Posted By admin / 6th June 2013
In this interview series, Monkeybicycle intern David Cotrone will introduce you to a variety of small press editors and publishers.
This interview was conducted with Elizabeth Ellen of Short Flight/Long Drive.
Monkeybicycle: When was Short Flight/Long Drive founded? What prompted you to want to start it?
Elizabeth Ellen: I believe we founded SF/LD sometime in 2006, because Aaron was the editor of Hobart and I wanted something of my own to edit.
Mb: At the time, why was Short Flight/Long Drive—and why is it still—necessary?
EE: Oh, I don’t know if anything in the literary world is ever necessary. Nor do I think SF/LD is any more (or less) necessary in the lit world than any other press (large or small). But I do think presses of all sizes are wonderful luxuries of life, and can enhance one’s enjoyment, both for authors and readers.
Mb: What about Short Flight/Long Drive are you most proud of?
EE: I’m pretty much proud of every aspect of SF/LD. Every book, every author, the design process, all of it.
Mb: What do you look for when you’re open for submissions? What makes a project or manuscript worth taking on?
EE: Being such a small press, only really putting out on average, one book a year, we can only take on books that we would feel super shitty if we didn’t take. Like, shitty enough to lie awake at night thinking about why we didn’t take them.
Mb: What does “indie” or “small press” mean to you? What do you think of such classifications and distinctions?
EE: Some people get really bent out of shape about those words. They prefer one over the other. I forget which. I don’t really care. To me they just mean greater care to details, greater artistic freedom for the author (hopefully!), more beautiful books.
Mb: What sets your books apart from the rest?
EE: Well, originally we wanted them all to be small enough to fit in your back pocket.
Mb: What’s your favorite part of your job?
EE: Falling in love with a book and its author.
Mb: For you, why are books so important?
EE: For me, personally? Damn, it’s such a cliché, but the best books feel like little private secrets between me and the author. Little love affairs. Ways of staving off loneliness and despair, of connecting to another human being on the most intimate level without actually meeting in person.
Mb: What other small presses do you admire? Why?
EE: God, what small press don’t I admire? I pretty much love and admire them all. Because they’re all doing the same thing we’re doing. Falling in love with authors/works that might not be hugely “marketable” but are probably gorgeous works of art and gorgeous human beings.
Mb: Do you have hope for the future of books?
EE: I have never not had hope for the future of books. It’s not something I worry about. At all. Ever. I have no doubt books—written works in whatever form (the form is, ultimately, completely unimportant to me)—will be around as long as human beings are around and have something to say (and we always have something to say, don’t we? Something to complain about, to work out, to applaud, to champion, to address, to change, to exact revenge, to make amends).
Mb: Please share anything else you would like to say.
EE: Is Coffee House Press considered small press/indie? I don’t know if it is, but talk about falling in love with a book! I just read Leaving the Atocha Station (by Ben Lerner) last week. And at first I couldn’t decide how to feel about the narrator. But maybe in the same way I can’t decide how I feel about myself? We’re both a little douchey, can be a little pretentious. It felt like a very intimate book. Like the little secrets I was talking about earlier. I guess that’s all I wanted to say.
David Cotrone is from Plymouth, MA. His writing appears in Fifty-Two Stories, The Rumpus, PANK, Paper Darts, Necessary Fiction, Thought Catalog, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere. You can find him at www.davidcotrone.com.