Interview: Justin Kassab of Akashic Imprint Oddities by Kaylie Jones Books
The Akashic imprint, Kaylie Jones Books, has published some excellent literary fiction. What made you and Kaylie decide to pursue more unique and risk-taking genre fiction with Oddities?
When you go to the movies there isn’t a whole lot of variety going on anymore. It's mostly blockbusters. Studios aren’t taking risks. The same, in a way, is true of the publishing world, where not much breaks the mold right now. The genres we are looking to bring to the forefront with this endeavor are ones people tend to discredit, but we believe a well-told story is a well-told story regardless of what label it carries.
Justin, you are listed as the managing editor. What is your role in the Oddities by Kaylie Jones Books imprint?
We’ve got a great team behind the scenes at KJB right now, and with their support I am able to keep most of my focus on manuscript acquisition and editing.
As a fellow publisher, I am looking for work that mixes the best of literary fiction and genre fiction, especially with young authors. What is Oddities by Kaylie Jones Books looking for in new authors?
Heart. Talent is great, but authors need a lot of heart in the e-publishing world. Most of the success or failure of our authors is up to them. The sky is the limit in the e-line, but it doesn’t just happen. So we are looking for authors excited by that prospect, which can at times seem daunting.
Simple but tough question: top 5 Horror novels?
Angel of the Underground by David Andreas
The Stand by Stephen King
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I Am Legend by Richard Mathieson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
I’ve seen Kaylie at literary cons like Miami Book Festival, Hippocampus, AWP, and Brooklyn Book Festival. Any chance I’ll see you or her at KillerCon, BizarroCon, Scares That Care, or StokerCon or other genre fiction gatherings in the future?
Anything is possible. As the press continues to grow, we will be putting our boots on the ground whenever we can.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Marlon James’ DARK STAR series and what do you think of talented literary writers writing genre fiction?
I haven’t done too much digging into the series, but I am certain that Marlon will knock it out of the park as always. A good writer is a good writer regardless of what he or she is writing. I wish more authors would cross over and dabble in a genre that was maybe a childhood passion of theirs, or just take a risk with something new.
I am seeing an emergence of writers who also edit and publish. Do you see this as a big part of the future of the small press world?
Every five minutes a new book goes up on Amazon. The days of large publishing houses pairing authors with an editor who would groom and train them through their career are a thing of the past. Without being able to wear all the hats of writer, editor, and publisher it is hard to stay above water in the flood of publishing. So, I believe we will be seeing more and more of that as we move into this new era of publishing.
What are you working on as a writer and what are you working on as a publisher?
Presently I am trying to wrap up the Primal Age Chronicles. Two books down, two to go. Hoping to have the third and fourth book coming out in 2019 and 2020. When I get them put to bed, I have been working on some outlining for a YA Romance. Figured it was time to take some risks of my own.
As a publisher, I am gearing up for our open submission period for Oddities, while keeping our flagship Angel of the Underground by David Andreas sailing forward, and getting ready to publish our second book in the Oddities family, Kaleidoscope Sisters by Ronnie Stephens.
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