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An interview with Immersion Press publisher Carmelo Rafala

1/6/2010. Contributed by Gareth D. Jones

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Immersion Press is a brand new UK-based genre imprint whose first title ‘Fun With Rainbows’ was launched recently. They plan to publish single-author anthologies, as well as original multi-author anthologies such as the forthcoming ‘Immersion Book Of Science Fiction’ and short novels. I met up with Carmelo Rafala at Eastercon in April where he proved to be an enthusiastic advocate of the small press market.

An Interview With Immersion Press Publisher Carmelo Rafala

by Gareth D. Jones

Immersion Press (www.immersionpress.com) is a brand new UK-based genre imprint whose first title ‘Fun With Rainbows’ was launched recently. They plan to publish single-author anthologies, as well as original multi-author anthologies such as the forthcoming ‘Immersion Book Of Science Fiction’ and short novels. I met up with Carmelo Rafala at Eastercon in April where he proved to be an enthusiastic advocate of the small press market.



Gareth D Jones: Can you tell us how you came to be involved in running a small press imprint?

Carmelo Rafala: The short answer to that question is that Lavie Tidhar made me do it.

Okay, I lied. The voices in my head made me do it. There, happy now?

Seriously, there are few outlets for short works of fiction. It appears many publishers like the ten-thousand page ‘look at my fat brick’ epic. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but many of the best works of SF have been short, from the short story to the short novel. Many of Dick’s works come easily to mind; then there is Ballard’s ‘The Drowned World’ and Clarke’s ‘Childhood’s End’ among others.

I just figured, when this was getting off the ground, why not get involved and put some shorter works out there, works that deserved to be read.

GDJ: You’re publishing by invitation only. What was the rational behind that?

CR: That was an easy decision. As a small press we simply don’t have time to read through mountains of submissions or deal with someone who decides to hurl abuse at us because we just can’t understand his genius.

We would love to read as many submissions as possible, as there is a lot of good new work out there, but it is simply not possible.

GDJ: Does Immersion Press address a particular niche or are you simply widening the field of speculative fiction publishing?

CR: We’d like to think we are widening the field of speculative fiction by doing what we are doing. We have no particular niche or sub-genre that we are focusing on. We like a good story. Simple as that.

GDJ: How important are small press imprints to the genre market?

CR: Small presses are the real magicians of the genre market. Some of the best writers and stories were ‘born’ in the small press. I truly believe that without the small press, the genre would suffer greatly. Although small presses don’t have heaps of cash and a large media machine to promote new works, the small presses take more risks and believe more in the writer’s craft.

Small presses may come and go, but don’t let that fool you, dear reader; they are always around, popping in and out of existence to fill in gaps in the publishing universe.

GDJ: Being American, do you feel that you have a different outlook on the genre market to British publishers? Does that affect your role as part of a UK imprint?

CR: Not sure if I have a different outlook. But it seems to me that the genre market is thriving on both sides of the Atlantic - maybe more so, dare I say it, in the UK and Europe.

Having lived in various parts of the world, I would like to think I have developed a taste that - I hope - is not uniquely American or British.

(And, hey, I am also Sicilian, and so I come to SF with a slight Mediterranean slant as well.)

GDJ: What plans do you have for Immersion Press in the next year or two?

CR: To hopefully spot and present some good new works. Although I don’t worry too much about going bust - what will be will be, and one can never predict these things – I do hope we are around a long time.

But, hey, even if we do fold in a year or two, like I said above, there will be some other small press to take our place. We leave all that worrying about posterity business to bigger fish. Our only goal is to put out to some great stories that might not otherwise be allowed to be born.

And, of course, to make you buy our books, or you’ll be sleeping with the fishes! Capeesh?

GDJ: Thanks for your time.

CR: You’re welcome.

Now unless you want to wake up and find a pig’s head on your doorstep, get your ass over to Amazon or your local store and pick up a book of ours.

I’m asking nicely....

(c) Gareth D. Jones and Carmelo Rafala 2010
all rights reserved

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