Margaret Curelas Acquisitions Editor of Tyche Books Interview
This month, I interviewed Margaret Curelas, Acquisitions Editor of Tyche Books, a Canadian speculative fiction small press publisher. Tyche Books can be found online at tychebooks.com or on twitter @TycheBooks.
What prompted the creation of Tyche Books?
Tyche was created when Tina Moreau and I were both on maternity leave. We had previously worked together and enjoyed the experience, and we both wanted to have something to do that stimulated us, but enabled us to stay home with the munchkins.
What are some of the advantages of being a small press?
I know everyone I’m working with–there are only three of us! Also, we can take chances on books that don’t fit into easily defined boxes. For example, we just signed Thomas J. Radford’s Tantamount, which is a space fantasy–what I call a tall ships in space adventure story. There aren’t a lot of books out there like it. Finally, we all know the authors and are familiar with their books, which gives our work on each book a more personal touch.
As a Canadian publisher, what differences do you find between Canadian speculative fiction and fiction from the UK, US, or elsewhere?
Actually, I haven’t noticed all that many differences from manuscripts from different countries–other than the obvious one of ESL difficulties from places where English isn’t the dominant language. I have heard that Canadians tend to write very isolationist, naval-gazing stories, but I haven’t seen that in our submissions.
Speaking of Canada, can you talk a little about your new anthology, Masked Mosaics.
Editors Claude Lalumière and Camille Alexa did a fabulous job of putting together that anthology. All Canadian authors writing about Canadian superheroes having adventures in Canada. Well, not all the stories are about superheroes–there are a few supervillains too. Full disclosure: my favorite is a supervillainess story, “Canadian Blood Diamonds”. Geography is key to the anthology, with a nice mix of urban and rural stories. And, something that I wasn’t expecting, but historical and political stories. The Yukon Gold Rush, On-to-Ottawa, even some stories that are reminiscent of First Nation myths.
What Kings Ate and Wizard’s Drank is a historical cookbook and fantasy (or history) writer’s guide. It’s a fascinating book. What prompted its creation? What are some of the more interesting things that Krista D. Ball had to research?
Krista loves history and historical recipes. She hosts an annual Yule party featuring a different time period each year. She spends a couple of days cooking these old recipes that she’s discovered. So when Tyche first started up, and we were looking for a non-fiction book to include in our first year’s line-up, Tina and I knew that Krista would be a logical person to approach. The recipes she includes in the book are some of the more interesting finds: Cock Ale (a dead bird, in a bag, is added to your keg for a month to add flavor); Powdered Locusts; Mushroom Ketchup. Another part of the book I really enjoy is her description of a medieval pantry and how food was stored to keep it fresh.
The Palace Job is a comedic fantasy, and comedy is one of the hardest things to do well. What are your thoughts on how Patrick Weekes made it work?
I think Patrick makes the comedy work in The Palace Job because he doesn’t rely on prat-falls and fart jokes–not that you can’t find physical humor in the book, but the humor derives from the characters’ personalities, the situations they find themselves in, and how they interact with each other. Patrick handles group dynamics well, rather like Joss Whedon.
Prix Aurora-Award winning author Edward Willett has a book coming out soon as well, called Spirit Singer. What made you pick up this book?
Ed is such a fantastic guy. So that was one reason to take Spirit Singer. Also, the book features a strong female protagonist, making it a good fit with our other books. Finally, it’s a great story, and a YA, which I love to read and want to publish.
What does Tyche Books look for in their titles?
We look for strong female characters, women who aren’t just ‘the girlfriend’. We also enjoy stories that are unusual and interesting–not crazy or off-the-wall–but not mainstream.
What are some flaws that make you immediately reject a book?
Too much detail. I don’t need to know how many buttons are on your hero’s shirt, and how many steps he takes across the room. And telling instead of showing. There are appropriate times to tell, but if your character discovers that she has superpowers, don’t say, “One day she discovered her superpowers”, show me that discovery–it’s so much more interesting!
What benefits do you provide for the authors?
Editing. Authors have some input into their covers. They know the first names of everyone who works here, and it’s not hard to track one of us down. And we know them. It’s hard not to feel passionate about promoting a book when you know the author.
What areas in speculative fiction have you not explored yet that you’d like to?
I would love to see a noir-ish urban fantasy. And although we have some steampunk and dieselpunk, I’d love to see more of those genres–or maybe some Weird Westerns. Also, more science fiction with hopeful depictions of the future would be nice.
Where would you like to see Tyche Books in ten years?
I’d like us to be a little larger, and I’d like us to still be having fun.