Today’s post is a profile interview with Casia Schreyer of Schreyer Ink Publishing. Writer, editor, publisher and advocate of writers, she’s preparing to launch a new anthology. Schreyer Ink is an Indie Publishing House in Canada. We welcome Casia to Carrot Ranch and our Raw Literature guest series.
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CR: What is your earliest memory of crafting with words?
Casia: My earliest writing memory is from grade 2 and 3. We had these large yellow three-panel writing folders. When you opened them it turned your desk into a private cubby. Each panel had a pocket so we could keep our drafts organized. We wrote stories about vacations and 1-page essays on whales.
CR: Did that experience influence your desire to write later in life?
Casia: Oh, definitely it did. My mom kept this school memory book and every year she would list my friends and my extra-curricular activities and what I said I wanted to be when I grew up. Writer never left that list. I was hooked.
CR: When you think about your first drafts, what is a significant part of your creative process?
Casia: I consider my outline to be my very first draft of any story. I take that time to figure out where the twists will come in, and how the story arcs will progress. This allows me to build my foreshadowing. This is especially important in a series. My actual first draft I usually write by hand. The thoughts flow better that way and I can write faster than I can type so I can actually keep up with the brainstorm!
CR: How did you decide to work with other creative writers? What was that initial idea?
I have worked with other writers before. My first collaborative project was a free anthology put out cooperatively by a group of authors. The idea was that each of us would contribute a story and help market the book, which was available for free, as a way to reach new audiences. It didn’t “sell” a lot of copies. I also had a story published in a Witty Bard anthology of science fiction stories. The idea for this anthology came from a story that I wanted to write but that I had no market for, so I created the anthology to fit the story I was writing and invited other authors to submit their stories on the same theme. That theme was tolerance.
CR: Why did you create an indie publishing company? What is your vision for its success?
Casia: The indie-publishing company started simply as a name a logo to put on my self-published novels, to make them look more professional. Then I created a blog for Schreyer Ink Publishing and offered publication services for authors such as editing and marketing packages. These were paid services, but I didn’t require that they list me as the publisher and I didn’t ask for any rights to the work. Then Open Minds came up and I decided that I was going to start publishing anthologies through Schreyer Ink Publishing as a next step. Our goals are to expand into graphic novels and graphic shorts, and to get Schreyer Ink Publishing officially incorporated.
CR: Tell us about your upcoming anthology and its themes of tolerance, acceptance, fear and rejection.
Casia: I think Open Minds is a really important book for what’s going on in the world today. Everywhere we look people are grappling with the idea of tolerance and acceptance, weighing it against theology and tradition and their other personal values. People are trying to define what tolerance and acceptance entails, and put up boundaries as to what they personally will tolerate and accept. The authors in this anthology really showcase these themes in amazingly diverse ways. My own story deals with race and what can happen when intolerant people become emboldened by our current political climate. One story deals with transgender in a very intense human setting while another looks at gender fluidity in a sci-fi setting. One of my favourites though asks a very powerful question: when are we doing enough and when are we doing too much? This story questions that line between “standing up” and “picking fights,” between “helping our friends” and “hurting everyone else.” It’s a really powerful near-future story that looks at a lot of issues. There’s a rather short one that looks at the cost of pursuing our dreams, and the inner peace of finding absolute acceptance and security. And last but not least is the story that I almost rejected: a rambling narrative of parallel worlds, divine wars, and gender superiority. The language in this story set me on edge, I’ll admit it, and I almost rejected it, but the other editors at Schreyer Ink loved the story and voted it in. Now I have to admit that it was the sheer controversy of the story that jabbed at me and I think it adds something special to this book.
CR: How do you think these themes impact writers in their early creative stages of writing a story or book? How have they impacted your own writing?
Casia: I can’t speak for other writers, but for me, these are themes that I’ve found reappear over and over again in my other works, in more subtle ways. I’m working on a coming-of-age fantasy series about five princesses. They are strong women but none of them are warriors and none of them are mothers. I have two contemporary lit novels that deal with bullying, suicide, and sexual harassment in different contexts. I’m building a fantasy world and I’m viewing it through the lens of representation and diversity.
CR: When putting together the anthology, what did you notice about the work as a collective?
Casia: What I really noticed was that they had more in common than just the initial theme of tolerance and diversity. There were threads of fear, rejection, sacrifice, strength, and courage. Even with the stories being so very different in genre and style they just fit together and it was a beautiful thing to experience.
CR: Did you and the other writers discover anything powerful in the process of bringing writing together around a focused set of themes?
Casia: I worked closely with Angil Grafton, another of the authors, because she is also a member of the Schreyer Ink Publishing team. She mentioned that this was an emotionally moving book to work on. Our third editor, Andy Ganz, was impressed with the scope of the stories and their brutal honesty. I was also impressed with the honesty of these stories. I think the authors really took the theme to heart and offered us unique snapshots of their own experiences and questions.
CR: Reflecting back from the completed project of your anthology, what do you think your rawest efforts had to teach you?
Casia: Well I certainly learned a lot about how to publish an anthology. But I think my deepest discovery was as a writer. I struggled with the ending of my story because I didn’t want my bad guys to be these super evil villain types. I wanted them to be average people, misled by an inappropriate social dialogue but that meant finding some way to reign in their actions before they got out of hand, before they crossed that line into evil. And I saw that in many of these stories – the bad guys weren’t evil, they were misguided and acted out of fear or jealousy. I appreciated that subtly and nuance in the characters because I think it’s more reflective of the world we know. And the best fiction always has a strong tie to a deeper truth.
Open Minds is available for pre-order and anyone who pre-orders and sends a screen shot of their receipt to Schreyer Ink (even just a comment on the blog of Facebook page) will receive a free copy of another ebook put out by Schreyer Ink.
The Launch Party is a free Facebook event being held online on June 1st from 8am-10pm CST. There will be guest authors, some of the anthology authors, and some free giveaways. There are already some sneak peeks from Open Minds posted on the event.
Open Minds Amazon
Open Minds Smashwords
Schreyer Ink on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/schreyerinkpublishing
Schreyer Ink on Twitter: @SchreyerInk
Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at firstname.lastname@example.org.