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Indie Spotlight on Alternating Current Press

By William Swift, Priyanka Joshi and Elizabeth Haslam

Alternating Current Press is a small independent press which works to publish and promote literature that challenges readers and has an innate sense of self, timelessness and atmosphere. Since 1993, the press has published pieces covering a wide range of themes, including science, history, fiction, rural landscapes and poetry. 

Alternating Current Press is small, passionate and heavily involved in multiple arenas within the literary landscape. While it only produces between one and five books a year, it's involved in many other projects like spoken word events, national book tours, blog tours, book clubs and the production of an annual literary journal of history. This journal includes poetry, fiction, essays, articles and non-fiction by over forty authors, as well as accompanying photographs.

Notable Releases

A Room in Dodge City by David Leo Rice

A Room in Dodge City is a unique, experimental novel that blends elements of horror, surrealism and dark humour. It follows an unnamed drifter as he stumbles into distorted Dodge City, where reality bends and twists like tumbleweed in a dust storm. Trapped in a surreal labyrinth and haunted by unsettling creatures and enigmatic rituals, the protagonist navigates a twilight zone between memory and waking nightmare to confront not only grotesque horrors but also the echoes of his own fractured past. This book is a challenging and thought-provoking exploration of themes like loneliness, alienation and the nature of reality itself, and it won the Electric Book Award hosted by Alternating Current Press in 2016.

The Poor Man's Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide by Schuler Benson

Published in 2014, The Poor Man's Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide is Schuler Benson’s debut. This collection of twelve dark short stories is set in the southern USA and full of the region’s quirks and dialect. A common theme in the stories is the strange and depressing situations that all the characters find themselves in while dealing with their own turmoil. Benson’s lyrical prose lends itself well to the heartfelt and truthful descriptions of these unpleasant circumstances. As the winner of the 2015 Luminaire Award, it explores the dark emotions and mental illness that come with facing the reality of the world, and is not for the faint-hearted.

We Meant to Bring It Home Alive by Armin Tolentino

We Meant to Bring It Home Alive is a haunting and evocative collection of poems that confronts profound questions of existence and celebrates the enduring human urge to connect. Astronauts wrestle with the existential void as they hurtle through the cosmic abyss, whalers face the monstrous depths of both the ocean and their own souls, and fossil hunters, driven by ambition and obsession, chip away at the earth to unearth bones and fragments of forgotten dreams. These diverse narratives converge in a tapestry of longing and isolation, where characters grapple with questions of mortality, purpose and the elusive nature of home. Juggling both free verse and rhyming scheme in a masterful stroke of brilliance, Tolentino won the Electric Book Award for 2019.

New Releases

One of Alternating Current Press’ greatest powers as an indie publisher is the ability to shed light on underrepresented histories. Their new releases include several works of historical investigation, such as Footnote. Part of a series, Footnote and its subsequent editions blend fiction, nonfiction and alternate media in the form of photographs. By blurring distinctions, the series challenges the academic gatekeeping of alternative histories. 

Alternating Current opens the door for unique representations by bringing history to readers disinclined to crack open the dusty World-War heavy narratives. Watermark: Poems of the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889 is described as a “lyrical documentary of personae both real and imagined.” Penning this work, veteran author Barbara Sabol not only breaks new stylistic ground in historical fiction, but represents an under taught and unremembered moment in history. This love letter to the past emphasises Sabol’s love of human life and appreciation for the lost tragedies of history. 

At the intersection of history and legacy, the new release black has every right to be angry uses poetry to explore depictions of Black women in history. In this full-length poetry collection, Ashley Elizabeth takes the historical message unique to Alternating Current Press and engages with historical-cultural legacy – namely, how that legacy has been wielded against people of colour. Made possible by the open-ended definition of historical fiction, Alternating Current Press and Ashley Elizabeth collaborate in the broadening of literature. 

Alternating Current Press’ most-anticipated release, at least on behalf of the authors involved, is the 2023 Best Short Fiction annual edition. Small Fiction is not only an anthology of short stories, but also flash and microfiction. For authors exploring the route of short fiction but struggling to find readers, the print edition of each year’s Alternating Current Press Small Fiction breathes life into the industry and gives hope and a platform to alternative writers.

By keeping their work truly, by all definitions, alternative, Alternating Current Press makes vital contributions to the world of indie publishing.



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