Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know Luna Press Publishing, who publish a vast array of works across science fiction and fantasy.
What’s your story?
I always enjoyed writing and reading stories, all the way back to my childhood, in Rome. When I moved to Edinburgh in 1998, this passion was still very much there. Inspired by the streets and cafes of Edinburgh, and the creativity that fills its many corners, I decided to focus my energies on turning my passion into something tangible.
In 2015 Luna Press Publishing officially began. We specialise in Science Fiction and Fantasy in both fiction and academia. I poured all of my knowledge and first-hand experience of publishing into this project, starting an independent press from the ground up – one that is growing stronger with each passing year. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a labour of love – I always say that we publish by heart. I may have started as a one-woman band, but I now work with an amazing team of freelance to support Luna and our authors.
You will see changes and transformation within Luna in any given year. I don’t really like standing still and always look for new ways of expressing my love for publishing and bringing you captivating voices. Looking back now, I still can’t quite believe how much has happened and how much is still to come. For my part, I will always give it my all.
Tell us about some of your key stories
Running a small press is tough, but very rewarding on a personal level. Any achievement is a victory for the whole Luna family and each step forward feels incredible.
Up until the close of 2021, we have won 7 awards, made 20 shortlists and 18 longlists. This type of recognition makes you want to stay in the game and do even better. But proud moments don’t just come from awards, but from every little thing we do and decisions we take. I’ll never forget the release of the award winning Oronzo Cilli’s Tolkien’s Library: An Annotated Checklist – one of the most significant additions to Tolkien Studies and one that we will continue to revisit in future editions. Or when About Writing: A Field Guide for Aspiring Authors, by SF author Gareth L Powell, was bought by Gollancz – it will be released as a new expanded edition this coming summer.
What draws you to a story? What makes a good story?
I think what I consider a good fit for Luna has changed since 2015, when we started. When you read hundreds of submissions a year you become attuned to what you like and what you don’t. The first thing for me is the writing style. It feels flawless, captivating, fresh, daring; it takes you straight into the story. There is also an element of subjectivity, of course, as I have to like the story itself. I don’t publish “by trend”, but “by heart”. So, something in the content has to speak to me, for whatever reason, and at the same time it needs to feel fresh and original.
For example, when Lorraine Wilson submitted her debut novel This Is Our Undoing, in the summer of 2020, I knew her speculative story had found its perfect home here at Luna. Her prose was captivating, the settings, the characters – everything was perfect! Lorraine found an agent a few months after the release.
What stories should we look forward to or check out this year?
Our new six novellas for our Luna Novella series have been released in February. We have seven more planned releases to come, for both fiction and non-fiction. The following three will be with us in the Spring:
Cat Hellisen – Cast Long Shadows | Marjeta Petrell. Replacement bride, shadow of a dead and perfect wife, step-mother to a duke’s treasured daughter. A girl out of her depth, alone and afraid. Magic runs deep in her veins, stitched in blood ties, embroidered with kindness and pain. In an unfamiliar court, Marjeta must discover who are her friends and who are enemies; who she can trust before she is accused of witchcraft and executed.
“When I started writing Cast Long Shadows I was digging into the overused trope of the Evil Stepmother,” Cat says, “and what it might really have meant to be the witch in Snow White: a replacement bride, the shadow of the dead and perfect wife, the mother of a step-daughter she’d never planned for. The more I thought about her, the more I imagined her to be a girl out of her depth, alone and afraid in a court full of enemies. And what if she was never a witch? What if other forces were at work to bring her down? And so, sliver by sliver, Marjeta Petrell was formed, and her web of stories spread out from those initial concepts of the witch with her mirror, her open hand offering death. She went from Evil Stepmother to something far greater than a sum of fairy tale images. She became a person.
“I wanted to write a book that explored female friendships, family, their connections which bring both kindness and pain. And it turned out Snow White was the perfect template for that, odd as it might have seemed at first. There is still magic woven through the story, but I like to think the magic runs darker and deeper, and perhaps a little stranger for it.”
John Dodd – Ocean of Stars | Ocean of Stars is the debut science-fantasy novel of English author John Dodd. Alone in the universe after the destruction of Mars, Catarina Solovias joins the Starlight Eagle, under the banner of Charles Godstorm, a wealthy merchant who disguises his true nature as a murderer and thief. They encounter a ship from another time that rips them out of their own timeline and into the far future, where they are captured by the mysterious Morgan.
Godstorm trades Catarina’s life for his, leaving her to find her way anew in a universe she has no knowledge of. An epic tale of hope and loss, stars and ships, set upon a backdrop of the tyranny of time and the dreams of a people yearning to be free, in a universe like no other, the Ocean of Stars.
Cristina Casagrande – Friendship in The Lord of the Rings | The Lord of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, involves many characters with a common goal: the destruction of the Ring of Power. They connect with each other through their individual journeys and become friends. This book analyses how friendship in Tolkien’s seminal work collaborates in the development of the characters, as well as contributing to the success of their final goal.
Using Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica as a reading lens for Tolkien’s book, the work also considers Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations and their reading of the connection between the characters. Cristina Casagrande’s comparative analysis brings together different elements to the study of friendship in Tolkien’s narrative, contributing to the development of the reader’s and viewer’s own ethical thinking and character.