Tag Archives: steven gillis

The Story of Dzanc Books

Black Lawrence Press could not exist as it does today if it were not for two guys, Steven Gillis and Dan Wickett, the founders of Dzanc Books. To learn more about their story and about the company that Publishers Weekly called “the future of publishing”, read this article from Poets & Writers.

A Sure-Footed Display of the Heart’s Ability to Reclaim Itself

Check out this great review of The Consequence of Skating from Booklist:

A compelling meditation on media influence and social isolation, Gillis’ fourth novel explores the struggle for redemption and acceptance in a world saturated by information. Ten months out of therapy for dope abuse, once-promising actor Mickey Greene works the off-season late shift at an amusement park in the small but prominent art town of Aldwich. A pop-conscious news junkie, Mick bides his time ice-skating while he obsesses over former girlfriend Darcie and dreams of producing Harold Pinter’s play Moonlight, which he is convinced will resurrect his acting career. He soon befriends Cam, a 12-year-old ice-skater without parental constraint; begins dating a successful local singer; and keeps tabs on his mysterious friend Ted, who has turned a personalized porn program into a dangerous political forecaster known as G.O.D. As Mick establishes an improvised family to help him repair the mistakes of his past, he soon realizes that nothing can prepare him for his greatest challenge yet—success. Meticulous and provocative, Gillis’ tale is a sure-footed display of the heart’s ability to reclaim itself, one step at a time. –Jonathan Fullmer

The Consequence of Skating is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

Revolution, Chemotherapy, Addiction, and Harold Pinter: A Conversation with Steven Gillis

We’re pleased to present an interview with Steven Gillis about his recent novel The Consequence of Skating.

Black Lawrence Press: Early in the novel, the main character Mickey Greene intimates his belief that “at the heart of every conflict is just people dancing”. Is this something that you also believe to be true?

Steven Gillis: Without question.  We are all basically an external extension of our own internal bullshit.  We all just get our hackles up in a conflict and dance and strut and jump about with our egos aflame.  Wars are nothing more than this, some “greater”  and “larger”  meaning propped up but when all is reduced back to its base root, its just people beating one another over the head with their own prejudices and misunderstandings.  Even when we are fighting the good fight and our cause is noble and just, there is still a dance involved, by necessity, to get our point across.  All human interaction is a dance.  We’re animals.  Watch animals as they interact, when courting, when fighting, its all a dance.  People are no different.

BLP: In your last novel, Temporary People, you imagined an island nation experiencing one in a long series of revolutions. In The Consequence of Skating, all of the revolutions that have made the history books are synthesized, along with centuries of thought, by a computer program called Government Objectivity Design (G.O.D.).  According to the program creator, this makes it possible to find logical solutions to all conflicts, even very serious conflicts that lead to war and revolution.

The hero of the novel would like to have faith in the program but cannot seem to muster it. In Temporary People, however, there is a legacy of people putting their faith in revolution. Do you think that, as it plays out in the worlds of your novels, revolution — or, at least, the possibility of revolution — is essential to maintaining faith in the future?

SG: Thats a good question.  Jefferson said there is no possibility of a lasting democracy without a bloody revolution every thirty years.  I don’t necessarily agree with this, but more so that revolutions are inevitable.  No country is truly stable, and those that appear to be, like the United States, manage this by maintaining and manipulating its financial markets.  If the markets crash far enough you’ll have a bloody revolution in the United States, too.  We’re no different than  the people in Zimbabwe or anywhere else.  There needs to be a level of control – democratic, socialist, fascist, dictatorial – to keep a revolution at bay but in most poor nations the control is tenuous and the need to revolt is all an oppressed people have.  But to your question, I think we are all as individuals in a constant state of revolt.  If we are not revolting against something we are static.  I don’t mean some angry revolt, I mean our ambitions are a form of revolt, we need to have personal revolutions, to be moving toward something.  Absent that, we as individuals and then collectively as a community become complacent and apathetic and that is when dangers occur, when tyrants can take over a population, when our own individual dreams can disappear if we dont rally and revolt against our of insecurities and fears and find the strength to act.  Action is life.  Those who are afraid to follow their dreams I simply have no time for.

BLP: You have talked openly about the fact that your wife was diagnosed with breast cancer while you were writing this novel and that, through surgery, radiation, and chemo the writing of the book became a sort of anchor for you. How did this make the writing of The Consequence of Skating, different than the writing of your previous three novels?

SG: My life was totally different, everything was raw.  I wrote from a need to have one constant – aside from the love of my wife and children whose lives were equally in a state of chaos.  I wrote Skating all the while questioning the point of it all, the need to write yes to keep sane but at the end of the day could I say anything more in my work than realizing much of life is meaningless beyond serving the things we love?  Maybe that’s enough to say.  I still dont know if my state of mind was sufficient to even write Skating the way I wanted, though the reviews have been strong which is always nice.  My perspective was so fucked during the process.  A new level of focus was truly required.  There were times I was writing while two feet away my wife was receiving 4 hours of chemo and how surreal was that?

