Set joined us from his home in York, England to talk about creativity, depression, the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, the editorial process, and the life saving power of imagination.
This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with Josh Cassidy and Carla Butwin, the intrepid creators of brand-new Microcosm publication If Animals CouldTalk. Hear their amazing story, which spans entire eras of viral social media, two very different publishing houses, and countless foul-mouthed, frank, all-too-human animals. Get into the details of producing a highly-visual book, and contemplate the merits of various editorial styles. This book is a publishing parable of our times. And it’s hilarious.
This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly sat down (like literally, on their couch in Philadelphia) with Kitchen Witchauthor Katie Haegele and her husband and fellow small-press publisher Joe Carlough to talk about publishing, writing, creativity, community, zines, their creative histories and future directions, and to get to the heart of why creative work is so meaningful to all of us.
This week for the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly traveled to Cleveland where we sat at Cafe Avalaun and interviewed Danny Caine, author of the bestselling How to Resist Amazon and Why. Hear about the origin of the viral zine that sparked the book, the second edition in the works, what it’s like to run an independent bookstore, and how readers can tap into the movement away from giant online retailers and towards smaller, independent, community-based businesses… like bookstores.
This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we are debuting our first ever live show! Joe and Elly interview Sarah High, Senior Partnerships Manager at Bookshop.org, the online bookselling site that is revolutionizing the industry by partnering with brick and mortar bookstores, supporting rather than disrupting them. We talk about how Bookshop came to be and a little bit about the future of the book industry, our big hopes for the confluence of books and tech, and how we can achieve it by working together and sharing our passion for books.
Three times a year we welcome interns from all over as part of our internship program. During the start of the year, however, we partner with Bennington College in Vermont to provide an intense six-week internship for students who are looking to learn more about the publishing industry.
This year, we welcome Veda Carmine-Ritchie, Walter Greene and David Hakas! We asked them a few questions so you could get to know them too.
Where are you from/where did you grow up?
Veda: Portland, Oregon
Walter: Born in Brooklyn, NYC, raised in Portland, at school in Bennington, Vermont
David: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
What are you majoring in?
Veda: Creative Writing/Dance
Walter: Literature and Philosophy
David: English Literature and Japanese Language
What first interested you in publishing?
Veda: I was interested in publishing, and Microcosm specifically, because working in this environment exposes you to so many amazing pieces of writing by so many different kinds of people. I think bringing an array of voices into the public sphere is incredibly important in our current climate. So not only do I get to read all the time! (swoon!) but I’m also working for a cause I believe in.
Walter: I first became interested in publishing after sitting in on a class for the literary magazine the “Bennington Review” back when I was a prospective student visiting Bennington College for the first time. During that class, I was introduced to the acquisition process and instantly found myself drawn into the critical dialogue that surrounds selecting pieces of writing for publication.
David: To be honest, initially it was the career opportunities. But I’ve found a lot to love since that time.
What do you like best about interning for Microcosm so far?
Veda: I am really enjoying feeling like such a member of the team! Everyone here is amazing to work with and really values your time and opinions. I feel like the work I do here is not only appreciated by others, but something I feel proud of.
Walter: Interning at Microcosm has blown away any of my previous assumptions about what an internship looks like. Since day one, I’ve been met with the respect and responsibility of an employee and have been engaging in meaningful, rewarding work that has provided valuable insight into the world of publishing. Plus everyone here rocks, it’s definitely a no-bullshit environment in the best way possible.
David: I like being able to help people who aren’t experienced writers bring out their best work.
What will you and won’t you miss about Portland when you go back to Vermont?
Veda: I’m going to miss my dog, walking around the city, the pacific ocean and all the coffee shops. Probably not going to miss the clouds though, I want some winter sun!
Walter: I’ll miss the arts and music scene the most. Don’t get me wrong, Bennington College always has performances, lectures, exhibits, and many other events going on, but the arts and music scene is almost entirely contained within the campus. I love being able to travel around Portland and feeling that real sense of “going out” whenever there’s a show or something else happening.
David: I’ll miss being able to walk everywhere. I won’t miss the rain.
Do you have any pets?
Veda: Yes! One chihuahua mix, he was a rescue. Apparently he lived in Hawaii for two years before meeting my family.
