Oct 17, 2009

Author Guest Post: Ron Riekki

Don't miss today's post. It can get a bit long, but it's worth it, trust me.
Especially if you're an aspiring author.

I love today's post, simply because this is an author I really hadn't heard of before,
and I think many of you hadn't either, and I love discovering new authors and books,
especially when the book has meaning.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I give you
Ron Riekki, Author of
I'm excited to write this guest blog, because Ella is allowing me to do something I've never done before and that's to speak directly to the book bloggers. And I want to say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you."

Without the Internet, my book sales would have been almost non-existent, because the corporate world of magazines and newspapers won't cover small press books, even when they're done through high quality indy publishers such as Ghost Road Press. Ghost Road books have won the WILLA Award, Colorado Book Award, American Book Award, Spur Award, and others.
And Ghost Road authors include Rafael Alvarez (writer for HBO's The Wire), Douglas Brinkley (CBS News history commentator), John Bullock (previous University of Virginia Creative Writing Program Henry Hoynes Fellow), and other amazing writers. Matt Davis of Ghost Road signs talented people who operate outside of commercial-leaning corporate publishers. In other words, Davis and Ghost Road take risks. And that's exactly what I love to do as an author.

My debut novel with them, U.P., was turned down by several agents and publishers who loved the book, but said it was "experimental" and so therefore wouldn't "sell". I knew that it would. And I also knew that whatever press had the guts to publish it would reap the benefits. And I believe those benefits now have been plentiful for Ghost Road. The book is in its 33rd week as their bestselling novel. Two producers in L.A. have contacted Davis about turning the novel into a film. And I've done about one hundred interviews where I've constantly plugged Ghost Road as a great press, because they are. They give you a fair percentage for your contract and allow you to write without selling out. They want good writing without the Ethan Hawke, Jewel, celebrity book concerns of the majors. No books about New York and shopping and nannies and vampires. No cheesy endings. I was gabbing with Alvarez one day and he said something along the lines that Matt Davis has more integrity in his pinky than most corporate publishers have in their entire bodies. Davis fights to keep literature alive, gutsy, transgressive, bleeding, unique. Books, not Book$.

And so I highly encourage you to go to www.ghostroadpress.com and poke around at their titles and authors. I'm so happy we live in this post-modern era where Polyester Books in Australia carries my little novel and I'm getting to write on a guest blog in Argentina while living in California. I love the immediate interconnections of the world now where we don't have to be included within the Kafkaesque walls of so many of the major publishing houses.

I tried to get U.P. into Books-A-Million and Borders and I was amazed at how incredibly mean they treated me, how I was talked down to as if I was some pesky fly on the wall. I wanted to tell them that I'd devoted my life to this, that I'd gone through the MFA Program for Playwriting at Brandeis University, the MFA Program for Fiction Writing at the University of Virginia, and the Ph.D. Program for Literature & Creative Writing at Western Michigan University, that I'd worked so many minimum wage jobs to support my writing habit that Charles Bukowski's life looks envious to mine. But I could tell they could care less.

But, oh, this is what I love about 2009, so many, so sooooo many indy bookstores are out there now--The Country Village Bookstore in Ishpeming, The Gnu's Room Bookstore in Auburn, Snowbound Books in Marquette, Falling Rock Cafe & Book Store in Munising, Polyester Books in Victoria, Russo's Books in Bakersfield, and a lot more. And those indy stores that support indy presses with indy authors make it so that we can write and not sell-out. We can create. We can exist.

And the book bloggers, they're a massive part of this new revolution, a little engine that could for authors out there who live to find their audience. And I believe in my novel. And that's because it's gotten such rave reviews, like this one and this other one.

National Book Award winner John Casey nominated U.P. for the prestigious Sewanee Writers' Series. Anne Beattie, included in Best American Short Stories of the Century, called me at my home to tell me how impressed she was by U.P. I know it's a good book, but it would have died without its being embraced by Ghost Road and all those great small bookstores and the wonderful, wonderful blogs who've let me do guest writing or interviews. I've listed ten of them below with my appearances on their sites.

Hopefully you'll check my interviews and guest blogs out to find out more about myself as an author and you'll also keep poking around to check out the rest of their blogs. We're becoming one big intense happy Internet family that has none of the rules of the major corporates. We can talk about what we want to talk about, say whatever we want to say, and let each other know what we love, who we're reading, and why it's important to our lives. I absolutely love it!

Check out:
1) Trisha's Book Blog
2) Hellnotes: Fiction, Movies, and Art Dedicated to the Horror Genre
3) Yooper Steez
4) The First Book
5) SmartAss Radio
6) The Book Girl Reviews
7) Just Your Typical Book Blog
8) Metal Express Radio
9) La Femme Readers
10) My Book, the Movie

Thank you so much to all of the above blogs and to all of your bloggers in general! You're allowing us to be discovered!

Ron Riekki, author of U.P.


U.P.'s Summary (from GhostRoadPress.com):

"From a bold new novelist comes a complex tale of friendship and brutality. Set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, U.P. is the story of four teens immersed in an ugly world, one whose threat of violence is always simmering beneath the surface. R.A. Riekki's distinctive characters and their poignant quest for freedom is a swan song to lost youth, redefining the traditional coming-of-age story. Four boys, four distinct narratives that converge into a harrowing and heartbreaking whole."

2 monkey thought (s):

The Book Resort said...

I loved this post, Ella. Thank you, Ella & Ron for the interesting post.

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