It’s November and the holiday season is upon us. I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for a few extra days off, some yummy holiday food (it won’t be very Keto :D), and all the decorations. I just love the ambiance of this time of year, and a few little things we do around the house make it festive. If only it were like that every day…but then, it would no longer be special. Always a catch. SMH.
Nothing much to report here. I am making a little headway on writing, but my to-do list of home projects to try to complete before the holidays keeps calling me. I know, I know, I should sit and write. But in my defense, we haven’t done much around the house in years and now we’ve gotten the bug. Just like writing though, I’m going to ride the inspiration until it dies, or the list ends…or summer returns here in Florida. So, I figure I have about two weeks to get it done before it gets hot again.
In more exciting news, it’s the time for giving and in that spirit, I am happy to say that I will have a couple of giveaways going on starting this month with a free e-book from our guest, the multi-talented Andi Marquette. (Link to enter the giveaway is at the end of interview). Stay tuned for more from me and my guests.
With “giving” in mind, please remember to spread the love this season by donating food, clothing, money, or time to those in need, especially with the many natural disasters we’ve had this year. There are so many great charities that could benefit, local or otherwise. I’m a big supporter of our local food bank, no-kill animal shelters, and police/military toy drives in my surrounding communities. Also, it has been my tradition to donate 25% of my November & December book royalties to charities and this year it will be split three ways between The Fluffball Foundation, Scleroderma Research Foundation, and GLAAD.
Alrighty then, on to our guest. Andi Marquette is a writer, publisher, fangirl, podcaster, former DJ, and admitted road trip junkie. She’s penned thrillers and romances, tackled fandom issues about Clexa and Wynonna Earp in blogs and the LEZ GEEK OUT! podcast, and oh yeah, she’s a co-founder of Dirt Road Books and the Women and Words website. With so many things on her plate, I have to wonder how she juggles it all, and more importantly, is there anything she won’t do? Let’s find out!
**And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end!
Hello, Andi! Thanks for joining us this month on the Meet & Greet.
Hi! Thanks for having me!
Let’s jump right in. You are active in a ton of things: Podcasts, publishing, writing, fandoms, websites…probably more than I even mentioned. First, how do you have time for that? And also, do you have a favorite?
First, if I didn’t think I had the time, I wouldn’t do it. I learned how to say “no” years ago when I figured out my limits. But yes, I do get a little outta control on occasion and take on a little too much and when that happens, I power through the extra stuff I take on, re-evaluate, and cut back. And the things I do are things I enjoy, for the most part, or attached to things I enjoy. Plus, I love learning and engaging in projects.
Second, I like everything I do, for the most part, though at different times and when I’m in different moods and when there are certain deadlines approaching…that might make me like something less for a little bit, but once the project’s done or the deadline is met or whatever, then it’s something I like more again. I’m easy like that. WOOO!
What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
I don’t do guilt in this regard. Pleasure should be pleasurable, after all, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of others. I love having some down-time and when I do, I lock myself in my house, draw all the blinds, and binge-watch something on TV. Or watch a movie. I love that. Other stuff I do for down-time is hanging out with friends, taking a drive (I LOVE road trips), and exploring.
I highly recommend people unplug from their devices for a couple hours a day and get to know the world around them again.
Beer, wine, or liquor? And what would be your go-to drink?
Yes. Heh. In moderation.
My go-to non-alcoholic drink(s) include: sparkling water (I freaking love sparkling water); coffee and tea (decaf; I stopped most caffeine a few years ago), and water. Though I am on kind of a kombucha kick lately. Hmm.
Alcoholic beverages: I’m a whiskey woman, but I also enjoy beer and wine, and the types vary in accordance with my mood and the season. I love porters and stouts (very dark beer, for those not in the know), but also brown ales. In hotter weather, I prefer lighter beer—pilsners and lagers. Same with wine. Hot weather means lighter white wines, cooler means reds.
Which of your books did you enjoy writing most? Why?
Every book has its joys and its pitfalls and I loved working on all of the ones I have written. Some frustrated the hell out of me, but I learned a lot from them (From the Boots Up and From the Hat Down, e.g.) while others were pure unadulterated “where the hell can I take this” fun, like The Bureau of Holiday Affairs, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and If Looks Could Kill. I also love my sci fi books, which were hella fun to write and even fun to re-write, as I’m re-issuing them. My mystery series is next for re-issue, and those take the most work because they involve a lot of research since they deal with police procedure and solving mysteries.
For complete abandon, I write and post fanfic, which gives me lots of room to explore things like characterization, subplotting, dialogue, narrative arcs, and other mechanics of writing without any pressure. I really like that.
