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Jeff Gerke

Jeff GerkeThe Jeff Gerke File:

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Interview

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MARCHER LORD PRESS:
Marcher Lord Press

Where the Map Ends


The Advocate

 

MARCHER LORD PRESS BOOKS:

Summa ElveticaSumma Elvetica
by Theodore Beale


In Summa Elvetica Beale brings us a delightfully speculative what-if scenario: what if the Catholic Church (or something very like it) existed in a fantasy world in which dwelt non-human intelligent races like orcs, trolls, and elves?

At some point in such a world the leading ecclesiastics would have to wrestle with the question of whether or not these demi-humans have souls and therefore ought to be the subject of evangelization by the Church.

Summa Elvetica is the story of the young priest whom the Church assigns to investigate the matter. Along the way toward his conclusion, he falls in love with an Elven princess and finds himself in the middle of a racially motivated war.

More than the curiosities of high clerics hang in the balance as he comes to declare what he discovers to be God's will about whether or not elves have souls.

Personifid InvasionThe Personifid Invasion
by R.E. Bartlett

The Personifid Invasion is set in a possible future Earth. We [humans] are in the process of discarding the natural body and shifting to artificial versions of ourselves—“personifids.”

The story follows adult siblings Aphra and Antha as they look for their long-lost sister. There’s just one problem—the sister resides in San Edhem, a city renowned for being overrun by “interterrestrials.” This means the personifids there may or may not be inhabited by humans.

It’s all a little dicey, and requires perception to know what’s what.

Hero, Second Class Hero, Second Class
by Mitchell Bonds


Hero, Second Class is a delightful roast of all the fantasy fiction elements we hold dear. It is said that only someone who loves something can truly lampoon it. So it is in this case. Bonds' novel is a riot.

Quest with Cyrus, our your protagonist who aspires to be a Hero. But Heroes have a guild, you see, and lots of rules. One has to pay one's dues, apprentice to a Hero in good standing, and comport oneself as befits a member of the Heroes Guild.

Cyrus is fortunate to be serving his apprenticeship during a True Crisis, during which an Arch Villain is on the loose. An ambitious hero-in-training could make quite a name for himself during such times.

Cyrus's progress toward achieving his next level in the Heroes Guild is complicated by a wise-cracking dragon, a self-narrating knight, a droll zombie, and an attractive young woman who also happens to kind of be a cat.

On top of it all, Cyrus is discovering he has strange, non-standard-issue magical powers that definitely don't fit into his plans. And the Arch Villain (along with sundry Villains Guild members) has suddenly taken an intense personal interest in our plucky young protagonist.

If Cyrus isn't careful, he's not going to live long enough to become a Hero of any class.

Marcher Lord Press

 



Jeff Gerke Interview

by C.J. Darlington

"I want MLP to be the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction."
-- Jeff Gerke


Jeff entered the Christian publishing industry as a novelist, under the pen name Jefferson Scott. His first novels were near-future technothrillers, firmly within the realm of Christian speculative fiction. His next three novels were part of the Christian military thriller series called Operation: Firebrand. He also co-wrote a nonfiction title with Ryan Dobson during this time. Be Intolerant went on to sell over 94,000 copies and made Jeff a best-selling author.

Jeff spearhead the launch of Realms, the only Christian fiction imprint to specialize in speculative fiction. He has worked at Multnomah & Navpress as an acquisitions editor.
In September 2006 he launched WhereTheMapEnds.com, one of the premier sites on the Web for Christian fantasy and science fiction. This is where Jeff operates his book doctoring and editing enterprise. He has also developed a rigorous system for creating memorable characters for fiction, called Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist.

Jeff lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and family. He holds degrees from film school and seminary. He drinks Mountain Dew, plays the acoustic guitar, loves Battlefield 2 online, and cheers himself hoarse for the Dallas Cowboys. He is a popular teacher at Christian writing conferences. Whenever he has a moment and a creative spark he noodles on his current writing project, an epic fantasy.


C.J.: When did the idea to create your own publishing company first come to you?

Jeff: Probably in my last year or two at Christian publishing houses. I was very frustrated that Christian speculative fiction didn’t sell better, even when we did manage to get some published. I finally realized that it wasn’t the product, but the audience that was the issue. The core CBA fiction demographic doesn’t want weird fiction about alien vampire mutants.

When I had that revelation, I started thinking about what a publishing company would look like that could get that kind of fiction to the people who wanted it.

What sort of challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Hundreds. Thousands. Everything from choosing the books to creating a contract to registering from a sales tax license to getting credit card authorization software to work with shopping cart software. I think this question may be too broad to answer in an interview like this.

Share with us the vision for Marcher Lord Press.

I want MLP to be the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. I want it to find its audience and be able to supply that audience with the best the genre has to offer for many years to come.

How is your model different from other small presses?

I don’t charge my authors, for one thing. I’m putting up the money for the books. Many small presses are vanity presses, and mine is not.

I don’t try to get MLP books into bookstores, for another. It’s an online model similar to Amazon.com, but I’m also creating the product purchased on the site.

My covers are way better than those seen by most small presses. (Editor’s Note: Marcher Lord Press’ first three novel covers were designed by the talented Kirk Douponce of Dog Eared Design.)

What is your definition of Christian speculative fiction?

Anything weird. From a Christian worldview.

Why do you think the CBA market at large hasn’t yet fully embraced Christian speculative novels?

