Chris Rhatigan is the man behind the highly respected and loved crime fiction publisher, All Due Respect. He’s published Alec Cizak, Jake Hinkson, Paul D. Brazill, Eric Beetner, Matt Phillips, Paul Heatley, and many more. He also writes some dark classics, himself.
All Due Respect magazine has reopened submissions after a long time – Chris is working with the fab David Nemeth on the project.
A friend of mine doesn’t read fiction, paraphrasing Frank Skinner about it all being made-up and he has no time for any of that (???). What words do you have for such a philistine?
I don’t understand how that’s a valid criticism of fiction. Why are factual events inherently more valuable than imagined ones?
On the other hand, I don’t have any problem with people who don’t read fiction. Obviously I find it rewarding, but most people don’t. I get that after a hard day of work you just want to plop down on the couch and watch The Voice.
What must a protagonist have to make you read on?
A strong voice. I find omniscient POV particularly difficult to read because of this. I want to be in the character’s head, seeing the world as they do, acting and reacting as they do.
Do you need a likeable protagonist?
More like the opposite! I read bleak crime fiction and I dig a narrator who’s a bad person doing bad things for bad reasons. It’s more important that the central character is interesting than likeable, which doesn’t necessarily involve redeeming qualities.
Name a great antagonist, novel or movie, and what they do for you.
I’m not much for heroes and villains. I prefer flawed, everyday people committing petty crimes, slipping from the curb to the gutter.
What makes you throw a book out the window?
I remember back when I was in college I threw Ibsen’s A Doll’s House across the room after I finished it. I guess people in the nineteenth century preferred a didactic style in which the characters explicitly state what they’re thinking—over and over and over again.
Do you grit your teeth all the way to the end of a dodgy novel?
No. As a publisher, I can usually tell whether I like a book in the first five pages. I have too long of a TBR list—and too many manuscripts to edit—to plow ahead on a book I know I won’t like.
How has your editing style changed over the years?
When I first started editing, I was much more heavy-handed. I tended to suggest major rewrites without fully conceptualizing how they would impact the rest of the book. Often a novel is like a Jenga puzzle—take out one piece and the rest might be fucked. Now I take my time to question whether the suggestion I’m making is truly valid and is something that the writer can pull off.
I also tend to treat each book as an island. I have to learn the rules the writer is playing by and adapt my edits to those rules. I’ve found that coming in with a preconceived set of notions about what should appear on the page will only obscure the writer’s intent. Fiction is art and providing prescriptive advice about art doesn’t work.
What’s your next book, in 30 words or less?
The next book out from All Due Respect is The Good Book by Tom Leins, a phenomenal collection of short stories about a rough-and-tumble, basement-level wrestling league in Testament, Florida.
Then we’ve got the first book of Pablo D’Stair’s cult classic Trevor English series to be released at the end of January. This Letter to Norman Court is a great work of con-artistry and will be followed by the other four books throughout the course of 2020.
Where can readers connect with you?
My freelance editing services and resources can be found at chrisrhatiganediting.com
All Due Respect Books can be found at allduerespectbooks.com
All Due Respect the magazine can be found at all-due-respect.blogspot.com
Bio: Chris Rhatigan is a freelance editor and publisher of All Due Respect Books. He lives in Philadelphia.