49 Writers Publisher Interview: Boreal Books

Continuing our series on small and regional presses with an interest in Northern titles, Peggy Schumaker discusses her Red Hen imprint, Boreal Books.

Tell us about your company. Who started it? Why? Which books were among the first you published? What niche do you hold in the marketplace?

Boreal Books is an imprint of Red Hen Press. That means that Boreal titles are featured in Red Hen’s catalog and on its website, and we share in their distribution network. At the suggestion of Kate Gale, Managing Editor for Red Hen, I began this effort.

Our first title is Leaving Resurrection, a visionary collection of nonfiction by Eva Saulitis. Eva lives in Homer, studies killer whales in Prince William Sound, and writes exquisite essays and poems. She’s the child of Latvian immigrants, a runner, a beekeeper, an oboe player. Her book explores several questions that science doesn’t allow her to ask. Artist Karl Becker carved woodcuts in response to her essays.

The second Boreal book is Double Moon, a full-color collaboration between visual artist Margo Klass and prose writer Frank Soos. Margo builds exquisite box constructions filled with found objects. Frank responds to them in brief and meaty prose pieces. The book showcases two mature artists engaged in artwork’s serious play. Wanda Chin’s elegant book design allows three-dimensional objects to come alive on the page.

Boreal Books focuses on literature and fine art from Alaska.

How many books do you typically publish each year? In which genres? Over the years, what kinds of changes have you made to your list?

We’re new. Boreal Books publishes one title per year. I’m interested in poetry, literary nonfiction, and literary fiction.

Red Hen has one other imprint–Arktoi Books. It publishes one book per year by a lesbian writer. Their first title was by an Alaskan poet–Elizabeth Bradfield’s Interpretive Work.

Describe your ideal author. In other words, if one of us wanted to wow you with a proposed project, how would we do it?

The ideal author for Boreal Books would be someone who writes exceptionally well, who is motivated to be an active participant in all stages of production, and who enjoys promoting the book. The ideal author would be mature, imaginative, and patient. The ideal author would understand that in the world of small press publishing, financial rewards are rare.

The economy has hit publishing hard. Are you seeing any encouraging signs? What is the future for small and regional publishers?

The economy for commercial literary work is dismal, with a few players controlling what the chain stores buy. The economy for small press and university press publishing is extremely lively. This is where most literature finds a home in this country.

What do you most want to communicate to readers about your books and to writers about submissions?

I’d be interested in seeing one-page queries from people who have high-quality book-length manuscripts. Visit www.borealbooks.org for a glimpse of what I’ve chosen so far. Please visit my website at www.peggyshumaker.com. Then if this looks like a good fit, please send a brief email to peggyzoe@gmail.com.

1 thought on “49 Writers Publisher Interview: Boreal Books”

  1. I loved Leaving Ressurection. Beautifully written and compelling. I hope Red Hen publishes more books like Eva's.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top