5 questions for Jared Shurin, publisher at Jurassic London

The Arthur C. Clarke Award
4 min readSep 24, 2016

Jurassic London has been one of the most exciting and innovative small presses to emerge in the UK in recent years , so naturally as they hit the half-decade point they’ve opted to close up shop with one last epic anthology, The Extinction Event.

I invited publisher Jared Shurin to answer five questions on the beginnings of setting up a small press and, of course, the end…

Tom Hunter: So, from your first anthology, Pandemonium, through to The Extinction Event, it seems you’ve always had an apocalyptic end vision for this venture in mind. Why did you first start this master plan, and why are you dropping the mic now?

Jared Shurin: This makes us sound very gloomy, doesn’t? We’re not really that despairing. Our bunker has lovely wallpaper!

We’re also not that well-organised. Certainly there’s never been a Master Plan. I could claim the “no plan” plan, but that’d be hindsight talking. The beauty of small press publishing is that we can be more improvisational, and over the past five years we’ve taken full advantage of that freedom.

Jurassic London began on an impulse: Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse came out because Tate Britain had their John Martin exhibit. We — Anne and I — knew, as readers, that it’d be fantastic to have a book inspired by Martin’s paintings. But we also knew that if we ever wanted to read that book, we’d need to make it ourselves. So, we did.

The Clarke Award helped us a lot: introducing us to authors, giving us some much-needed credibility, and even writing the intro. It was great to have that support as we were setting out.

TH: Along with that first Tate collaboration you’ve also had partnerships with organisations such as the Royal Observatory Greenwich and the Egypt Exploration Society amongst others. At the same time you’ve published super-small print runs, physical editions only with no digital option, and generally seemed to remake things anew with every book. Do you think this openness to experimentation has played a part in helping Jurassic London carve a unique niche in the genre world?

JS: What we did was definitely not unique: there are a lot of great small publishers working in creative ways to get readers’ attention. Publishers like Unsung Stories, Strange Attractor, Hack Circus, Tilted Axis, Fox Spirit, Orenda, Stone Skin, so many more… — are all experimenting and doing amazing things as a result.

The traditional channels for success — high street bookshops, broadsheet reviews, even many of the awards and festivals — are harder for small presses to access. As a result, we’re all entrepreneurial; we have to be.

TH: I can definitely agree with that last point, but if most people are entrepreneurial in one area you’ve led the way in many, launching a new award in The Kitschies, and of course the wellspring of Pornokitsch.com itself. Are you just trying to tick every genre box, and if so, when can we expect you to Pwn the cosplay scene?

JS: Our niches are largely self-sufficient, or, better yet, in someone else’s, er, niche-hands entirely. The Kitschies, for example. Anne and I stepped down a few years ago, and now we just watch (and make inaccurate predictions) from the cheap seats. And Pornokitsch has a dozen contributors — they’re all professional writers, so I even can’t pretend that wrangling them takes much in the way of work.

Cosplay would be awesome. Up for being half of a Kuzco suit?

TH: Running a small press is tough and often thankless. Any advice you might want to share on how to run a small press that makes friends, gets award nominations and that people love?

JS: How about some meta-advice? Which is “ask lots and lots of people for advice”. We’ve all been through the awkward start-up days. In our case, Ian Whates of NewCon Press was immensely helpful (and patient) when we were starting out, as were numerous other editors, agents and booksellers.

We’re all on the same team, which is a nice feeling — small presses aren’t really in competition with one another, and when one of us does well, the market improves for all of us. So buy a lot of beers and ask a ton of questions.

TH: And finally, are you really finished or can we expect a reunion tour in 5 years time?

Definitely. But only if Zayn and Harry can iron things out in time.

If you enjoyed this interview, please do recommend it to others.

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