Today we welcome Ashavan Doyon, one of the owners of Purple Horn Press, which just opened its doors at purplehornpress.com.
A warm Love Bytes welcome.
Thanks Dani. We’re happy to be here.
What drove you to start Purple Horn Press?
Purple Horn Press started as as an imagined imprint. I was personally affected by the closings this past year, and lost the publisher for my College Rose Romances. When Ron and I talked about it, we saw a field of publishers that had been really hit hard for reasons outside the market. People are still consuming LGBT romance. Readers still crave a good story. Ron has spent much of his life running small businesses and when we looked at the idea we saw a gap. There are displaced authors, displaced editors. We saw a gap, and we felt like it was something we had some expertise in and the experience to be able to make happen.
Has it been hard starting up the business?
There are a ton of details. Most of them are really pretty boring, though my husband gets excited over every banner. I think the hard thing really is a trust issue. We’re a new publisher, so it’s hard to get buy in from authors to agree to trust their books to us, and from editors, to agree to edit for us, since many editors were also left out in the cold from the recent closings.
Is there some significance to the name?
A purple/lavender rhinoceros was a symbol of gay liberation in the 70s. For me it’s always been a memorable symbol, because in the mid-eighties at my college the banner featuring the symbol was stolen from the LGBT student group and returned later with a bullet hole painted in its head. I remember that story vividly from when I first joined the political caucus of my student LGBT group, so the symbol has always been particularly poignant for me.
I understand you have a couple stories already on your schedule, what can you tell me about them?
Our first release is a little bit of a preview. Because of that it’s very short, about the length of something you might ordinarily find in an anthology release. Titled American Pride, it follows Dusty, a young veteran soldier who returned to the United States injured from his service. He’s struggling both with coming to terms with his injuries, but also with the isolation that his grief has brought him. It’s a bit of angsty story, and because we’re just starting out and working on getting more submissions, it’s one of mine.
We also have a wonderful story by Cindy Sutherland titled Love Aggression. It’s a shifter story, about a young man and his son who witness a brutal crime and have to go on the run. The folks they’re hiding from are still out there, so it has that tight feeling that the other shoe could drop at any moment throughout most of the story. The romance is sweet and steamy in the right places, and I love the interplay with the protagonist, his son, and the love interest. That story is currently in editing and will be among our first releases.
You mentioned you were still seeking submissions. Do you have submissions guidelines?
We do, and they’re available both on our facebook page and on our website, I’ll give the links at the end. Our focus is on stories featuring a strong gay or bi male romance throughout the story in all sub-genres and at all heat levels, but we’re a LGBT publisher and will also consider stories that examine romance in that larger LGBT context. We look at everything from short novellas starting at about 20K words all the way up to full length novels of about 90K.
Do either of you have favorite sub-genres for those considering submitting?
Well first I’d say submit your best work; don’t worry what my personal favorites are! I grew up reading classic fantasy and sci-fi, but I grew up in a time when those books did not feature gay romances at all, even as subplots. When they did, the first stirrings were Mercedes Lackey, and while I love her Last Herald Mage books, they’re conspicuous for leaving the gay character repeatedly alone. She was trailblazing for not only including the characters, but for letting them have romances at all, but the books themselves were not romances, despite being romantic. I was introduced to modern gay romance through fan fiction, and most of my reading and favorites are contemporaries.
I’ve seen stories you’d expect to be sort of blah be incredible when written well, and I’ve seen fantastic ideas that simply fell flat in their execution. For me the biggest test of a story is if it can make me laugh or cry. Any story that makes me care enough about the characters to do either is probably doing a reasonably good job.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our audience?
When I first started writing I was struck by the differences between small and large presses in the genre, from response times to tone to that feeling of being a family. I’d love to help foster that feeling and that supportiveness for authors. I’d love to be able to bring the sorts of stories I always loved to read to a broader audience. I was a reader before I was a writer, and I love to share stories I feel strongly about. I’m looking forward to submissions, because I want to be able to support some of those stories to.
Purple Horn Press can be found online at www.purplehornpress.com
Or on facebook at fb.me/purplehornpress