Friday November 2, 2012

BENNINGTON -- Just because you might not find "Debris Dreams" or any other Candlemark & Gleam production in Barnes & Noble, doesn't mean you should disregard them.

"We publish books without mainstream potential But they're good stories and well-written. They're just not popular," Candlemark & Gleam mastermind, Kate Sullivan said.

Candlemark & Gleam is a Bennington-based small press that specializes in publishing "fantastika."

Stories that qualify as fantastika are "sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism or anything with an element of the speculative or the unreal," Sullivan said.

Each novel from Candlemark, which published its first book in Sept. 2010, is saddled with a Kickstarter project to help fund the production costs, but the Kickstarter is mostly used as a system for managing pre-orders and pre-order bonuses, such as stuffed chupacabras which came with one of Candlemark's previous projects.

Kickstarter also provides assurance for backers that they will receive their product or their money back.

"Every time we put a book on Kickstarter it will go to press, (regardless of whether or not it gets reaches the goal)" Sullivan said. Not every project has been funded, but every book has been released without issue. Their last project was funded 300%.

The current project is a hard science fiction novel from California author David Colby. The story follows Drusilla Xao, a woman who has spent her entire life on space stations and ships, a "spacer." After a terrorist attack destroys the primary connection between Earth and the station and the Chinese-American Alliance conscripts Xao into military service she wonders if she will ever be reunited with her girlfriend, Sarah.

"It's a completely plausible near future," Sullivan said. She added that the science in the novel has been thoroughly fact-checked by the author's mother, a NASA rocket scientist.

"I opened (the manuscript) up and started reading and within five pages I asked for the full manuscript," Sullivan said.

Most of Candlemark & Gleam's novels start out this way, as an unsolicited sample of a manuscript sent to the offices. They arrive, one of Candlemark's readers begins the process and if it "is well-written and (they) can't put it down," then they request the rest of the novel.

Candlemark started out as a digital-only publisher, but has since moved to a combination digital/physical system. Every copy of a Candlemark novel comes with a digital copy included for use with an e-reader, if the book is purchased directly from them. But they are developing a way to include the digital copies with copies sold in independent booksellers. They are not looking to work with any big box stores, and would prefer to work with smaller stores.

For more information about Candlemark & Gleam, visit www.Candlemarkandgleam.com or find them on Facebook or Kickstarter.