No, this isn’t Stonemaier Games I’m talking about. The company was a book publishing company called Blank Slate Press. A few writer friends and I decided to try to discover great new novelists and publish their work.
My contribution came from a local writer’s circle. A few months before founding the company, someone in the group brought a friend’s short story, a slice-of-life story set in suburbia. I think it was called “Blades.” It was gritty and dark, and it reminded me of the writing style of Fight Club author Chuck Palahnuik.
The writer’s name was Fred Venturini.
When we started Blank Slate Press, I proposed that we reach out to Fred to see if he was working on a novel. As it turned out, he was. Back then it was called The Samaritan. It was about a young man in rural Illinois who discovers that he has the ability to regenerate limbs and organs.
We guided Fred through the writing process (it didn’t take much–he’s a hard worker, and he loves to write), and we published The Samaritan in 2011. It sold well for the first book from a tiny, unknown press. But I think we always knew that Fred could be so much bigger.
When Stonemaier Games took off, I separated ways from Blank Slate Press. It was around that time that Fred found a big-name agent, and together they found a bigger publisher for the book, since retitled The Heart Does Not Grow Back. It was released one week ago, and I could not have been happier to see it appear on my Kindle (I had pre-ordered it months ago).
It was a very interesting reading experience given how intimately I knew the story and the amount of pride I felt for Fred’s accomplishment. His writing is damn good, even better than in the original version of the book. The story is more robust, and the whole thing is highly entertaining. Every now and then I’d come across a line that was just so brilliant that I had to put the book down for a few minutes to soak in the awesomeness.
It really is that good. If you have a Kindle, download the sample and you’ll know what I mean. It’s tough to describe it without giving away key details (don’t read the summary text on Amazon or the back cover).
I don’t know if this will be the bestseller it deserves to be, but it’s a great start, and I’ll be the first in line when Fred releases his next book.