Walter: I have one dog, a Portuguese Water Dog named Willa, which is short for Willamette Stormtrooper (my brother and I got her when we were seven and nine). If you look “Portuguese Water Dog” up online you’ll find that they’re classified as working dogs, which clearly no one told that to Willa because she spends all day sleeping.
David: My family has everything from dogs to chickens, but I travel too much to have any myself.
What do you do in your free time?
Veda: I go on adventures with my friends, and if I’m alone, I tend to spend a lot of time in the dance studio, in the library, or home writing poems.
Walter: When I’m not working, I’m either reading, playing guitar, hiking, drinking tea, or roaming the shadow realm.
David: Read a lot and write a lot. If I’m on break, I’ll also watch professional wrestling and play video games with my younger siblings.
What’s one piece of media you recommend to everyone you meet?
Veda: There’s so much media in the world! I think I’m gonna have to go with the movie Juno, if you haven’t seen it you’re missing out on some prime Micheal Cera and Ellen Page moments.
Walter: While I only found out about it recently, I recommend that anyone involved with music should pick up a copy of She Shreds, a magazine published here in Portland that focuses on women guitarists and bassists. Its articles and artist profiles are fascinating, the graphic design is beautiful, and it has sweet features like guitar gear recommendations based on your astrological sign (I’m a Gemini and this month’s rec was a distortion pedal so I picked up a ProCo Rat)
David: Count Zero by William Gibson, one of my favorite novels and a huge inspiration of mine.
Where can people find you online?
Veda: Follow me on instagram! @callyoutomorrow and if you’re feeling kinda sad, in need of weepy music, check out my spotify @vedsss
Veda: I’m really excited for the rest of this internship and I’m really gonna miss this place when I’m back at school!
Interns are a vital part of our team, helping things run smoothly and getting to learn about what goes on behind the curtain of publishing. If you’re interested in joining our team through an internship, applications for the summer quarter are open until March 1, 2020!
We’ve loved working with traveler/writer Alexander Barrett since the beginning. From our beloved Portland to Shanghai and soon San Francisco, Alex’s eye for the unique little details in the cities he features continues to be spot on and enjoyable. Years ago, 2015 to be exact, we interviewed Alex for the release of This is Shanghai, and this week we decided to catch up with him and revisit those questions for a update.
1. Where are you *right now* and what is the most important thing to know about what’s going on around you there?
Right now, I’m in my apartment in San Francisco, looking out over the city. I’ve lived here just long enough to think that the new Salesforce tower is ruining the skyline. Oof that thing. Today was “Sunday Streets” on Valencia in the Mission. They close the street to traffic and line it with musicians, dancers, and tables dedicated to local non-profits. I just watched a bunch of hippies play Jefferson Airplane covers to a small group of dancing children. “When the truth is found to be lies and all the joy within you dies…” It was the first time I really listened to those lyrics. The kids really responded to them.
2. I know it’s crass to ask, but when you aren’t making charming illustrated books about places you’re getting to know, what exactly do you do for a living?
I have a job. I’ve had the job for three years. I still don’t know exactly what it is. But I go there and I do stuff. When it started, I was a copywriter working on branding for YouTube. Then I convinced some higher ups to let me buy a Risograph Printer. Now I mostly print fun stuff and show other people how to print fun stuff.
3. What’s your favorite book that you’ve read this year?
I read Tamara Shopsin’s Arbitrary and Stupid Goal a few months ago. I really like the format of her books. It’s not unlike the way I’ve structured mine. Very staccato. But her chapters bounce all over the place through time, topic, and location. Such a wonderful experience.
4. What’s next for you? And finally, the question on everyone’s mind: Where will you live next?
I’ve lived in San Francisco for three years, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in a long time. I think I’ll stick around for a while. I won’t be in this city forever, but they have nice baked goods here. For the time being, I’m going to be in this apartment and explore the way I make things.
Looking back, the process of making these three books feels so similar. But looking at the final products, I think I’ve gotten better at it. I think This is San Francisco is the best and most complete project I’ve ever made. That feels good.
Feeling down more than usual in these grey (or white, if you’re buried in snow) winter days? It could be “SAD.”
With two mental health books coming out next month, and the grey days of Portland still coming and going, we’re talking with Dr. Faith and Set Sytes about Seasonal Affective Disorder, AND giving away free books!
So, you think you’ve got SAD.
First: Don’t Panic.
