- Spellbound River Press is a new small press focused on middle grade series fiction.
- An online newsletter signup form is available now at SpellboundRiver.com.
- The SpellboundRiver.com website will formally launch in February, 2016.
- Spring and Fall 2016 lists to be announced shortly.
From Hannah the Intern:
Everyone is from somewhere, but that doesn’t mean they belong.
I certainly didn’t belong at the roach motel for children, or at the gray-walled school, or anywhere else in this hollow city where my parents had lived and died, or so I’d always been told.
I’m was a misfit. I asked too many questions. I had an imagination. So they all pretended not to notice that I’d packed an old suitcase with everything I owned plus a scrap of newspaper that had blown into my window on the breeze.
Thirty blocks later, my feet throbbed inside my roach-motel shoes. Thy had been shaped and stretched by other heels and toes, creating gaps that could only be filled by blisters.
“Turn left,” my phone urged. The shoes wanted me to turn right, back through the grime-coated sidewalks to the home that could never be a home for me and the school where imagination was outlawed.
“Turn left,” my phone repeated.
I turned left.
I walked down a boulevard of warehouses that had been transformed into internet startups. I walked down a street of warehouses that had been transformed into loft-style apartments. I walked down a sketchy alleyway of warehouses that still operated as warehouses.
I edged around the final corner and boom! Riverboat. An actual riverboat! An actual triple-deck, brass-railed, paddle-driven wooden riverboat with two towering black chimneys!
“You have arrived at your destination,” said my phone.
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“Welcome to Spellbound River Press (please wipe your feet),” read a sign by the gangplank.
“No way,” I muttered to myself.
“You’re late,” said a man up on deck.
Let me paint a picture for you. No, scratch that, let me dig up a 1907 public domain photo from the Library of Congress archives. The man looked like this:
He had the same wild hair. The same mustache. The same white suit. Heck, he may have even been holding the same cigar.
I ran up the gangplank and stuck out my hand. “I’m Hannah.”
“Mark Twain,” said the man.
My jaw dropped. Could this really be the legendary author of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, alive and well, over a hundred years after the much-exaggerated reports of his death? Twain had written about time travel, hadn’t he? That Connecticut Yankee who found himself in King Arthur’s court? So maybe Mark Twain, Mr. Samuel Longhorne Clemens, really had stumbled onto a genuine method of time travel that he’d taken to the 21st Century.
“I’ll be with you in a moment.” The man ignored my outstretched hand and called over my shoulder to a girl about my age. “Mark twain! It’s a riverboat term for water depth. As in, when you navigate our next course, don’t take us any shallower than mark twain. Got it, Liberty?”
The girl raised two green fingers to the green crown on her green forehead and gave a sharp salute. “Aye, sir!” said Liberty, in a copper-metallic voice.
“She’s…not from around here,” I noted. And neither was the translucent boy who floated next to her with his feet a few inches off the deck.
My hand was still unshaken, so I started again. “I’m Hannah.”
“Samuel Longhorne Clemens,” said the man.
“I knew it!” I exclaimed. “You’re really him! You’re really–”
“Hold that thought.” Still not shaking my hand, the man tapped his bluetooth earpiece. “Yes, Samuel Longhorne Clemens. Pretty sure that’s the crossword puzzle answer you’re looking for. And if that doesn’t fit, try Charles Dickens. Okay, you’re welcome. Bye.”
I cleared my throat and nodded toward my hand. My wrist muscles were starting to cramp up. “I can see that you’re a busy man…”
He finally took my hand and gave it a polite shake. “Clement L. Samuels, publisher, at your service.”
“I’m Hannah. I’m here for the internship.” I waved the scrap of newspaper.
“Can you blog? Write a press release? Shovel coal into a boiler?”
“Yes, yes, and…what?”
“Coal. The steamboat normally runs on rainbows and unicorn hair, but we’re fresh out. I’m afraid it’ll have to be coal for the boiler until we can refuel. Of course, the printing press runs on pure imagination, so we’ll not run out of that as long as we have our books.”
“Books!” I tried to rein in that sappy expression that always got me jeered at every time I thought about my favorite stories, except that Mr. Samuels didn’t jeer. He smiled a sappy smile right back.
“Books are what Spellbound River Press is all about. Amazing books for middle graders of all ages. And since we’re mobile–” He tapped my phone with a finger from his non-cigar hand. “–Spellbound River Press can go wherever the stories take us. Down the Mississippi in search of adventure. Up the Amazon in search of thrills. Along the Tigris and Euphrates in search of ancient wisdom. Across the Milky Way–”
“The Milky Way isn’t a river,” I said.
Mr. Samuels shook his head. “You’ve got so much to learn. So are you with us or not?”
I took a deep breath and considered my options. Could I really sail downriver with Mark Twain’s doppelganger, a green metal girl, a ghost boy, and the rest of their publishing crew on a mission to create amazing book series for kids? Books filled with magic, wonder, and imagination? The best kind of books in the whole entire world?
“I’m with you,” I stated, and I tossed the scrap of paper back into the breeze, where it might inspire others to join the adventure as well.
Hannah the Intern
Spellbound River Press
P.O. Box 1084
Socorro, New Mexico 87801