Though we provide very extensive bios on our crew page (everything you wanted to know about how Janaka takes his whisky, which El track Carrie writes her poems on, and Minetta's worries over rust), in the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing staff profiles of the clandestine figures behind Black Ocean. You’ll get a sneak peek into what we do behind the scenes and how it all comes together.
A. Minetta Gould is our illustrious Managing Editor. When not hosting elaborate dinner parties, she works like mad juggling spreadsheets, contacting authors, and greasing the cogs of our dark machine.
On how she got involved:
Black Ocean was born for me in some hot springs north of Boise, ID. Martin Corless-Smith and I were giving Paige [Ackerson-Keily, Handsome Editor] (she was here as our visiting author, In No One's Land had recently released from Ahsahta Press) the full Idaho experience. It was right before the last AWP Chicago...2009...and after a few hours hanging out in the pools Paige announced that I must introduce myself to Janaka, the editor of Black Ocean. I think she said we were similar souls and that we'd get along well. Something like that. A few weeks later I was standing in front of the Black Ocean table at AWP, still drunk from the night before, announcing that we were supposed to know one another, that Paige had said so (I also in this heat of morning drunk passion told Brandon Shimoda that I loved everything he did and wept at a Wallace Stevens presentation, in case anyone was wondering what I'm like upon first meeting me). Janaka gave me his card, I went to the Black Ocean reading that night, and understood this is what I wanted. My actual position is the product of a few basic elements: I was around when something needed done, I did said thing. Rinse: Repeat.
On what she does and why she loves it:
I am the Managing Editor. This means I manage things. I have about twenty different spreadsheets for various aspects of the press that I keep updated. Time lines for awards. Reading organizers. Reviewers. Various other contacts. Pretty much everything that isn't creative about running a press I have a hand in. I like it this way...I could mess up creativity but I can't mess up whether or not a book store carries our titles. Janaka still takes care of a lot of organizational things like AWP related tasks, but most tasks that exist in the cloud I do.
I like that my job is to help make the press grow. A lot of the time when I'm doing tedious projects (ever try to decide whether every independent bookstore in the country would want to carry your books? Definitely tedious.) I am reminded that what I do is make this press more efficient and sustainable.
I think the most surprising thing about my position is when I get approached about the press. Sometimes when I'm in my little spreadsheet world I forget that people really love and admire this press. A few months ago a group of students from Montana came through Boise to read and afterward one of them cornered me and was all gushy over Black Ocean. 1. It threw me that he knew who I was 2. After a few drinks he kept saying to people "Do you understand who she is?!?" or variations of a sort. I am a symbol for him of something bigger, and that throws me whenever it happens.
On what it’s like to work virtually with staff and authors:
I think most small presses work virtually, don't they? I worked for Ahsahta Press prior to my position at Black Ocean and all of that was in the flesh. Most of it didn't need to be. It was nice to have everyone in a single room doing the same things, and impromptu conversations could arise that can't happen via email, but I think this system works well too. I like feeling popular, and when I get emails I feel popular, so days when we're discussing a topic in a long email train thrill me. Days when I can see Janaka or Carrie or Nikki working over in their time zones because I have five different email subject lines from them are awesome. It always makes me want to work harder. I don't think I'd have the same experience if we were all in the same place right now. I don't think it effects how I think about books or authors, beyond its nice to meet them in the flesh if I never have. A cherished moment kind of thing.