As an English professor, I am one of the unfortunate people who is expected to keep up the Modern Language Association’s ever-changing rules about citing sources. I usually adjust to these changes without much complaint, but there is one change that made its appearance in the latest edition of the MLA Handbook that bothers me. This change relates to how we are supposed to deal with the publisher of a book that is included on our works cited list. Under the new rule, the location of a publisher is no longer mentioned. I don’t like this change at all. Publishers do not function in a vacuum. In most cases, they are inextricably tied to the communities in which they do business. The location of a publisher tells one something about the publisher, but it also says something about its home community. MLA might not care, but I think it’s worth noting that Charlotte is now home to several successful independent publishers.
Falstaff Books, one of Charlotte’s fastest growing publishers, made its debut in January 2016 under the leadership of John Hartness, and it is already publishing about 40 titles per year. Known initially for writing popular works of urban fantasy, Hartness has a strong interest in genre fiction, and this interest is reflected in the titles that Falstaff Books releases. On its official website, Falstaff Books is described as being “dedicated to bringing to life the best in fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, romance, and dramatic literature.” Hartness often works with authors from the Charlotte region, including my friend and colleague at UNC Charlotte A. J. Hartley. In April, Falstaff Books will release A. J. Hartley’s Impervious, a fantasy novel that deals with the topic of school violence. For more information about Falstaff Books, please click on the following link: http://falstaffbooks.com
I have a particular fondness for Falstaff Books since it is the publisher of The Herald of Day, a fantasy novel by my wife, Nancy Northcott. Because of my wife’s associations with the company, I have learned about their many connections with Charlotte’s community of genre authors. A prime example of Falstaff Books’ involvement with this community is its Saga Conference, a two-day, professional development conference for genre writers that’s held in Charlotte every year. This year’s Saga Conference will take place on March 6-8 at the University Hilton. For more information about the Saga Conference, please click on the following link: http://sagaconference.com
Main Street Rag Publishing Company, another one of Charlotte’s successful publishers, got its start as the publisher of The Main Street Rag, a quarterly literary magazine that began in 1996 under the editorship of M. Scott Douglass. Since then, Main Street Rag has developed into a well-regarded independent press known especially for poetry. Unlike most small presses, Main Street Rag owns its own printing and binding equipment, which it uses in the production of its releases. It has published a number of regional and national authors, including Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Irene Blair Honeycutt, Randall Horton, Maureen Ryan Griffin, Diana Pickney, Tony Abbott, and Michael F. Smith. I am pleased that Christopher Davis, one of the creative writing professors from UNC Charlotte’s English Department, is about to join the list of authors published by Main Street Rag. Oath, his most recent collection of poems, is scheduled for release this spring. For more information about Main Street Rag, please click on the following link: http://www.mainstreetrag.com/about-main-street-rag/
One of Charlotte’s quirkier independent publishers is Dark Lantern Tales, the brainchild of Mark Williams. Ever since he was a boy, Williams has loved to read dime novels and other forms of sensational fiction from the late nineteenth century. Over the decades, he has built an impressive collection of these publications. However, they were originally printed on cheap paper and are now so fragile that they are nearly unreadable. In an effort to bring these crime thrillers back into circulation, he started Dark Lantern Tales. As he states on his informative website, he has now published trade paperback and electronic book versions of numerous “rediscovered crime and detective stories from the 1800s.” Among the books he has published are the Joe Phenix Detective Series by Albert W. Aiken. Although Williams obviously does not publish Charlotte-area authors, he does work with Charlotte’s Park Road Books to make the trade paperback versions of his publications available to Charlotte’s reading public. For more information about Dark Lantern Tales, please click of the following link: https://darklanterntales.wordpress.com
The aforementioned publishers are by no means Charlotte’s only publishers, but they serve as excellent examples of this aspect of Charlotte’s literary community. These and Charlotte’s other publishers all make important contributions to storied Charlotte.