Every now and then I like to feature Kickstarter projects that I’m particularly interested in, and more often than not those projects involve short story anthologies. Here’s the latest, a chat with frequent guest Bryan Thomas Schmidt.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun,forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
ANTHONY: So Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 seems to have gotten good reviews and had steady sales, and now you’re raising backers for another anthology, Beyond The Sun. Tell us how that came about?
BRYAN: Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the Universe and space travel, the idea that one day humans could go out and discover what’s out there. An anthology on space colonization seemed a natural extension of that. And with the recent downsizing of NASA and death of Neil Armstrong, I found myself remembering all the times I spent dreaming about other planets and worlds. As an adult, I’ve travelled the world, exploring other cultures, and in large part, it comes from that same drive to discover the other, the different, the new. Beyond that though, I hear about young people, particularly boys, not being into reading like they used to be, and I want to create stories kids like me would enjoy. Additionally, I wanted to create something teachers and parents might use to encourage that urge to discover in younger generations. Lastly, I love working with other writers, and I saw a chance to bring pros and newcomers together to fulfill this in a way that benefits all of us.
ANTHONY: Well, you do have some big names involved.
BRYAN: I do. Robert Silverberg gave me an old story that has not appeared much which is really good, of course. Mike Resnick is a good friend and headlined Space Battles. He’s done so much to help me, my only way to return that is to give him work, and luckily, he gladly accepts. Nancy Kress is a new friend but she’s explored colonialism a lot in her work so she’s a perfect fit. All of these, of course, are Hugo and Nebula winners on multiple occasions. But I also have a fourth headliner who’s won the same awards and she’ll be joining us if we get the funding.
ANTHONY: Some of the lesser names, you might call them, are not unknown either: Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, Jason Sanford…
BRYAN: Yeah, all of whom have become friends and are people whose work I admire. Joining them are Analog regulars Brad R. Torgersen (Hugo/Nebula nominee this year) and Jamie Todd Rubin, and Sanford’s Interzone fellow Matthew Cook, along with novelists Jean Johnson and Erin Hoffman.
ANTHONY: And then there’s the little people…like me.
BRYAN: Well, you’re not unknown, just not as much for your writing yet, but that will come. You were in Space Battles, and so were several others. But as people may know from SFFWRTCHT (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat), encouraging and helping others, especially fellow writers, is something I love to do. And to be in an anthology with people of this caliber and make pro or semi-pro rates is a huge opportunity. I like helping others achieve their dreams, but the advantage here is that, in the process, they help me achieve mine, which is a cool parallel to have. At the same time, I have to make sure the anthology is the best it can be, so I’ve invited twenty writers to vie for thirteen spots alongside the headliners.
ANTHONY: You mentioned that Silverberg gave you a reprint and I know there are a couple of others, but the plan is mostly for brand new stories, right?
BRYAN: Yes, Resnick, Kress and our fourth headliner all plan to write new stories. Resnick’s promised to use his African knowledge for it, in fact. Those Hugo winning stories are amongst my favorites of his. I have reprints from Silverberg, Jason Sanford, and Autumn Rachel Dryden, whose story, “Respite,” is one of the inspirations for this anthology. Hers and Jason’s appeared previously in early issues of IGMS and it’s a privilege to reintroduce them to people now.
ANTHONY: Like Space Battles, there wasn’t an open call for submissions. Is that going to be your modus operandi? Why not invite the public?
BRYAN: Space Battles wound up with a far more open call than this but I have novels to write and promote, freelance editing clients to please and 7 anthology projects in the works. I just can’t read that much slush and it’s hard to find someone whose sensibilities are identical enough that you can let them do it for you. I do invite new people with every project and I do look for people I’d like to work with and haven’t. But I have to face certain time limits realistically and so, at this time, an open call just doesn’t make sense. I’m not opposed to it in general though.
ANTHONY: Why Kickstarter as opposed to finding a publisher?
BRYAN: One, anthologies are a hard sale right now. Two, KS actually provides me a chance to use more up and coming writers. A publisher would want 10 headline names. Three, I get more creative freedom. Four, I can raise enough to pay far higher rates to artists and writers than a press would allow me, unless a big NY trade house came aboard, and I am still proving myself, so trusting me with a project like this, when they do so few, is a hard sell.
ANTHONY: How hard is putting a Kickstarter together?
BRYAN: Not too bad but you do need to do your research. The hardest part is that being unemployed since May 2010 and surviving on freelance, I just don’t have much money for videos and promotion. But I found a woman who did a great video for $15 provided I did a voice over, gave her a concept and provided some images. And Mitch Bentley chipped in on cover mock ups as well as other artists. Plus the writers are allowing me to tease their stories to backers when we reach certain levels, so that will also be great to show people that we really will have not just variety but quality.
ANTHONY: Well, the headliner’s names kind of speak for themselves, right?
BRYAN: Yes, but even diehard fans may not love every story an author writes, and the new talent is a question mark for some. Sharing Jason and Autumn’s stories allows me to show stories from all three writing tiers.
ANTHONY: Very cool. Well, I’m going to write the best story I can in the hopes of making one of those open spots, but either way, I can’t wait to see it.
BRYAN: Thanks, me, too. I’m very excited. I loved the diversity I got from my writers for Space Battles, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with this concept.