books: The Appearing Act 

Andrew K. Stone’s new novel focuses on the unseen in society.

Stone’s subject matter came to him while he was living in Boston and seeing the large homeless population in the city. “I’ve always been very interested with the circumstances that put people on the street,” Stone says. “I wanted to put a more human face on some of the unfortunate stereotypes of homeless people like drug or alcohol abuse. I started thinking, ‘Would a person make a conscious decision to become homeless and, if so, what would that reason be?’”

What fascinated Stone was the way people interacted, or failed to interact, with the homeless. He realized this reaction is one of status and one that ultimately guides our behavior toward others. “Most of us try to ignore the homeless,” Stone says. “It’s very unfortunate but we try to avert our gazes. In this book it’s more of society that I am writing about. One of the main things that I wanted to say was that we can never drop out of society, which is what Birdy tries to do by purposefully becoming homeless. But the reality is that we can move about society, but we can never truly extricate ourselves. The point being that no matter where we are in society we are basically the same person but we are judged differently because of our status.”

Ironically, Stone’s work as an author mimics that of his character Birdy. Just as Birdy tried to drop out of society in order to understand it, Stone had to drop out of the publishing world in order to publish his books. When Stone first began sending his manuscripts to the major publishing houses in New York, the rejection letters he received were always very positive. “I kept getting the same feedback,” Stone says. “They all said I write very well, but they didn’t think that they could sell this at this time.” After getting enough of this kind of rejection, Stone decided to just do it himself and his imprint So There Books was born.

Stone sold his first novel “All Flowers Die” (So There Books, $14) through his Web site, which did very well. He sold thousands of copies. From there, Stone got his book into stores and was able to get media coverage with radio interviews and a book tour. Based on his first novel’s success, Stone decided to release “Disappearing Into View” also on his own. “In today’s publishing climate you need more than just a good book,” Stone says. “Unfortunately it’s all bottom line as well.” Stone hopes to take his third book, which he’s working on now, and sell it to a publisher whom he has approached with his experience in marketing and his knowledge of the publishing business. What’s funny is that many authors who have published with big publishing houses have come to Stone to ask how they can get into the self-publishing business. “I work very hard on the marketing and the touring,” Stone says. “It’s just the old saying that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” S

Andrew K. Stone will be signing copies of his books at the Short Pump Barnes & Noble on June 28 at 2 p.m. You can read the first chapter of both of his books as well as read reviews of his work on his Web site www.sotherebooks.com.


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