New Stephen King novella, Blockade Billy, made in Md.

In case you spent the weekend outside enjoying the cool weather (or planting cherry laurel bushes, as I did), the Baltimore Sun had two interesting articles on the Maryland's literary scene. One was a Q&A with the owner of a small publishing house that has scored a coup: A new novella by Stephen King. Richard Chizmar (shown here), who runs Cemetery Dance Publications outside Baltimore, is publishing "Blockade Billy," a novella about a 1950s major league baseball player with a deep secret. It was planned as limited edition but was so popular that King's New York publishing house will print copies in addition to the 20,000 that Cemetery Dance was commissioned to do, Mary McCauley's article notes. Here's an excerpt from the Q&A:

Q: Is this his way of supporting small publishers?

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A: There are other small publishers he has supported, but he's been very, very generous to us. This is our third book project, but what makes this significant is, unlike "Buick 8," where there were copies in all the bookstores from the New York publishers and we just published a limited edition for "Blockade Billy," it was all ours.

So when the press release hit, you know everyone immediately asked, No. 1: "How did they keep this book a secret?" And No. 2: "How was it that this very small publisher in the middle of Maryland - not New York, you know, they're not in a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue - how is it that they are able to promote and package this book the way they did?" ... The whole world kind of sat up and noticed.

Another story by Michael Sragow noted the publication of a new version of William Lindsay Gresham 's "Nightmare Alley," a 1940's noir novel "about the rise of a ruthless mentalist from carnival hand to spiritual guru, and his fall back to the worst possible sideshow." The Baltimore-born writer committed suicide in 1962 at age 53, but he has not been forgotten. His book is being re-issued by New York Review Classics with an introduction by novelist-biographer Nick Tosches.

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