In fantasy, we read about how people with mental illness are more susceptible to magic, closer to breaks in reality, more likely to be able to see the unseen. These stereotypes are harmful and contribute to keeping people from seeing the good in getting help, taking their meds, and talking to someone.
Some examples of these harmful stereotypes are:
- Depression is just a symptom of the quest being too hard but sooner or later a love interest will "cure" the character.
- People with schizophrenia can see spirits and demons, and are often relegated to the position of seer or oracle, with no one interested in their wellbeing.
- Bipolar disorder is represented in the villains, those with visions of the divine and their own invulnerability.
- People with PTSD can snap out of it as the plot requires.
People who have mental illness are portrayed as other, as inhuman, as fae. We are told that they have a magical connection to the other worlds that they would lose if they were to seek treatment or find healthy coping mechanisms. They fear they'll lose the magic if they get help.
This anthology is about changing the narrative and telling stories of strength and perseverance, of getting help despite the darkness. Not the myth that getting help will kill creativity and magic. Not the story our society tells about mentally ill people: that art and magic must come from suffering.
I want stories that show what can be accomplished when we take care of ourselves and seek help. I want stories that show the reality of being mentally ill within a fantasy setting. I want to see how mental illness and its treatment affects the magic that lies within all of us. I want to read realistic portrayals of mental illness in magical worlds.
If you want to read them too, back this project so we can pay authors to write them.
There is a myth in our society that those who create must have some form of "madness" to be successful. We are told that the creative geniuses must be plagued with mental illness in order to create. We are encouraged to think of unmedicated/untreated mental illness as a form of tapping into a deeper ability to experience the universe.
Time and again, I have seen memes likening writing skill, art, and other forms of creativity to mental illness. They popularize the idea that mental illness allows one to peer beyond the veil and draw inspiration from sources not typically available to mere mortals.
These stereotypes are crippling and perverse. They prevent people who need help from feeling like they can get help, especially creative people. This can also prevent them from feeling like they should get help due to the fear that they will lose their creativity when their mental illness is treated. The casual way that creativity and madness are confabulated normalizes and erases the experiences of people who suffer from mental illness.
We need more stories that show the opposite. That show that it's okay to be on your meds, to seek help, to talk to someone. We need stories that say things like this:
When we don't have a healthy narrative in commonly available books and media, we need to give voice to a new one. Changing the narrative is the first step to reducing the stigma.
Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her most recent novel is Hearts of Tabat (WordFire Press). For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, Patreon campaign, and online school for writers, see http://www.kittywumpus.net
Jody Lynn Nye
Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as “spoiling cats.” She lives northwest of Chicago with one of the above and her husband, author and packager Bill Fawcett. She has written over fifty books, including The Ship Who Won with Anne McCaffrey, eight books with Robert Asprin, a humorous anthology about mothers, Don’t Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear!, and over 160 short stories. Her latest books are Rhythm of the Imperium (Baen Books), Moon Beam (with Travis S. Taylor, Baen Books) and Myth-Fits (Ace). Over the last twenty or so years, Jody has taught in numerous writing workshops and participated on hundreds of panels covering the subjects of writing and being published at science-fiction conventions. She has also spoken in schools and libraries around the north and northwest suburbs. She is one of the judges for the Writers of the Future fiction contest, the largest speculative fiction contest in the world. Jody also reviews fiction for Galaxy's Edge magazine and teaches the intensive writers' workshop at DragonCon.
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
As an in-country nurse veteran of the Vietnam War, Scarborough has had a great deal of experience with PTSD. Her biggest spike of symptoms occurred as she wrote The Healer's War, which won the 1989 Nebula award for best novel. Since then, she has volunteered as a service officer for Disabled American Veterans, trying to help other veterans seeking VA assistance for physical and emotional medical problems as well as practical ones. "Nursing Our Wounds," an article she wrote about PTSD among military nurses, was published in Health Progress magazine, and voted best article of 2016 by the Catholic Health Association. (the article has no religious context). She can be found online at: http://scarbor9.wixsite.com/beadtime-stories
Ferrett Steinmetz’s urban fantasy series FLEX is about mentally ill people who wind up unlocking magic within themselves, a book inspired by his own struggles with depression. (Though the book itself features entertaining wildness involving videogamemancy and bureaucromancy.)
He was nominated for the Nebula in 2012, for which he remains moderately stoked, and lives in Cleveland with his very clever wife, a small black dog of indeterminate origin, and a friendly ghost.
He Tweeters at @ferretthimself, and blogs entirely too much about puns, politics, and polyamory at www.theferrett.com.
A. Merc Rustad
A. Merc Rustad is a queer non-binary writer who lives in Minnesota and is a Nebula Awards finalist. Their stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Apex, Uncanny, Shimmer, Nightmare, and several Year's Best anthologies. You can find Merc on Twitter @Merc_Rustad or their website: http://amercrustad.com. Their debut short story collection, SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROBOT, was published by Lethe Press (May 2017).