What spurred the idea of Dirt Road Books?
I worked in publishing for about 15 years as an editor in a variety of editorial capacities, including as a managing editor, which means I was responsible for shepherding every single book published each year through the editing and production process. At that time, the publishing house was putting out about 90 books a year.
I absolutely love editing and publishing. I love all the things that go into a book, and watching as it evolves into a finished product. I’ve always wanted to do my own publishing thing for a long-ass time, but I had other things to do and the timing wasn’t right. About 12 years ago I met Jove Belle and R.G. Emanuelle and we’ve all been tight as friends and colleagues. Jove and I started talking about doing a publishing thing probably about 7 years ago and the idea stuck with us. I kicked it around with R.G., too, but, again, life intervened and we all had things to do. Until finally, it seemed time to just freakin’ do it, so the three of us started really brainstorming.
Jove and I settled on Dirt Road Books as the name because both of us grew up in the American West on dirt roads. Literally. The only way to get to our houses was down dirt roads, and both of us love the sense of identity that provides us, but also the sense of adventure inherent in following a road less traveled, to borrow a rather famous line. R.G. had also worked in publishing for years as an editor and book designer, so we pooled our skills and then brought in Gill McKnight, Michelle Teichman, and Blythe Rippon and the six of us formed DRB on a collective model, meaning that we all equally own the company and collaborate closely. It’s an old model—earlier feminist presses were set up in similar ways, but it’s also new in that it’s not all that common anymore.
So we’re kind of retro but also forward-looking. We hope. Heh.
What genres/authors do you enjoy reading?
I read across genres and I also read a lot of nonfiction. And I’m a huge spec fic geek, so I read a lot of spec fic. At the moment, I’m also into urban fantasy, so think Lilith Saintcrow, Faith Hunter, and Jennifer Estep. Like that. I also just read a brilliant YA take on the Civil War in which that marked a zombie apocalypse and the survivors basically replicated the caste and race systems of the Antebellum South, in which black people were basically the zombie fighters at the beck and call of rich white people. It’s called Dread Nation by Justina Ireland and I recommend the hell out of that.
And oh, my God, Rebecca Roanhorse recently published the first in her Sixth World series—Trail of Lightning—and it’s a post-apocalyptic/dystopic/paranormal take on the American Southwest after a massive flood caused by climate change largely wipes out most of the population, but the Navajo Nation survived. It’s a brilliant inter-weaving of Navajo (Dinétah) culture and history, a strong female lead who has a job to do, and post-apocalyptic struggles. Roanhorse just won a Hugo for one of her short stories, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience(TM).”
I’m also reading science fiction (space opera mostly) like Kameron Hurley’s work—The Stars are Legion is mind-bending and mind-blowing in its characterization and world-building. I’m currently loving Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series—again, amazing characterization and world-building. And please, for the love of all that is holy, read N.K. Jemison, who just won another Hugo.
Basically, I like strong female protagonists, worlds populated with all kinds of different characters, and strong world-building.
In terms of nonfiction, I read a shit-ton of current events analysis, travel memoirs, history, and academic stuff because I remain an academic though I’m no longer working in academia. So I like analyses from many different perspectives and to that end, if anyone’s interested, I highly recommend the feminist mag Bitch, which deals with a feminist response to mainstream media and popular culture. I’ve learned an assload from reading it, and it always challenges my mindset and forces me to think outside my boxes.
Probably more than people wanted to know. LOL
Any tips for writers seeking publishers?
Do your homework.
That is, research a publisher before you send anything in. Make sure that house publishes what you write. Don’t send your space opera to a house that focuses on contemporary romance, for example. Check out their authors. Who are they publishing? Have the authors been there a while? What are you hearing? Also, do you see evidence of that house’s marketing? Are they posting regularly on social media? What about their website? Are they going to conferences and conventions? You want an engaged publisher. This is a partnership, after all, and hopefully a long-term fruitful relationship.
And make sure you read the submission guidelines and FOLLOW THEM EXACTLY. Publishers don’t have the time to figure out the formatting or whatever else on your manuscript if it’s not to their specifications, so please do yourself a favor and follow the instructions. Each house is different, so make sure you tailor your submission to what the house wants. Because if you don’t, then that sends a message that you’re not a professional and you might be difficult to work with because you can’t follow instructions.
And remember, courtesy and manners. BE PROFESSIONAL. I guarantee, people appreciate it and they’ll remember you for it.
What’s your all-time fav fandom, and what drew you in?