BLP: The protagonist of the novel sets out to do a few things that are rather heroic. He’s in the research and development phase of staging Harold Pinter’s “Moonlight” and has created a fantasy-league cast list populated by some of the most talented actors that are alive today. At the same time he is also trying to overcome drug addiction. How do you think The Consequence of Skating fits in with other addiction literature titles that have come out in recent years?

SG: I don’t think of Skating at all as a piece of addiction literature.  Mick isnt so much an addict as someone who got fucked up by a bout with drugs.  Its not really who he is, or who the character is.  The consequence yes, that is where the novel takes off from, after Mick’s sidetrack into drugs gets him in trouble.  But I don’t think Skating is really a book about drugs.  About addictions, yes.  Without question.  But drugs, no. You really have very little drug use or exploration of drug culture at all in the novel.

BLP: Harold Pinter’s work figures largely in The Consequence of Skating and is especially important to the main character. How has Pinter’s work influenced you as a writer?

SG: I love Pinter the man.  I love his writing, his plays and how they deal with power and relationships, how people are constantly misunderstanding one another, how there is always a power play.  I get off on Pinter’s exploration and explanation of language and its application in our interactions.  Equally important to myself and the novel though is Pinter’s political positions, his fearlessness, his statements against war – dating back to 1947 all the way through Iraq.  His Nobel Prize Speech is amazing. The courage of this man to say the things he did.  This is what I love and the reason I chose to explore and employ Pinter in Skating.

BLP: Is your favorite Pinter play the same as Mickey Greene’s favorite Pinter play?

SG: I really love  ‘Moonlight’  but it isnt my favorite Pinter play.  ‘Moonlight’ served the text of Skating because of its subject and I wanted to use a more obscure and later work of Pinter.  Personally, I am drawn to many of his early works, where the focus is on couples and the battle to sustain love – as ‘Moonlight’ does too, but in a broader and more fatal construct as the protagonist may well be dying and the focus is equally on his children.  I had read dozens of Pinter’s plays before coming to ‘Moonlight’.   If I have to list some favorites, they would be ‘The Homecoming’,  ‘The Caretaker’, ‘The Lover’,  ‘Betrayal’,  they are all so great.   Still, when it came time to choosing a work to employ in Skating,  ‘Moonlight’ most perfectly fit the bill.


“…not the trash taught in schools, rather the real Orwell.”

Check out this great new review of The Consequence of Skating by Steven Gillis. Thanks  to Simon Barrett for writing the review and to Blogger News Network for posting it.

The Consequence of Skating is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

New Steven Gillis Novel is Out Today!

We at Black Lawrence Press are very proud to announce the publication of The Consequence of Skating, Steven Gillis’ fourth novel. We began to fall in love with Gillis’ work in 2005 when his short story “Giraffes” was published in The Adirondack Review and are thrilled to have this, his latest book, on our list. The Consequence of Skating is the second Gillis novel published by BLP, the first being Temporary Peoplewhich was published in 2008.

The Consequence of Skating blends politics, theater, ice skating, mountain climbing, and the music industry to create a tour de force on matters of love and human action. Centering on Mickey Greene, an actor who has fallen from grace, the novel follows Mick as he maneuvers through a series of adventures that set him on a course of reconstructing his life in a way he never before imagined.

The Consequence of Skating is available from Black Lawrence Press, Amazon, and bookstores everywhere.

It is also available as an e-book.


“Steven Gillis possesses that rarest of gifts, the voice that seems to flow effortlessly. This guy makes it look easy. Read the first three pages of The Consequence of Skating, and if you’re not hooked, go see a doctor.”  —Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu and West of Her

Calling All Steven Gillis Fans!

You can get a sneak peek at Steve’s new novel, The Consequence of Skating, over at Guernica. Thanks to the good people at Guernica for publishing this excerpt.

Steven Gillis possesses that rarest of gifts, the voice that seems to flow effortlessly. This guy makes it look easy. Read the first three pages of The Consequence of Skating, and if you’re not hooked, go see a doctor.
—Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu and West of Here

BLP Expands Its List

If you’ve been following the BLP blog, then you know of a few recent additions to the BLP family. In January, we announced that we’d accepted Killing the Murnion Dogs by Joe Wilkins and Instructions for Killing the Jackal by Erica Wright, two new collections of poetry due out in August and September of next year, respectively. In February, we announced that Carol Guess had become a part of our crew of poets; her collection Doll Studies: Forensics will be out in the beginning of 2012. Also in February we announced the acceptance of the novel/novel-in-stories/memoir/we don’t know what we’re calling it yet other than “rad” Pulled from the River by Jon Chopan.

There’s been lots of action since February and we are very pleased to announce that we’ve added a few more authors to the BLP family and also have new titles forthcoming from authors who have published with us in the past. Next fall we will publish Marginalia for a Natural History, a collection of poems by Keith Taylor.

