The time has come! We are thrilled to be launching our inaugural anthology, PLAYING AUTHORS, next week!
We can't wait for you to read Robyn Ryle, tova greene, Vinnie Hansen, Amy Halloran, Devon Balwit, Jay Lesandrini, Daphne Fauber, Hank Krutulis, Elle Cee Wallace, Mary Christine Delea, Traci Cumbay, Chris Huntington, Frances Cannon, Corey Michael Dalton, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Joyce Brinkman, Flor Aguilera, and Barbara Shoup.
A new season in the Old Iron Press project has truly arrived. Thank you so much for being part of it!
Other than Playing Authors, what are you planning to read over winter?
OIP Editor, Alex Mattingly, will be pairing his copy with something that doubles as a doorstop. Welcome to...
with Alex Mattingly, OIP Editor
On the north side of our home is a hill, and in the side of this hill lives a very large groundhog. For weeks I have watched him work his way through the acorns and hickory nuts the squirrels left behind, fattening himself for the long, cold winter ahead.
I have my own hibernation rituals – wrinkled sweaters pulled out of the dresser, extra blankets draped over furniture. We learned last year that our west-facing windows don’t quite seal shut. The plastic we taped over them bulged out for months, a constant reminder that the cold wanted in.
While I have no burrow or cave, I’ve found that long novels offer a fine place for retreat. When the leaves start to change that signals it’s time to search my shelves for the thickest book I can find. In past years this has meant Dune and The Name of the Wind and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Last year it was Anna Karenina, which turned out to be just the right book. While the snow fell heavy outside, I was with Levin mowing his fields.
I’m not sure which book I’ll hide out in this winter, which is supposed to be an especially harsh one. But I have an idea where I will find it: Tomorrow Bookstore in Indianapolis.
At OIP, we love the fact that everyone has their own set of "classics" (i.e., books, songs, recipes, comics, food, objects, movies, shows, etc. that shaped you). What were some of your favorite childhood "classics"?
This is a bit strange - I read David Morrell's “First Blood” probably ten times as a kid (the novel that inspired the Rambo films). I am not sure why I had a copy of that, especially as a ten year old. I haven’t read it in years (or really anything else in the thriller/action genre), but as someone who rarely re-reads books, that one really held my imagination.
Tell us more about what inspired your venture - and what made you choose Indy/the Midwest?
When we were trying to figure out what my next step in my career looked like, we had two options: move to another city or change careers entirely. We looked at bigger cities like DC, Chicago, and LA. But we really loved our life here, and staying meant buying a house and adopting a dog and having the space to do something ourselves. While leaving would have meant sizing down, lowering our quality of life, and being even further away from family. It was a pretty easy choice when it came down to it – and it only took us walking into one bookstore last year to turn the years-long joke of opening our own store into something that wasn’t a joke at all.
I have a real soft spot for the combination of the letters v, l, and n. Violin, anvil, juvenile. There’s a softness in the sounds and they’re often used for words with villainous connotations. It enlivens me.
I love the word “arboretic” - which, you’re correct, is not a real word. But, isn’t it beautiful? It invokes nature and reminds me of the arboretum at Wabash College (which has every native Indiana tree planted in it) and is just really emotive. Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver fame) has a history of making up words in his eclectic, poetic songwriting.
Taking care of yourself as a small business owner is important. How do you take care of yourselves?:
I load up the van and take us camping! Neither of us grew up as particularly outdoorsy people, but we’ve both become more so as adults. My “car” is actually a small cargo van that does duty moving house, stocking books, and taking us camping.
The thing I’m working on currently is perspective. One of the best parts of being your own boss is that you get to decide what problems are Big Deals and what you don’t have to stress about. Coming from the corporate world where the atmosphere was stressful all the time, I’ve been working on stepping back when I get overwhelmed and reminding myself that the store is still standing and still has great books in it, even as the learning process throws us a few punches.
Snacks while you work–yes/no? If yes, what’s your go-to?
Sparkling water. Truffles from Best Chocolate. Recently cookies from Please & Thank You. Sometimes chips, but I need to start keeping chopsticks in the store so I can avoid getting grease on the books.
I’m going Chaos Magic Party. Let’s get Nesta in (A Court of Thorns and Roses), Billy Pilgrim (Slaughterhouse-Five), Stephane Breitweiser (The Art Thief), the Goddess of Death Laila Starr (The Many Deaths of Laila Starr) and, obviously, Freddie Mercury. And we’re going to do it at the beach house from Emily Henry’s Happy Place. Picnics and time at the beach with the most powerful and chaotic beings in the universe. The vibes will be untenable.
I am hosting a braai in our backyard. Barack Obama rolls in and asks for an All Day IPA -lowkey but good taste. Anthony Bourdain fires up the grill. Justin Vernon picks up the guitar. My friend Sky King starts performing spoken word poetry. Everyone I ran into that week got invited.
Do you have any “forgotten classic” book recommendations?
Howl’s Moving Castle is a book I sell to anyone who asks. Most people know the 2004 Studio Ghibli adaptation, but the 1986 book by Diana Wynne Jones is just sublime. It’s a kids book that works beautifully for adults and I will work hard to right history’s wrongs.
I first read Octavia Butler on recommendation from Black Worldschoolers. I rarely read sci-fi, and probably not enough fiction in general. “Parable of the Sower” was phenomenal and I couldn’t put it down. It was like living in “The Last of Us” and an apocalyptic climate crisis.
What advice would you give to authors who want to connect with local bookstores?
First, just stop in and say hi! We love meeting authors and hosting folks in our shop. As a store, we’re still new and finding our feet with how we engage and support authors and host events. We have a relatively small space - but we are trying to be creative and entrepreneurial with various event formats. I love when authors reach out with their own ideas, and it’s helpful when an author is able to communicate well over email. Our inbox is always open: email@example.com.
What are some things you enjoy doing off-screen? (*your very own digital disruption).
My do-nothing days are more think-nothing days. You can get lost in your head when you work with words all day, so I like to do things that take me out of that. Bouldering at North Mass Boulder is my go-to for switching my brain off and my body on.
I spend a lot of time working on our yard and garden. I am not a particularly skilled gardener, I just love being active outdoors and can easily spend a few hours in the yard. My brain fully switches off.
Any recommendations for the OIP community? What have you been enjoying lately? Or what is something you are working on currently that you would like to share?
If you’re an adult without kids: children’s picture books are works of art. They’re simultaneously poetry books and high-quality prints. They speak to the core of being a person and they cost under $20. Browse the picture book section next time you’re looking for coffee table books or works that will pick you up and hold you tight.
Sign up for our newsletter, THE GUTENBORG PROJECT, here. Issue Two appeared in September, featuring work by Barbara Shoup and Carolyn Divish! THE GP is a seasonal exploration of the OIP project, as well as a collaborative compendium. Join us on this quest to explore the craft of ongoingness. (Make sure to add us to your address book or promotions tab.)
Trivia Tuesday has returned! Our upcoming guest hosts for November are...Daphne Fauber and Hank Krutulis! On the first Tuesday of every month, we host a series of questions in our IG Stories. The first person to answer the most questions correctly has the chance to win a variety of curiously curated collectibles. Prepare for epic Playing Authors fun!
We post regularly about books we love on our Instagram and have a bookshop.org site where you can discover even more. We champion retooled classics, underdogs, and disobedient forms.
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