About Grim Oak Press

Why did you decide to begin Grim Oak Press?

Believe it or not, I had no interest in doing so. I am so entrenched in other aspects of the book publishing world that I knew the time it would take to be a publisher would likely cut into my own creative endeavors. Then I was diagnosed with cancer in May 2011—with no health insurance. I was quickly swamped with medical bills. That’s when author Terry Brooks offered to write me a short story that I could put toward my own bills and he suggested I ask some of my other writer friends. Unfettered is the result. The Dark Thorn is simply a pleasant side effect of an awful situation.

Does Grim Oak Press accept unsolicited manuscripts for publication?

We do not. I have no idea how long Grim Oak Press will even be around. It serves a purpose for now—to free me from severe medical debt—but once that is gone I don’t know if I will take it to the next step. There are a few projects from other writers I’d like to see given a nice treatment and I am seriously considering creating a foundation similar to what Stephen King has done with the Haven Foundation where I raise money for artists who lack health insurance and who need a leg up like I have been given. More on that in 2013, more than likely.

Who prints your books?

The same Michigan-based printer that supplies the needs of Subterranean Press! They have a great track record and that’s what I want for Grim Oak Press!

What kind of quality are the books you produce?

The highest quality I can give without them being so overpriced no one would buy them. Ha!

What is the best way to keep to date with what is happening at Grim Oak Press?

There are a few ways. You can subscribe to our newsletter. Just enter in your email address on the front page in the appropriate spot and you will be notified whenever a new post is written in the blog. The other ways to stay current is to join the various social media offerings at the top of the page. I will be using those a great deal!

If there was one project you’d want Grim Oak Press to do, what would it be?

I have two. The first is to produce beautiful leather bound editions of The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, and The Wishsong of Shannara. I have wanted them since I was a boy and still do! After that? I want to produce a gorgeous omnibus of The Sundering by Jacqueline Carey. We’ll see about both of them. Depends if there is enough interest, I suppose.

Ordering & Shipping

I’ve moved. How do I change my shipping address?

You should do two things. The first is log into the website, go to your profile, an update your billing and shipping addresses. After that — and this is important — you need to contact Shawn via the Contact page and send him your new mailing address to ensure it gets changed on old orders.

Do you use bubble wrap and cardboard boxes to ship out your orders?

We do. Only the best. I’ve been shipping books to people since 2001 when I began The Signed Page. I’ve learned a lot over the years and I rarely have people complain about the condition their order arrives in. The one thing I promise is I am not satisfied until it is done right. Therefore, if you have a question about anything, just ask via the Contact page!

What shipping methods do you use?

We box every order with bubble wrap and place it within a sturdy cardboard box. When you are ordering, it is then up to you to decide which method you want to use: Media Mail/First Class or Priority Mail/Priority Mail International. All four methods attach tracking numbers, allowing the buyer to keep tabs on his/her order!

Should I choose Priority Mail over Media Mail?

First, I bubble wrap and meticulously box all orders that come through the Signed Page and which will come through Grim Oak Press. Second, Media Mail is cheaper than Priority mail but it takes longer to get through the postal system. I give the choice for Priority not because those books ship first but because they exit the postal system quicker and therefore incur less possibility of damage. If you want to give your order the best chance of arriving at your door unharmed, choose Priority.

How long does it take to ship out a book?

It depends on when the order published. It will take me about three weeks to ship out all orders for The Dark Thorn when the book is printed and arrives to my warehouse. For a book like Unfettered though, that will see six or seven times the orders that The Dark Thorn does? It may take a month and a group of friends and family to get the books shipped out in a timely manner. Patience will be required of everyone involved. If you think your book should have been shipped by now, visit the Contact page and inquire. I am always around.

Do you ship internationally?

You bet. Readers and fans of fantasy are everywhere! The USPS Rates plugin calculates the most current shipping rates.

Why are your shipping prices so expensive? Other publishers seem to charge less?

My shipping calculations come directly from USPS. Other publishers discount their shipping costs to the buyer but hide the shipping costs in the cover price. Either way, you are paying for it. I’m just more up front about it.

When will my book arrive?

This is a difficult question to answer. It depends on the book and when it was released. First, login into Grim Oak Press and check your order page. Your order may have already been shipped and the tracking number added there. If the publishing date has come and gone and there is no tracking information, contact me. I am always willing to check into situations like this!

About The Dark Thorn

How long did it take you to write The Dark Thorn?

