All Lit Up's Summer Book Club continues this month with another brand new read! Throughout August, we're taking on Ursula Pflug's otherworldly collection Seeds and Other Stories. To kick things off, we chatted with Inanna Publications Editor-in-Chief, Luciana Ricciutelli, for more about how the press helped bring the collection to life.
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We read, we chatted, we adored our July Book Club reading of Shani Mootoo's
Polar Vortex (if you missed it,
catch up here!). But just as quickly as it arrived, July now comes to a sweltering end and we're welcoming August with open arms as we begin our second summer read:
Seeds and Other Stories by Ursula Pflug.
Seers, vagabonds, addicts and gardeners swirl throughout the pages of these stories, set against backdrops that blur the lines between real and dream. This collection is one that demands to be read when the world as we know it ceases to make sense. These stories offer up portals to strange new worlds that blossom like an unknown species of flower in the palm of your hand, waiting for you to inhale their magic.
Below, we chat with Inanna Publications Editor-in-Chief Luciana Ricciutelli, who shares more about what sparked her interest in Pflug's work, the editing process, and the surprisingly prescient nature of these stories in these dark times.
All Lit Up: You’ve published Ursula Pflug’s novels before, but this is her first short story collection with Inanna. What first drew you to her work?
Luciana Ricciutelli: I personally love dystopian / speculative / slipstream fiction, so that is what drew me to Ursula’s work...then, once I started to read her work, I fell in love with it! Ursula is a very talented and superbly skilled writer; she is a pleasure to work with.
ALU:How was the editorial process different for Pflug’s short story collection as opposed to her novels? How did you consider which stories to include in Seeds? What about design — how did you select a cover for the book?
LR: Editing a short story collection, a novel, or novella, is not that different really when you are focusing on the text and the line edits in particular. In this particular case, because a number of the stories had been previously published, they had been edited several times over and some of them were pretty perfect when they landed in my hands (always a gift!). What is different about working with a collection of short fiction, however, is the determining the way in which the stories work together and finding the threads that connect them as you craft a table of contents...that does require some thinking and imagining and intuition too!
As for the cover of the book, we have an absolutely amazing cover designer, Val Fullard, who seems to know right from the moment she reads the synopsis i send her, the ideas that Ursula shared with her, and then her perusal of the manuscript, exactly what will work as the perfect cover! The cover for this book was developed organically and seamlessly and we were all happy with it.
All Lit Up: Did anything surprising happen on the way to publication? Any anecdotes you would like to share?
LR: I suppose the most surprising thing to happen on the way to publication is the global COVID-19 pandemic. I had arrived in Mexico for a brief vacation in early March only to be told a couple of days later that the Canadian government was ordering citizens to return to Canada from where ever they were, and that a new and particularly dangerous virus meant that Canada would be closing its borders very shortly. We had just sent Seeds to press and all i could think of were how many of the stories in the book now suddenly hit close to home...Was Ursula prescient? Was the apocalypse coming? It was a very surreal moment. And it still is!
All Lit Up: What can ALU readers look forward to in their reading of Seeds?
LR: Seeds and Other Stories is definitely timely, and sometimes terrifying. Stories here cross genres—speculative fiction, climate fiction (ecofiction), and literary fiction—and cross worlds. Readers will love the strange and unique apocalyptic universes Ursula creates, much like the seeds of new futures her characters plant and nurture throughout.
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