this is an interview with the editors of WARM MILK PRESS, ben spivey, jennifer whitley, and kyle whitley. their first title is MUSUEM OF FUCKED, by david peak, and can be pre-ordered now. interview after break.
HTMLGIANT: Why did you start a press. I am assuming that people start presses to fill voids they perceive in the publishing world. What void are you filling?
Ben: I don’t know if we’re filling a void so much as we’re creating space. I like places like Greying Ghost, Mud Luscious, Publishing Genius, Dogzplot, and Fugue State Press. The list goes on and on. What those presses create, and what they give to the literature community is inspiring. Each of those presses has a distinct feel, and we too want to create a unique feel. We’re really picky, and this is something that editors talk about, their vision. What is this really? It’s what we like and what we don’t like. For example, I like experimental fiction, but I want to be able to feel and see that the writer understands and has craft. We have big plans at Warm Milk Press, more chapbooks, maybe an anthology, maybe a full length book, some guest editors. We have a lot of dreams. Who knows?
Jenn: Well, I left undergrad with ambitions of being a writer or a journalist. Instead, I became a high school English teacher….got married….and moved out of the city into the mountains. I became a stereotype. My dreams had quickly been pushed aside – and I was only 23. When Ben and Kyle came up with the idea of starting a press (a life-long dream of mine), I happily invited myself along.
Kyle: I don’t think we intend to fill a void. There are many people willing to publish many works, and if someone truly wants to have their work seen, it will be seen. Instead, I see Warm Milk as a new literary entity with a unique voice. We spend a lot of time considering new works, and while many pieces speak to one of us, few do so to all of us. Warm Milk Press doesn’t fill a void, but creates an identity. It’s alive.
HTMLGIANT: Describe, if even vaguely, the aesthetic of warm milk.
Ben: Shapes, waves, framed pictures, and reflective light.
Jenn: Feeling – breathing – tasting (experiencing) expression; not reading it; that’s boring.
Kyle: The everyday, the extraordinary, the real, and the sublime.
HTMLGIANT: Do you like your life?
Ben: Mostly. I feel as stressed as the next person, but I’m not complaining about that. Time is very important. I think about my heart beating. How it might stop, and how I’m still not finished creating. Maybe that’s selfish, but it’s kind of terrifying.
Jenn: We all play roles. I enjoy playing a few of them; definitely not all of them. For the most part, though, my life is everything I hoped for – for the moment, at least. Every now and then I wonder “What if…” but wondering that merely creates voids. I suppose there is always a press to start when that happens, though…
Kyle: No complaints here. I love my life.
HTMLGIANT: what is the coolest thing you have bought at a gumball macine like machine.
Ben: Remember those bracelets that when extended were stiff, but when slapped onto your arm would wrap around your wrist? Probably those.
Jenn: A Batman tattoo. I put it on my face.
Kyle: I’d have to go with the stretchy gummy hands that you can fling onto things and pull back to you. I’d dream as a little kid about stealing money from people’s pockets with it. Unfortunately, I haven’t mastered that skill. Yet.
HTMLGIANT: Is publishing and literature in general, one of the following, and why:
A: a process of learning how to suck a good dick
B: learning how best to kiss an ass with the lips of a small fly who remains unnoticed
C: a process of learning how best to use chapstick to avoid chapped lips when sucking dick or kissing ass.
Ben: A. It’s not so much like sucking a dick. I mean, you have to work with people, but sucking a dick doesn’t always benefit both parties, and it isn’t always fun, and sometimes it’s messy, but sometimes it’s fun for everyone. So I guess publishing and literature is kind of like sucking a dick.
Kyle: I guess I’d choose this one (B), because I think such an act is best performed on the best candidate amongst competitors. Trust me, we’re picky.
Ben: (C) Form rejections?
Jenn: You always need a back-up plan to clean things up if something goes wrong.
HTMLGIANT: do you have a favorite shirt and can you describe how it attained the favorite status.
Ben: I don’t anymore, I don’t care about cloths very much. But when I was a kid I had a mesh Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt that I wore forever. One of my uncles gave it to me for my birthday. It was soft, nice, and neon green.
Jenn: Yes. It’s actually my husband’s shirt – or was. It’s mine, now. It is a blue, over-washed, over-worn “All-Star Baseball” shirt. I don’t like baseball. I don’t even watch it – but this shirt, no matter what mood I’m in, will send me into an extreme state of pure comfort. In fact, I wish I was wearing it now.
Kyle: I have an XXL Dinotopia t-shirt I received at age 8 that is still too big for me. I never wear it, but it is the best.
HTMLGIANT: can you describe the feeling of being proud of something you’ve written.
Ben: The entire process of writing Flowing in the Gossamer Fold (a novel) felt good. I started it in January and finished in August, those eight months were exciting, I woke up early and stayed up late just to see where the story would take me. More recently, I was in class when I received an acceptance from Abjective. I stood up, walked out of the room, and made a joyful noise. That felt good. Sometimes, probably like a lot of writers, I end up hating some of what I write, that happens, and the Internet is so permanent.
Jenn: It’s a feeling in-between the one you get when you know you’ve forgotten something, but you get in the car, anyway – and the one you get when you graduate from something – college, high school, first grade. It’s a feeling between angst and accomplishment. Every time I write something I’m proud of, I experience a state of ecstasy, but there is always that worry – anxiety haunting me that, even though it’s good, it’s not quite finished.
Kyle: I don’t write much, and what I do I keep to myself. I’m not sure I’ve had this feeling. Yet.
HTMLGIANT: What’s next for Ben Spivey?
Ben: I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I’m not going anywhere. I’m working on some journalism projects, shopping my novel around, writing the next book, the next short story, and publishing words with warm milk.
Kyle: Many ridiculous, irresponsible, and amazing things. He’s many things of a man, including a good writer, a good friend, and a disgusting human being. No joke.