We’ve also accepted two new books by Marcel Jolley, winner of the inaugural St. Lawrence Book Award and author of Neither Here Nor There. His short story collection, Priors, will come out in the spring of 2012, to be followed by his novel Milk Run in the spring of 2013. We’ve also got some new blood in our stable of fiction writers. Loving You the Way I Do, short stories by Ron Savage will be published in the summer of 2012.

We’re also very pleased to announce that our translation list is expanding as well. Daniele Pantano, author of the poetry collection The Oldest Hands In The World and the translation The Possible is Monstrous has two more translations coming out from BLP in the next few years: Oppressive Light: Selected Poems by Robert Walser (Spring, 2012) and The Complete Works of Georg Trakl (Spring, 2014). We’ve also got Dream Weed, a translation of Yvan Goll poems, by Nan Watkins coming out in July, 2012.

Those of you who are fans of T.J. Beitelman (Pilgrims: A Love Story) and David Rigsbee (winner of the Spring, 2009 Black River Chapbook Competition) will be happy to know that we have full-length collections from both poets coming out in mid-2012.

And, just so you know what you have to look forward to, BLP will release the following titles before the end of 2010: Every Bitter Thing by Hardy Jones, Perishables by Tina Egnoski, Pictures of Houses with Water Damage by Michael Hemmingson, The Consequence of Skating by Steven Gillis, Triggermoon Triggermoon by JuliaCohen, Speech Acts by Laura McCullough, and The Pilot House by David Rigsbee.

We’ve currently closed submissions until August 15th while we catch up on submissions. We’re hoping to have more good news by the end of the summer once we read all of the manuscripts in our queue. As always, thanks for reading!

-Diane Goettel
Executive Editor, Black Lawrence Press

P.S. Don’t forget that the deadline for the St. Lawrence Book Award is August 31st!

On Dogma, Imagined Countries, Writing Schedules, and Indie Publishing: An Interview With Steven Gillis

In case you missed it, there was a great interview with Steven Gillis in the Spring Issue of Hot Metal Bridge. Gillis, in addition to being one of the masterminds behind Dzanc Books, is also the author of Temporary People: A Fable, which was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2008. His new novel The Consequence of Skating is due out in a few months from BLP which will be followed by his short story collection The Principles of Landscape. You can read the entire interview here.

And if you haven’t yet read Temporary People, one of the best books to ever come out of Black Lawrence Press, then you can order a copy from the BLP website or from Amazon.

Temporary People: A Trip Into The Backlist


Dear Black Lawrence Press Friends, Family, and Fans,

In 1946, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot opened and closed in London in less than two months.  Worse, a year later, ‘Godot’  ran for less than 40 performances on Broadway.  60 years later, ‘Godot’ is recognized as one of the greatest plays in the English language.

Joeseph Heller’s Catch 22 was rejected by 32 publishers before being published in 1961, and becoming one of the literary landmarks of our time.

Between 1953-1954, Nabokov’s Lolita went unpublished and rejected for over 14 months, before it, too, found its way into the pantheon of American literature and was published in 1955.

Who knows if Steven Gillis’ novel, Temporary People, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.  What we do know is that in April of 2008, Temporary People received glowing reviews by the few sources which read the novel.  Wary of the material, the majority of major reviewers shied away.  Stores were unsure as well what to do with the novel which, since its release, has proven prescient in its commentary on the state of the world and human nature at its best and worst.  A love story and political satire, Temporary People is a book which like many of its predecessors is initially misunderstood and neglected, but – we hope – through your readership destined for greater things.

Here’s an excerpt from the first page of the novel:

The babies’ heads are fat as fruit grown ripe beyond all natural measure. I remember the first time I saw one, her woebegone look and swollen scale, with hair stretched out in gossamer patches, as ill-proportioned as an artist’s lampoon. Startled, I couldn’t help but stare and wonder what had happened. Three months later, as the numbers rose and hinted of an epidemic, the truth came out and to no surprise gave us Teddy Lamb, a.k.a. the General…

You can order a copy from Black Lawrence Press or from Amazon.

Happy reading!


Diane Goettel

TEMPORARY PEOPLE at legendary Strand Bookstore in NYC

A Fable by Steven Gillis

TEMPORARY PEOPLE: A Fable by Steven Gillis

TEMPORARY PEOPLE by Steven Gillis is now available at Strand, legendary NYC bookstore.

Check it out:

http://www. strandbooks. com/app/www/p/profile/?isbn=0976899361

From Strand Bookstore:

“Steven Gillis teaches writing at Eastern Michigan University and is the author of “Walter Falls”, “Giraffes” and “The Weight of Nothing”. Gillis’s “Temporary People” is a fable about a failed television actor, Teddy Lamb a.k.a. The General. Teddy Lamb has turned into a banana republic dictator of Bamerita, a Caribbean island that Teddy has turned into a large movie set. This fable is told through the voice of insurance salesman Andre Manfante, who believes that Teddyhas set out not to make a movie but to blur the edges of reality so that he can claim all acts of violence are mere make-believe. A stunningly original, cautionary tale for our present time. A stark warning for our post-9/11 world.

Or pick it up at Black Lawrence with a special fall deal:

http://www. blacklawrence. com/specials. html