I came into the interview expecting Brian to be interviewed about his publishing company Edge. After talking a bit about publishing with Simon Rose a few weeks back, I thought that I’d get some information from one of Canada’s most premier publishers. Edge Publishing produces some of the highest quality science fiction and fantasy in the world, whether it is short collections like Tesseracts or novels by such talents as Adrian Cole, Tanya Huff, Rebecca Rowe and K.A. Bedford, to just name a few.
Indeed, we did talk about Publishing, and I learned a lot. Brian is a pleasant, and armed with knowledge about the industry that has come through years of producing quality work. I got quite the education that day, and I want to already thank Brian for giving me insights I never would have considered.
What I didn’t know, and realized as we sat at the coffee shop to chat about publishing and his works, was that I was being interviewed as well. The first part of this conversation will seem like he was interviewing me, and I think he was.
That said, I enjoyed our conversation, and think you will too.
Brian Hades: So what do you want to do?
Joshua Pantalleresco: An interview. We can talk about your company and stuff, and whatever comes to mind.
BH: That’s cool. What have you been up to?
JP: I just published my comic book Paradigm. I got my first book deal with The Watcher.
JP: Thank you. And I’m about to start my next project. The one I told you about.
BH: I remember. Do you mind if I ask you how you work?
JP: With what?
BH: Your comics and the artists you work with. Do you do full scripts with the artist?
JP: It depends on the artist and the project. When I don’t know the artist, I tend to do full scripts. With Twyla in this case, I went all out on full script for the first issue.
But if I do know somebody well and what they can do, I tend to be a little looser. Artists are creative people in their own right, and usually have a better idea of how to tell a story with pictures than I do. One artist I know worked in comics. They would get their scripts in pages of three at a time. It’s not a bad thing per se, but instead of getting them in order, he’d get something like say four, five and six one day. The next he’d get 15,16,17.
BH: So basically he couldn’t contribute because he has no clear idea of the story.
JP: Exactly. I may have an idea of where I want it to go, but I think it would be foolish. Artists are better with pictures than I am. I just write stuff you know?
BH: You should put that on a business card.
JP: I just write stuff? *laughs* That would be awesome. I will.
JP: To finish my point, I kind of see any project I work with people at as a collaboration. Everyone has ideas and brings something to the table. Artists in general usually bring something to the table I can’t, and it’s usually better than anything I can come up with.
BH: You have figured out how to get people involved in your work. A lot of people never quite understand that. So tell me, what do you want?
JP: Creatively speaking?
JP: I want to just write man. But you know as much as I do it doesn’t work out that way. You have this idea, and then next thing you know you are hiring cover artists for your work, and then you are contacting printers. I’ve gotten more of an education on how to do things doing this than I ever imagined. I’m not just a writer. I’m human resources. I’m management. I couldn’t do this for a living.
JP: Let me rephrase that. I got no problem managing my own stuff. It’s me you know? I just couldn’t do it for someone else. I’ve seen how management is treated in companies. A lot of them are in the position they are for one of two reasons. They either are incompetent and that is putting them somewhere where they can’t hurt many people.
Or, they are fantastic at their job and they are stuck where they are at. I couldn’t take it.
BH: Management ultimately is a path to being unqualified. Most people rise up the ranks as long as they are equipped to do the tasks in front of them. Once they get to a point where they cannot do anything anymore they are stuck. You get to the point where you can’t move any farther up because you have hit the limit of what you’re qualified to do.
JP: Exactly. It’s different when it’s yours. But I couldn’t do that for someone else.
BH: Where do you see yourself with writing?
JP: I kind of see myself straddling the line between working for publishers and myself for the next little bit. Eventually I see myself going completely on my own.
I kind of see publishing as kind of like a club. With all of the mergers and all of the shrinking of the industry, writers are only going to get into that group when they are invited. That list will grow smaller and smaller as the years pass by.
BH: You would be right on that.
JP: I feel like publishers missed the boat on Amazon years ago. When they were coming into the scene, I think they should have made steps back then to do it.
BH: Can I speak from the other side of the coin? A lot of them would tell you that they couldn’t. You can. You’re independent, you’re spry. You can keep up with the trends and can move with them. The big five publishing houses are like large ships on the ocean going a certain way. Turning them from their course into some kind of new venture is very slow going. It takes steam and time to turn the ship into the new direction and catch up with everyone else. Once they catch up though they just overwhelm you with their size.
JP: But this time, they are losing, aren’t they?
BH: You can kind of see the chunks of the sails being hit bit by bit as Amazon takes the market share?
JP: Exactly. The only thing about Amazon that scares me is that they could become the Wal-mart of publishing. I’m not sure anyone wants that.
BH: Did you hear the news today about them?
JP: No I haven’t. What’s going on?