Because the white, Evangelical, American soccer moms and empty nesters who read CBA fiction aren’t interested in “anything weird.” They like what they like (chick lit, women’s fiction, romance, etc.) and they don’t really want much of anything else.

CBA publishers do a great job of reaching this demographic. They’re wise to give this demographic what it wants. They’re wise to not give this demographic what it has shown again and again it doesn’t want.

Until and unless the core CBA fiction demographic changes, the CBA industry will never truly embrace speculative fiction, imo.

What would you suggest readers do to help spread the word about this emerging genre?

For one thing, help support a new press just starting up! Show your support by buying books. Otherwise I won’t be able to do this more than a season or two. Then people will have to go back to complaining that no publishers ever put out the kind of fiction they like.

It will also help to just share the books and loan them out and tell people about them. Word of mouth will be great.

Do books in the Marcher Lord Press line need to have a blatant spiritual takeaway or are you shooting more for Christian worldview novels?

I need to know they’re Christian. I need to be able to identify them as Christian in some sense. I’m not much for heavy-handedness, but I’m also not one for being wimpy about Christian content. But, no, you won’t turn to the back cover and read, “Moral taught: honesty.” :)

I hear there are some very cool prizes you’re giving away on launch date, October 1st. Share with our readers what they could win and how they can enter.

I’ve got something like 40 prizes to give away. I’ve got a leather-bound 50th anniversary edition of Lord of the Rings, three numbered and signed canvas prints by space artist Frank Hettick, a full autographed set of Jerry B. Jenkins’ latest series, and much more. But the best is the grand prize: a trip for two to the 2009 Comic-CON convention in San Diego. Trust me, this prize completely thrills my target audience.

ComicConYou enter by going to www.MarcherLordPress.com and registering. Better hurry, though. The drawing is October 1.

It pays to be at the site on October 1. If you purchase a MLP novel on Launch Day you’ll receive a free download of the nonfiction e-book, Into the Breach: The Marcher Lord in History. And if you buy two or more MLP novels on Launch Day you’ll also receive a free download of the art e-book called A Marcher Lord Gallery. Both are incredible and will cost $5 and $15 respectively after October 1. But you can get them for free on Launch Day.

Besides being a publisher and editor you’re also a novelist yourself. Any chance we’ll be seeing more of your fiction on the market soon? :)

It could happen. [grin] One of the things I’m doing here is creating the ultimate publisher for Jefferson Scott fiction! I’ve got an epic fantasy that would certainly fit in…

Who is your favorite character of all time in speculative fiction? Why?

Luke Skywalker. He’s me, or me as I’d like to be. A holy warrior with a high calling, magical abilities, and a just cause.

Jeff, you’re one busy man! You’re a husband, father, writer, publisher, and editor? How do you find balance in your life?

At this point I’m probably out of balance. The last 6 weeks have been crazy as I’ve prepared for the launch. But I’m looking forward to getting back into my rhythm come mid-October or so.

The prayer is that MLP will begin to do well enough that I’ll be able to drop my part-time job and cut way back on my full-time job, to the point where I can do only MLP and my own fiction. Ah…dreams.

If you could sit down and have a cup of coffee (or Mountain Dew!) with the top dogs in Christian publishing, what would you want to tell them about Christian speculative fiction?

At this point I’ve kind of left CBA behind. For 12 years I tried working within the industry to try to get more space for Christian speculative fiction. That’s a long time to be so frustrated. When I finally realized what I mentioned above about the core CBA demographic, it was actually quite freeing. I didn’t need to turn that ship around. I could just let it go on its merry way without me.

I know there are a few CBA houses watching Marcher Lord Press to see how it does. But I’ve given up hoping that what I do will have an industry-wide impact. I’m trying to reach readers that CBA houses have more or less disenfranchised, after all.

I do enjoy helping CBA industry folks understand what Christian speculative fiction is, but I’m no longer trying to get them to like it.

Which were better, the original Star Wars movies or the prequels?

In terms of story and archetypal impact, by far the original trilogy. In terms of technological brilliance, the latter. Episode IV is my favorite movie of all time.

Jeff GerkeWhat are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

I don’t read much fiction for pleasure.

I love Mountain Dew and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (but not together).

When you’re not writing or editing, what do you enjoy doing?

I play computer games. Battlefield 2, Company of Heroes, and Madden Football being among my favorites.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Cold cereal and orange juice. Always. This morning it was Golden Grahams.

Three things always found in your refrigerator:

Mountain Dew, orange juice, fruit.

You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?

I’m not next in line because I despise coffee. I’m in line at someplace that offers Mountain Dew.

What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?

Start a business [grin]. Complete my epic fantasy. Complete our adoption from China. Take my wife to Paris. Move to the coastal redwoods.

When was the last time you cried?

You must interview women a lot! I got teary eyed last week when I was trying to encourage a writer whose hopes had been dashed by a publishing decision. I got teary eyed when I was telling someone that our yet-to-be-adopted daughter is somewhere in China right now—and did she cry today because she knew she had no father?

Right now I’m about to cry from sheer exhaustion.

Three words that best describe you:Jeff Gerke

Mastermind, encourager, authentic.

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

I have this brilliant mix of dissimilar things, all playing in random shuffle. I have all my favorite Michael Card songs, four Scripture memory CDs, both Celtic Woman CDs, the entire soundtrack of Lord of the Rings, and the soundtrack to the miniseries and first season of the new Battlestar Galactica. Beautiful.

C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.