Bexley News

Library helps authors share their stories

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Author Matt Betts reads from his recently published work Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Bexley Public Library.

A literary celebration the weekend of Aug. 2-4 had a local tie as writer Matt Betts was among the authors who read from their recently published books Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Bexley Public Library.

The weekend featured events at four locations in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Raw Dog Screaming Press. The publishing company's new imprint, Dog Star Books, just released Betts' debut novel, Odd Men Out.

Betts describes his novel as "steampunk," a subgenre of science fiction that includes elements of horror and alternate versions of history. The genre draws its name from a concept that technology stopped evolving after the invention of steam power.

In Odd Men Out, the Civil War has been put on hold because both the North and South face a common enemy: zombie-like creatures known as "the chewers."

Betts said reading a chapter from his book in front of a crowd of about 30 people at the library was equal parts nerve-wracking and exhilarating.

"It's strange, picking out what you're going to read, how to represent that book when you have five, 10 minutes. How do you best represent it?" he said. "You want to focus on one of your main characters and give somebody a feel for that and hope they sort of identify with it."

During the library event, six other writers read from their books, running the gamut from novels to short stories to poetry in various genres. Sharing the spotlight with his fellow Dog Star Books authors took the pressure off, Betts said.

"I usually don't go first because I want someone to break the ice," he said, "and then if I don't sound great, at least there's a couple people after me."

Raw Dog Books co-founder Jennifer Barnes said she and business partner John Lawson started the company to provide an avenue for authors with original voices.

"We started it because there were all these New York publishers who were like the gatekeepers and it was really hard for things that don't fit into specific categories to get published," Barnes said. "Now, 10 years later ... the industry has totally changed. Now anybody can publish anything because of self-publishing, but I feel like we're even more necessary because we've built up the infrastructure to help authors get their work out there."