Sarah Davis-Goff, co-founder of Tramp Press, will be participating on one of our panels as part of our Meet The Publishers and Agents event on Sunday, 16 November. Here we discussed her experiences in the publishing industry and the ambitious future of Tramp Press.
Q: Having worked in New York, London and Dublin with various publishing companies, including Penguin and The Lilliput Press, you’ve considerable experience in the industry, so has co-founding Tramp Press been what you expected it to be?
Happily, my experiences in setting up Tramp Press with my business partner, Lisa Coen, have been really the best-case scenario of what I was expecting. Apart from the fact that we love what we do, working with Lisa is always inspiring, and we have a lot of fun. We were also really lucky in that Donal Ryan starting becoming a big name just as we were launching, and we got lots of interest just because of that. Our team – our publicist, Peter O’Connell, our designers, our typesetter – are wonderfully talented. So much depended on how other people in the Arts receive us and thank goodness we’ve had nothing but encouragement and support which has really meant a lot. The biggest risk I think was the assumption we made when we were setting up as a publisher that the talent would be out there, and, happily, it really is. The country is awash with literary talent.
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As one of Ireland’s most successful and vibrant annual book festivals, we are once again seeking volunteers to help us showcase and support Irish Publishers, authors, and editors, during the different events across our programme.
If you are interested in volunteering with the festival in 2014, please download and complete the DBF14 Volunteer Form here and return to email@example.com.
We look forward to meeting everyone in November!
For the second interview in our Publisher Interview Series we talk to Mary Feehan, MD of Mercier Press, Ireland’s oldest independent publishing house.
Q: As a publishing house, 2014 marks your 70th anniversary: as well as being a remarkable achievement, this offers you a unique insight into the publishing industry within Ireland. What changes have you noticed during that time? What changes would you like to see in the future?
There have been huge changes in production methods from metal typesetting which is how we set all of our books when I first began to work at Mercier. Printing was a highly skilled craft and typesetters had to learn that craft through a long apprenticeship. Now people can publish their own books online with the press of a button. It’s wonderful that the market has opened up so much but it was sad to see such a craft disappear. There are also many more bookshops and publishers in Ireland now which contributes to a diverse and interesting publishing industry. Thankfully the Irish love to read Irish books so we continue to have a wide audience.
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In the first of our Publisher Interview Series, we talk to the founding Editor of The Stinging Fly Press, Declan Meade.
Q: As a publisher, The Stinging Fly Press has been around for just under a decade now, achieving great success with the likes of Kevin Barry, Mary Costello, and most recently Colin Barrett: what changes have you noticed in the publishing industry in Ireland during that time? What changes would you like to see in the future?
I think publishing is a lot more lively here now than it was ten years ago and this is on account of new publishers arriving on the scene and also, in some cases, new people coming on board at the existing houses. There are now more publishers producing not just more books but a wider range of books. That has to be good for writers and for readers.
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This year, in the run-up to Dublin Book Festival 2014, we will be conducting a number of interviews with various authors and publishers, with the aim of giving a better understanding into the workings of the publishing industry in Ireland.
To start with, we will be talking to different Irish Publishers over the next few weeks, showcasing their ethos as a press and asking for their insights into the current climate of Irish publishing and also what advice they would offer to budding authors.
The first of these interviews will be online at the end of next week.
Whenever a critic writes about the short-story form, they seem to always begin by saying, “There’s a dearth of critical study on short stories.” And if we’re comparing them to novels—which always seems to be the case—perhaps it’s true. But if you look hard enough, there’s actually a hell of a lot written about the short-story form. Granted, it’s mostly precious stuff about it being a “higher” Art than the Novel, and then some deathly-dull thing about short stories being connected with the “oral tradition”—but it’s not a critically-neglected form. It’s just a form in need of new critical ideas.
As a reader and writer, I see myself primarily as a short-story person. I become very quiet when I’m amongst a group of people talking about novels and novelists. For a long time, I thought it was testament to something lacking in me—that I surely couldn’t be interested enough in books if I hadn’t read seventy-eight John Updike novels. And the feeling remained for a long time: how could I even begin the journey to identify as a writer if I didn’t read all these books that other people were telling me were so great?
But I’ve had my counselling sessions and I’ve arrived at a belief that feels both banal and true: sometimes we need short stories and sometimes we need novels. Frank O’Connor, in The Lonely Voice (sigh; another reference to that bloody book), speaks of people reading novels to assuage loneliness. In contrast, he says, people come to short stories to confront their loneliness. (A typical O’Connor dichotomy: sensible-sounding at first, but increasingly—and fruitfully—problematic on reflection.) He then goes on to talk specifically about what short stories do and, in trying to characterize their essential activity, he quotes Pascal—“the eternal silence of those infinite spaces frighten me”. It’s a knotty quotation, and one I’ve struggled to understand for a long time.
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