Jul 7, 2017 | news

Teach Me How To Say Goodbye

Let’s just rip off the band-aid: I am stepping down from Fireside.

When Trump was elected president last year, the latest fiasco in the global rise of right-wing populism, we found new energy at Fireside. We would still be helping to bring art into the world, but it was now an act of resistance as well as an act of love. (As it should be, you cannot have resistance without love.)

The past eight months have been so gratifying, both in the art we have published and in the response from our readers to our new mission. It’s made Fireside new again for me, and it’s been a privilige to do my part.

So why leave? Because I have a bigger part to play besides my role at Fireside, and I can’t do both any longer.

As many of you know, I work at a newspaper. And that work has been consuming more and more of my time lately, with both the volume and the importance of the news rising in a way we’ve never experienced in this country. And it comes alongside a level of furious, violent antipathy toward the press that is somehow both wildly shocking and banally predictable.

Fireside has been the labor of love of my life, and it kills me to step away. But I am a journalist, first and always, and I need to focus my energy on the work we are doing. A lot of people have made fun of the earnestness of the Washington Post’s Democracy Dies in Darkness slogan, but it is true, and I won’t let the light go out.

Monsieur Defendini, Madame Sjunneson, In Command Where You Belong, How You Say, No Sweat

Fireside is not going anywhere, though. We’ve been working for the past few months to make sure that it is in the hands of the most excellent team we can assemble, and we hope that you will continue to support our mission going forward.

Pablo Defendini, our design and technology director and my business partner the last few years, is taking over as publisher. He’ll be continuing in his other duties as well. Pablo is really good at running things. He’s been taking on more of that behind the scenes the past few months. Pablo is organized and he has Plans. You’ll want to stick around to see what he comes up with next.

Elsa Sjunneson, our wonderful assistant editor who has been managing our submissions for a while now, is stepping up to become managing editor. She’ll be helping Pablo keep the joint running, with a focus on overseeing our editorial operations.

Then there’s the newcomers.

We are incredibly lucky to be welcoming Julia Rios to take over as fiction editor for the magazine. She’s previously been an editor at Uncanny and Strange Horizons, and she’s also a writer, podcaster, and narrator. She will be making story selections for the magazine as well as editing them. I feel really good passing that job – the heart of what makes Fireside what it is – onto Julia.

We’re also incredibly happy to have signed Mikki Kendall on as editor to lead the follow-up to last year’s #BlackSpecFic report. Oh yes, there is a follow-up. And it will be out soon.

As far as the actual company goes, Fireside is being reorganized as an LLC (I had been running it as a sole proprietorship). Pablo will own and operate the company, and I will be retaining a one-third equity stake in the company. But Pablo is the boss. We’ll be talking behind the scenes, but this is his show.

That’s effective immediately. The LLC is up and running, Pablo and Elsa are both already in their new positions, and Julia will be starting officially in September. I am wrapping up editing on our stories for July and August now and will be mostly out of the way by the end of July.

But I’m not going away entirely. I have a few book and serial projects in the pipeline for Fireside, and plan to do more of those in the future. And you can always find me on Twitter @talkwordy or email me at [email protected].

One Last Time, Sit Down, Have A Drink With Me

We have done something amazing here, my friends. These past five years – can you believe it’s been that long – have been such an honor for me. With your trust, and yes, your financial help, we’ve built Fireside from a single issue of a magazine to a real company, one that we hope is leading the way in experimenting with short fiction in the 21st century – both in how we deliver our stories and in trying to make sure writers and other creators are paid something closer to a fair wage for their work. We’ve published dozens of incredible stories over the years, stories that I am proud to have had a small part in bringing into the world.

Thank you for that. Thank you for everything. I love you all.

© 2017 Brian J. White

About the author

Brian J. White

Brian started Fireside Fiction Company in 2012 as an experiment in crowdfunding and paying speculative fiction writers well above the accepted professional rate at the time. It worked! Thanks, have a great day!

Brian has been informed he has to write more in his bio. Fine! Brian took that experiment through five Kickstarters (and did not die!) and into a subscription model. During his tenure, Fireside published 150 stories, five novels, and one novella, and also published the first #BlackSpecFic report, which examined the massive under-representation of Black short-story writers in the field, prompting conversation, reflection, and change in the speculative fiction community. It remains one of the most important things he has worked on in his adult life. Brian was a 2017 World Fantasy Award finalist in the Special Award, Non-Professional category for Fireside, and Fireside has been nominated for multiple Hugo Awards.

Facing the burnout that is all too common among people who work at small presses, Brian stepped down as editor and publisher in 2017 to regroup and recharge mentally. He returned as interim editorial director in 2020 and resumed full ownership of the company in June 2021 with a great team you can read about below.

In the wider world, Brian is a former journalist who worked as an editor at The Courier-Journal in Louisville from 2006–2010 and at the Boston Globe from 2010–2018, where he was part of the staff that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2014 for the newspaper’s coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2014. He still lives around Boston, where he works as an editor for a private company and takes photographs, paints miniatures, and spends time with his amazing wife and various cats.