Rose Metal Press is a female founded and run empire which in four short years has become one of the fore-runners in the indie fiction community. As a welder and Emerson undergrad alum, I like them additionally. Though, mostly because they really do put out excellent work, (11 quite legit indie books to date), and have great attitudes, and are awesome.

Q (Nicolle Elizabeth): Rose Metal, welcome to Fictionaut. How is it going?

A (Abby Beckel and Kathleen Rooney): Hi, Nicolle. Thanks for the invite, and for being such a thoughtful hostess. (With the mostess, etc.)

What is Rose Metal Press? (Its history, mission, its everything?)

Rose Metal is a fusible alloy with a low melting point consisting of 50% bismuth, 25-28% lead, and 22-25% tin. Also known as “Rose’s metal” and “Rose’s alloy,” Rose Metal is typically used as a solder.

Our Rose Metal Press is an independent, not-for-profit publisher of work in hybrid genres, specializing in the publication of short short, flash, and micro-fiction; prose poetry, novels-in-verse or book-length linked narrative poems; and other literary works that move beyond the traditional genres of poetry, fiction, and essay to find new forms of expression.

Just as the alloy Rose Metal joins one unlike thing to another so strongly that they cannot be separated, Rose Metal Press publishes three beautifully produced titles per year by authors who fuse unlike elements together in their writing in ways that are both surprising and seamless.

Shortly after our 2005 graduations from the MA and MFA programs at Emerson College, we co-founded the press in Boston in January of 2006. In observing the literary community and deciding what kind of focus we wanted our press to take, we noticed that many writers were doing exciting, culturally important work in these hybrid genres, but that they had limited opportunities to publish that work since few commercial publishers accept such submissions due to concerns over profitability and marketing.

How many books, anthologies, journals etc has Rose Metal birthed into literature over the years?

ISBNs are sold in batches of ten. And we just had to buy another batch! Because our next full-length book, COLOR PLATES by Adam Golaski, will be our eleventh book, and releases in September. But our tenth book, our next chapbook, will come out in a few weeks, in late July. The chapbook, WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE, was written by Mary Hamilton and selected by Dinty W. Moore as the winner of our Fourth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest.

Talk about the contests. How are the judges chosen? What’s the contest all about?

This year’s judge will be Kim Chinquee, and our first judge was Ron Carlson, our second was Robert Shapard, and our third was Sherrie Flick. The judges are chosen based on their own accomplishments in and support of the short short form. Chapbooks are often considered the province of poetry, but we think that they also make good delivery devices for flash fiction, hence the contest. If you win, we make a limited edition chapbook out of your book and we letterpress its covers by hand on a vintage Vandercook press at the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA. Details are as follows:

Our Fifth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest submission period begins October 15 and ends December 1, 2010. Our 2010 judge will be Kim Chinquee. The winner will have his/her chapbook published in summer 2011, with an introduction by the contest judge. During the submission period, please email your 25-40 page double-spaced manuscript of short short stories under 1000 words to us at rosemetalpress[at]gmail[dot]com with a $10 reading fee via Paypal or check.

Rose Metal and Grub Street are affiliates or no? I thought you somehow were connected but can’t remember if not ignore me I have no airconditioning.

We are mutual fans, and fellow-Boston-area-based literary nonprofits, yes. But we’re not formally affiliated. However, Grub Street has been really supportive of us, and allows us to host our launch parties there sometimes, in their amazing space overlooking the Boston Common.

What lit does Rose Metal love?

All the work by our authors, of course, but also many, many of the books being put out by other small and independent presses (and some of the mainstream and university publishers). We love books that take chances, and publishers who do the same and think beyond the big sell or big name, and instead choose books first for their beauty of language, or originality, or amazing perceptiveness, etc. The aesthetic of the press is that we tend to choose stories and poems that are funny/sad – that use the innate irony and absurd humor of daily life to illuminate poignant relationships and situations without sentimentality.

What’s in the future for Rose Metal?

After Mary Hamilton’s chapbook and Adam Golaski’s full-length collection, we’re going to be publishing a multi-author volume of chapbooks consisting of a reprint of Third Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest winner Sean Lovelace’s HOW SOME PEOPLE LIKE THEIR EGGS along with four of the finalists to the Fourth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest, including Elizabeth Colen, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, and Mary Miller. It will be called THEY COULD NO LONGER CONTAIN THEMSELVES, and will be sort of similar to the multi-author chapbook collection we put out back in 2007 called A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS, which included a reprint of Claudia Smith’s First Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest winning manuscript, as well as chapbooks by Amy L. Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, and Kathy Fish.

After that, we’ll put out prose poem/short short book THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE by Jim Goar. What we are saying about the latter is this: The prose poems and flash fictions in The Louisiana Purchase carry the reader past Ozzie Smith and Thomas Jefferson into a world where the moon is an outlaw, a weeping elephant flees from the authorities, the Pinkertons upset the sky, effigies of Phil Neikro are burned, and a society made of words collapses. According to Scott Glassman of Rain Taxi, Goar’s “clause-free declarative sentences are a perfect match for the edgy grade-school surrealism that guides us into emotional revelation.”  The Louisiana Purchase is what Alice would have found had she fallen into William Clark’s map instead of a rabbit hole; it is an uncanny territory that both delights and disturbs.

Those two books, plus our contest-winning chapbook, make up our list for 2011. Beyond that, we’ve got other great hybrid projects under consideration for 2012 and beyond.

Thanks for having us!

Nicolle Elizabeth checks in with Fictionaut Groups every Friday.

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