My name is Dylan Jerome, Publisher of Laughing Fire Press. I would like to welcome you to the Laughing Fire Press blog, SLOW TRAIN COMING. Having a blog gives us an opportunity to tell you about the Press, our goals, how we came into being, our philosophy, the types of books we publish, upcoming publications, and our plans for the future. It also allows us to comment on contemporary socially-relevant issues and allow our readers to comment on our publications and share in conversations about those issues.
I started Laughing Fire Press in 1998, seeing a need to publish the works of authors whose themes dealt with socially-relevant issues, and whose writing I believed to be of high quality, but who were unable to get published by mainstream publishing houses. I particularly wanted to publish literature in the media of fiction, poetry, and plays, as I believe these classes of writing most effectively illustrate and personalize the influences of different social forces on the individual, the family, and the culture in which we live. This kind of literature has the power to influence social change, as seen by the effects that writers such as Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Frank Norris, Rebecca West, TS Eliot, James Baldwin, Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, Eugene O’Neill, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Toni Morrison, Mary Shelley, and Zora Neale Hurston, among others, have had on our social consciousness. This list is nowhere near exhaustive, as there are numerous European, Asian, African, and Latin American writers that can also be cited as having contributed to raising the social awareness of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen.
Since founding the press, we have published a novel, a collection of poetry, and a collection of short stories. Within the next few months, another collection of short stories and two novels will be published, and another novel has been accepted for publication in early 2015. My editorial staff and I are continually evaluating submissions for the Press and for an online quarterly international literary journal, Today & Yesterday, looking for quality writing that is socially-relevant, makes a personal statement about the effect of social forces in today’s world, and has a moral focus.
By their very nature, social issues are varied and complex; it is often difficult to comprehend someone else’s viewpoint, especially one who does not share the same world-view. This is only a partial list of contemporary social issues that are, or can be, explored in literature: governmental hypocrisy and corruption; wealth inequality, exploitation, and poverty; the destruction of the environment; the state of the public and private educational systems; self-righteous discrimination and the imposition of arbitrary morality; mass surveillance and the totalitarian state; the state of the arts; religion v. science; the limited regulation of food; drugs and numbness; climate change and reality; and the reification of money. You, the reader, can easily, I am sure, extend this list.
In the weeks to come, I and guest bloggers will share our thoughts on these issues and invite readers’ comments in the hope that there will be some movement, however slight, in the direction of a change to a more humane and people-oriented planet, one that will, hopefully, survive the next hundred years of human intervention.