Special thanks to editor Joanne Merriam for answering 5 questions about her recently featured book – How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens
Joanne Merriam is the owner and editor of Upper Rubber Boot Books, and former editor of Seven by Twenty. Joanne Merriam’s poetry and fiction has appeared in dozens of magazines and journals, including The Antigonish Review, Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Fiddlehead, The Furnace Review, Grain, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, The Mainichi Daily News, Per Contra, Riddle Fence, Room of One’s Own, Strange Horizons and Vallum Contemporary Poetry, as well as in the anthologies Ice: new writing on hockey, To Find Us: Words and Images of Halifax and The Allotment: New Lyric Poets. – Adapted from Joanne’s Homepage
Joanne’s Homepage: http://www.joannemerriam.com
#1 – What was the impetus behind How to Live on Other Planets?
I’m an immigrant (from Canada to the US) and often have to fill out forms in which I’m referred to as an alien by the government, so it seemed like a natural topic for a science fiction anthology! I did some research and couldn’t find any pre-existing collections, so I decided to just go for it.
#2 – How many authors are part of this book? How did you collect and choose which stories to include?
There are 36 writers in the book, from 12 countries. I posted an open call for submissions on the Upper Rubber Boot Books website, and then promoted the link on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. I had about 200 submissions if I recall correctly, many with multiple stories, so I probably read more like 300-400 stories and poems to select the ones in the book.
My selection criteria were that it had to have already appeared in a magazine (because I couldn’t afford to pay pro rates for new work but could pay competitively for reprint rights), and it had to make me say, “Wow!” at some point in the story. I also tried not to have much overlap between stories, and I wanted stories that drew from cultures around the world, so some really good stories ended up getting rejected because they were too similar to other work I’d already accepted.
#3 – Your book doesn’t only deal with aliens, but all manner of ‘otherness’ in various scenarios. Which was your favourite story?
It’s hard to choose just one, but I’d say probably Benjamin Rosenbaum’s “The Guy Who Worked For Money” is my favourite. The idea that an apparently post-scarcity economy (that instead runs on popularity and social connections) could really screw over somebody for having unpopular opinions, really resonated with me.
#4 – What feedback have you received about the book?
It’s already our second most popular title (of 12) and it’s not even been out two months yet, so I feel like it’s been pretty well received! Most of the critics have been kind, and a lot of people have commented on how thought-provoking the stories are.
#5 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?
Sure – our next two titles are single-author books: a novelette by Argentinian writer Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría called Memory about a revolution on a terraformed Mars, and a rock and roll novella called Flight 505 by American writer Leslie Bohem (formerly a rock and roll musician himself, but better known as the writer of the Emmy-award-winning mini-series Taken).
We also have The Museum of All Things Awesome and That Go Boom, an adventure science fiction anthology which is slated for spring 2016 release. I’m still waiting on contracts, but can tell you that contributors include Ken Liu, K. Ceres Wright, Kelly Luce, Kristin Bock, Leonard Richardson, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Ursula Pflug, Nick Kocz and Nick Wood.
[Image Credit: Peter Merriam, http://www.upperrubberboot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Author_photo-300×275.gif ]