"Novelist Martin Lastrapes, whose independent novel Inside the Outside climbed the Amazon horror bestseller lists with its tale of religious sects, cannibalism, and literary terror, has signed a deal with Exciting Press to bring six new stories spanning multiple topics and genres to the digital market. Lastrapes’ short stories and flash fiction will join titles by international bestseller Nick Earls, fantasy novelist Miya Kressin, and Press director Will Entrekin to broaden Exciting Press’ already diverse catalog."
The agreement I've made with Exciting Press is both thrilling and gratifying for reasons that you probably aren't aware of. You see, I fancy myself a novelist (which, considering I've only written one novel, may sound a bit presumptuous) and, for the foreseeable future, my primary goal is to write and publish novels. But, before I was a novelist, I was just an aspiring writer trying very hard to learn my craft.
As it is with most developing writers, I cut my teeth by writing short fiction. Suffice it to say, most of my early efforts would fit comfortably on a scale of terrible-try-again to take-this-shit-to-your-grave.
Things began to change for me in 2002, when I was studying English at Cal State San Bernardino. James Brown, the critically acclaimed novelist and memoirist, was one of my creative writing professors and, under his watch, I eventually had what I think of as my Neo-at-the-end-of-The-Matrix-moment. From pacing and character to metaphor and symbolism, it all just started to make sense.
I plied this newfound knowledge by writing more short stories, only these new stories were actually pretty good. While some of them were published and others won awards, their primary purpose, so far as I was concerned, was to prepare me for my eventual leap into novel writing. And, at the end of the day, they served their purpose, when I managed to complete my debut novel Inside the Outside.
While Inside the Outside marked the beginning of my career as a novelist, there was a part of me that felt a bit sad to be moving away from short fiction and those stories I was most proud of. I'd come to accept them as fond memories, like the pretty girl I once met at Bullwinkle's who taught me how to kiss.
But now, thanks to Exciting Press, many of those short stories will be getting their time in the sun. And, while I've tried to articulate it for the last 400 words or so, the truth is I don't think I can properly express how thrilled I am to have made this deal.
I almost wish I could go back in time to talk to that younger version of myself, the aspiring writer with the shaky confidence and constant fear that nobody would ever care about the stories he wanted to tell. I almost wish I could tell him that the short stories he was writing—stories which he thought would never progress anywhere beyond his computer screen—would one day become the centerpiece for a publishing deal that would put him on the same team as critically acclaimed and bestselling authors.
But, if I did that, it would ruin the surprise for this present version of myself and I wouldn't be sitting here with a smile on my face, marveling at all the wonderful experiences this writing journey of mine has afforded me.