But also, don’t ignore it.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that ebbs and flows with the seasons, typically causing extra depression during the winter months. This is especially common for folks with mood disorders already, women, and folks who live further from the equator.
Winter is the big SAD season, though some do experience it during summertime (me, right here, for real!), and it can often take sufferers by surprise.
“I often find things more difficult during the Winter months (which in Britain is 11 months of the year). I get much less daylight (although I’m better than I used to be on that, when a week could go where I wouldn’t see the sun), I’m always cold and without the motivation to move to warm up, and the weather is so miserable not only do I not want to go out but I’m not happy inside too. While hot weather can have its own reasons for lack of productivity, the cold months can encourage depressive symptoms and make you more interested in curling up in a blanket than getting anything done, especially if you’re worried about heating bills. It’s hard to engage your brain and be creative and productive when you’re cold, there’s little sunlight and you’ve been sleeping in in a conscious (or unconscious) attempt to hibernate through it all.”
In This Is Your Brain on Depression (coming Dec 2018), Dr. Faith defines it loosely as “winter blues thought to be caused by lack of sunlight.”
“When my brother left sunny Texas to go away to college in Boston, his SAD was horrible. He went from thinking snow was pretty and exotic to thinking snow was some kind of evil plan from the universe to repeatedly beat him in the face. The light box our mom sent him was stupendously helpful.” – This is Your Brain on Depression: Finding Your Path To Getting Better (zine version available here)
What to do about it?
When I asked about SAD, the first thing Dr. Faith noted was that too many people ignore the recurring symptoms: “If a tooth fell out of your mouth every February, you’d see the dentist and figure out why,” Dr. Faith points out. “S.A.D. should be taken just as seriously.”
“I’ve seen a lot of people do well with adding vitamin D in their diet and using sun lamps (blue light that mimics the missing sunlight they are getting…there’s lots of evidence behind this treatment),” she says.
Set’s advice? More layers!
“I often wear 5 layers indoors and sometimes include scarf gloves and hat in that! And my best is 7 outdoor layers, but then I’m strange and nobody else seems to do that) means you’re warmer but don’t have to spend as much on heating (and you’re more comfortable just sitting in one spot). It also means you can move around the house and maybe god forbid open a window for a few minutes without suddenly catching hypothermia. Worrying less about cold will relax your survival skills enough to hopefully think about more creative pursuits.
Also, candles, candles, candles.”
“The big thing that I always ask everyone is about their sleep,” Dr. Faith adds. “Getting enough good quality sleep is the foundation for all wellness. People are always surprised when I point out that their sleep is complete shit and getting more sleep will make everything else far easier to manage. Sleep hygiene should probably be it’s own zine, eh? It’ll def be a chapter in Unfuck Your Body.”
Set totally agrees with the doc here:
“It sucks setting alarms for yourself but sometimes it’s worth encouraging your sleeping pattern to shift not necessarily to a “normal” time frame (who decides what normal is) but at least one where you get more sunlight in the day. Even if you’re more creative at night, it helps to be able to separate each day into both day and night, otherwise it just all becomes one big murky dark abyssal pointless mess and there becomes no sense in doing something at one time to another – and when that’s how you think, you end up never doing things at any time.”
1. For your bad SAD days, try these tips from our authors:
2. Add Vitamin D to your diet.
3. Get (or make) a light box; get more sun.
4. Stay warm; add layers and blankets if you must.
5. Get enough SLEEP!
For a chance at our two upcoming mental health books to help get you through the winter slump, check out our Anti-SAD giveaway packs below, and enter to win BOTH books by entering below, with extra entries for following us on social media or checking out some of our pages.
What have YOU been reading/doing/watching/playing lately?
Here’s our traditional round-up of the media we’re rampantly consuming.
Honestly, I spend a lot of time watching TV. More than I should. Mostly we’re rewatching cartoon favorites (Adventure Time, Bee & Puppycat, Rick & Morty, Gravity Falls) with my sister and catching up on Flash, Legion, Black-ish, and One Day at a Time. I also try to catch up on Outlander and BlackMirror when I get the tv to myself.
In games, for a while everyone took turns playing CupHead and laughed at their endless frustration with it, but then my sister got sick and we just rewatched every episode of The Good Place for a week straight while she got better.
Listening a lot to Chromatics and Desire while working, plus a lot of soundtrack music (curse you, Clint Mansell, and your tone-setting movie music genius).
