You just moved offices in Pasadena. What does that mean for Red Hen Press?
We grew out of our old space, which is being developed into condos. Now we have a much larger space in Pasadena. It’s been an exciting new thing, since we just moved in a month ago. We have an entire top floor of a bank building, over 3,000 square feet.
Before we moved to Pasadena from the Valley in 2009, there was a lot of discussion about where we should go. We really wanted to move to a place that celebrates arts and culture. I met with the mayor of Pasadena and he wanted us there. We have donors there, a reading series at Boston Court Theater. Pasadena is a city where arts and culture matter. I wanted Red Hen to be part of that. I felt our press would thrive in a place where ideas swarm and creative work is part of the landscape.
You were born in Binghamton, N.Y. What originally brought you to L.A?
I came out to get my PhD at Claremont in 1987. I decided I wanted to make my life here. L.A. always seemed to me like a film city. There was no reason that L.A. couldn’t be the next Paris, the next literary city.
And I wanted to do it. It was audacious. We wanted first to publish books, then to build community and support literacy—hence the reading series, the Review, the writing in the schools program and the awards. It mostly used to be readings at bookstores, but as the bookstore culture started to go out, we began looking at other venues.
We are building the literary culture of L.A. It’s easy to feel [literature] is overshadowed by music, movies, and fashion. People told me I would never make a splash, that’s there’s too much noise, too many people. But my kids always say to me, ‘Wherever you are someone is getting wet!’