Ben Peek | In Print: A Picture of Books
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In Print: A Picture of Books

In Print: A Picture of Books

books

Today a box of Leviathan Blood arrived from my US published. The print edition that I kept – I got one last week, but sent it to a friend – managed to push out my shelf of own stuff, so I had to rearrange it. This is it, before, all lined up. Every bit of print, baring the German edition of Leviathan’s Blood, and a few fanzines from the mid-nineties. I think I have the latter around somewhere, still.

It struck me not so much as just a list of publications, but a strange history of friendships, publishers, and events.

If you look in the centre of the pile, you’ll see two collections, Amazing Heroes and Magistra, both edited by G.W. Thomas. Print on Demand was allowing for a lot of small press publishers to pop up in the early 2000s, and they offered percentages of what was sold, which sounded good, until you realised that no one really bought these books, and a percentage of nothing is nothing. Magistra was a shared world. I wrote a second one, but it never saw print. Amazing Heroes had one of my Allandros and Balor stories, a sword and sorcery series I wrote for a while. The first one appeared in Agog! Fantastic Fiction, edited by Cat Sparks. There’s not much love for that kind of stuff in short fiction, not these days, and I doubled up my unpopularity by making it about half elves and dwarves. Ah well. Serial stuff had its time, and after a few other publications, I ended up drifting to other things.

Forever Shores is the most sentimental anthology I’ve appeared in, I think. It was edited by Peter McNamara and Margaret Winch. Both were ill why they put it together, but I never met either, so I can’t rightly claim that this is why it is a sentimental collection, at least to me. No, it’s sentimental because the first collection of Australian short fiction I ever bought was a book called Alien Shores, edited by the two of them. I still have it – it has this glorious cover of pink and blue. It was that book that introduced me to a path of publication, beginning with my our country.

There’s more, of course. Stories of each. Friends made. Friendships lost. The odd people I met, the relatively normal ones. The ones that got me fan mail. Black Sheep, my first (and to be honest, rough) novel had a piece of it used in a German High School exam, and it still gets reprinted in education books, six or so years later. It was a mess on publication, though. Something happened to the typeset and it was all out. I probably could’ve handled that better, in hindsight, but what is, is. Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, the book I wrote for Deborah Layne’s Wheatland Press is cropped thanks to my fine phone skills, but I always loved that book. Anna Brown did the art and Andrew Macrae did a typeset cover of my head. It was pretty cool, though I hated looking at my head. That book ended up on some University course for a year. It was funny.

I remembering thinking at the time that everything about having a book out was just strange and cool and devastating and awful. It hasn’t really changed since then, to be honest.

Anyhow, a picture of books.

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