Tales of the Unexpected

  • By Austin Ross
  • August 21, 2023

The generosity of DC’s literary community was a pleasant surprise.

Tales of the Unexpected

Being somewhat new to the DMV — having moved here a few years ago after living for many years outside of Philadelphia — I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when it came to its literary or publishing world, but it has quickly become one of my favorite places.

Since moving here, I’ve been able to connect with great local authors like Joey Hedger, whose novel Deliver Thy Pigs came out last year and is such a wonderful book. There are organizations like the Inner Loop that highlight authors who would otherwise fly under the radar and give them a better chance to connect with a wider readership.

It’s a tough world out there for a lot of industries, but maybe publishing in particular. Being met with such a welcoming and encouraging community of like-minded people is what keeps me motivated to carry on. The work we do is important, even — or maybe especially — when it doesn’t feel like it. Writing is a lonely existence much of the time. We do what it takes to finish the work: getting up early, staying up late, stealing quiet moments during lunch, recording notes to ourselves on our phone. Does it really matter?

Yes. It does. It really does.

I’ve written about this before and will write about it again, but publishing and writing aren’t the same thing. You’ll occasionally see them overlap, but I’m always energized by meeting with writers and readers, and there are so many ways to do that in the DMV. It might sound obvious, but it bears repeating: Writers and readers are the backbone of this rapidly changing industry.

It’s easy to get caught up in sales figures and whatnot, but when my work has connected with another human being? That’s the good stuff. I’ve had the chance to experience that in abundance in the DMV — through things like the Inner Loop and events at terrific bookstores like East City Bookshop, Kramers, and others — and I’m grateful. Publishing needs more champions to point out books that might otherwise go unnoticed, and the DMV is leading the charge.

[Editor’s note: This piece is in support of the Inner Loop’s “Author’s Corner,” a monthly campaign that spotlights a DC-area writer and their recently published work from a small to medium-sized publisher. The Inner Loop connects talented local authors to lit lovers in the community through live readings, author interviews, featured book sales at Potter's House, and through Eat.Drink.Read., a collaboration with restaurant partners Pie Shop, Shaw’s Tavern, and Reveler’s Hour to promote the author through special events and menu and takeout inserts.]

Austin Ross’ fiction, essays, and interviews have appeared in Publishers Weekly, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. He is a senior editor with multiple HarperCollins imprints, where he acquires and develops a wide variety of nonfiction titles. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his family. Gloria Patri is his debut novel.

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