MZ: How does Mainstay define the term "political novel"?
TC: Mainstay Press doesn't define "political novel," nor do I. Mainstay
looks to publish books that are socially, culturally, politically
progressive, especially explicitly so, that is books that are overtly
topical and quality stories - books that focus largely on the public
elements of people's lives, books that may contribute to progressive change.
MZ: In your mission statement, you mention the "politically limited nature
of American (U.S.) fiction." How will fiction published by Mainstay
challenge that nature? How overt are the politics in your books?
TC: As overt as it's possible to be. Name names. Expose lies. Highlight
important facts and realities. Speak out by way of story against vicious
injustice. Be didactic. Spotlight realms of change, where possible. Push the
bounds of art.
MZ: Start-ups of any kind can be challenging, of course, but you've chosen a
business with a progressive mission. What has surprised you about the
process of getting Mainstay up and running?
TC: I can't say that I've every really looked at Mainstay as a business. If
we threaten to make money, then I will, at least from an accounting point of
view. We co-founders have pitched in the limited funds needed to get started
and have hopes that some grant money will help keep the press going, in
addition to sales returns. I also can't say that anything has surprised me
about the startup of the press because I had no idea ahead of time what it
would involve. Nothing was pre-planned. Andre, Mike, and I were trying to
find publishers for our progressive political novels and knew we were facing
long odds, when Mike suggested we start a press ourselves. So we did, all
the while knowing it would be difficult.
MZ: I love that you started Mainstay with two others writers and you're cool
with publishing your own novels. I see more and more of this and think it
can be a positive trend. To me, it's like a film director working with a
script he or she wrote. What has the feedback been like for your first few
TC: We've published our first two books during the past few weeks with
minimal publicity, so it may be a premature question. The books are selling,
though slowly. We've received encouragement and appreciation from a variety
MZ: What role can books play in promoting social change in 2006 and beyond?
TC: Countless people have gotten involved - or more involved or more
involved - in countless activities, including efforts for social change,
partly and largely on the basis of reading single books, or a number of
them. Stories, novels, narratives of all sorts can be extremely powerful.
There are plenty of examples. The power of the word. Of course, reading and
writing books is not enough. While books play a role, an important one, they
are far from the only route to social change. Overall, it seems apparent
that books have a very real, ultimately revolutionary, role to play in
movements for change, as with so many other efforts and areas of focus.
For more info: http://www.mainstaypress.org
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net