15 June 2022

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sophocles, and I

 I have a rather unusual book beside me as I write this, courtesy of Flame Tree Publishing.  They are a British firm that publishes beautiful volumes, including their Gothic and Fantasy line.  The latest example of that series is Chilling Crime Short Stories which features nine original stories plus tales by Poe, de Maupassant, Dickens, Sophocles (an excerpt from Oedipus Rex), Sir Thomas More (about the princes in the tower), F. Scott Fitzgerald, and... me.

Rather daunting company, that.

Before I move on some of you may be wondering what Fitzgerald wrote that qualified for this volume.  Well, the new book includes the entirety of The Great Gatsby.  This might shock "mainstream" readers who think of it as one of the great American novels, but the fact is you can't reduce the plot of that book to a single sentence without outlining a classic noir novel.  

But forget about Fitzgerald; let's talk about me.  They reprinted my story "The Present" which appeared originally in The Strand Magazine.  I had read that Flame Tree was looking for stories that would fit the theme of Chilling Crime so I submitted the story and they bought it.  

This was not the first time I have been reprinted.  I also successfully submitted two stories to a now-dead story-publishing site called Great Jones Street. I point this out because submitting  is not the way things always work in the world of reprints.

For example, last year, Barb Goffman reached out to me, wanting to republish my story "Shanks Gets Mugged" in Black Cat Weekly.  I was happy to agree.  As I have said before, being paid for a reprint feels like getting away with something.

The first time a publisher approached me about reprinting my material it was an Italian firm.  I had just won an award and they thought they might be interested in publishing my winning book in Italy.  (I assume my Sicilian surname was a factor.)  I told them that my winning work was a short story but I did have a novel available.  I sent them Such A Killing Crime, about murder in Greenwich Village during the Great Folk Music Scare of the early 1960s,  and they wound up publishing it under a wonderful title that translates Folk Crimes. 

A few years later I received an email from an author who had been contacted by the same publisher.  Suspicious, she did her research and saw my name among their works.  She asked: Is this a scam?  I replied that if it was it was one of those rare scams where they pay you.

More recently my book Shanks on Crime was translated into Japanese with a title that Google tells me translates roughly as Sunday Afternoon Tea With Mystery Writer.  O-kay.  That one sold so well that the publisher decided to produce an otherwise uncollected set of my stories with the English title The Red Envelope and Other Stories and the Japanese title (according to Google) Solve Mysteries on the Holidays at the Coffeehouse.

Since then several writers have asked me how to get their books published in Japan. I told them the process is simple: Open your email and find a note from Tokyo Sogen asking if you would like to sell them the Japanese rights.

Simple, yes.  I never said it was easy.

But the most delightful experience I have ever had with a reprint had to be the two books below, both of which contain "The Street of the Dead House," originally published in nEvermore!

The only downside is that in order to have a story reprinted you first have to write it, so I better get to work.  Can't let Dickens and Poe get ahead of me.


  1. Congratulations! Reprints, especially in exotic places, are a real writing pleasure.

  2. Rob, that's interesting on the Japanese title switch. Makes me wonder how mine will come out with a Google translation. Keep on writing.

  3. Very cool. But I must ask: Gatsby is more than 200 pages long. How does it qualify as a short story? (I know you didn't make the decision. It's more of a rhetorical question.)

  4. Great question, Barb. I have been grumbling recently about people using "story" to mean nonfiction essay, novel, etc.

  5. My question is, how do Poe, de Maupassant, Dickens, Sophocles, Sir Thomas More, and F. Scott Fitzgerald deserve to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Rob Lopresti?

  6. I don't know why that uploaded as anonymous, but it's your old dating wing man, Craig Faustus Buck.

    1. Thanks, Craig. I don't resent those other guys crowding in. They haven't had any new material in years, so give 'em a break.

  7. Wonderful! Congrats, Rob! (I've seen the Flame Tree Press books and even bought one but I knew next to nothing about them!)

    1. OOPS! I meant "Flame Tree Publishing!" My bad!


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