In House: Caitlin Press

Started in 1977 by Carolyn Zonailo as a feminist literary press, Caitlin Press has a long history as a proud British Columbia publisher. Since the beginning, and through a few changes in ownership, Caitlin has reflected the diversity of its home province. In 1991 Cynthia Wilson and Ken Carling took over Caitlin and moved it to Prince George, establishing the press as the publisher of the central interior while also staying true to the original mandate of supporting writing by women. In 2008, Vici Johnstone purchased Caitlin and moved it to its current homebase of Halfmoon Bay, on the south-west coast of BC, just a ferry ride away from Vancouver.

Since 2009, Caitlin Press has begun a rebranding process that remains true to its roots as a contemporary rural press that focuses on connecting rural stories, issues and culture to urban readers and vice-versa. Williams Lake artist Kevin Easthope drew a banner for their new website but their logo, the heron, is the original logo from 1977. It was drawn by an unknown local artist and represents the rural nature of the press. They even have a ferret named Sophie as an office mascot and will sometimes conduct meetings in the provincial park near their HQ.

Publishing 122 books since 2008 (188 titles in total), Caitlin Press has certainly been busy since Johnstone took over. One of the first titles she acquired was A Well-Mannered Storm, which explores the correspondence between musician Glenn Gould and a fan and was written by prominent BC poet Kate Braid. Another notable title is Jacob’s Prayer, written by Lorne Dufour. Nominated for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize in 2010, the book chronicles the transformation of the Alkali Lake Reserve, a Shuswap community near Williams Lake, BC. More recently, Caitlin Press has been receiving national attention for Pedal, a novel on the subjects of trauma and pedophilia. With an Amazon First Novel Award nomination for author Chelsea Rooney, Pedal has provided means for starting a conversation on a difficult subject.

But publishing, especially independent publishing, isn’t just about the books. Sometimes it’s about where to house the books and sometimes it’s about being part of a community, both of which Caitlin Press take very seriously. As the publisher, Johnstone has both dug an 80 foot trench to the shipping container that was acting as a temporary warehouse and travelled hundreds of miles on a pitted gravel road to collect a handwritten manuscript from a 90-year-old author. More often it’s teaching workshops, appearing on panels at local festivals, and supporting authors through the nervous period of launching a book but the commitment to finding and nurturing great Canadian writing demands both.

Caitlin Press’s next step is to launch a new imprint for queer women (those who identify as queer women, including trans women, or who include this in their personal history) and they want your help.

Over the last two years, they have published many excellent titles by queer women, including Arleen Paré’s Leaving Now, Andrea Routley’s Jane and the Whales, and For Your Own Good by Leah Horlick, and they want to recognize these great achievements and the ones to come in the future with its own special, separate identity within Caitlin Press.

Launching in Spring 2016, this new imprint will publish literary fiction, non-fiction, and poetry by and about queer women. Since this mandate covers a diverse group of women, they want their books and the name to reflect these many unique differences.
They are inviting queer women from all over Canada to Tweet, Facebook, or email them suggestions by July 15, 2015. Prizes will be given to any suggestion ultimately chosen.