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  • Scenes:Dark Sky Books: an interview with Brian Allen Carr

Could you briefly describe Dark Sky's history?

Dark Sky Magazine was started as a blogazine in 2007 that was updated near daily. Initially, the scope of the content was a bit broader. We looked at music as well as literature. We ran one piece of fiction and one poem a week. In 2009, Kevin Murphy, the founder of Dark Sky, moved from South Carolina to Seattle. A few months later, I came aboard. In 2010, we established the more permanent web magazine format we have now and released our first book—Ben Mazer's January 2008 (2010). Since then, we've released nine other titles—most recently Jensen Beach's For out of the Heart Proceed (2012)—two print magazines, and 16 web issues. Initially, the web journals were monthly, but this past year we brought on web editors Gabe Durham, Christy Crutchfield, Sarah Boyer, Ted Powers, and Brian Mihok, who decided to move the web issues to a quarterly format.

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Cover, Morocco

How would you characterize the work you publish?

This is always a tough question because I think the main thing we look for is quality and some kind of artistic honesty. Gregory Sherl's I Have Touched You (2011) is very different than, say, Michael Bible's Cowboy Maloney's Electric City (2011). Both those books, however, have what we believe to be an undeniable sense of originality and a kind of warm delivery that comes from an artist working with integrity. I think the same could be said of all the work we publish—at least, that's the aim.

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Dark Sky Logo

What's in the future for Dark Sky?

No one knows. I don't mean to be vague or anything here. I think we'll do Dark Sky until we lose interest or the wheels fall off. We've had more success with our books than I believe we ever thought we'd achieve. Our first fiction book, Ethel Rohan's Cut through the Bone (2010), did remarkably well, and it sort of helped us really open some avenues to get our work out there.

There's an odd thing with indie folks—they're kind of fickle. They don't generally love what isn't new. Hipsters hate a thing once it's successful. It's not a new concept. I remember in high school hating bands that had made it big. A lot of the people who buy our books are buying our books because they aren't hyper-known. Because they aren't in Barnes and Noble, because when they buy one of our books they're buying into a kind of exclusive club of people who don't have their heads up their asses—people who look around at life, people with open hearts and minds.

I don't know. What's the shelf life on an indie press? This summer, Mud Luscious Press announced financial woes. Flat Man Crooked folded, and they had an author on the cover of PW.

We try to work one book at a time. We've got a collection from Dave Housely coming out next. It's a beast. It will shake your bones.

After that, hopefully we'll put out another bone-shaker.

Once the bones quit shaking? Who knows? Maybe we'll take up carpentry.

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Cover, Cowboy Maloney.s Electric City

What is your role in the publishing scene?

Our role is to be Dark Sky. We have to get up each morning and do what Dark Sky does. We have to find books that only Dark Sky wants to publish by writers who Dark Sky loves. Those books that we publish have to be Dark Sky quality. That is our role.

I don't know any other way to answer this really. If we look at others and try to augment or adjust our aim in order to be more or less like them, then what's the point? That's not to say that we are oblivious...


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