Today’s 7 Questions are with award winning author and publisher Debbie McGowan. We interrupt her Sunday to talk publishing, diversity, badgers and sandwiches.
1. What is involved in setting up your own publishing company? Why did you decide to do it?
A HUGE amount of time and know-how (or the ability to boss people around until they do the work for you, I guess). On a practical level: the wherewithal to produce good quality ebooks and physical books and get them out into the world. If the goal is to get rich, then knowing the market and how to sell the product is paramount.
I didn’t intend to set up a publishing company; I started by offering editing/proofreading/formatting services to indie authors on a non-capitalist basis, but some authors feel happier having someone else holding the reins, which is how I accidentally slipped into publishing.
Even now, I’ll gladly barter my skills and time rather than faff about with money exchanging hands. I’m not in it to get rich – luckily, because I’m skint.* 😉
2. What inspired you to commission the Never Too Late anthology, do you think there was a gap in the market?
One of the Beaten Track authors came up with the suggestion for Never Too Late – which is how all of our anthologies have come about (Boughs of Evergreen – Holidays, Summer Bigger Than Others – Summer Vacation, Love Unlocked – Love-Lock Bridge, Take a Chance – YA romance/taking a chance, Never Too Late – older people). That’s one of the great things about being small and being a team/family. It’s not really ‘my’ publishing company. It’s everyone’s. Also, I don’t care about money, so whether there’s a gap in the market is by the by. We write what we do because we want to.
That said, I do think there’s a gap in the market. More than that, there’s a lack of realistic representation of older LGBT+ people in existing literature. If they’re there at all, they’re usually men – the ‘silver fox’ – they’re about forty, which isn’t really ‘older’, and they’re just…so unrealistic.
We wanted to reflect the full spectrum of LGBT+ folks’ and their relationships – not only romance, but family, friendships, love and, ultimately, the person in their own right.
3. To Be Sure… there’s got to be a pun in there, hasn’t there?!
Aye, for sure! 😉
To Be Sure is the story of Saorla (main character) and her friend Aileen travelling from the North of Ireland to England for Saorla’s grandson’s baptism, which is the source of the main play on words. At the first hint of anything ‘Irish’ in England, someone’s bound to mutter, “Oh begorrah, bejaysus, to be sure, Paddy, pass me my Guinness,” or words to that effect.
However, there’s a serious undertone to that, and it reflects the current status of LGBT+ and women’s rights/equality in the UK and the The North of Ireland; specifically, the North of Ireland is the only UK province that does not have equal marriage, and women are significantly disadvantaged comparative to elsewhere in the UK.
How does that relate to the story? Well, Saorla is a bisexual woman, but she’s also a devout Roman Catholic with traditional views. She’s never hidden who she is or her true feelings from her sons, but she feels under duress to compromise her beliefs for love (or vice versa). If she’s going to do it, she’s got…to be sure. Et voila! A book title is born!
Yeah, I thought about it way too much. 😀 I’m like that.
4. What sort of stories are you looking to publish, and what have you seen quite enough of?
I’m looking for any kind of diverse fiction – stories with characters from all walks of life and the full array of genders, orientations, cultures, ethnicities.
I’m not interested in shallow romance (of any kind…other than parody) and I’ve well and truly seen enough of BDSM ‘romance’. There are plenty of other publishers out there who will take on those kinds of stories. This isn’t me cutting off my nose – I’m aware Romance is a bestselling genre, and I’m not averse to stories with romance, but they need some substance, something beyond X meets Y, they hate each other, then they don’t, then they do, then they don’t, then they bonk, declare their love and live happily ever after.
5. Where do you stand on the topic of pet couture?
Tricky question. I’ve been actively involved in animal welfare since my teens. I’ve been a hunt saboteur and…other stuff. I have rescued animals and I live with rescued animals. I’m strongly opposed to animal exploitation in all forms.
That basically translates to: if you’re dressing up your doggy and your doggy hates it, stop doing it. It’s cruel. That said, some critters love the fuss, so I’m not universally against dress-up and doggy coats are a great idea. Doggy hair dye? No. Not OK.
6. Do you have a favourite badger?
I’ve never met a badger I didn’t like. All right, I’ve never actually met a badger, although Moo (our border collie) does a great honey badger impression. They don’t really look like badgers, do they? Anyway, so, yeah…I’m going with Weebl’s Badger (badger, badger, badger, badger…)
7. Describe your ideal sandwich.
Cheese. As long as it’s got cheese, nothing else matters.
In our house, we make what we call The Cholesterol Sandwich: buttered bread, bacon, mushrooms fried in butter, cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. Heh, at least we’ll die with smiles on our faces.