BH: France passed an Anti-Amazon law today. [author’s note: check out link here: http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/06/27/france-passes-anti-amazon-law-bans-offering-discounts-free-shipping/#.U7JxALGTsrw%5D France pretty much stopped Amazon from being able to do business like they’ve been doing with that law.
BH: It’s a pretty damaging blow for any company when a country doesn’t want to do business with you and does things like this.
JP: Absolutely. I think we’re actually ready to get to the interview now.
BH: Oh good! Questions!
BH: I have a sage personality. I tend to want to impart wisdom, and help people achieve what they set out for.
JP: Is it just creative people, or people in general?
BH: Everyone. I believe people should aspire to be the best they can be. Hopefully they are passionate with something.
JP: Why did you call your publishing house Edge?
BH: After many months of looking at all types of names, it came to me in a dream. My partner at the time and I justified the dream in the sense that we would want to publish books on the edge.
JP: That is awesome! What was your dream about if I may ask?
BH: I don’t remember.
BH: Yeah. You’d think that something like this the dream would be vivid, but it’s not.
JP: Never would have thought that. Okay then, at Edge, with the work you have done, what’s your favorite stuff?
BH: Hmm…tough one. I’m very proud to have continued the Tesseracts series. Tessaracts is a collection of canada’s best submitted work we receive. I made it a personal mission to produce the book yearly. It’s the best of the new stuff. We have not missed a year.
JP: Who are your favorite people to work with?
BH: The reality is that every relationship that I have developed with – not just writers, but artists and the production staff, and everyone that works on these books each have created unique relationships with each one of them.
I had great, fun experiences with Rebecca Rowe for example. She was an absolute joy to work with. I’ve also had really frustrating experiences with certain writers that did not want to be edited, but found a road that we could go down with together. Each book, each relationship brings its own joys and challenges. It’s part of the fun.
JP: I can see that. What are your next books coming up?
BH: We’re doing an anthology on expiry which is called Expiration date and is edited by Nancy Kilpatrick. Because everything has an expiration. Things, people, events, all things come to an end.
JP: Wow. That’s a neat idea. I just got a great story idea on this.
BH: Submissions are unfortunately closed.
JP: That’s too bad.
BH: You can try to submit to Tesseracts though.
JP: I just might.
BH: We’re also doing an anthology project based on Professor Challenger. That anthology will be coming out in the spring. The next Tesseracts will be coming out in the spring as well.
JP: Where does your love of writing come from?
BH: I used to write puppet shows back in the sixth grade. I wrote them and made puppets and performed them as a kid.
JP: That is just amazing. Animatronics and everything?
BH: Oh yeah! Love the stuff! Loved building them and putting them together.
JP: Were you a Jim Henson fan by any chance?
BH: I was just a mechanical nerd period. I used to build mechanical rockets when I was a kid as well. We’d build them in our back yards and launch them into the air, kind of going into our own frontiers
JP: There’s a science fiction connection there, I think.
BH: A little bit, yeah. I’m always on the road doing local shows and the big cons in Canada. We’re doing a reading series this fall. We’re inviting authors to read their own stuff while a scientist is there piecing the value of science fiction and science together.
JP: Sounds cool. I’m going to ask you two more questions. One of them I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times. The other, is a twist on it.
JP: What do you look for?
BH: I do get that one all the time. What I look for is your ability to tell a good story. If you can’t, I will read no more than 4 pages, whether it’s a novel or short story. No matter how cool the idea may be, if you can’t tell a story, I can’t sell it.
JP: Fair enough. Where do you see publishing going in a few years?
BH: There’s a lot of different ways I could answer this, but I’m going to come at this from a business stand point. A lot of people think of this as a print and digital question. To me, print and digital doesn’t really matter. Content is content, and whether it’s in print or it’s on a kobo, writers are still peddling their works out in the open market. It’s the same thing in a lot of ways. Right now, print is what we focus on primarily because print is the primary focus. If it changes, so will we.
But from a business standpoint, publishing as a business is going to morph into publishing as a consulting. Knowledge that I have and others have will be used to help guide writers into the maker, so that they know who to go to and try not to make some of the mistakes that we did.
We’re still going to be guiding talent. I think though that it’s going to become more and more independent just like we discussed earlier. The knowledge will still be valuable.
JP: Anything else you want to add?
BH: Our website is finally being overhauled. We’re finally getting to be mobile! Our website will be phone friendly as of August 1st.
Reading this again for the website, I feel like I learned a few other things as well. I want to thank Brian for his time. Expiration Date is coming out this fall and is edited by Nancy Kilpatrick. Edge’s website is going mobile as of August First. Check it out at http://www.edgewebsite.com for updates. Edge Publishing also has a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ EDGEfbpage. You can follow Edge on twitter @EDGEpublishing. I want to thank Brian for the time and the opportunity. Hopefully this will not be the last time I interview him here.