In House: Meet the New Presses
Over the last couple of months All Lit Up has welcomed three new publishers to our community. Read on to learn more about Mother Tongue, Pow Pow, and Stonehouse.See more details below
Over the last couple of months All Lit Up has welcomed three new publishers to our community. Read on to learn more about Mother Tongue, Pow Pow, and Stonehouse.
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Mother Tongue Publishing, based on Salt Spring Island, started as a private endeavor by Mona Fertig in 1990 but launched as a full-fledged publisher in 2008. Mona has a long history with the literary community in BC: she opened The Literary Storefront in Vancouver in 1978, the first literary center in Canada with funding from the Canada Council; as a published author and poet, Mona organized hundreds of readings and literary events in BC; she hosted a poetry show on Co-op Radio in Vancouver; and has organized and taught bookart workshops, organized writing workshops, and curated several UABC art exhibitions.
The name Mother Tongue came from a periodical Mona and her partner published from 1990-1994; (m)Öthêr Tøñgués featured prominent Canadian and International writers and work was published in the writer’s mother tongue and translated into English. Finally, after 18 years as an established private literary press and letterpress printer, they decided to take the leap into literary trade publishing.
They decided to focus on publishing beautifully designed regional books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, with an emphasis on literary excellence and BC art history. Their Unheralded Artists of BC series, which will soon launch its ninth title, is a great example of their work: beautifully designed and well-researched books, illustrating and illuminating the lives and art of previously undocumented regional artists of the 1900s-1960s.
So far they have published 25 titles, including Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry, their very first title; the 2011 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize-winning Everything Was Good-bye by Gurjinder Basran; and The Life and Art of Ina D.D. Uhthoff by Christina Johnson-Dean, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Victoria Book Prize. And their books aren’t the only things being recognized—the press was honoured as the inaugural winner of the Galiano Literary Festival Publishers Prize in 2012.
If you ever find yourself on Salt Spring Island, book lovers might enjoy visiting Mother Tongue’s Porch Gallery or even staying in their cottage, Seaview Retreat. Complete with ocean views, walking trails, and various wildlife, the press and its visitors are surrounded by nature.
Pow Pow, based in Montreal, began in 2010 as a sort-of experiment for zine-maker Luc Bosse. Prior to this time, Bosse had been self-publishing and -distributing his own work. Once he decided to try a small-scale “real” publishing operation things took off.
Starting out with the intention of just publishing his own work, along with a few by some of this friends, Bosse was realistic about his expectations for a graphic novel publisher with a focus on work by new and established Quebec comic artists: “People in Québec used to read mostly european bande dessinée and american comics. There wasn't much interest in the local production. But the situation is quickly evolving, mostly as a consequence of the mainstream success of Michel Rabagliati's Paul series.” His first books that really blew away his expectations were Zviane’s Apnee and Mile End by Michel Hellman.
Fast forward a few years, and several well-received French-language titles later, people were asking what was next. Bosse felt there were two options open to him, given the limitations of the small Quebec market: try for European distribution and/or begin translating his titles into English. He decided to start on the latter first.
With urging from the Anglophone community in Montreal and backing from a crowdfunding campaign, Pow Pow translated four titles and launched them at the Toronto Comics Art Festival last May, including For As Long As It Rains by Zviane, which won the Joe Shuster Award for Best Cartoonist in its French iteration, and Vile and Miserable by Samuel Cantin, which was a cult hit in Quebec and was translated by Samuel himself, giving readers something almost as authentic as the original version.
For Pow Pow, attending as many local zine and arts fairs as they can is very important: it is the best way for the publisher to discover new authors and creators. The publisher also recently joined the board at the Montreal Comic Arts Festival. Pow Pow, with its French and English titles, is in a somewhat unique position to help with one of the main goals of the fair: bridging the gap between the English and French comics scene in Montreal.
While Pow Pow is a one-man operation at this point, its ethos is serving a much broader purpose: according to the publisher, “Comics have been pigeonholed, they've been associated to certain specific narratives but they can really be about anything, they can express emotions as diverse as any other literary form and I think that's what Pow Pow is all about.”
More comics, we say! Keep it up Pow Pow!
Stonehouse Publishing grew out of a friendship that had blossomed over a mutual love of literature, especially the classics. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Stonehouse began in 2014 and just launched its first five titles this month, all now available on All Lit Up.
These five titles are all under their Stonehouse Originals imprint that will bring fresh, original works of fiction to readers. Many of the titles have an international and historical bent to them, such as Mary Green by Melanie Kerr and League of the Star by N.R. Cruse (which speaks to the primary passion of the co-publishers, Netta and Julie), while others are filled with action and suspense, such as Edge of Wild by D.K. Stone and Course Correction by Doug Morrison. Next season they will be launching their Classics line that builds on the international, historical themes of their Original line: bringing forgotten classics back to life. Literary gems that they’ve loved but never been able to find in a bookstore will now be available in pretty and enticing packages.
All this publishing magic happens in between raising five kids and various pets. While YouTubing rap videos and sipping tea by a wood-burning fireplace, Netta and Julie busily plan the future for Stonehouse. An important piece of that future is being a part of the vibrant literary community in Alberta. They held their first annual launch party last month, where they were able to celebrate both their press and new books.
We look forward to diving into your new books and seeing what you publish next!
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