The city is called “Redoubt”... and so far as anyone knows, it is the last.
Seven decades ago, there were cities upon cities; kingdoms and nations, the remains of ancient empire. Cultures at war, cultures at trade. Races with varying degrees of alliance and distrust. Humans, elves, dwarves, and others; magic and monsters, rare but real. Regions of desolation, certainly, but also regions of plenty; forests, farmlands, and fields. And so it was for millennia, through two dynamic ages the lorekeepers and scribes called Ascensions.
Until the world ended. Most call it the Fall, but whatever term a given people choose to use, it marked the point where everything—everything—changed. Nations crumbled. Races died. Magic sputtered. Nature sickened.
The Dead woke.
We're setting out to do some cutting-edge justice to the shared-world anthology format in fiction. Not only are we blending literary voices in a shared setting, but we're also blending genres in that same setting, and doing it in a way that feels compelling and real and properly contextualized. We've put three years into this one anthology project in part because we wanted to make sure there was a world worth building in this particular fashion, with this variety of talented writers.
That world is called Zileska, and the central feature and last remaining mortal society in that world is the walled mountain city of Redoubt. This sprawling, heavily fortified bastion represents the single island of life left in a veritable world of the undead. Redoubt is big, larger than many modern-day cities, and home to hundreds of thousands of people—human and demihuman like. It requires over a day to cross. Its districts are, in some respects, fiefdoms unto themselves, and while they currently work together to rule what remains of sentient life on the planet, every leader knows that ultimate authority is only a few schemes away. Stiflingly tyrannical where the rich and powerful dwell, hideously crime-ridden where want and poverty nest, and all around—sometimes within the walls themselves—the ever-restless Dead. Redoubt is a city, a culture, possibly even an entire world, in what certainly seems to be its final hours. And with the exception of certain religious zealots, still convinced mankind is merely being tested, every soul left alive knows it.
With Tales of the Lost Citadel, we're giving you at least 15 (and possibly more) flights of dark speculation on the nature and people of Redoubt, from some of the finest writers working in fantasy and horror today. Our aim is to present these visions of the Lost Citadel to you in a beautiful hardcover tome that properly carries their weight, but everyone who backs the anthology receives it in a choice of digital format, as well.
For contributors, we think we have ourselves an embarrassment of literary riches when it comes to talent. We set out to assemble some of the most gifted voices in both fantasy and horror to join forces on this anthology, and we could scarcely be happier with the result. For serious horror chops, we've got Bram Stoker Award winners and nominees—Kealan Patrick Burke (The Turtle Boy), Brian Hodge (Convulsion Factory), James Lowder (Lost Loves), Joe McKinney (Flesh Eaters)—and acclaimed frightmasters galore, including Bracken MacLeod (White Knight), Malcolm Sheppard (Dreams of Avarice), Damien Angelica Walters (Ink), and Mercedes M. Yardley (Beautiful Sorrows).
For bright stars working more on the fantasy side, we've got a similarly stacked slate filled with fantasy fiction and gaming icons, including Keith Baker (Eberron; the Dreaming Dark trilogy), Natania Barron (Pilgrim of the Sky), Erin M. Evans (The Adversary), Ari Marmell (The Conqueror's Shadow; Hot Lead, Cold Iron), Janet Morris (the Beyond Sanctuary series for Thieves' World), and Bill Ward (Last of His Kind).
And those are just the confirmed authors who are already finished with or working on their contributions. If the crowd support is there, we'll be adding additional stories by veteran masters to the anthology, starting with seasoned purveyors of the macabre, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner Elizabeth Massie and Craig Spector (see Stretch Goals, below).
Something we're very excited about is the fact that the original cover for Tales of the Lost Citadel is being painted by iconic fantasy artist Todd Lockwood. You've seen his work on everything from fantasy novels to best-selling gaming books, and now you'll see it on the cover of our anthology. We're hoping to fill the interior with living color, as well (see The Project and Stretch Goals), but even if we don't quite get there, we already know we're getting a beautiful cover painting by one of the most talented and iconic fantasy artists of our time.
The book is the goal and the goal is the book, but as you'll see below, there's so much more we can do with this project, and our hope is that you'll all rally to help get us there.
