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About Us

(The story of Misfit Press is inextricably linked to the story of Misfit Incorporated, which is inextricably linked to the story of AJ and Melissa Leon. These fascinating stories have been told at length on many other occasions – in newspapers, on TEDx stages, during numerous interviews and chance meetings in wine bars. If you want to explore the weird and wonderful company that is Misfit Incorporated, peruse our site. For the full backstory, check out this video interview.)

Misfit Press itself was established in 2014, with the publication of AJ Leon’s The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit. The little-known backstory to The Life & Times is that it was originally slated to be published by a major American publisher, who headhunted AJ after noticing the popularity of his blog, The Pursuit of Everything. About a third of the way through the writing of the book, AJ began to get twitchy about the compromises involved in traditional publishing: uncompromising editorial pressure, a lack of say on issues such as design and artwork. Not long later, AJ bailed on the contract, and decided to publish the book himself. The Misfit team created and ran a Kickstarter, aimed at raising $15,000 to cover publishing costs. By the time the fundraising had run its course, pledges totalled more than treble that amount. With the excess funds, AJ and Misfit decided to go one better than just publishing a book, and also founded a publishing house.

Since its founding, Misfit Press has steadily flourished. In 2015, we took under our wing Wolftree, the finest arts journal in the American Midwest; we released our 2015 Anthology, featuring the finest creative work we encountered over the preceding year; and The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit continued to find readers across the globe. In 2016 we published Destination Shakespeare, the debut poetry collection from esteemed Shakespeare academic Paul Edmondson; and we have more Shakespeare-related publications in the works for 2017, including Shakespeare On The Road, a tale of a Shakespearian adventure across the US.

Last  year was a big growth period for the Press, and there is lots more on the way for 2017. As you’ll see from our Forthcoming Publications section, over the next twelve months we will be publishing Saya Sayama: Three Years in Myanmar by incredible photojournalist Spike Johnson, a photonarrative account documenting a unique moment in Myanmar’s history: the violent shift from General Ne Win’s fifty-year dictatorship to the country’s first steps towards democracy. Also imminent is Tangentially Reading, featuring some of the most insightful, shocking, touching, and hilarious moments from the first 200 episodes of Christopher Ryan’s much-loved podcast, Tangentially Speaking.

These are exciting times at Misfit Press. To keep up to date with everything that’s going on, follow us at our blogFacebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Into the future, we will always continue to work in the fashion we do right now: with authors we like, on projects that matter, in a way that leaves writer, reader and everyone in-between satisfied. We will also never renege on our One-for-One pledge; for every publication we ever sell, a child in India will receive money towards prescription eyeglasses, via the Misfit Foundation.

w: Matt

Loyal as a Book #5Joe Acheson (Hidden Orchestra)

Loyal as a Book #5

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” – Ernest Hemingway

Misfit Press’s Loyal as a Book series is composed of short, illuminating interviews with readers. It uncovers and explores the reading lives of people from across the globe, coming from all walks of life.

Joe Acheson is a composer and producer, based in Brighton on the South coast of England. He is mainly known for releasing music under the name Hidden Orchestra – an imaginary orchestra created in his studio which he performs live with a band of two drummers and various orchestral musicians. Joe also makes music with found sound, and dabbles in radio documentary production.

What does reading mean to you?

Reading is both a refuge and a place of free imagination. It passes the time, exercises your brain, and expands your mind. Everything you read, from fiction and biographies to newspaper articles, gives you another perspective on the world.

What is the first book you remember really loving?

When I was a kid I remember loving the Redwall series, and the Deptford Mice trilogy, in the way that I imagine some people now go for Harry Potter. Maybe Charlotte’s Web is the earliest proper book I remember really getting into my head? As a young teenager probably the works of SE Hinton: The Outsider, Rumble Fish

At the same time, when I was 11 I started (accidentally through curiosity in my local library) reading really dark chilling horror novels by Dean Koontz about murder and all manner of horrible crimes, sometimes even written from the first person perspective of a serial killer. I was so scared of them that I couldn’t put them down for fear that I would have nightmares if I stopped reading, but it left me with a long-running crime fiction habit which runs continuously alongside the rest of my reading.

What are you reading right now? Why did you pick it up, out of all the millions of books out there?

I’m trying to read at least a book a week this year, for no apparent reason, mainly as an excuse to put aside more time specifically for reading, but I got a few weeks behind while working on a new album. So I put out a call amongst friends for shorter gripping reads that I’d get through quickly, to catch up, and got a great response which has lead to some really varied and interesting choices. I should finish The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North tonight, and then I’m moving on to Kurt Vonnnegut’s God Bless You, Mr Rosewater.

Others I’ve read this year and would recommend are Dan Rhodes’ Timolean Vieta Come Home, Don DeLillo’s Omega Point, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Ryan Gattis’ All Involved, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I’ve always had certain friends who I’ve been able to turn to for reliable recommendations, including big readers, as well as people who work in publishing and a few writers, and I’ve swapped many great books with my mother, whose collection filled the shelves of the home I grew up in. Broadening out the request further has reaped rewards.

If you could go for dinner and drinks with one author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (19th Century adventurer, rogue spy and bon viveur, the only man in the English army who could carry a pony under each arm), author of A Ride to Khiva. I fancy he would be good company.

If you could go for dinner and drinks with one character, who would it be?

Rex Stout’s infamous detective Nero Wolfe. He’s the only fictional character whose cookbook I own (though I also make Damien Trench’s banana bread from Miles Jupp’s In And Out of the Kitchen radio series). It would be at his house, as he never leaves it, and cooked by his extremely talented Swiss chef Fritz Brenner. Shad roe mousseline followed by…

Drinks would have to be there too, in the company of his genial dogsbody/amanuensis Archie Goodwin (whose real-life fans included PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie).

Do you have an all-time favourite book, or selection of books?

No. At different times I have had favourite authors – maybe five years ago I would have said Iain Banks, Ian Rankin and Ian McEwen, even though I wasn’t only reading Ians at the time. I will usually read at least three or four books by each author I discover that I really like (I read 60 of Rex Stout’s shortish novels in 2014).

I also go through periods of up to several years at a time where I will indulge in long series of crime books, exhausting whole series of books like boxsets before moving on to the next one. The best of those series include Ian Rankin’s John Rebus, all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short stories, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Andrea Camilleri’s Salvo Montalbano, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Martin Beck, Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins, Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently, William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw.

Any other general thoughts on the world of books and reading?

It’s been interesting to see e-Readers rise and plateau. I have a Nook, which is invaluable for touring as I can take as many books as I like, there’s a soft backlight for reading at night, and it makes reading lying down much easier (you can turn pages with your nose). I wouldn’t be without it. I also use the built-in dictionary more than I would have imagined.

But it really frustrates me that I can’t really lend the books to people. I miss the actual physical objects and the memories of them I get when I see them on a shelf – but it’s this inability to share them that really bothers me. That and the fact that e-Reader companies keeping on going bust, forcing me ever towards Amazon and the Kindle… I definitely buy more books overall as a result of owning it, in both digital and classic analog paper forms. Whether that’s because I’ve relied so much in the past on swapping books is unclear.

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MattMatt is Chief Editor at Misfit Press. Alongside overseeing all activity at the Press, he is in the latter stages of a PhD, working on a thesis examining the intersections between literature, neuroscience and the philosophy of consciousness. Soccer, snowboarding, prog metal, Dostoevsky, a good Chianti and strangers' dogs all rank amongst his favourite things.

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