About this project
Join Starhawk and be a part of successfully self-publishing her epic new sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing!
Whether you are an avid fan of her work, just picked up a copy of The Fifth Sacred Thing last week, or haven't yet been introduced to her writing, this is your opportunity to be a part of bringing Starhawk's newest book, City of Refuge, to life. In return, you will receive advance, special edition copies of City of Refuge and loads of other goodies available only to Kickstarter backers.
Every city needs three things: a plaza, a hearth and a sacred tree...
The message came to me in a dream, as I was considering writing a sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing, my futuristic novel in which an ecotopian Northern California employs nonviolence and magic to resist an invasion by the brutal, militarist Southlands. Fifth ends with the Resistance successful, but then what? The book was long enough as it was; there was no room to answer that question when I wrote the story twenty years ago
Over the last few years, as we’ve been working to bring The Fifth Sacred Thing to the screen, "then what?" kept echoing in my head. Meanwhile, the characters were coming alive for me again, clamoring to tell more of the story.
What will prevent the ruthless Stewards of the Southlands from mounting a new assault? How can the Califians heal and rebuild while the Southlands remain subjugated? Should they go down to the Southlands and liberate them? But how do you liberate people who have no concept of liberation?
City of Refuge begins just a few weeks after Califia has successfully defeated the invading Stewards’ forces from the Southlands. As the Califians replant their garden streets and rebuild their beautiful city, they struggle to integrate the soldiers who have defected to the north. When a warship is discovered off the coast, the Califians realize that their peaceable society will never be truly safe until the Southlands are also free.
Bird, the musician turned guerilla, deeply wounded from years of battles, prison and torture, has put his faith in a power different from the gun and the bomb. Yet he longs to go back and fight.
Madrone, the healer, has gained tremendous power from her initiation by the Melissas, the bee priestesses, yet how can even she heal a whole society? How do you build a new world when people are so deeply damaged by the old?
And River, the former soldier Ohnine, who defected to the North and turned the tide of the final battle, struggles to become a real person, not just a tool of the army breeders.
Bird’s grandmother, Maya, ancient storyteller, nears the end of her life. “Tell the story, sing the song,” she tells Bird.
And then Madrone has a dream...
Build a city of refuge in the heartland of the enemy…
Together, Madrone and Bird head to Angel City to establish an enclave that can inspire the Southlanders to rise up and liberate themselves. They are joined by reformed soldier River and bitter former sex-slave Smokee who lead an Army of Liberation down through the Central valley, while pirate Isis and her lover Sara bring a ragtag navy down the coast.
City of Refuge follows the struggles, the sacrifices, and the victories of the peaceful warriors from Califa as they endeavor to construct a haven in the parched and war-torn Southlands. Can magic, healing and love overcome the violence of a cruel and despotic regime?
In the 20 years since the publication of The Fifth Sacred Thing, publishing itself has radically changed. The companies got bought and sold and merged and re-merged so that they were no longer the same entities I’d originally dealt with. Bantam, which published The Fifth Sacred Thing and its prequel, Walking to Mercury, had nobody left with any connection to my books.
We sent Bantam the manuscript for City of Refuge in late October of 2014, and Bantam did what publishers do best—nothing. Finally, in February of 2015, my agent got a curt email back. Bantam had decided to pass on the book, on the grounds that they thought too much time had passed since the original book came out, and there wouldn’t be an audience for it. Also, adding snottiness to rudeness, they thought the book “didn’t reflect contemporary sensibilities.” (?!?)
I was upset, but consoled myself with thoughts of the mountain of letters and emails and messages I have received over the years from my beloved fans and readers. Yes, there is an audience for the book! I know that, and five minutes of research on the internet would have shown Bantam that, too!
But the changes of the past decades have also made it easier than ever for authors to reach their own audiences directly. So I’m choosing to turn disappointment into opportunity.
I could just upload the thing to Amazon and have done with it. But I’ve spent more than three years working on it, and I believe it deserves the same careful treatment and editing I’ve been lucky enough to have with the other twelve books I’ve had published over the years.
Every book needs skilled editing—another eye on the project. Especially this one, because although it is a sequel, I want it to also be able to stand alone, and be a great read even if you aren’t familiar with The Fifth Sacred Thing.
It also needs a copy editor: someone who checks the spelling and grammar and the continuity, as well as a proofreader, a designer, a formatter, a cover artist, and a hundred other things. All of these people contribute to your ability to immerse yourself in the story without getting distracted by misspellings or confusing wording. I don’t have the deep pockets of a publishing conglomerate, but I still want City of Refuge to come to you at its best.
That's where you come in- your contributions will bring City of Refuge to press!
We have set a conservative goal of $50,000 (publishing is expensive!). It will pay for all the hard work that goes into crafting a book:
- $17,000 - printing and shipping first edition and other rewards
- $5000 - First round of printing for second edition
- $5000 - Initial editing cost
- $5000- Two different artists' cover art: one for the Kickstarter edition and one for the second edition
- $5,000 - Kickstarter & payment processing fees
- $3500 - Copy Editing
- $3800 - Layout, cover design, and formatting for press
- $3500 - Project and campaign management
- $1500 - Proofreading
- $500 - e-pub conversion
- $200 - ISBN and Bar Code
...And that's without even including a budget for my time spent writing the book!
Undoubtedly there’s a better system than capitalism for supporting art and literature.
In fact, the system I came up with for the world of The Fifth Sacred Thing and City of Refuge would be my preference: everyone has a basic, guaranteed income, which represents your fair share of common resources and the wealth of the past. Everyone then gets work credits for whatever work they do, and if people really love your work they give you gifts. Ah, how happy I’d be living in that world!
But we’re not there yet, and in this one, I believe people deserve to be paid fairly for their work... including writers! While people tend to believe all writers are rich, in reality, a mid-level writer like myself, in a good year, might make a salary akin to an elementary school teacher, provided I do lots of touring and speaking engagements and workshops. Not that I’m complaining– I consider myself so blessed and fortunate to be able to do work that I love!
When many sources of funding for the arts have dried up, there’s really one way left to fund a huge project, and that’s to go directly to the fans, and ask for support.
So that’s what I’m doing here on Kickstarter: delivering my newest labor of love, this long-requested sequel, directly into the hands of my readers and fans, old and new. It's a unique opportunity to show the big publishers that they don't know what they are talking about; that there IS an audience for City of Refuge. I am so grateful for your support both for this campaign and for my writing as a whole. I can't wait for you to read my newest book!
Risks and challenges
The book is written. More than that, even though a big theme in the book is the horrors of debt-slavery, I bit the bullet and borrowed money to begin the editing process and line up all the professionals who will be working with me on bringing it to birth. All those processes take time, and I didn’t want people to have to wait half a year to read the book after contributing.
If the campaign succeeds, I intend to get books into your hands at least three weeks before they are available on the open market, by mid-November or ideally, earlier.
You’ll notice I set the fulfillment date for December. That’s to give us some wiggle room, in case of unexpected delays. I don’t anticipate them happening—but the unexpected sometimes does. So we’ve built in that cushion, but still anticipate getting you your books in plenty of time to mail them to all your cousins for holiday gifts, should you so desire.
As I said, the major work—writing and line editing—is done. You can see the cover illustration the wonderful Jessica Perlstein has done for our Kickstarter edition above. The copy editor, project manager, designer, proofreaders, etc. are all lined up and scheduled. I do have a good track record, and I have complete faith that you will receive your reward in a timely fashion, and well before the book is out on the market.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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