Mud Luscious Press “publishes raw & aggressive works by writers unafraid to destroy & re-suture words.” Founding Editor J.A. Tyler answered questions for Danielle of Side B Magazine about running a small press, finding new voices in writing, and the importance of independent presses.
Tell me a little bit about the history of Mud Luscious Press
Mud Luscious Press began as an online quarterly in the summer of 2007, expanded into a handmade chapbook series in 2008, began its novel(la) series in 2010, conceived the Nephew imprint series in 2011, and picked up Blue Square Press as a new imprint in 2012.
Mud Luscious has a very eclectic list of print books: what makes a manuscript good enough for publication?
We seek those books that reside between poetry and fiction. We want a through-line, a narrative that carries us through a book, but we also loathe exposition and traditional forms, and would prefer that our books explore their narratives in poetic ways.
Why have two imprints, Nephew and Blue Square Press?
The Nephew imprint series began because we were receiving all of these wonderful manuscripts that were beautiful and even more challenging than our novel(la)s, but were smaller, too small for full-length consideration; but we loved them way too much to let them go, so we birthed this imprint series.
Blue Square Press was already an established press in our literary community but we found ourselves producing the same type of work, for an audience that overlapped, and so the good folks at BSP asked if we wanted to expand our family umbrella to include them, and we couldn’t pass up the offer, and now, Blue Square Press gives us a side that is even more aggressive in its language, brutal in a way that we adore.
Many Mud Luscious books are novellas or collections from the chapbook series: why do you think these often-overlooked writing forms are important?
Typically we stay away from poetry and fiction collections, but our chapbook anthology First Year is important to us because we made 43 separate chapbook titles in limited editions over the span of our first year, but we still wanted folks to be able to read all of this amazing work, so anthologizing them was a natural step in our catalog.
As for the novel(la) series, we tried to sum it up nicely over Dan Wickett’s [Emerging Writers Network] in celebration of novella month by saying this:
As a publisher of novel(la)s, we are in love with the form. And here is a short definition of the field as we see it, as well as a fun misconception we’d love to address: Since our start, Mud Luscious Press has called a ‘novella’, a ‘novel(la)’, and most wrongly assume that those parentheses are an attempt to highlight the ‘la’ as a reference to the poetry, the ‘song’ of the works we publish. And while this is a nice, if wholly unintended consequence of those parentheses, they are in fact meant to highlight the word ‘novel’ embedded within novella, a reminder that well-written novellas are novels in all sense of the word: they have fully formed narratives, engaging characters, subtle and strong motifs, and all the other wonderful magic of a good book; and for us, the extra special beauty of a good novel(la) is that it does all of these things but in a more finite space, forcing the text to live, in our opinion, a tad more vividly, with a somewhat greater punch to the readerly throat.
Why do you think small presses are important for the publishing industry? For writers?
Indie presses are important, in our humble view, because they challenge the perceptions of the standard publishing industry by accepting more aggressive and less readily identifiable / categorizable works and by presenting them in a way (and with a passion) that is sometimes not tenderly emphasized at the major houses. And for writers, the importance is paramount, because it gives them a wide audience, quality production, and solid editing without having to have written a book that will sell a million copies. And maybe in the end, it is best put like this: if indie presses died, books and reading and writing would not die with them, but there would certainly be less color and brilliance in our literary scene.
What has been the best (and most difficult) part of being editor of a small press?
The most difficult part for me is balance, how to keep up with one’s own writing alongside current editing projects alongside acquiring new work alongside looking forward. We balance, eventually, but it grows tentative some days.
Would you say there is a “typical” reader of Mud Luscious titles?
The typical reader of MLP is someone who isn’t afraid of language, someone who wants to be challenged by it, someone who longs for a bruising story told poetically, or a poetic series that advances a narrative. Our reader is not yet the typical reader, but we are evolving them with us.
How do you predict the publishing landscape will change in the next five to ten years?
I have, in all honesty, no idea. E-books are important and will continue onward into new realms. And this will probably cause an even greater backlash from printed books than it already has, and so presses may come up with even better printing solutions and presentation methods. Or the world will end, and books won’t mean shit. Who knows, right?
You can purchase Mud Luscious titles here.