What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
Trends don’t interest me all that much. I actually think authors do themselves a disservice when they try to write according to what’s hot now or what they think will be hot five minutes from now. I’m interested in quality fiction (and narrative nonfiction) with a strong voice, memorable characters, and a compelling narrative arc. It’s funny that on the 25th anniversary of launching our international mystery imprint, Soho Crime, everyone is “discovering” mysteries set in other countries. If that’s the new trend, well, I’ll take it. We have a huge celebration planned for #SohoCrime25 this summer, with displays in Barnes & Noble, many independent bookstores, and libraries. I’m excited to help international mystery and thriller lovers discover the imprint.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I always wish for the same thing: a book I love so much I miss my subway stop because I’m so engrossed. Some books that have done that for me are Robert Repino’s Mort(e), literary sci-fi about a war between ants and humans (narrated by a sentient cat warrior); Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, a realistic YA novel (with a tiny hint of the speculative) about sexual identity in a tough neighborhood in the Bronx; Mette Ivie Harrison’s The Bishop’s Wife, a mystery set in Mormon Utah with an unforgettable main character; Stuart Neville’s Those We Left Behind, a character-driven mystery that deals with the repercussions of The Troubles in contemporary Northern Ireland; and Ruth Galm’s Into the Valley, a gorgeous literary novel about a woman named B., who drives around the Central California Valley in 1960 passing bad checks and suffering from what she calls “the carsickness.”
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I’m pretty over misery memoirs—unartful, blow-by-blow descriptions of depression, alcoholism, abuse, etc. Which is not to say I’m not interested in memoirs that deal with weighty subjects. Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin is an excellent example of the kind of narrative nonfiction I love. It’s a literary memoir about losing a child that reads like a novel, with a strong voice, a cast of fully formed characters, a strong narrative arc, and even humor, despite the painful subject matter. Mostly, what I don’t want to see are novels that aren’t ready, and we see a lot of that in our unagented submissions. Authors can get antsy. I know. I’ve been there. But that’s no excuse for sending out a manuscript that needs another draft or five. Sometimes that means putting it away for a while to get the distance and clarity needed to make big, painful edits. This doesn’t mean there won’t be significant editing after we buy a book. There often is. But what an author sends to us has to be the absolute best it can be.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Independent publishing obviously has its challenges—we don’t have the deep pockets of our corporate counterparts. But trumping all of that is the freedom we have at Soho to publish books we love. We can get behind books corporate publishers shy away from. For example, Silvera talks about how several editors told him to make the main character in More Happy Than Not white. And straight. Which pretty much changes the entire book. In a million years we wouldn’t ask an author to do that. In fact, we’re actively looking for characters that reflect our differences. Soho’s three imprints—Crime, Teen, and Press (the literary line)—are all about curation. Each imprint has its own editor, and that editor chooses the books he or she wants to live with for two years and recommend to the world. Which means that if you love Mort(e), you may also love Steve Toutonghi’s Join; if you love mystery writer Cara Black, you may also love Mette Ivie Harrison; if you love More Happy Than Not, you may also love Adele Griffin’s The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. If you go to our website (www.sohopress.com), you’ll see that each imprint has its own personality, and if that personality speaks to you, you can keep coming back and you should never be disappointed.
Bronwen Hruska is the publisher of Soho Press, an independent book publisher based in Manhattan’s Union Square. Founded in 1986, Soho publishes 90 books a year across its Soho Press, Soho Crime, and Soho Teen lists and is known for introducing bold new literary voices, award-winning international crime fiction, and compelling YA mysteries and thrillers. Before coming to Soho in 2008, Bronwen worked as a journalist, screenwriter, and novelist. Her first novel, Accelerated, was published by Pegasus books in 2012.