A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness is the latest offering from Rose Metal Press, an independent Boston-based publishing house launched in 2006. The press focuses on unique, non-traditional literary forms such as flash fiction, prose poetry, or novels-in-verse, and its founders — Kathleen Rooney, 28, and Abby Beckel, 29, who met when they both attended grad school at Emerson College — see much promise in the fusion of small presses and innovative writing. Rooney and Beckel run the press from afar, since both of them have day jobs in other cities (Chicago and DC, respectively). So we e-mail–interviewed the pair — here’s an edited transcript; find their full thoughts on publishing, literary links, and the start of Rose Metal Press at thephoenix.com/blogs/wordup.
RMP has been around for about two years. What have been the biggest challenges so far? What are you most proud of?
KR The biggest challenges are probably two-pronged and not that unusual to anyone who runs an independent press: that we could always use more money (who couldn’t?) and more time (since we both work nine-to-five day jobs). One of the things I’m most proud of is our authors, who in addition to being talented producers of the kind of work we like to see in print, are also consistently nice, thoughtful, fun, and hard-working, and very much team players.
AB I’m also proud of the way our books look and of our designers and cover artists for helping us present the work in interesting ways that reflect the innovativeness of the writing.
What makes short shorts or flash fiction special?
KR Short shorts — they have the economy of a poem, and often the linguistic and syntactic richness, but so too do they incorporate the elements of narrative and prose fiction — are intelligible to a wide readership because of these similarities to other forms, but they also have their own distinct character, in much the same way that a sonnet or a haiku has a distinct character.
AB We’ve found that short short fiction appeals to a wider audience than many other literary forms — not because it’s easy, but because it captures what’s essential and packages it with precision.
How often do you two talk? How do you divide up responsibilities?
KR This is like The Newlywed Game or something, where we might give hilariously different answers. But, barring unusual obstacles or circumstances, we usually talk at least 3-4 times a week, and sometimes every or every other day, both about press stuff and normal friends-who-don’t-live-in-the-same-city-anymore stuff. I guess, if you wanted to oversimplify a bit, Abby handles more of the layout/design and business/budget side of the press than I do, and I probably handle more of the author correspondence, slush pile, and promotional side of the press than she does, but honestly, we both have a hand in every aspect, and we make even the smallest decisions jointly.
AB I think this is the part where I’m supposed to hold up the sign that says “10 times a day” and the laugh track rolls, but Kathy described our work style the same way I would. We have come to realize that the work we do together tends to be better quality than the work we do apart, so I would say that at least 90 percent of the work we do as a press is a true joint effort of the two of us.