For as long as I can remember, January has always been my favorite month of the year. It’s a fresh start, there’s lots of promise in the air, and better still, down here in Australia it’s summer and the beach-going days are long and lush (or perhaps I’m the one who’s the lush). Yes, every year begins with a determination to make this the best year yet, and for some reason, for me at least, that means taking on a brand new challenge!
This year’s challenge is to become a publisher. How terrifyingly exciting!
I currently run my own marketing and advertising business, and I like to call myself a writer whenever I actually find the time to write. But the sucker for punishment in me wanted more (greedy, approval-driven, ego-maniac he is) and so I made the decision to take on publishing. However it wasn’t a decision I made lightly, and it wasn’t one I made alone. No sir, I’ve dragged fellow author Ethan Day along for the ride, because what’s the fun of a rollercoaster if you can’t giggle at the person beside you screaming. And so launching The Empire Press became our mission for 2013.
But does the world of gay publishing really need another press? I believe whole-heartedly that the answer is ‘Yes’. Gay Romance has been growing at a rapid rate over the last two years, and I firmly believe that 2013 will be the year that Gay Romance comes into its own. No longer will it be considered the poor queer cousin of straight romance, and its quickly-growing legion of fans (the vast majority of whom are women) will need quality content to feed their almost insatiable appetite for Gay Romance.
However, when Ethan and I decided to jump into the fray, we were very conscious that many writers of Gay Romance enjoy writing more than just romantic tales, including ourselves. Sometimes a story belongs within the bounds and definitions of romance; but sometimes as a writer you want to break the rules. And so we made the decision to publish both traditional Gay Romance, but also publish other genres. We wanted to create a press that builds a bridge between Gay Romance and all other forms of Gay Lit, and to create a hub where fans of all quality gay tales could come and explore and potentially delve into genres they haven’t tried before.
The first novel published under The Empire Press turned out to be To Catch A Fox, the first novel that Ethan and I co-wrote together. In a way, Fox is a true representation of what we want to achieve with our press. It’s a gay mystery romance, but it doesn’t necessarily follow the rules of traditional Gay Romance. There’s no HEA and the entire novel ends on a cliffhanger which sets up the second book. We did this because it was the right thing to do for the characters and the story arc, because our number one goal was to create something that was character-driven with a strong focus on plot, regardless of whether it adhered to any rules or not. All we wanted to do was try to tell the best, most compelling story we could. And that’s what we want for the books published through The Empire Press.
When I started writing gay novels in 2006, I began with the gay adventure tales and received a fair amount of attention from the Lambda Lit world. However, it’s taken much longer for me to break into Gay Romance. Ethan on the other hand began in the world of Gay Romance, and has an extremely strong following in that world. We believe that between the two of us, we can bring these two worlds together with the books we publish at The Empire Press, and To Catch A Fox is a great example of that.
While we’re currently working towards launching our website in early April, we’re putting in place a slate of gay tales from some of the gay lit’s bestselling authors, ranging from traditional gay romance and romantic comedies to mystical fantasy allegories; from gay adventures to tales set in a dystopian future… oh and let’s not forget our gay zombie anthologies! (Zombies are the new Vampires!). Yes, romance is still on our agenda, but so is any other story we believe is a truly great gay novel.
So begins our journey… and we can’t wait to make this dream a reality!