Guest post by Michael A. Burstein, author of I Remember the Future
Back in 2007, I was hoping to publish a collection of my short stories. Many of my stories had been nominated for awards since my first story was published in 1995 and it seemed to me that there might be a market for a collection. Generally, though, publishers don’t publish short story collections unless the writer also has a novel in print, and that wasn’t my case. I had shopped around a collection of stories without much success until my friend and fellow writer Jennifer Pelland helped me out.
Jen had been publishing stories with Apex Magazine, and the publisher at Apex, Jason Sizemore, had decided to publish a powerful collection of her stories, Unwelcome Bodies, even though she too at the time did not have a novel in print. (That changed shortly afterwards, but that’s more her story, not mine.) Jen brought my work to Jason’s attention, and given how many publishers had already turned me down, I sent Jason a sample of my published work with little expectation that it would go anywhere.
Jason surprised me multiple times. First, he decided that he liked my stories, even though for the most part they didn’t quite fit into the Apex perspective. Then we had to decide how long to make the book. He wanted to keep it short as a shorter book would cost less to produce and be easier to sell. I pointed out to Jason, however, that a good theme for the collection could be “award-nominated stores.” A collection of all of my Hugo and Nebula finalist stories would be a more promotable book, despite it being more than twice as big as Jason wanted it to be. After about a day, Jason decided what the heck, let’s go with it!
The book was released on November 2, 2008, and we held a huge publication party at the main branch of the Public Library of Brookline, MA, where I was and still am a trustee. I signed special editions of the hardcover for about two hours. It was a thrill. I would love to do another collection soon.
Finally, I’m obviously very glad Jason was willing to publish the collection but I’m even more glad that he insisted on a brand-new story for the title of the book. After my high school friend Andrew Marc Greene suggested the title “I Remember the Future,” I crafted a tale about an old science-fiction writer who is estranged from his only daughter and is disappointed with the way the real world turned out. The story sparked interest from two student filmmakers and one of them even ended up making a student film that won an award in a film festival. Maybe that might lead to something else one day.