promoting his book. Check it out & then take him up on it:

If you don’t like my book I’ll write you another book on the inside of
that book. Order it, read it. If you don’t like it, ship it back to me &
I’ll write a new book for you on the inside of that book. Yes. This is how much I believe in these words. A MAN OF GLASS & ALL THE WAYS WE HAVE FAILED: http://www.fuguestatepress.com/man.html

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