It took me seven months to write the initial draft. But initial drafts are not where the process stops and I had a great deal more work to come. I gave the book to author Terry Brooks to critique—and boy, did he ever. In a week, Terry had me rewriting massive portions of the book. I had inadvertently told the story from the wrong point of view—imagine reading Lord of the Rings from Sam’s point of view instead of Frodo’s more interesting point of view—and it resulted in telling essentially the same story but from a different point of view. Once I had finished, Terry reread the book, loved it, gave his stamp of approval, and sent me out into the wilds of soliciting manuscripts.

Did you try and get The Dark Thorn published by New York City publishers?

I did. Very aggressively. I just couldn’t find that person who would champion it past marketing teams. Many of the editors and agents who read it told me to find a small press to publish it. After all, I have a fairly strong marketing platform that can reach thousands of readers. Who could have known that The Dark Thorn would end up at my own small press! Life’s little ironies.

Is The Dark Thorn edited? I hate books that aren’t professionally edited!

Yes, The Dark Thorn was professionally edited. I had to get rid of half my m-dashes! Apparently, I’m in love with them.

When will you publish the sequel to The Dark Thorn? Does it have a title?

That is up in the air at the moment. I do have the next book fully outlined and I’ve even started writing the first few chapters. It is tentatively titled The Everwinter Wraith. I also have the most rudimentary aspects of the third book plotted in my head. It will be titled The Splintered King. After that? Who knows! I have more Annwn books in mind but I also have two or three other ideas that are crying for attention. We’ll see. Being a writer is schizophrenic enough without having to think on these big questions like “What’s Next?”

Why did you decide to write a prequel novella to The Dark Thorn for the Unfettered anthology?

I wish I could say it was only a smart business decision to try to gain a new audience for The Dark Thorn but that’s not the only reason. Ever since I finished writing the first book, the prequel story of Charles Ardall and his snobby fairy guide Berrytrill needed to be written. It wouldn’t leave me alone. When I realized an idea I had for Book IV would actually work better as a long short story, I thought placing it in Unfettered might be the perfect place to introduce readers to the world of Annwn and all the dangers inhabiting it.

Who contributed the artwork for The Dark Thorn?

The amazingly talented Todd Lockwood. He has done the cover art for some of the biggest names in the business, including C.J. Cherryh, R.A. Salvatore, Steven Erikson, Tobias Buckell, and dozens more. He is firmly encamped in the Michael Whelan/Keith Parkinson school of artwork and I love it. For the cover of The Dark Thorn, I gave Todd an excerpt when the reader first encounters the tree in the novel. The excerpt coupled with the inspiration of the back cover of R.A. Salvatore’s novel Neverwinter led Todd to create The Dark Thorn cover art. I’m quite happy with it and am hoping to put Todd to work again very soon!

About Unfettered

How did you ever get all of those authors to contribute short stories to your anthology? It’s one hell of a compilation!

I know! Luck? Truth be told, I had no idea that Unfettered would come together the way it did. As I’ve said elsewhere, it began as a suggestion from Terry Brooks. When he learned of my uninsured diagnosis in 2011, Terry offered to donate a short story to me. He then told me to ask other writer friends of mine. The result? The list you see before you. I am truly blessed to have some extraordinary friends and I hope to repay them back in full with interest at some point in the near future for their contributions. If you want to mark their generosity and help me repay them, try their work if you haven’t. It’s the best way!

How did you come up with the title Unfettered?

The title grew out of my desire to be free from my medical bills. When I decided that the anthology would not have a theme—I wanted my authors to feel unencumbered with direction since they were doing me a favor—I realized they were as free creatively as I was trying to become financially. That’s when the word ‘unfettered’ struck me and, after asking a few of them, we all agreed it was a worthy title.

Who contributed the artwork for Unfettered?

Again, Todd Lockwood. I bothered him about it for almost a year before he relented. Ha!

How did you meet artist Todd Lockwood?

It’s a long story. I had a book signing scheduled at The Signed Page with Steven Erikson, author of the Malazan of the Fallen novels. I knew Todd lived in the Seattle area and working on Steve’s covers, so I cold-emailed him and asked if he’d like to come over, meet Steve, and help double sign copies of House of Chains. He did and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve gone to numerous Comic Cons, had our share of drinks, and had more laughs than we can count. A great guy and I’ll also always be indebted to him for his kindness.

Miscellaneous Questions

Have you touched Patrick Rothfuss’s beard?

Yes, every time we give a man-hug. The beard feels like soft moss but smells of strawberries and awesomeness.