She's young. She's tattooed. And she's got the boots to break down any genealogy brick wall.
She's young. She's tattooed. And she's got the boots to break down any genealogy brick wall.
Meet Aila Rudzite - you can also call her Aila Rye if you prefer, that's what her last name means in English. She's a 20-something Latvian-Canadian genealogist and member of the Goth subculture. She's here to break down genealogy stereotypes and solve genealogical mysteries the world over.
You can read her first adventure, a short story entitled "A President For His Country" on my website to get a feel for the character and the style of story. "A President for His Country" is just the beginning - I've got a whole series of novels planned, but for now, we're just going to focus on the first one!
What's the story?
There are two timelines to this story:
- The timeline in the past focuses on Karl Gaigala, a young Latvian sailor who is shipwrecked on the Alaskan coast and undertakes a long journey across the United States at the height of the US Civil War.
- The timeline in the present focuses on Aila and her client, a descendant of Karl, as they learn about Karl's story and discover that events that took place 150 years ago can still have dangerous consequences today.
This novel is a fast-paced mystery thriller that will travel across continents and encounter all sorts of people that still have a stake in the events of the US Civil War. History is not just in the past - it has real effects in the world today.
Why are you writing this story?
I have three goals with this novel and this series.
- First off, I've been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Fiction in my early days, but recent years have focused on my genealogy blog and non-fiction research help as a result. I've been wanting to return to my fiction-writing roots for a long time, and I'm extremely passionate about this project that I've been working on for over a year now. I can't wait to share it!
- Secondly, I want to dispel stereotypes about genealogists. There's a stereotype that genealogists are all elderly people, and that genealogy is just about names and dates and looking at old papers. It's not true! While genealogy is certainly a popular pastime for the elderly, growing numbers of young people, invigorated by the Internet, are also getting involved. It's important that young people have some representation in genealogy media, and that they know there are people out there like them who are interested in genealogy and all of the mysteries that can be uncovered - not just names and dates, but family secrets, lost treasures, hidden cemeteries and more! I'm hoping that the interactive special features of this story will draw in young people and make them more involved.
- And third, I want to make more people aware of my ancestral homeland, Latvia, and its people. Latvians are everywhere, and this novel series aims to show that! For a longer explanation, see Aila's character bio on my website.
What are the "interactive special features"?
Ahh, now this is one of the most important parts of this project! I'm not just writing a novel - I'm creating an adventure.
If you've checked out "A President For His Country", you'll see that before the story was revealed, there were a number of codes and puzzles to solve, to have readers interact with the story, rather than just observing it. These puzzles are just a taste of what I have planned for this novel!
The special features that I have planned for this novel include...
- puzzles and codes to solve
- other games to play, be they Flash-based or mobile apps
- short videos of scenes from the novel
- audio of characters' telephone conversations
- special artwork that can be used as wallpapers for your computer desktop
- ... and maybe even more!
Stories are no longer static: There are so many possibilities to make them come to life that I want to integrate these as much as I can. Of course, you can just read the novel on its own, but I think the special features will really enhance it!
So, who are you?
My name is Antra Celmins, and like Aila, I'm a 20-something Latvian-Canadian genealogist and member of the Goth subculture. I've been writing my website on Latvian genealogy for four years now. My website has many parts - the most important being the blog, Discovering Latvian Roots, and the surname database, called the Latvian Surname Project. I have a university degree in European Studies and a college diploma in Applied Museum Studies. I've been doing genealogy client research for three years and I'm also a member of the board for the Latvians Abroad Museum and Research Centre.
I'm a proud Millennial, and like many of my generation, graduated into a global recession with lots of student debt and a job market that wants everyone to have loads of experience before they'll even interview you. So I've decided to forge my own path in self-employment instead, and it's been really rewarding. But this project is bigger than just me - I'm a researcher, writer and artist. I don't have the professional skills of an editor, filmmaker or game developer. So to accomplish those parts of my project, I want to be able to work with other young people who are making a go of it on their own, and to do that, I need to be able to compensate them fairly for their time and efforts. Which requires upfront funding, and that's why I come to you, hoping that you'll be able to help in this creative adventure.
