Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An Orlando Reading Series Hits the Road: 8 Questions with Burrow Press Publisher Ryan Rivas

Photo by Tina Craig
Now in its third year, Orlando-based Burrow Press’ Functionally Literate Reading Series is expanding. From May 28th through the 31st, Functionally Literate will celebrate the release of Shane Hinton’s debut story collection, PINKIES, with a four-stop Florida book tour. The Orlando stop is happening this Saturday, May 30th, at the 1300 Brookhaven warehouse and features readings and signing by Hinton along with author Jeff Parker and poet Erica Dawson.

To get the crowd riled up, publisher of Burrow Press, Ryan Rivas, shares some insight into the gritty underbelly of what it takes to put on a statewide book tour: 

1. What part of the tour are you most excited about?  

I'm going to be honest and say the breweries. We're going to be real close to Aardwolf (in Jax), Green Bench and Cycle (in St. Pete), and Funky Buddha (in Ft. Lauderdale). Our Orlando afterparty is going to be cocktail focused, but if Ten10 were open we'd be drinking there. As I'm typing I'm actually getting less and less excited and more and more afraid for my liver.

2. What was your biggest hesitation when you started planning this tour?

My hesitation was that no one would show up in other cities. But this tour actually works because there are hustlin' lit lovers in the other cities who are really taking on the burden of promotion and rallying people. So we've partnered with Abridged Reading Series in Jax, Wordier Than Thou in St. Pete, and Sunday Salon in Ft. Lauderdale. The folks who run those series are the heroes of the tour.

3. Will you be driving a refurbished VW mini-van with shag carpet? 

That would be creepy and awesome, but no. We're taking an '06 Prius. 

4. Please quantify percentages of each you expect on this tour: Sex, drugs, contemporary American short fiction.  

0% sex (we're all married dude!); 20% drugs; 20% fiction; 20% silver alerts; 20% bromance; and 20% Instagramming.

5. Like you wrote in a recent article on LitHub, there is a LOT going on in the Orlando literary community right now. What advice would you have for aspiring writers who are looking to be part of it?  

I like to think that being a part of the community is as simple as coming out to events (your presence in itself is a show of interest, if not support). Once you're there, introduce yourself to people. That's easier said than done, especially if you're a fairly introverted or anxious person, but worth it in the long run because for many writers I think being plugged in to a community can be a helpful balance to the isolation of the writing life. That might not be true in other cities, but Orlando is fairly non-competitive, and I've seen a lot of people go out of their way to welcome newcomers, no matter their resumé.

6. What advice do you have for book-hungry lit consumers looking for something fresh?

Go to an independent bookstore and talk to the staff. That's one of the main reasons indie bookstores exist. They exist for you, dear book-hungry lit consumer looking for something fresh.

7. Say I'm a lit-groupie following the Functionally Literate Statewide Tour, but I get sick when I read in the car. How should I pass the time?

Audiobooks are a great solution. Or literary podcasts like The Drunken Odyssey with John King, which is made right here in Orlando. 

8. What's your favorite literary-themed cocktail? 

A while back me, Func Lit host Jared Silvia, and his wife Lesley came up with a pretty ridiculous and extensive list. Some of them will be available at the Orlando afterparty at Lil Indies. My favorite among them is probably "The Blood & Sand by Cormac McCarthy," which consists of scotch, blood, and sand.You can find a whole list here.

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