Most people know Edd as the overactive husband of novelist Kindra Sowder, or as the chief of staff at Burning Willow Press. Little is known of his writing prowess as he keeps it quietly to himself instead to help his fellow authors make their dreams come true. Yet, every once in a while, he will write something and share it with the masses. Educated at USC, Clemson and several other places along his journey, he holds three degrees. His most proud: BS in Biophysics. He prefers the country life and escapes to his family farm where he admits to having little cell phone coverage is wonderful. He lives in South Carolina where he is chained to his desk at BWP most days and into the wee hours of the morning. Every now and again he is able to fidget the lock enough to break loose and run amok amongst the normal folks.
Edd, thank you for agreeing to this interview. For years, I have been following the success of Burning Willow Press, the independent publishing company you own with your wife, Kindra Sowder. Please share with us a bit about Burning Willow Press and the journey in deciding to open a publishing business.
Thank you for following us. We certainly appreciate all the people who do. Burning Willow Press was opened in 2014 officially. Now we did not actually get everything underway until around January of 2015 with our first release, Kindra’s Follow the Ashes. The long story shortened a bunch is many of our fans know that I am missing a leg. It was while I was recovering from that tragedy, in the hospital mind you, that Kindra came to me and said she wanted to open her own Publishing house. I was thinking I would help her fund it once I got back to work in a few weeks since my day job paid really well back then . . . little did I know that she meant right now. So, before I could even walk again, I was a book publisher and Burning Willow Press was born.
Correct me if I am wrong but Burning Willow Press has been in business for about four years now. I heard you say in an interview that Kindra has 51% of the company and you hold the other 49%. What can you share about how you split the operational responsibilities of the business? What is your role?
Well, those numbers depend on who you ask. As far as the IRS is concerned, yes, she is the President, CEO, owner, operator . . . Now if you ask me, last year, I put in about seventy-five percent of the funds to run it with her putting in the bulk this year. Splitting up the day-to-day operations, well…I have a great staff who are involved to help me but I run nearly eighty percent of the operations. She is in charge, no doubt. If she says that we will not do something, I will not cross that line but she allows me to run it as I see fit. She runs the Audio division of our books, I run the eBook and print. I do all the staff meetings, graphics, editing, acquisitions, formatting and anyone else out there reporting to me. I am the Chief Operations Officer who only reports to the CEO/President and the Vice-President in charge of everything. If there is something we need to work out, we meet about it and it is decided immediately; there is no ‘I will get back to you.’ Most of the time, if it is important enough for me to have to involve her, it is needing her attention right then and there.
What would you say are the major challenges in operating a small press? What will you need to do to meet your goals in 2019?
The biggest threat to running a small publishing company, let alone any business of any kind, is cash flow. If the cash is not there, and you are having to use your credit to get things you need to stay operational, you will likely need to re-evaluate your position and make some changes to the structure of the business.
To meet our goals in 2019, we will simply need to keep doing the best job we can and hope like hell that nothing comes up we can’t handle. We put out thirty-four books in 2018 with very little hiccups along the way. I think in the end, they [the printers] were tired of me calling them to find out why this file or that file did not go up correctly. [laughs] But we do have a schedule of over twenty-five books ready to release so if we can get them all out – on time, with no issues – we will feel accomplished. To reflect on that, in 2015, we put out fifteen titles and in 2016, we put out somewhere around twenty-six. So, it has grown but not because we wanted it to. We just got that overwhelmed and needed to keep promises to our authors. I would say that ninety percent of them would tell you that we keep every promise.
You seem passionate about upholding positive relationships with authors attached and apart from Burning Willow Press. What do you think the benefits of the writing community are and how do you contribute to its growth?
In all actuality, all authors are a community, I am not so much of a writer as I am a self-proclaimed dream maker. I see how hard it is to get a book deal, even a small one with a small press like ours, and it breaks my heart. Some of the authors that I have read are incredibly gifted. They have pushed the boundaries and the limitations of their own ideals to create a huge thing they call a story. The benefit for me is being there to witness it first-hand. What greater thing is there out there than that, other than perhaps, falling in love or the birth of a child?
In October 2018, you were published in the Southern Fried Autopsies Anthology with several great authors. What was the theme for this anthology? Tell us about your story.
Well, yes and no I was published in SFA but it was just a poem. Not to take away from the other poetry that was in the anthology since they were all far superior than the one I submitted. And yes, I was the editor on the project at L. Bachman’s request. She had worked with me on several other projects and liked my style.
The theme of SFA was kind of simple: If you lived in the Southern US, or had ties to it, you could submit. Calls went out for about two months and the ones who were admitted were the best of the ones submitted. I had absolutely nothing to do with submissions.
When I submitted my poem, Sealed, I was thinking about some pretty depressive stuff and what would happen if you took your life, due to a loss of love like so many youngsters do, only to find out that the gates of Heaven were closed off to you like the love you once had. I wrote it in a few minutes, sent it to three people I trusted before I sent it to L. Bachman and James Master (in charge of submissions). Both agreed it was dark enough to be admitted. So, that was that. I was in. Later that same week, I wrote a short story that was included in the Crossroads in the Dark IV: GHOSTS anthology called, Fight for the Light. I am very proud of that short and I had to do the same thing to get through submissions but this time, I did it anonymously at first.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Will you be publishing any more stories?
I am not sure what you can expect out of me in 2019. We, the staff and I, are trying to get my hours down in the office so I can pick up the pen more instead of writing for others. I have helped a few of our authors find a stronger voice to help get their books out but never took any credit for it outside the office. It is their story, not mine. I do have a few that Kindra really wants me to get more finished on; a pure horror, a pure sci-fi, a fantasy, a humorous horror, a patriotic themed one I was working on that will need a complete re-write, I am also co-authoring one with Kindra that I am excited to get back on, plus a couple books of poetry that need to see the light of day sometime in the future. . . preferably not post-humorously. As far as publishing more? I am always publishing more. I run a publishing house and there is not a single book that comes out of BWP that I have not seen, looked over, or read passages out of.
It has been a pleasure, Edd! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.
I have to admit that I try to keep my personal page as private as I can so that I can interact there with friends and family more than any potential fans. I am also unlikely to accept requests from those I do not know. I recently started an Amazon author page that is not complete but will be very soon with one phone call, same name on Amazon. Anyone who wishes to interact with me can usually find me chained to the desk at Burning Willow Press and that is the extent of what I do most days. Perhaps in the future, I will be more of a writer type and less of a publisher type… is that a type?
Events? Well, we are not scheduled for many. We have one or two so far for the next year and have been focusing more on the authors than ourselves as of late so, with that being stated, we may or may not make many appearances but if anyone wants us to come to their neck of the woods, they can reach out to me via email (email@example.com) or send me a FB message. I usually respond as soon as I see it. I will be happy to entertain any and all offers. Kindra is by far a better draw than I am though. I mean, over twenty books in four years! All great reviews.
I am on Facebook, Instagram under our business page @BWPLLC, yes there are two other older Instagram’s but I have no idea how to access them anymore. And I do have a Twitter but I am only on there vaguely where I am on the Burning Willow account all the time (Tweet: @Burning_willow). Facebook Messenger is the best way to reach out to me still unless you have my phone number.
It really is unfortunate that in the past, some unsavory individual used my name, status in my company, and connections to authors, actors, and the like to try to gain access to those individuals, of which I treasure the relationships I have forged so I respect their privacy.
I want to thank you for listening to me ramble on and on. This was fun and I hope we can do it again sometime when I have much more out to brag about. Have a great evening!