Pendleton native starts his own publishing company

Kris Jerome, left, mans a Dark Tidings Press booth at Wizard World Comic Con in Portland in 2018. Standing next to him is Finn John, whose class helped inspire Jerome to write and publish his first novel.

ALBANY— As he was graduating from Oregon State University, Kris Jerome had a predicament.

The Pendleton native wanted to become a published novelist, but he wanted to maintain control over the editorial and production process.

A college student working the night shift at Shari’s, Jerome was still having trouble finding the motivation to write a novel until he took a class that required him to write one in three weeks.

The draft he produced in that class would become his first book.

As he finished up college in 2016, Jerome focused his attention on publishing his first book, “Wrath of the Fallen,” a fantasy novel that takes place in the wake of an existential battle between the “Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness.”

Desiring control over his own material and equipped with various media skills from his college major, Jerome decided to strike out on his own.

Dark Tidings Press was born, its logo a crow foregrounded by a dripping wax candle.

Dark Tidings specializes in publishing Jerome’s favorite genres: fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

“I like “The Godfather” as much as the next guy, but I want my fiction to transport someone,” he said.

Now based in Albany, Dark Tidings is a side project for now as he continues to work a day job as a sales manager at a local car dealership.

Jerome works at the dealership Tuesday through Saturday, using Sunday as a family day, and then dropping his toddler son off at day care on Monday so he can work on his writings and manage Dark Tidings.

“It isn’t breaking even, but it will,” he said.

Jerome said he didn’t want people to view Dark Tidings as a medium for publishing his own writing, so he began building up a stable of authors with similar, unconventional backgrounds.

Bryan Babel was a former fast food worker from Seguin, Texas, who responded to Jerome’s solicitation for authors on Facebook.

With Jerome’s help, Babel was able to publish his first book, “A Grave on Deacon’s Peak,” a story about a brother and sister who must defend themselves against “bandits, spirits, and the forest itself,” in the historical Northwest Territory.

Babel is currently out of work as he recovers from the effects of a small stroke, and although he would like to one day support himself as an author, the book represents the realization of a lifelong dream to publish a book.

Caleb Chandler discovered Dark Tidings through a mutual professor he shared with Jerome at OSU.

Chandler moved back to his native Alaska and recently accepted a position as a producer for an Anchorage TV station.

Unlike Jerome, Chandler said he’ll always view writing as a hobby.

Chandler’s “A Memory of Solstice” is the first of a planned six-book science fiction series. If he finishes the series, Chandler anticipates he’ll be done with professional writing.

Back in Albany, Jerome is planning out Dark Tidings’ future.

The publishing company is branching out into graphic novels, and Jerome is considering creating a spinoff label for children’s books.

Eventually, he would like to dedicate himself to Dark Tidings full time and hire staff to help him run the company.

Although many of Jerome’s books are set in fantasy worlds, he said growing up in small-town Eastern Oregon has given him a unique perspective.

“It definitely gives me a voice in my writing,” he said.

Jerome said he’s working on a horror novel set in Corvallis, and he could see himself working on a novel set somewhere in his home region one day.

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