A few week’s ago, I was reading an interview with Chantelle Aimée Osman by Ed Aymar at The Thrill Begins. I learn that Osman, who hosts Crime Friction with Jay Stringer, is starting a division at Down & Out Books called New Wave Crime. As the press release states, “New Wave Crime will focus on diversity of plot, culture, and character, and champion new voices in the crime genre.”
David: I’ve read your bio and you seem to have had a life for multiple people. I’m sitting here trying to write questions and the first thought that pops into my head is, “What have I done?” For the readers, you have a law degree, worked in Hollywood, teach creative writing, editor, co-host a podcast with Jay Stringer, and speak five languages. Have I missed anything?
Chantelle: Umm…I like to knit? And thanks, you make me sound much more exciting than I really am. How much do I owe you?
David: My introduction to you has been by listening to Crime Friction, the podcast you co-host with Jay Stringer. The format of the podcast is laid-back, and you don’t force the questions on the writers, you rather let the questions from where the conversation takes you. For instance, if I remember correctly, your interview with Alison Gaylin focused more on music than writing. There’s a question in here somewhere but damned if I can find it.
Chantelle: Well, the voices in my head asked one, so I’ll answer them. I’m thrilled that’s your take away from the podcast, because that’s exactly what Jay and I were aiming for in starting it. Basically, having a conversation about craft and creativity with other writers, like you would over drinks in a bar—someone just happens to be recording. Letting the reader/listener hear a side of the author they may not normally, and giving other authors insight into the process, that’s our goal. But mostly, having an excuse to chat with our friends about stuff we think we sound interesting talking about.
David: Let’s get to the reason why you’re even spending time going through these questions. You’ve started a new publishing division at Down & Out Books called New Wave Crime. How did this come about?
Chantelle: I’ve worked as a freelance editor for well over ten years (shh), and there are stories I want to see on the shelf that just aren’t there. This is by no means a slight against traditional publishing. This is, after all, a business. However, the current eclectic publishing model has allowed for the resurgence of the passionate editor/publisher—one who can find a promising voice and nurture it to fruition, rather than the first book boom or bust model born out of a bottom-line approach. I’m lucky I found that my vision was shared by Eric Campbell, Publisher of Down & Out Books, who was as eager to see these voices as I am, and can provide an out-of-the box platform for them.
David: Crime fiction is a strange business but, sadly, it’s typical of most. The genre’s readers are mainly female–I’ve seen some stats upwards around 70% and most published writers are women, but the number of reviews and awards is not comparable to men as they still seem to get the lion’s share of attention. There have been some gains, and I’m not asking you to solve this problem during this interview, but I’m hoping that New Wave Crime is a positive step in that direction. Can you talk about what you want to happen for New Wave Crime and what the new division will bring to readers and writers both?
Chantelle: Perception and reality, and sometimes reality and statistics, are two very different things. Our genre is amazing. I’ve never met a more eclectic, interesting, or more selfless group of people—and as you’ve established, I’ve done a bunch of other things. The amazing thing about crime fiction people? We’re willing and eager to learn and adapt. For example, conferences learned that people were feeling less than included? Our two major fan-based conventions adopted anti-harassment policies. We’re the last to stagnate, and the first to grow with changes. Sometimes, it takes longer for huge corporate entities to get on the page, but I know they’re willing, just sometimes not able. I’m hoping that New Wave can get the ball rolling, expose people to these voices in a way they haven’t been before.
David: The is the part of the interview where I usually ask for recommendations, but as you’re kicking off a new division, let’s go with these questions. The crime fiction genre is quite broad from cats that help solve mysteries to people doing unspeakable things to each other. So … what kind of crime fiction do you like? Authors? Books? What are you looking to publish? How can writers submit work to New Wave Crime?
Chantelle: I read…everything. If that cat has a new, unique angle, send it to me. I’d say I’m not the biggest fan of police procedurals, but even there, maybe it’s because I haven’t read the right one. Sub-genres are really all just about marketing, and I’m not as concerned about that as most. Good crime fiction is good crime fiction, if you’ve got a passionate voice I haven’t heard, that I feel belongs on the shelf, I will do the absolute most to make that voice heard. Just show me. I accept unaccented submissions for similar reasons, you can submit to me today through the guidelines at Down & Out Books.
Thanks for reading this interview with Chantelle Aimée Osman and New Wave Crime, a new division of Down & Out Books.