The Lonely Cry
by Lone Wolf
Review by Ernest Lilley
LonelyCry Zine ISBN/ITEM#: LonelyCry
Date: / Show Official Info /
SFRevu: Congratulations to everyone for the publishing notices in the latest (Issue 21.) edition of The Lonely Cry. I admit that I was more familiar with Dave Duncan and Matthew Hughes' work than most of the others, and appreciated being able to learn more about them from the site. Have you given thought to having each member contribute a short piece so readers can get an idea for themselves? I'd like to see one of Clélie Rich's "small perfect poems."
SFRevu: How (and when) did The Lonely Cry come about? What's its mission?
LC: The Lonely Cry came into being about twenty years ago when a small group of B.C. SF&F writers, all of us good friends, got together at Michael Coney's home in Sidney B.C. Michael (who sadly passed away last year) had come up with the very sensible idea of promoting our work on a co-operative basis. The original members, along with Mike, were Rhea Rose, Mary Choo, Clélie Rich and myself. Later we were joined by Teresa Plowright, Nancy Bennett, Dave Duncan and Matthew Hughes. (Teresa and Nancy are no longer active with the group, as they are not presently publishing fantasy or SF).
Our plan, first of all, was to share the cost of producing a promotional news-sheet once or twice a year, announcing our new books, short story and poetry publications, awards, readings, etc. Mike, who operated his own small press at the time, volunteered to do the typesetting and layout, while the rest of us looked after distribution. We put together a mailing list of libraries, bookstores, reviewers, organizations, fan publications, and anyone else we could think of who might like to buy or review our books. As well, we took copies to SF conventions.
The second and more unusual part of Mike's idea was to adapt selections from our own work as "readers' theatre" scripts, and stage them at science fiction conventions, complete with costumes and props. Our "Lonely Cry Theatre" became something of a tradition at VCon, the local Vancouver SF convention. (SF fans clearly enjoyed watching normally dignified authors wear silly hats, brandish cardboard swords and generally behave foolishly). We also set up the Lonely Cry Online website (now at wwww.lonelycry.ca) with links to our individual pages.
SFRevu: So, from the name of the publication, I'm guessing you feel pretty isolated in B.C. Has The Lonely Cry helped you get heard?
LC: That's hard to gauge, but I believe that our "west coast pr conspiracy" has, over the years, helped to increase our profile as writers. Name recognition is everything in this business. The books I've published since we established The Lonely Cry are far more likely than my earlier ones to be found in public libraries, and I think that's due in part to our regular mail-outs.
SFRevu: Does the The Lonely Cry have an editor, or do you all just take turns? Who keeps the site up to date? Who writes the deathless prose for each book?
LC: Originally Michael Coney was our editor. Nowadays, that would be me. I collect news from the other members for our "Ctrl/alt/del" section and organize the front page book descriptions, generally taking them from the publishers' promotional material. We also like to include a general interest editorial on some aspect of writing and publishing, and those we take turns to contribute. Our website is pretty basic, as none of us are web designers, but my son looks after the updates.
SFRevu: Do you folks get together as a writing group, or just to pool resources and get the word out? Do you add in new writers as they come along?
LC: While we don't get together as a writing group, we're all in regular contact, in person or by e-mail. Dave and Matt live on Vancouver Island, and the rest of us on the mainland. Rhea, Clélie and I are members of a long-established speculative workshop called Helix, and Mary and I live five minutes apart in New Westminster.
Our original intent was to keep the group small and closely knit, and that seems to work best for us. When from time to time we add new members, it's by invitation.
SFRevu: How is SF&F doing in B.C., and who else is writing it? Does it have any particular sensibility?
LC: SF&F is flourishing in BC. If there's a particular sensibility, it's subtle, though out here on the west coast we're generally considered a bit more liberal, a bit more innovative, a bit more out on the fringe politically and culturally as well as geographically. But in BC writing there's a great range of genre, style, setting and subject matter, as you'll see from the following (by no means exhaustive) list of British Columbia authors: William Gibson; Spider Robinson; Sean Russell; Donna McMahon; Lisa Smedman; new writers Janine Cross (Touched by Venom) and Holly Phillips (winner of this year's Sunburst Award for In the Palace of Repose, and a World Fantasy award nominee); Steven Erikson (The Mazalan Book of the Dead series); and short story writers Mark Anthony Brennan and Donna Farley.
It's often been remarked that Canadian SF&F writing in general has a somewhat different sensibility from American writing, though it's difficult to pinpoint the difference. Maybe Canadian writing is a bit edgier, more experimental, harder to classify, more apt to bend genres.
SFRevu: Matt, I especially liked your recent editorial about the reasons for publishers killing off the paperback format. It's really a pity, because there just isn't any substitute for a 2-300 page novel you can take anywhere. "Trade" editions are fine, but you can't slide into your back pocket. Can't small presses make them in the smaller format?
LC: Matt: I'm glad you liked the piece. As for small presses and trade paperbacks, the same cost-recovery constraints apply. Jason Williams of Night Shade told me that the chains prefer the trades and are willing to order more of them than they will of the mass-markets, because so many of their customers seem to prefer them. An issue I didn't have room to deal with is the dwindling exposure of mass-market titles outside of bookstores. It used to be that drug stores and supermarkets would stock dozens of different mass market paperback titles, which were supplied to them (and chosen by) the hundreds of various-sized distributors that used to operate in North America. But now the distributors have been consolidated into a half a dozen major corporate entities, and these big outfits have found it more profitable to supply these stores with only the top ten or fifteen bestsellers. Increasingly, the mega-sellers are all that the potential impulse buyer will see.
Electronic books? They're still a hazy shape on the far horizon as far as I can tell. I am, however, letting Night Shade put my new novel, Majestrum, out as a Creative Commons free download, to see if it drives sales. So I'm at least hopeful.
SFRevu: Can we find fiction from B.C. here in the US?
LC: Absolutely-- Dave and Matt publish with US presses, as do all the writers on the above list. Apart from Edge, a small press in Alberta, there are no Canadian publishers of adult SF&F. Mary's and Rhea's short stories have appeared in US magazines and anthologies. I published my adult fantasy novels with Ace Books, though my current young adult fantasies are with a Canadian small press. And as for BC settings, William Gibson's well-known short story "Winter Market" is set here in Vancouver B.C., as is Donna McMahon's Dance of Knives.
SFRevu: My copy of The Lonely Cry says it's published at irregular intervals at 225 Townsend Place, New Westminster BC V3L1L4. Are there subscriptions, and can you sign up for it as an email?
LC: Subscriptions are free, and enthusiastically invited. For a hard copy, just send your snail-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org; or send us your e-mail address for an electronic version.