Saturday, November 16, 2013

Some Thoughts on the Winter in the City Kickstarter

Art by Kip Ayers
If you read this blog even irregularly -- which is pretty much how I post to it anyhow -- then you've undoubtedly seen the two or three "teasers" I've posted about a Kickstarter project entitled Winter in the City.

Winter in the City is -- will be -- an anthology of urban fantasy stories about real cities. The Kickstarter campaign launched on November 1, which means we're now at the halfway point.

Though I will be editing this anthology, the idea for the project -- and the management of the Kickstarter -- belongs to authors R. B. Wood and M. J. King. The idea came about during R. B.'s and M. J.'s attendance at ReaderCon in Boston this past July. If you would like to read more about the actual genesis of the Kickstarter project, please read R. B. Wood's guest blog post on Fantasy Book Critic. But for now, and in their own words, they share some thoughts on Winter in the City. (I'm surprised they even asked me to join the team... I don't have any initials in my name!)

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R. B. Wood: Ever since I was old enough to hide a copy of Analog or the now defunct Amazing Stories in a random text book, I've loved short stories. My library is filled with anthologies of the fantastical dating back to the 1970s, and I continue to collect, read, and reread them to this day.

The Winter in the City Kickstarter project is a culmination of decades-worth of adoration for the short story. And for one boy's obsession for more worlds to explore.

M. J. King: The awesome thing about urban fantasy, for me, is that it takes the familiar and makes it fantastic. The places that each of us sees every day made magical. Or perhaps urban fantasy taps into the magic inherent in these places, allowing us to see it more clearly.

Urban fantasy is just sideways of everything we know and experience in our waking lives. There's always this niggling wonder in the back of my mind: What if it were real? What if the magic of fey, and gods, and demons joined our everyday sort of magic?

RB: What if all the things in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or even Dracula were transported into the real world of city life?

And how could you use the complexities inherent when large populations of thinking and feeling people live in close quarters with the supernatural?

This is at the core of the anthology. Exploring different cities from around the world and how monsters, faeries, magic, and ghosts play with the millions of city dwellers.

MJ: As a new writer, the opportunity to work with a project with so much potential has been awesomely staggering. To go from talking over the concept with R. B. to this stage has been a huge learning curve, and I'm sure it will only grow steeper from here.

RB: The response to WitC has been overwhelming and exciting, while also being a bit daunting. Key for us was engaging with an editor that not only is the consummate professional, but has the industry experience to take this project to an entirely new level than even I had imagined. I've known Marty Halpern for a number of years -- and not only was he perfect for the role, he was excited to join the team. His guidance and support has been invaluable.

MJ: Marty has been fantastic, and because of his involvement, this project has already become so much more than I imagined it could be.

RB: The authors -- many of whom I am a fan-boy of -- responded to their project invitation with not only the response we were looking for, but with offers to help with things like reward levels and advice for the Kickstarter. These storytellers have begun to share ideas, and more specifically the cities in which they want to set their Winter-tales.

MJ: We owe a giant thank you to all the Kickstarter backers, because without them, this project won't happen. I can't wait to read the submissions and discover what magic the authors find in their cities!

RB: Our goal, really, is very basic: great stories that focus on the one constant in Urban Fantasy (no matter what definition of the genre you subscribe to) -- The City.

Because, in the middle of the night, we all know that the unexplained and fantastic will walk, crawl, slither, and fly amongst the concrete, steel, and glass of the metropolis.
* * * * *
A brief explanation of Kickstarter if you're not familiar with the term, or these types of projects: Kickstarter is a website that supports crowd-funded projects. Readers of this blog, for example, help make up the "crowd." A Kickstarter project will offer rewards, or incentives, hopefully intriguing enough -- or at least interesting enough -- to compel the "crowd" to part with some amount of their hard-earned $$$ to help support the project. No matter how much money any one individual "invests" in the project, no money actually changes hands -- and no rewards/incentives are sent out -- unless the project is fully funded. And that, of course, is the goal: Winter in the City needs to be fully funded for this anthology to happen.

Our Kickstarter project website lists the authors who plan to submit stories to the anthology, but I'll just throw out a few names here: Kevin J. Anderson, Brad Beaulieu, Pat Cadigan (a 2013 Hugo Award winner for best novelette), Alex Irvine, Gini Koch, Nick Mamatas, James Morrow, Pat Murphy, Shauna Roberts, and Harry Turtledove -- and that's just a very few names that come immediately to mind.

Winter in the City has a goal of $15,000, of which nearly one-half is earmarked for the authors so that they may receive professional rates for their work. Kickstarter works when a lot of people know about the project: the more people who know about the project the larger the support pool becomes. Even if you don't choose to participate in the project, if you think it's a worthy endeavor, then helping to spread the word will aid the project in the long run.

We hope you'll join us in this endeavor to help make Winter in the City a reality. And please share the link to the Kickstarter campaign with others as well.

"The underground of the city is like what's underground in people. Beneath the surface, it's boiling with monsters." ~Guillermo del Toro


R. B. Wood (@rbwood) is a technology consultant and a writer of Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction and quite frankly anything else that strikes his fancy. His first novel, The Prodigal's Foole, was released to critical acclaim in 2012. Mr. Wood is currently working on the second volume of his Arcana Chronicles series, The Young Practitioner, as well as numerous short stories, a graphic novel, and a science fiction trilogy that he dusts off every few years. Along with his writing passion, R. B. is host of The Word Count Podcast: a show that features talent from around the globe reading original flash-fiction stories.

M. J. King (@mjkingwrites) currently lives on the Maine coast with her husband. Her urban fantasy short story, "A Trick of Shadows," can be found in the Kickstarter-funded anthology Fight Like a Girl. She is an occasional contributor to The Word Count Podcast and is one of the three women behind Anxiety Ink.

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