Interview with Michael J Seidlinger

by | Jun 11, 2013 | Features

Michael J Seidlinger has recently relocated to New York City from Virginia. He manages the press Civil Coping Mechanisms. He is the author of My Pet Serial Killer and The Laughter of Strangers, forthcoming from Lazy Fascist in November 2013.

He is very friendly and just really wants to share good books with good people. What more could you want in a person?

Michael talks with me about rooftop readings in Brooklyn, fury screams and what we can look forward to from CCM in the next few years.


You moved from Virginia to New York this spring. What are you doing there? Are you going to stay? I used to live in Fort Belvoir, Virginia when I was 4-7. Have you been there? What’s something New York has that Virginia doesn’t? What’s Virginia have that New York is missing?

I’m here for the summer working part-time with Melville House while juggling CCM press duties, graduate school coursework, and the writing of my latest novel. The whole move seems like a big deal, especially since pretty much everyone I know has asked me with certain regularity, about just that: Are you staying? Am I staying in New York? I personally err towards obliviousness. It comes down to whether or not I can make enough dollar signs to not live in squalor in New York City. I will not live in squalor in a big city like this.

As far as I’m concerned, if you want to live up the city, you need to have a hub, a home base, that doesn’t feel like hell. New York City has pretty much everything you’d want in terms of social activity and activity in general. It’s sensory overload. Virginia, outside of the Northern Virginia Metropolitan Area, is a wasteland of fields and suburbs. But if you live in Northern Virginia, there’s a thread of activity of which to partake. Fort Belvoir isn’t too far out of that area. Metro-accessible locations offer enough of the perks of a big city while still keeping things spread out enough to get away from humanity when absolutely necessary. You ask about something Northern VA might have that New York City doesn’t… well I’d settle for privacy, solace. You can get away from things and end up in an authentic naturalistic setting in a mere hour, be that a good hike, bike trails, etc. Hmm. New York City has its parks, I guess.

Picture 7

Here is a photo I took from Michael’s rooftop. Isn’t it nice?


I hung out on your rooftop last week. You have 360 degrees of a perfect NYC skyline. Thanks for letting me take part in your Summer Rooftop Reading Series part 1. When is the next one? Will there be a Fall Rooftop Reading Series? Are you going to read?

Yeah, it was a good turnout despite poor weather mishaps. I hope to host at least one more. So far there are rumblings about a really top-notch one in mid-July. Who knows, I might just set up one in late June too. As for the July reading, there are some good names interested in reading, but that’s all anonymous until those “good names” are committed and confirmed.

I do the occasional reading but, at least for the Rooftop Series, I’d rather host and guzzle booze. A Fall Rooftop Reading Series might be in order, but it would have to be championed by someone else. Alas, I leave the city in August.


You recently took over Civil Coping Mechanisms, a ‘DIY kind of press.’ What were your worries and expectations before joining? What kind of big things can we look forward to from CCM in 2014? What about 2015? How far in advanced do you plan your releases?

I had been working as designer and voluntary help in various areas of press operations prior to my full acquisition of the press in early 2013. I believe my only worry was in how to continue treating the CCM brand in the years to come. I feel like I’ve been able to get a handle on it; as well, I am beginning to identify a set of long-term goals that seem both enticing and plausible. The actual handing-over of the press was actually pretty seamless.

I am proud to say that Civil Coping Mechanisms has a lot of extraordinary work in tow for the remainder of 2013, 2014, and well into 2015. The full 2013 Catalogue includes Gabby Bess’s debut, Alone with Other People, Nick Antosca’s novella, The Hangman’s Ritual, the conclusion of Kane Faucher’s Infinite Trilogy, The Infinite Grey, Gabriel Blackwell’s second novel, The Natural Dissolution of Fleeting-Improvised Men, James Pate’s first full-length prose-poetry piece, The Fassbinder Diaries, Kyle Muntz’s next novel, Green Lights, and Evan Retzer’s debut, The Daydream Society.

Let’s not forget the awesome work CCM recently published in early 2013: Matthew Salesses’s I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying, Jordan Castro’s Young Americans, and Alexander J Allison’s The Prodigal. All three titles have continued to meet financial expectations and have enjoyed critical success

For 2014, I can’t reveal a whole lot but CCM will be publishing a highly unique and illustrative novel by Shane Jones titled Paper Champion. There’s also the exciting debut collection from artist and poet Bunny Rogers titled My Apologies Accepted. Robert Vaughn’s first full length collection, Addicts and Basements, will debut shortly before 2014’s AWP conference. A lot of 2014’s Catalogue is currently either understated or hidden until further notice. More will be revealed as we make our way through the year.

2015 is in the midst of being planned but I am extremely proud to state that CCM will publish a novel by XTX as well as Nick Ripatrazone’s We Will Listen for You.


Three titles from CCM with cover designs from Seidlinger.

Three titles from CCM with cover designs from Seidlinger.

You’ve designed the covers for many of CCM’s books. That makes you a designer, a writer and a publisher. Can you sing? What do you think are some of the best book designs that have been released by other presses recently?

I guess so. Yeah, I can sing, if you think singing encompasses heavy metal/hardcore vocals. I did quite a bit of that back in the day. Yup, you name it: the yelling, growls, the fry screams, etc. It was actually a lot of fun. Especially seeing how the crowd reacts to the music.

We are witnessing some of the best book designers not only in indie press but in all aspects of publishing. I am consistently amazed at the work that Alban Fischer, Matthew Revert, Adam Robinson, and Ken Baumann have been doing for their own respective press-titles and other projects. It’s great to see talent seeping into various parts of the production process.


The cover for Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard).


I really like Robinson’s Fun Camp cover, the I Don’t Know I Said cover, the Michael Kimball Postcard cover. As for Revert, I love what he’s done with Patrick Wensink’s Broken Piano as well as Scott McClanahan’s Collected Stories Vol 1. His Garrett Cook cover for the novel Murderland, is superb too. Alban Fischer did an awesome job with all of the YesYes books as well as Curbside Splendor titles May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks and Tomorrowland by Joseph Bates. Ken Baumann has always done an awesome job, especially with Confessions from a Dark Wood by Erick Raymond and his design for Boss Fight Books.


The cover for May We Shed These Human Bodies.

The front page of CCM has a cute ‘mission statement’ type of thing on it. It’s great. Who wrote that?

I wrote that. I think I was really really drunk when I wrote it but yeah, I wrote it.

I needed a header for the CCM site and didn’t have anything. What you now see is what became of it.


What is Michael Seidlinger’s mission statement?

Good question. It would have to do with being extremely productive, maybe the sappy and cliché “ be true to literary goals,” umm, but yeah, also making sure to take in your fair share of good reads and good booze. It’s always important to catch up with the community at conferences and important events. Honestly though, my mission statement would be: Write 1000 words and bike 2-5 miles. Daily. Since moving to New York I haven’t been able to fulfill the biking part. But I intend on making up for lost time, soon.