Monday, November 19, 2007

We're still in Rocketgirl month here at Jordan's Muse. This week is devoted to Terena Scott (to the right in photo), an independent publisher of Medusa's Muse Press, along with the lady in orange (left, photo), Jane Mackay, and a writer and blogger in her own right. Enjoy!!

1. I love the mission statement of your press: Medusa is the fear of overwhelming chaos when you are convinced you're about to drop dead from the weight of life. But instead of dropping, you look Medusa square in the eye and she blinks. That's the secret. Lock eyes with Medusa and you're free. We publish the stories of those who have used the power of Medusa's gaze to transform chaos into life, and in doing so, transform themselves.

Have you always been a fan of Medusa as a metaphor, or was there something significant that brought the myth to your attention for this purpose?

TS: The first time I used the words Medusa’s Muse was in my novel as the name of a dance troupe. I liked the musical quality of the words together. But then I began to think about what it meant. Who is Medusa’s Muse? What would inspire Medusa? I started writing about my muse on my blog as a way to explore that idea and imagined myself staring at Medusa, frozen by her gaze. Then the idea struck me; what if I made eye contact with her? Really hunted her down and MADE her look into my eyes. That’s where the concept of “transformative stories” came from.

I am fascinated by resiliency. I know people who have been through incredible things, whose lives are one catastrophe after another and you’d think they’d just give up. But they keep thriving and are joyful about being alive. I want to give those people a voice, a way to share their stories. These people have stared down Medusa, through drug addiction, illness, poverty, abuse, death… and survived. Not just survived; thrived. I want to celebrate their victory.

2. Publishing seems to get tougher and more niche-driven every year. Where does your courage to publish in the face of the big conglomerates come from?

TS: It’s a punk rock thing. I refuse to believe big conglomerates rule the world. DIY is alive and well and independent publishers are thriving. Technology has changed, so the cost per book has decreased and the internet has helped small presses market effectively. Plus, I have some great talent on my side. My partner Jane is a phenomenal editor and is very market savvy. Rick my husband is also a tech guru and excellent book designer. He did our website and designs the books, plus he’s helping me create the audio version. And we found a wonderful writer with a compelling story that I had to publish. Laura is also my daughter’s teacher, so it feels very personal.

Publishing a book isn’t impossible; it’s just hard work and very time consuming. And you have to be realistic about your goals. Am I going to make a million bucks? No way. I’ll be lucky if I make a profit. But I’m confident we’ll break even. I keep an eye on the budget and try to make sane choices about what needs to be done to create and market the book. You have to like the business end of running a press because far more of my time is spent on managing the business, not creating books. If you don’t like budgets and inventory management, don’t open a press.

3. What can a reader expect of the books published by Medusa's Muse?

TS: Stories that make you believe in possibilities while having a great time reading them. A tragedy can be transformed into something beautiful. The stories won’t all have happy endings, but the reader will come away from the book with an understanding they don’t have to be victimized by their lives. Readers can also expect quality. That’s my number one issue with some independently produced books out there. Many authors and publishers seem to rush the book and print it before it’s really done. Our editing process is very thorough because Jane has super powers over punctuation and grammar. Of course we make mistakes (well, Jane doesn’t), but there will be very few.

4. Tell us about your first title, Traveling Blind. What sold you on the book? What will readers take away from it?

Traveling Blind is the memoir of Laura Fogg who has been an itinerant Orientation and Mobility Instructor for 35 years in Mendocino County, teaching kids with limited or no vision how to navigate the world. She is a pioneer in the Orientation and Mobility field because she was one of the first to teach very young children how to use a white cane. Prior to the mid 1970’s, only high school students learned white cane, but Laura felt the best way for a blind child to understand the concepts of up, down, back, forward, high, low, etc… was by learning to travel in the world as toddlers.

Back in February 07, Laura brought me the chapter she’d written about my daughter. I loved it! Beyond the obvious reason that it was about my daughter, I loved Laura’s writing. I asked to read the whole thing and then once I’d finished it I asked if I could publish it. The stories she tells about her students are so refreshing. These aren’t stories about “poor little blind children.” These kids are vibrant, funny, and very ordinary, and they taught Laura more about herself and her life than she taught them about mobility. The book is inspiring, but not in the typical, “he overcame his disability” way you see in so many movies. Some of the stories are very sad because many of the children have other health issues other than blindness, but that’s how it ties in with Medusa. Most people can’t cope with the idea of a sick child, or they pity them. Laura embraces these kids for who they are and shares their pain and grows from their experiences. Her life is richer because she has dealt with death and grief and understands the true power of joy. But there are also a lot of laughs because remember, these are stories about kids being kids.

5. What kind of a reader are you? What are some titles that have recently captivated you, and why?

I’m an omnivorous reader. I like all kinds of books. I read everything from Henry Miller to China Meiville, to Harlequin Romances. There are just so many interesting things to learn and explore in the world that I can’t limit myself to only reading Sci Fi or non-fiction. Right now I’m reading The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillipa Gregory which is really fun to read. I’ve always been a huge fan of epic stories, and what’s more epic than an Elizabethan court? Before that I read The Good Fairies of New York, because I liked the premise of fairies causing havoc in modern day New York. But the book that captivated me recently was Shadow of the Wind, another epic, beautifully written, with a plot similar to film noir. I couldn’t put down.

6. Anything else you'd like to tell us?

Independent publishing is thriving and there are some great small presses out there with excellent writers. And don’t scoff at self published works, either. The quality in the industry is improving and some great books are being produced every month. Seeking out a book from a small press is worth the hunt. You may discover an unknown writer who completely blows your reading mind.

Buy Traveling Blind


At 6:08 PM, Blogger MOTHERLOVEBONE said...

Thanks for featuring Terena, Medusa's Muse, and the new book by Laura Fogg. I am going to buy my copy soon...the first time I went to our local bookstore to purchase it, Traveling Blind was sold out. I'm sure thev're restocked now...

Kristin Hills


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