An Australian author living in Norway

Tag: Tenebris Books

Who is Selina Carr?

Amidst the flurry of activity that is NaNoWriMo, I am taking a moment to talk about the other project that has been keeping me busy in the last couple of months, and to introduce you to a writer friend of mine by the name of Selina Carr. Hi! She’s me. I’m her. And we’ve written a fairytale that is about to be published in a stunning hardback book at the end of November by Tenebris Books (if you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know about my connection there). Willow, Weep No More is a book of traditionally-inspired fairytales and fables that aim to capture the magic of classic fairytales while exploring the themes of inner beauty, wisdom and strength.

Yesterday was the cover reveal, and as you can see, it’s a thing of beauty. As is the rest of the book—believe me, I’ve read it many times already, given that I am the editor. But why would I credit some non-existent person with writing the story I contributed? There are lots of reasons writers adopt a nom de plume, but my reasons were two-fold:

  1. I have some ideas floating around in my (very full) brain, and some of them are for readers much younger than those I currently write for under my own name. The Eidolon Cycle contains a lot of death, some fairly horrific violence, and as such I would never recommend it for anyone under the age of fifteen or sixteen. So, if I later wrote something intended for ten year olds, and a ten year old loved it and went looking online for something else Zoë Harris had written, he or she would find titles intended for a much older reader. If I ever do write something for younger readers, I will do it under the name “Selina Carr”, and the story in Willow, Weep No More under that name would be fine for someone of that age to read.
  2. The second reason is ego. No, not to promote it, to deemphasize it. This book is very important to me, and I want it to be viewed by potential readers for what it is, and that is not a platform for me to publish my own work. I was torn about whether to contribute anything at all for exactly this reason, but I love fairytales so much I just couldn’t not write something for it. So, while it is a great thing to put my name to something I’m incredibly proud of, I didn’t want to do it at the expense of the other authors and illustrators who have contributed so much wonderful work. It is my imprint’s first publication, and I want it to be taken seriously, and judged on the merit of its contents. It can’t be “The Zoë Book and other stories”.

So, if I don’t want to confuse my readers, and I’m not about ego, why am I telling everyone who reads my blog? For starters, anyone who knows me personally will crack my code in seconds (Selina is my middle name, and Carr is my partner’s surname). But really, it’s not a secret meant to be kept under lock and key. It’s a branding distinction in the first instance, and an exercise in humility in the second. I truly do want my friends, family, and anyone who is interested in what I do to know about this book, not only because I want to hear their thoughts on my own contribution, but because I want them to read the other stories in the book—stories that are beautiful, poignant, enchanting and full of all the wonder one would expect from a classic fairytale anthology.

Playing both sides

I read a great post on Rachelle Gardner’s blog by Aimee L. Salter about indie authors versus the traditionally published. Actually it is essentially about writers versus other writers, but it got me thinking.

Recently, two big things happened for me in the publishing industry: the first, as you may know, was that I signed with an agent who has just sent my first book out to publishers for consideration. The second is that I started up an indie publishing imprint, called Tenebris Books, under Holland House Books.

Aimee’s post reminded me of something I’ve thought about a few times since these events occurred – I’m playing both sides of the fence. Although I agree with Aimee in that I don’t think there should be such a divide between indie published-authors and traditionally published authors, I wonder whether those who see the divide as an Us vs Them situation would think my decision to start this imprint is somewhat hypocritical. After all, the authors I hope to publish would be on the opposite side of the writing fence to me, as I currently seek a legacy publisher for my own work.

However, I don’t think any author who seeks or has a traditional publishing contract has any right to put themselves above an indie published author. The choice to go independent is no longer a sign of a writer who has given up and is now slumming it. There are many legitimate reasons why someone might go independent, not least because they hope to make a career and a living out of writing, and independent royalties are often much higher than traditional ones. It might also be for for more individual attention from their editor, or for more say in content, cover art, marketing strategy or any number of decisions often taken out of the writer’s hands by a legacy publisher. And it’s a mistake to assume that independent publishers take on any old manuscript thrown their way; I know of books which have been rejected by independent publishers only to go on to success with agents and traditional publishers.

For my own part, what I am looking for with my imprint is something that may not find a home with a mainstream publishing house, and I may have the opportunity to give a home to books that might not find a place anywhere else. That doesn’t mean I’m planning to fill my catalogue with rejects, it means I’m seeking something that is not so much outside the box, but more that it has little bits of paper in many different boxes. I researched long and hard to see if I could find a name for what I’m looking for, and the closest thing I found was Weird Fiction, which hasn’t existed as an acknowledged literary genre since early last century. And why do I want this? Because I want to read it, and know others who do, too. All those people who watch and love films like Pan’s Labyrinth, Coraline, The Others, The Orphanage and love classic folk and fairy tales, they read books too, they just might not know where to find them. I want to help.

On the other side of the literary fence, which is simply a different shade of green, I’m hoping to land a publishing contract that will send my book(s) on a journey around the world. I’m starting out in the US, but Amaranth is actually not set in any specific country; the entire Eidolon Cycle is set in the fictitious city of Lennox, which could be anywhere that has big cities, a coastline, and where it snows in winter. I wanted to write something that any reader could feel close to, like it might be happening right where they live, or somewhere they once visited. Like Springfield on The Simpsons, only on an international scale. Part of why I wanted a traditional publisher is the international reach; they can get my book into hands that might not have found it without them. I won’t pretend there isn’t a little bit of validation involved, if I’m honest, but really the best and most important validation comes when people are reading and enjoying what you’ve written, no matter who got the book from writer to shelf.

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