The Shill makes nice to people to get them to talk. But hold on to your wallets.
Stephen Morris is one of the founders of The Public Press and author of the novel Stripah Love, a steamy and salty story about a guy who tries to catch a fish.
To call Stephen Morris a Renaissance man is to insult him. "Renaissance" is too grandiose and pretentious for a guy who takes large sips of homebrewed beer and thinks of chopping wood as psychiatric counseling. More appropriate would be "jack of all trades," or better yet, "master of none."
The Shill has known Stephen for a long time. Whether he's attempting "the perfect burger" or revolutionizing the publishing industry, he plunges in with optimism and passion that makes a wise-ass like The Shill look like the Grinch.
Impressively, Stephen is looking to revolutionize the publishing industry by utilizing technology that he admittedly doesn't understand. The Shill recently caught up with Stephen to find out what the hell this whole Public Press thing is, and more importantly, what kind of person would create it.
So Stephen, if you were to describe the Public Press in one word, what would that word be?
I was guessing that you would say "Public." The Shill is seldom wrong. You must be a word...guy...smith...thing.
When did this idea really first start to develop?
I was asked by a commercial publisher to evaluate the feasibility of doing a new edition of The Whole Earth Catalog. It wasn't a good traditional publishing prospect, but it ignited the desire in me to reinvent publishing as Stewart Brand and his crew had done in the 1960s and 70s.
What is The Public Press?
The Public Press is a printed word counterpart to Public Television or Public Radio, but operating strictly on a pay-as-you-go, grassroots basis. It empowers authors whose work is deserving of publication but is not, by the standards of traditional publishing, commercially viable.
My novel, Stripah Love. It's an engaging story that touches on some important contemporary themes, but it's well outside the commercial mainstream.
Isn't it a little rinky-dink to be publishing your own book? It's like pretending to be a journalist and interviewing your own Dad.
We're in some uncharted waters here at The Public Press. I want to make make my mistakes on myself.
I hear you. Me, too. Does every author really deserve to be published?
No. Only authors who have the self discipline to create a professional manuscript should be published. (Of course, if they can't do that, they aren't really authors.)
A lot of books today are not written so much as generated to fill specific market niches.
Many people, or at least The Shill, would describe you as someone who lives their values. I know that I've gotten enough home made Christmas presents to prove that. Is there any person you admire for living their values?
I hate to admit that I know a lot of people who talk a good game, but who don't live up to their own rhetoric. My son, Jacob, currently an impoverished musician in Brooklyn, gets high marks for living his values.
Impoverished musician in Brooklyn? I think I saw that movie. How about you? If money were never an issue, how would you change what you're doing?
I wouldn't change a thing. The only problem is that no one is paying me adequately for living this life. Make my dream come true. Send money. Join The Public Press.
What's something that would make you blush about if people found out?
That would be the time I locked myself out of my motel room while on a business trip. Did I mention that I was naked?
NAKED! The Shill has to know for future reference ...how'd you get out of that one?
I didn't. I contemplated about a hundred options, ranging from climbing In through the window to spending the night in the car, but in the end I took my lumps and walked sheepishly to the front desk.
The Shill would have slept in the car for sure… that is unless the car key was with the room key. I'm sure there is more to that story, but I won't press because it sounds like it has the potential to be a great book for The Public Press.
Ok, changing gears, The Shill understands you've written a book about beer (The Great Beer Trek). Now, I'm beginner to the wonders of beer, but in your opinion, beer should be - light, dark, in a bottle, in a glass, big, imported, local?
In a big, huge glass, seconds from the cellar, dark, local, crackling with hops and bursting with life.
Wow. Sounds good. Is there any way I can get something like that at the corner store here in Brooklyn?
I like Magic Hat or anything from the Brooklyn Brewery.
Do those come in 40oz bottles? Probably not, right? You are a person who loves to play, baseball, Frisbee golf, practical jokes, but what was your favorite toy as a kid?
My marble game, a series of chutes that marbles rolled down, then spilled out into a tray with a series of dimples. Hm-m-m, doesn't sound too exciting, does it?
What? Oh, I'm sorry, I was so bored by the thought of that game that I began to imagine what shoe polish tastes like. What bores you?
One dimensional people who have only one agenda--sailing, skiing, the stock market, animal cruelty, whatever. No matter how knowledgeable, single agenda people become very boring, very quickly.
Is there any book out there that could entertain you if your flight was going to be delayed for 9 hours? Pssst. Shameless plugs aren't required, but it sure is set up nicely for ya.
I'd read Stripah Love three times, but, more realistically, John Steinbeck's East of Eden.
All right, final question… What is the secret to happiness?
You mean "liking yourself because you are a member of The Public Press," don't you?
Isn't that what I said?
Patrick Morris is The Shill
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