See, I don’t have one favorite. I have many that I enjoy. I love the goofy kindness and activism of the Earper (Wynonna Earp) fandom; the dedicated activism and humor of the Clexa (Clarke and Lexa from The 100) fandom; the vast universe of the Star Wars fandom; the power of the Black Panther fandom; and the absolute funhogs of the Legends of Tomorrow fandom. And so many others. Carmilla and Buffy come to mind. Lost Girl. Killjoys (LOVE Killjoys). OH, and Black Lightning.
A lot of times I’m not really deeply engaged with the fandom, but I follow the shows and watch on the periphery of the fandoms. I am pretty deeply engaged with the Clexa fandom, and I write Clexa fanfic, so that’s the one that takes up most of my fantime, if you will. I love it because of the Clexa ship—two strong queer female characters who were leaders of their respective groups of people. I love the mutual respect they had for each other, and how that led them to love. And I absolutely detest what the showrunner did to that ship, and to the Lexa character, who was truly one of the most inspirational and visionary characters I’ve ever seen in all my years of fangirling and geeking. And she was a woman-loving-woman, which was SO inspiring to younger queer fans. I will never forgive what that show did to her, or the harm it caused to so many young people who revered and admired that character and the relationship she had with Clarke.
I discovered Wynonna Earp soon after the TV-scripted death of Lexa (a lot of Clexa fans ended up in that fandom, too) and I love that fandom for its support of each other and the cast, and how it’s basically been the fandom that has gotten WE subsequent seasons. It’s a fabulous fandom, and I highly recommend the show for its characters and writing. It’s paranormal, in case you’re not familiar.
Is there a form of media you haven’t tackled yet that you’d like to take a shot at?
Because I don’t have enough to do? LOLOLOLOL
I would LOVE to write scripts for TV and movies. Who knows? It could happen…
Advice to anyone wanting to start a publishing house?
This is a long-ass instruction manual and there’s just not enough room here to talk about it. I mean, the six of us took over a year to incorporate, with all the appropriate documentation and accounting things. It takes time and money—you can’t launch without a cushion—and you have to consider who’s going to be doing all the work with regard to editing, design, typesetting, creating ebooks. We’re doing everything in-house right now because we have the skills, and we need to build up a backlist and a larger financial cushion to free us up to hire outside contractors like editors and proofreaders.
So you need to think about what exactly you’re looking to accomplish, why you want to open a publishing house, and what kind of capital you have. Because you’re launching a business, and a business requires constant vigilance. Think about if that’s really what you want or if maybe self-publishing as an indie or hybrid is the way to go for you.
Basically, don’t think it’s easy-peasy to get off the ground. Plan. And make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Podcasts seem like a ton of fun. What’s been the best part of doing them?
I worked in radio for years, so I just really love doing something that’s like that. I love audio media. And I like who I podcast with, and I can explore topics and things with them and also just go off on tangents now and again. It feeds my theater side.
The same. Writing, publishing, editing, podcasting, going to conventions and conferences, and giving back. And if I win the lottery, in which case I’m going to do tons of philanthropy.
Any fun facts you care to share about yourself?
I worked as an archaeologist for while.
I was trained throughout my childhood on piano and I taught myself how to play drums—music is thus REALLY important to me.
I DJ’ed on the radio and also at a queer lady bar back in the day.
I grew up on a farm in the rural West.
I once spent a week living on a beach in a 20-dollar tent on the island of Lesvos (there’s a weird country song in there, I’m sure).
I accidentally ended up in the middle of a brawl while walking across the border from Tijuana back to San Diego. Managed to get out unscathed. LOL
I’ve been to 47 U.S. states; hoping to get those last 3 in.
And friends, remember that life is stories. Make sure you tell yours.
Very wise words. Thanks so much for sharing, Andi. All the best in your plethora of endeavors.
Thanks for the opportunity to hang out in the hot seat!
WANT A CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF ANDI’S BOOKS? ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE
CONNECT WITH ANDI:
Women and Words (she’s a co-admin and co-founder)
Andi Marquette is a founder and publisher at Dirt Road Books, an editor, and award-winning author whose novels include Friends in High Places, The Secret of Sleepy Hollow, The Bureau of Holiday Affairs, and If Looks Could Kill. She is also the co-editor of the anthologies Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance and Erotica and All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, which was a Lambda finalist. When she’s not writing, she’s co-running the popular Women and Words blog site, podcasting, and fangirling. Find her at andimarquette.com, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thank you for reading. Come back next month for more giveaways and the final Q&A of the year with Andi’s LezGeekOut cohort, author Lise MacTague.
Until then, all the best,