In addition to the above authors, I will be working with a psychologist and author Kristi Kelvig to ensure that the stories I select are compassionate as well as realistic.
Consulting for this anthology, Kristi Helvig is a licensed Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and sci-fi/fantasy writer. By day, she works in private practice as a career coach and by night, she weaves tales involving darkness, magic, and the occasional space monkey. In the past, she has worked in the non-profit mental health community, in a variety of inpatient and forensic settings, and with teens committed by youth corrections. You can find her musing about Star Trek, Cadbury Eggs, and other random topics on her blog and Twitter. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, kids, and behaviorally-challenged dogs. Find out more about Kristi at Kristi Helvig | YA Science Fiction Author.
Holly has come onto the team as our amazing cover artist! Their work can be seen on their website. They are an illustrator and designer specializing in science fiction and fantasy. Their clients include The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, SciFutures, The Future Chronicles anthology series (Windrift Books), Evolved Publishing, Phoenix Pick/Arc Manor, and USA Today and Amazon.com bestselling authors. Seriously, go to their website. Their art is amazing.
When not fighting code or tinkering with Tarot spreads, Vivian Caethe writes weird fiction, science fiction, fantasy, quirky nonfiction and everything in between. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University and has been a professional editor for six years. She also drinks copious amounts of tea. While doing all these things, she lives in Colorado with her super genius cat. She can be found as a writer at www.viviancaethe.com and as an editor at www.wordsmadebeautiful.net. This is her second Kickstarter anthology.
This Kickstarter will be used to fund production and publication of the anthology. Basically what that means is you’re helping fund paying the authors, psychological consultants, the editor, the cover artist, the interior designer, and making it possible to print and ship copies to you and yours as well as pay for the Kickstarter fees and Backerkit service.
$5 - Apprentice - Just want to show your support? This is a great place to do it.
$10 - Acolyte - an eBook copy of the book as well as our gratitude.
$15 - Wizard - an eBook copy of the book and a promotional pin for the book.
$25 - Luminary - receive a paperback copy of the book, the ebook, and our gratitude.
$30 - Scriptorian - receive a paperback copy of the book signed with a personalized thank-you on the title page as well as the ebook.
$35 - Witch - get a print copy as well as a promotional pin and the ebook.
$50 - Sorcerer - this will get you two paperback copies of the book plus one copy of the ebook and our gratitude.
$150 - Mage - a paperback special edition novelette written by the editor for the theme, plus a copy of the book for you as well as the ebook
$1000 - Writer - your novel edited by the editor of the anthology plus all of the above
$9000 - more pay for the authors! This will raise the rate from approx. 5c/word to 6c/word. I will be paying a flat rate, but this will be the average for the stories.
$12000 - more authors! This will raise the number of authors I can include in the anthology. This means more stories for you and more voices heard.
In addition to the above authors' stories, the remaining stories will be selected through an open submissions process.
Anyone is welcome to submit as long as they observe the following guidelines: Fantasy only (no Science Fiction or Horror, although horror elements may be present in the story). Urban Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Steampunk, and other genres of fantasy are all encouraged. The stories will each be between 3000-6000 words. More detailed submissions guidelines will be posted once the project is funded both here as well as other sites for calls for anthologies are accepted.
When writing your story, consider that you’re writing about real experiences that real people have, not just something fictional characters have to deal with. Do your research and write with compassion. I am looking for noblebright, not grimdark.
Submissions from diverse individuals and those with mental illnesses are encouraged.
Kickstarter launch May 2018
Kickstarter ends June 2018
Call for Submissions begins July 2018
Call for Submissions ends November 1, 2018
Slush pile read and stories selected January 2019
Acceptances and Contracts sent to authors February 2019
Stories edited March 2019
Book proofed, Cover completed, and Book sent to printer April 2019
Books shipped to backers May 2019 for Mental Health Awareness month.
Risks and challenges
With any publishing project, there are always pitfalls and speed bumps and this project no doubt will have some of its own. However, with over five years in the publishing industry, I have seen many of them and am working to avoid the ones I am aware of.
With any project that has as many moving parts as this one I anticipate there being some challenges that will crop up. The parts that I refer to are the authors, the cover artist, the layout designer, and myself. However, having completed a project similar to this successfully with these people, I foresee no issues with this part of the project.
Since I plan to use on-demand publishing for this project, I will be using Createspace. This print-on-demand company is owned by Amazon and poses only a minimal obstacle to the production process. The challenges I foresee with this company are merely issues with layout and formatting that can be addressed through their online review process and by printing proof copies of the book. Every once in a while Createspace also misprints a book, so I will be checking all of the books to make sure they look the way they are supposed to.
Additionally, I feel my previous experience with a successfully funded Kickstarters can only be a benefit to this one, as I am more familiar with the process and the interfaces. This previous experience has also allowed me to know what to expect (to some extent) from the fundraising process.
Finally, a common risk to Kickstarters is the number of backers involved. We will be using Backerkit to better make sure no one gets overlooked in the process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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