Before many of us were blogging, there were more author newsletters. I was fortunate to be interviewed by the author of one of these, Soup’s On!, Andrea Campbell. In this excerpt from her New Year’s 2009 issue, Andrea talks with me about one of my “pet” projects (yes, pun intended), the 2008 genre-pioneering anthology, Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them.
The following material is ©2009 by Andrea. I’m posting it here because some of you may have missed it.
Andrea: Mary, you are editor of the new book, ALMOST PERFECT: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them. Can you tell readers a bit about your background and then how the idea came up?
Mary: Well, I’m a full time freelance writer who makes her living about equally in three different areas: marketing/commercial copywriting, editorial articles for trade magazines, and books. My last book was my first self-published effort, and I decided to do it right, launching a full-fledged publishing company with the intent to provide a forum for other less-well-known writers like myself. So that‚s how I came to be a book publisher. Almost Perfect came about because of a particular experience I had as a pet owner.
My partner, Shelly, and I have four cats, all rescues with special needs: I scraped Weaver off the highway just after he‚d been hit by a car. We got Winkie from an older woman who already had six cats and felt unable to take him after he wandered into her yard with his eye hanging out. Boo Kitty was a feral girl who’d been brought to the SPCA across the river, which wouldn’t keep her because she’d been bitten on the spine and they couldn’t guarantee potential adoptees that she wouldn’t develop rabies or some other such disease. But the critter who inspired the book is Idgie, who came to us through an adoption program at one of the big box pet stores. She was born without eyes and testing positive to feline leukemia.
I’ll let the book tell that whole story, but it was watching Idgie grow up and insist on living a full life despite all the odds against her that made me think other people must have similar stories to tell about how a supposedly “disabled” creature changed their lives through inspiration. So I put out a call for submissions via the Internet at a bunch of writing and pet sites.
Andrea: How did you choose the stories that went into Almost Perfect and how many submissions did you receive?
Mary: I received 42 stories in reply. Chose them first according to quality of writing and storytelling, then culled a second time according to what species were being covered. I didn’t want to have too many of one and not enough of something else. I would like to have had more variety, but of course most people own cats or dogs. I did chose one rat story, which is great.
Andrea: What can you tell us about Word Forge Books?
Mary: It’s a small, independent press that I formed in June, 2005. I have eclectic interests, so we have eight different imprints. Heavy on history, animals, weather and MidAtlantic regional topics. Our tagline is “Bringing You the World Through Words.” A secondary tag is “celebrating what’s wondrous about the world.” That’s my main goal: to inform with nonfiction and give people hopeful fiction, too. I don’t think we need any more nihilist or depressing stories on our shelves. One thing we try to do with appropriate titles is identify an organization that meshes with our subject and do a give-back. For instance, 25¢ from every copy of Almost Perfect sold goes to support Animal Welfare Karpathos on the Greek isles. One of the book’s contributors founded this pet rescue and still volunteers there.
Andrea: Is this book in other formats? and, what is your opinion on e-books or the future of e-books?
Mary: It‚s still just in print, but will very soon be available as a downloadable PDF. I’m working on getting our website ready for that functionality right now. We’re also looking into making it available for the Amazon Kindle and the Sony eReader. I’ll likely also make it available as an audio mp3, if not on CD-ROM.
As for the future of eBooks in general, they’re here to stay, no doubt in my mind. Especially as iPhone-type mobile accessories evolve, mp3s and eBooks will only get more popular. Commuters, moms waiting in the doctor’s office, students between classes˜anyone with time to kill, who‚d rather use it productively. Also great for business people wanting to improve their skill sets, and audiobooks are hugely popular with long-distance drivers and frequent flyers. But unlike many, I don’t believe any kind of eDevice will ever completely overtake traditionally printed books. There’s just a warm, tactile quality to the printed page that you can’t get any other way. And you don’t have to have any batteries!
Andrea: What would you like readers to know about Almost Perfect?
Mary: I’d most like them to come away from it with the idea that the next time they see a disabled animal, they think of the animal’s power to inspire first, instead of the disability. I want readers to think about animals with disabilities in a new way, instead of “Oh, poor Fluffy!” or whatever. I want them to marvel instead of feeling sorry. The book was intended to inspire and celebrate. And that they can order online at almostperfectbook.com or call 610-847-2456.
Strange to read this and realize it was pre-iPad revolution. The book is now available for Kindle on Amazon.com. And the contributor who ran Animal Welfare Karpathos is now living in the United States, but still supporting that worthwhile organization, the only rescue on that Greek island. You can find Andrea Campbell on LinkedIn, among other places on the Web.
Thanks, Andrea, for a great interview!