Finished a fantastically creepy YA audiobook calledAnd The Trees Crept In, by Dawn Kurtagich, during my commute ride and immediately hunted down the author’s other audiobook, The Dead House, from the library. I am in love with it as well, and am thoroughly charmed by the author’s moody, atmospheric tales that keep me guessing.
I thought December was a pretty shit month of fires and stress, but our family actually read A LOT. Hooray!
Our movie list:
1. Lady Bird 2. My Friend Dahmer 3. Edward Scissorhands 4. Florida Project 5. Get Out 6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
We saw Lady Bird and Get Out twice, so there was definitely some meat for discussion on those bones. And I would add The Square. Lots of people in my cinema club HATED it, which made it even sweeter.
TV: StrangerThings2, Better Things, The Dark (German series), Mindhunters, and we rewatched favorite cartoons GravityFalls and Rick & Morty. I want to catch up on Black Mirror too, but the damn kid stays up too late. Or her parents go to bed too early….
Plus the art collective FriendsWithYou and their exhibit at the Oakland Museum was the best mind-altering experience of 2017 that did not involve drugs.
Wow, 2017 was way less sucky if I view it ONLY in terms of great movies and books!
Joe and I have been watching Parks & Rec after work every day and laughing SO much. So needed.
“GOODBYE, LITTLE SEBASTIAN!” “He does BEING A LITTLE HORSE better than ANYBODY!!!”
I’ve been rereading The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward and haven’t been watching anything lately, but I’m really looking forward to bingeing The End Of The Fucking World on Netflix.
I currently have no streaming services and just a DVD player, so I’ve been buying cheap TV box sets and am currently enjoying Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. I’ve also recently discovered the joy of taking myself to the movies, so I’m more up to date on current films than usual: Lady Bird (loved it as much as every other millennial woman), The Disaster Artist (such great things can come out of badly made things), The Last Jedi (always game for StarWars), and The Shape of Water (liked it but didn’t love it like I wanted too—a little too attached to Pan’s Labyrinth still, I guess).
I almost always listen to my entire music collection on shuffle, and lately shuffle has given me extra Nine Inch Nails, Sia, and Kanye West.
I just finished reading The Mothers by Brit Bennett, a year behind everyone else because I’m the cheap kind of bookworm who waits for paperbacks, and I’m so glad I got to start 2018 with such a well-written, hook-in-the-gut book. About to move on to The Child in Time by Ian McEwan, which I expect to also love since I like the author so much I named my new cat after him (well, in all honestly, partially after him, partially after Ewan McGregor).
Music: I’ve been listening to Marvin Gaye, Elton John’s “Honky Chateau”, and a newer artist called Ariel Pink.
Books: I’m reading Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction to Black Holes and a biography of Antonin Artaud (the creator of Theatre of Cruelty) called Poet Without Words by Naomi Greene. I like to read a lot of different stuff at a time so I don’t get bogged down by one topic, so I’ve also been reading a collection of Langston Hughes’s poems.
Television: The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and finally finishing Stranger Things.
Film: I haven’t had a chance to go to a movie theater recently, but I really want to see LovingVincent. Every frame of the animation was painted in his style and the whole film required over 100 oil painters.
Theatre: I recently watched a production of Eugene Ionesco’s Victims of Duty at PSU and it blew my mind. The script encompassed absurd theatre so well and the cast and set refused to allow the incongruous language to strip away meaning and urgency. There’s so much unnecessary information available for consumption, it often feels like a chore gathering the necessary media. I wish I kept up more with politics and daily news, but it usually just makes me tired or upset and I lose motivation to dig further into the things I really want to know. Instead, I would rather sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the soothing rhythms of Langston Hughes.
“Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,” ~ From “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes
My media consumption has been pretty wordy lately: I finally read forgotten fantasy masterpiece Lud in the Mist and totally loved it. This Census Taker by China Mieville is perfect autumn reading as well. I’ve also been reading more nonfiction, most notably stuff from Alan Watts and Slavoj Žižek.
I also started playing The Witcher 2 and it’s pretty great even if I’m seven years late to the party.
Musically, I can never get enough of Alt-J or Of Monsters and Men, and I keep listening to Foo Fighters: Live at Wembley and fervently wishing I had arranged my life better so I could have been at that concert.
Tweet your #rampantmediaconsumption to @microcosmmm to win a free sticker pack and book coupon!