Jon Lindsey and Harris Lahti

On Launching a New Press, What You Need to Start Your Own Indie Press, and C4G’s First Book ‘Suicide

Cover of Jon Lindsey and Harris Lahti: On Launching a New Press, What You Need to Start Your Own Indie Press, and C4G’s First Book ‘Suicide: An Anthology’

Jon Lindsey’s writing first caught my attention when his debut novel BODY HIGH came out in 2020. His writing somehow manages to be deeply weird, funny, raw, yet also vulnerable and moving all at once. I quickly became a fan and looked forward to what was next. 

Recently, Jon released SUICIDE: An Anthology (Cash for Gold Books/House of Vlad Press, 2023) a joint project with HOUSE OF VLAD PRESS and Jon’s newest venture, CASH FOR GOLD BOOKS. Both projects are highly collaborative. SUICIDE, a project conceived wth the writer Cory Bennet, features writing from over twenty-four authors who have been affected by suicide, whether by surviving an attempt or suffering the loss of a loved one. Cash for Gold similarly employs an “all hands on deck” ethos, where all editors trade off on taking the lead on a project while the rest support. All fitting for Jon who describes himself as someone who has “always wanted to be in a boy band, or doomed guerrilla resistance movement.”

I had the good fortune of speaking with both Jon and Harris Lahti, a fellow writer and C4G editor, over Zoom about the exciting work coming from their new press, what gives writing that ethereal sense of life and death urgency, and subverting the tired tropes of traditional publishing. 


Barrie Miskin: Congratulations to you both on the new press and on the publication of SUICIDE: An Anthology. It’s painfully beautiful and as somebody who has written about struggling with mental illness,  I know it’s a difficult process. And when I was going through it, I wished that there were more books that dealt with the topic of suicide,  because I felt so alone. To know that there are people writing about it really connects us. So thank you for that.

Jon Lindsay: That was the intention behind the anthology. To help people feel less alone. After my mom killed herself, I started going to a support group for survivors of suicide, and it was the only place where I felt normal. It was the saddest room on Earth. The group would get together once a week and share stories of the people we loved who had died, as well as what we were going through in the aftermath. With this anthology, I wanted to recreate that room in book form, for people who might not have access to support. 

BM: Was that where the idea for the anthology came from? That need to connect people or to make people feel less alone?

JL:   Around the time of the pandemic, a lot of people on Twitter were posting about their own despair and losing friends and family to suicide. Many of the posters were writers I admired. I connected with Corey Bennet because he would post really openly and honestly about losing multiple people he loved to suicide. He and I decided we should put together an anthology. It was emotionally exhausting, but I hope it helps people.

BM: You both have written and published books—what are the surprises of being on the other side of it, with Cash for Gold? How is it different when you’re the editor rather than the author?

Harris Lahti: You don’t have to work to write the book, for one. Which can take decades, and nearly murder you. As an editor, you’ve free from this baggage, which makes the process clearer than it is with editing your own work—less painful. A truly enjoyable experience, really. You’re still looking to improve the work in the same ways, of course, only now those things reveal themselves much quicker. And so, by the time you hone and publish the work, you’re absolutely certain. Whereas with your own, there will always be that sliver of doubt. 

For instance, Nathan Dragon’s forthcoming short story collection, The Champ is Here, is incredible. All wins, no losses, and that’s a certifiable fact. If people don’t choose to read it, I can honestly say they’re missing out on something essential. Can you ever say that with a straight face about your own work? 

BM: How about for you, Jon?

JL: I’ve always wanted to be in a boy band, or doomed guerrilla resistance movement. Writing a monolithic work of literature is, by necessity, a solitary act. But I also enjoy collaborating. It’s good to work toward building something with friends. 

BM: What inspired you to take on creating C4G? 

HL: I first met Jon at a Garielle Lutz release in the city, and we kept in touch over the pandemic. We started a writing group that Nathan Dragon participated in. Like me, they’d both been struggling to publish books through the usual channels. Which makes sense, in retrospect, considering how unique both of their voices are, something I don’t think publishing at-large generally regards, opting instead for books that connect with the zeitgeist or some lower-common-denominator. Which never made sense to me, considering how often publishers miss the mark (Is it only 5% percent of books that recoup their advances?). All the books I love are the total freaks. 

