Third Person Press of North Sydney is launching its third book, To Unimagined Shores, a collection of speculative fiction stories by Northside native, Sherry D. Ramsey, on Tuesday, December 6, at 6:30 pm at the Wilfred Oram Centennial Library, 299 Commercial Street, North Sydney.
Ramsey, a former lawyer, is a full-time writer whose unpublished novel, One’s Aspect to the Sun, won second place in the 28th annual Atlantic Writing Competition’s novel category, the H.R. (Bill) Percy Prize. She has been editor-in-chief and publisher of the award-winning online writer’s resource, The Scriptorium, for over a dozen years and is one of three founders with Nancy Waldman and Julie Serroul of Third Person Press, local publishers of speculative fiction.
Sixteen stories of the stories included in To Unimagined Shores first appeared in magazines, collections and anthologies including On Spec, Simulacrum, Fantasy Magazine, The Day the Men Went to Town (Breton Books), Michael Stackpole’s The Chain Story Project, Gateway S-F, Neo-opsis and others. A seventeenth story appears in this collection for the first time.
WGO: What sparked your interest in speculative fiction?
RAMSEY: This is a tough question, because I’ve been writing it for so long. In fact, the first full story I remember writing, as a school assignment in Grade 8, was a horror/supernatural tale. I think I read widely in fantasy and science fiction growing up–well, I read almost everything in the young readers’ section of our local library. I particularly recall loving Edward Eager’s Magic series and C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. So fantasy was really my first love, and then science fiction came a little later. I think I like speculative fiction because it allows the writer–and the reader–to explore all the same issues and aspects of life and human relationships as mainstream or literary fiction does, but without necessarily being tied to the mundane world. Frankly, I think that overall, it demands more of the reader. It isn’t called the “literature of the imagination” for nothing. The sense of boundless possibility appeals to me, I suppose.
WGO: The book is divided into three sections (Science Fictional Shores, Fantastic Shores, and Magical Shores): why?
RAMSEY: Personally, I enjoy science fiction and fantasy equally, but I know there are readers who have a preference for one or the other. I decided to make it clear what sorts of stories were in which of the first two sections, so that readers would know what they were getting into. As for the third section, I have a series of stories involving the same main character, so I thought it might be a good idea to group them together; they do follow a rough chronology in the character’s life. However, I know that readers often choose stories in a collection randomly, so once it’s in a reader’s hands, I’ve done all I can.
WGO: How has online publishing changed your genre? More writers? More ideas?
RAMSEY: Online publishing and the advent of ebooks have changed not just the speculative genre, but the world of publishing entirely. Never has publishing–distributing the written word to readers–been so accessible, to small presses and individual authors alike. Like all change, this has pros and cons. New writers will find it more difficult to break in with larger traditional publishers, as the infrastructure of publishing continues to shift away from sales of paper books; many traditional publishers are still largely in the process of learning how to navigate the new electronic waters. Of course, new writers have many more options as well, from small and independent presses, to self-publishing, which is quickly losing the stigma it once held. Then again, ease of publishing means that many new and would-be writers choose to bypass the editing and review processes that go into a really polished and finished book, so readers must learn how to find the best stories themselves. It’s really a world in flux right now.
WGO: Is there anything distinctive about Cape Breton Sci Fi? Does it tie into an older tradition of storytelling?
RAMSEY: I think it’s clear from the stories we’ve seen come through Third Person Press that the strong storytelling tradition in Cape Breton transcends the boundaries of genre or style. However, I’m not certain that Cape Breton Sci Fi is particularly different from Canadian Sci Fi as a whole. Cape Breton writers, in Sci Fi as in other literary genres, don’t seem to be constrained in their views or in their imaginations. That said, we might hear echoes of strong cultural traditions (like ghost stories and our multicultural heritage), themes of both community and isolation, and characters who refuse to be victims, in Cape Breton Sci Fi. It would be interesting to see what themes other readers see emerging from here.
WGO: Where will the book be available for sale?
RAMSEY: The print version of the book will be available directly from Third Person Press (it can be ordered from our website right now), and from online retailers like amazon. It’s in the Cape Breton Catalogue, and we’re currently making arrangements with some of the retailers around Cape Breton, as well. We’ll list those on the website as we have them. The ebook version in the most popular formats is also available from our website, from the Kindle store, and in a wide variety of formats at Smashwords.