So what's in it for me?
Glad you asked! The sidebar will tell you about the different reward levels, but here I will elaborate on the ones that need a bit more detail.
A general statement on timelines: Bookmarks and stickers/temporary tattoos can be mailed out as soon as the project ends (though if you have a higher reward tier and want them to come at the same time as the novel, let me know). The jewelery and artwork will take another month or two after that. I predict the special features will start to come out in March 2014, with the novel to follow in May 2014.
STICKERS/TEMPORARY TATTOOS: Aila has three tattoos. A reward tier with stickers or temporary tattoos means that you will get one of each of them (with the exception of the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER level, where you will receive three stickers and three temporary tattoos). When asked, you will need to say whether you want the stickers or temporary tattoos.
Aila's tattoos are:
PERSONALIZED ART CARDS: Art cards are small pieces of artwork, 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches in size. This particular art card will be personalized for you with a surname of your choice on a background that reflects its meaning. You will need to provide the surname, its meaning and whether you want the artwork to be realistic or abstract in style. You also have the choice of the art being in acrylic paint or pencil crayon. If you do not know the meaning of the surname you want, then provide an idea of what you would like as the background - nature, buildings, etc.
JEWELERY: This wirework jewelery has been created exclusively for this project by my crafting friend Jacqueline. It is a stylistic rendering of the Latvian symbol Auseklis (Morning Star). It is made of wire, black painted wooden beads and on a black leather cord.
Some countries do not allow jewelery to be mailed to recipients in their country. While this probably is meant to refer to expensive jewelery made from precious metals and gems, I don't want to risk a reward not getting to a backer, so before you choose the jewelery option, please look here to see if your country accepts jewelery in the mail.
INTERACTIVE 9x12 PAINTING: This is a really special project! It combines the surname aspect of the art cards above with a larger canvas and moveable parts. Yes, I said moveable parts. You can change parts of the artwork to suit your mood, whenever you want to do so. When you order this reward, you will need to provide details of the type of artwork you like: Realistic, Abstract, the type of scenery, what colours you would like, what you do NOT want to see, medium, and so on. It will be something special just for you.
NAMING A MINOR CHARACTER: Exactly what it says on the tin. You get to name a minor character. Your character will be added in a ethnicity-appropriate setting of the story, either in the past or in the present timeline. The character will have several lines, but is unlikely to appear in more than one scene of the story. Nothing offensive or explicit will be accepted.
NAMING A MAJOR CHARACTER: There are two major characters that can be named by backers: The Client and The Big Bad. In both cases, you will get to take part in creating their backstory as well, and the story will be changed to accommodate these changes. Nothing offensive or explicit will be accepted.
What are the stretch goals and rewards?
This is something I'm really hoping for! The base funding amount will provide for the professional editing of the novel, and possibly a few small games. The rest of the interactives would be up to me and a band of volunteers. But I'm hoping to go beyond that!
If we raise over $2,000, this will allow for a more in-depth game or mobile app, and all backers contributing more than $75 will be able to provide a name that appears in-game!
If we raise over $4,000, this will allow for the basics of on-location filming for a few scenes! All backers contributing more than $75 will receive a personalized 2-minute video shot on-location!
What if I have questions?
Feel free to add them below or send me a message!
Thank you for considering this project, and I hope that you'll join this adventure!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The story is almost finished, I'm just waiting on the possibilities of doing some things on-site - this research could enrich the story as well as add beautiful images to the interactive special features. The story can still go ahead without them, but if the possibility does come to fruition, there might be a delay of a month or two before the novel and some of the special features ship (artwork, stickers/temporary tattoos, jewelery and bookmarks would be unaffected by this delay).
There's always the possibility that I might be run over by a herd of runaway zebras while this project is running, but those risks are minimal here in Canada. In the event of runaway zebras, I do have all of the information, plot lines and details set out such that someone else can provide the finishing touches and get the novel and rewards out to all backers.
The possibility also exists that a backer who contributed to a higher level that entitled them to participate in a character might drop communications suddenly or without notice. If this is the case, and the backer does not respond within a reasonable timeframe, I will go ahead with the story as-is and they can name a character in the next novel in the series.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.