But I think that anecdote only serves as a small example. I’ve also been editing fiction for literary magazines for over a decade now. And I’ve become friends with many of the writers I publish; I follow what they’re doing; I keep in touch. After a while, same as with Nathan and Jon, you start to understand that there is a wealth of unbelievable books laying around. The opportunity there.  

And if no one else is going to publish them, we got to thinking, why can’t we? There was clearly a void. 

BM: Is there any kind of genre or type of book that fits in with your vision for C4G? And how many books do you plan to publish per year?

HL: You’re making us workshop our mission statement in real time! 

JL: It’s an ongoing debate. I’m open to publishing whatever and whoever as long as there’s blood and tears. Like the Danzig song. That’s what I’m interested in. Anything less is hard to get excited about. 

HL: I think having an exclusive catalog of about two to four books a year is what we’re aiming for. I hope to find those voices that, like Jon said,  needed to write that book. It’s that important, that essential. And I don’t necessarily think the topics have to be heavy to create that feeling of urgency. For instance, and this is going to sound insane, but I really think a book about World War II can have the same stakes, the same tension, intrigue, etc, as a book about someone who has to pee really bad. 

BM: Absolutely.

HL: It’s all about how it’s written. That x-factor. That uninterrupted flow of energy. Right now, I’m reading Esther Yi’s book Y/N and it’s about K-pop, which is not something I would normally be interested in. But the way it’s rendered is so interesting and personal. So authentic and original it demands to be read. Ultimately, I think that’s what I’m looking for: to encounter a story that can only be told by a single person. Like an imprint of their brain on the page. In a way, I think I’m always looking for someone to prove my tastes wrong. 

BM: What about production? Will you be working with a distribution partner or will you be doing it on your own? I recently read about Chelsea Hodson and her mom packing her car full of books and heading to the post office daily for Rose Books.

JL: This has been my life for the last two weeks. I show up to the post office with around 70 books a day and the postal workers just hate me. (laughs) They see me coming and they go on their lunch break. 

I studied at the feet of the master Brian Allen Ellis at House of Vlad Press for this release, but I still managed to botch the pre-orders. Going forward, we’re strictly print-on-demand. With POD, some editing chops, and a crumb of humanitarianism, there’s no reason why everyone can’t start an indie press.

BM: Is it just the two of you who are running C4G right now? 

JL: No, we also work with Jon Perry, a reformed lawyer and literary podcaster, as well as Nathan Dragon.

HL: We should specify that we acquired Nathan Dragon’s book before he decided to come on, but he liked it so much that he wanted to stay.

BM: That speaks a lot to the company culture. 

JL: We have excellent perks: tanning beds in the breakroom, bottomless mimosas, and a flat hierarchy. We’ve figured out a system where two of us take the lead on a book and then the other two offer support. We trade off each book, so we have time to work on our own writing. We’re all writers first, last, and always.

BM: What can we look forward to being published by C4G this year? 

HL: Peter Vack’s novel Silly Boy, which is the book that Jon and Nathan are championing. 

JL: Silly Boy is the classic story of a failing romance between a meme-lord edgeboy and his tattoo artist girlfriend. Probably the funniest book I’ve ever read. This is Vack’s debut novel but he’s already a legend in underground cinema for his films and full frontal nudity. 

HL: Then we have Nathan Dragon’s The Champ is Here, a loosely-linked collection that follows an unnamed narrator, his dog and girlfriend, through small town America.  He tries on clothes in the mirror, drives by ladders hanging off  bridges with his dog, surprises his “baby” with a roadtrip to Brown’s Lobster Pound.  When a woodpecker disappears from the narrator’s yard, the stakes become existential. Even just him preparing a meal for his girlfriend for when she comes home from work can take on evolutionary implications. 

I was first introduced to Nathan’s writing in NOON, my favorite lit journal. I guess he’d been publishing with them since he was 21, and now he’s turning 31 soon. So TCIH is a decade of his NOON stories alongside a ton of other stories he’s published. He’s been publishing forever and that’s what we’re sayinglike, how did he not have a book yet? He’s clearly brilliant. He’s clearly a one of a kind writer that more people should know about. He completely fits into the whole thing that we’re trying to do here. 

JL:  Big publishers don’t put out books we want to read, so we’re seizing the controls and publishing what we want. 


Jon Lindsey is the author of the novel Body High. He lives and surfs around Los Angeles.

Harris Lahti is the author of the novel Foreclosure Gothic (Astra House Books, 2025). He is also the fiction editor at FENCE and C4G books. 

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