Outland Chats with Editor Lauren T. Davila

Lauren T. Davila is a writer an editor extraordinaire. She has brought two excellent anthologies to Outland Entertainment. The first, When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead, originally came out in the UK, with Outland's US edition releasing in August 2023. Now, To Root Somewhere Beautiful, a brand new anthology of climate fiction, is on Kickstarter. I chatted with Lauren about both anthologies and asked her about her process as an editor.

Lauren T. Davila

Alana: Outland just released the American edition of When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead, and To Root Somewhere Beautiful is on Kickstarter now! But these aren't your only two anthologies—you've edited a number of books featuring stories by a diverse group of authors. What is it about anthologies and short stories that you love?
Lauren: For me, it's all about the inherent variety. I love themed anthologies (spoiler alert: all of mine so far have been!) and it's a great opportunity for readers to be exposed to many new authors. I also love the ability to see how writers interpret specific themes or topics–each story has such an interesting angle to add to the collection. Each anthology is like your own little genre bookshelf–just bite-sized!
Alana: You and I have chatted before about how you come up with titles, but I'd love for you to share that with our Outland readers! How do you land on what you want to call a book?
Lauren: Ooooh, no one's ever asked this before! My writers are well aware of this process but as I developmentally edit each story, I mark specific standout lines. These are either used as the titles for their individual stories or, in the case it speaks to the larger collection in the absolute perfect way, we end up using it as the title for the anthology as a whole! It's so much fun to find the hidden poetic gems!
Alana: Inviting authors for projects like these can be very tricky, because there are so many amazing writers out there. How do you determine what kinds of voices you are looking for when you're creating an anthology?
Lauren: When I look at the process of starting an anthology, I try to balance names that readers may know in the genre as well as up-and-coming authors. At the stage I'm at as an anthologist, I tend to do half and half: inviting specific authors and then doing an open call for submissions. This way, I can be sure to balance the open spots and offer up opportunities for new voices. Often, in many traditionally published anthologies, you see the same authors in almost every one. I try to prioritize new voices every chance I can! 
Alana: The upcoming anthology, To Root Somewhere Beautiful, is about the idea of nature reclaiming its own territory after being so mishandled by humanity—something that's progressively more relevant as the Earth is, quite literally, on fire in some places. It's ultimately a hopeful book, and frequently about justice; what are your hopes, both for the book, and for the planet?
Lauren: Wow what a loaded question! I think my hopes for the planet are a bit nebulous. As someone who lives in California and is very well acquainted with fire season (which seems to get worse every year), I know how hopeless one can feel in the face of nature. At the same time though, there's sort of a divine power to the anger of nature that you can't help but admire when you face a massive storm or a building reclaimed by ivy or the glow of a distant fire. I would hope that after reading this anthology, readers will see the power of nature not as something to control, but to attempt to respect and protect. 
Alana: If you had to take one book to read with you on a deserted beach, where you could read it all in one sitting, what would it be?
Lauren: I've got to go with a formative classic here: Jane Eyre. It's got everything. Formative gothic genre book to me and every time I read it I'm just blown away. It's the perfect balance of romance and gothic creepiness—a perfect beach read if I say so myself.
-Alana Joli Abbott is Editor in Chief at Outland Entertainment, as well as a frequent interviewer for various publications, mostly because she's nosy and likes asking a lot of questions.

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