Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Interview with X-Mas Men Editor

Todd Tobias, publisher of Indy Men’s Magazine, worked with Lou Harry to co-edit the new IHS Press collection The X-Mas Men: An Eclectic Collection of Holiday Essays. Tobias took time recently to answer some questions about the project.

What prompted the editors at Indy Men’s Magazine to do a collection of essays with a Christmas theme?

Indy Men’s Magazine is very much an essay driven publication. What sets the magazine apart from many city and regional publications is that we not only encourage first person writing, it’s more or less the foundation of the magazine. Awhile back we ran a feature called “Father Christmas” in which three of our writers grappled with ghosts from their holidays past. It was well received by our readers and it got us thinking about how an expanded version of that theme--with all of our A-list writers contributing--could make for a really interesting book.

How did you go about recruiting authors for the collection?

We’re fortunate to have a core group of very talented writers who contribute to the magazine on a regular basis. When it came time to recruit authors for this collection we simply asked the writers whose talents we admire the most if they had a holiday story they wanted to tell. We’ve got some real heavy hitters contributing to these pages. Michael Kun was a Pulitzer Prize nominee. Tom Chiarella was a finalist for the National Magazine Award. Phillip Gulley is a best-selling author. Almost without exception all of the writers contributing to The X-Mas Men have authored at least one book.

Do you have a favorite of the essays in the book?

At the risk of sounding like a proud parent I have several favorites that I love for different reasons. I think the book’s real strength is that while each of the essays are distinct in terms of style and subject matter, collectively they create a real universal and cohesive picture of the holidays. Although in a lot of ways, this is more than simply a book about “Christmas.” In a lot of ways it’s a book about family.

What is your most memorable holiday memory?

The essay I contributed deals with a pretty memorable experience. A couple of years ago my daughter, who was four at the time, became really curious about the concept death and the after life. Her curiosity kind of dovetailed with the holiday season. So on Christmas Eve that year I took her to her grandmother’s grave as a way of trying her answer some of her questions. It was an odd way to be spending the early part of Christmas Eve I suppose but it had a big impact on both of us.

Any plans on doing other theme-related books?

Absolutely. We’ve got a got a couple of ideas we’re excited about. We see The X-mas Men as the first in a series of wildly successful books from the writers of IMM.

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