Why We Do What We Do

In September 2014, writers (and friends) Anik See and Theresa Kishkan were having a conversation about novellas. Both wrote them, both had published them (Anik’s postcard was part of a collection released by Freehand Books in 2009 and Theresa’s Inishbream was published by Goose Lane Editions in 2001). But as they talked, they realized that the manuscripts they’d recently completed had been turned down by many publishers who’d all said more or less the same thing: “Great writing! But we can’t publish novellas!”

“Well, you know what that means!” Who said it first? Doesn’t matter. They both laughed. And Fish Gotta Swim Editions was born that day, in Theresa’s kitchen on the Sechelt Peninsula, as Anik paused for a night or two enroute from the Berton House Residency in Dawson City to her home in Amsterdam.

And why the novella? Ian McEwan says, “I believe the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction. It is the beautiful daughter of a rambling, bloated, ill-shaven giant (but a giant who’s a genius on his best days).” What would a literary family look like without that beautiful daughter? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Because the novella tends to be brief, with a flexible range of 20,000-40,000 words, Anik and Theresa envision small books – handsized! — with good design values. They agree with Henry James who admired what he believed was the novella’s perfect scale: “the value above all of the idea happily developed. . . .” Think of something beautiful and rare, perfect for an afternoon’s reading by the fire, with a glass of wine.

Between them, Anik See and Theresa Kishkan have decades of publishing experience. Anik has published 3 books, including Saudade(Coach House Books, 2008) and A Fork in the Road (MacMillan, 2000); she has produced award-winning radio documentaries for CBC Ideas, ABC, and Radio Netherlands Worldwide; and her articles have appeared in the Walrus, National Geographic, and Brick. She has also worked as a letterpress printer and book designer. Theresa has published 12 books, most recently Mnemonic: A Book of Trees (Goose Lane Editions, 2011) and the novella Patrin (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2015); her work has been nominated for many awards, including the Ethel Wilson Prize for Fiction, the Pushcart Prize, National Magazine Awards, and the Hubert Evans Award for Non-Fiction.

So – Fish Gotta Swim Editions. Because, well, they gotta.