Tales of the Lost Citadel is slated to contain at least the following:
The core of this Kickstarter project is an anthology of original stories set in the world of The Lost Citadel, yes, but if the crowd support is there, we also have a structure in place to do something pretty exciting — to really fulfill the "transmedia" promise of this 21st-century shared-world project. In our case, transmedia refers to the variety of ways in which we plan to build and present our shared horror-fantasy world to the people of the real world.
Like in all the best stories, the written word is only the beginning.
Once we knew what we had and where it was going, we reached out to those artists and musicians who might help us bring the world of the Lost Citadel out of the realm of the imagination, where it was already thriving, and into the senses of all.
Today, almost three years later, the burgeoning world of the Lost Citadel wouldn’t be what it is without the talents of the artists who help bring it to life before our eyes. We've assembled a team of visual voices that includes not just cover and potential interior artist Todd Lockwood, but also renowned South American artist Samuel Araya, contemporary paintsmith Mark Kelly, and veteran fantasy artist Chris Malidore. These artists have already contributed to the visual world of Redoubt, and this campaign is designed to allow them to create even more art for both the anthology and its companion product, the Lost Citadel Writer's Bible — a separate book full of rich background, writer advice, and setting detail about the land of Zileska. (This companion product is exclusive to this Kickstarter campaign and will not be available for purchase later on.) In addition, all of our fine artists are contributing prints of their work as parts of reward packages and as add-ons, and the more art this campaign creates, the more options open up for art prints.
No truly compelling world would be complete without its own soundscape, for any world bereft of sound is a world not quite fully alive. To bring the Lost Citadel to life aurally as well as visually, we turned to three very different purveyors of sonic art: the interstitial rock band Toll Carom (out of Washington, D.C.); acclaimed horror writer and Tales contributor Brian Hodge; and talented young sound wizard H. Arnold Jones. If the crowd support is there, the intent is for these three musical voices to collaborate, just as our writers and artists are doing, to create a fully realized and textured sonic rendition of the anthology. However many tracks it ends up offering, the Tales of the Lost Citadel Soundtrack will be made free to everyone who backs the anthology, thereby helping to fulfill the project's transmedia promise.
Our first few stretch goals lay out this vision, and if those goals are met, rest assured that we have plans in place to vividly and comprehensively flesh out and present to you this, our first combined realization of the shared world of lost Redoubt.
If you're eager to learn more about Redoubt herself or about the world of Zileska, you can get caught up on the "Spotlight on Redoubt" series on our Facebook page!
For those who just want to feast on the stories of the Lost Citadel, the anthology should prove plenty satisfying, but for those hungry for more we've got an entire sideboard of dishes with which we might tempt your appetite for dark fantasy. Most of these delicacies are worked into the various reward tiers (to your right), for your one-click convenience, but others must be sampled à la carte.
- Tales of the Lost Citadel Poster ($10): Backers pledging for a copy of the anthology and/or the illustrated writer’s bible in print form can add on a Tales of the Lost Citadel poster.
- Illustrated Writer’s Bible ($10 digital/$20 print): Shared-world settings often require a writer’s bible so contributors can get on the same page, and our writers received one, as well. If we reach our goal, the first thing that unlocks is a limited edition version of the Lost Citadel Writer’s Bible, illustrated by our team of artists. Full of rich background, writer advice, and setting detail about the land of Zileska, this companion product is exclusive to this Kickstarter campaign and will not be available for purchase later on.
- Tales of the Lost Citadel ($40): Backers pledging for a copy of the complete anthology in any format can add a print copy to their pledge as an add-on.
- Art Prints ($15): The world of the Lost Citadel wouldn’t be what it is without the talents of the artists who help bring it to life before our eyes. You can add a stunning 12” x 17” art print from one of our team of artists—Samuel Araya, Todd Lockwood, Mark Kelly, or Chris Malidore—to any pledge, and the more art the campaign creates the more options open up for prints. You can specify a particular artist's work, or just leave it to us, in the backer survey we'll send out.
- Digital Art Pack ($5): If you enjoy the artists who help us build the look and feel of the Lost Citadel, we've got something new for you. Add on a Lost Citadel Digital Art Pack (for just $5), and we'll send you a digital folder full of ten (10) beautiful illustrations by the artists on the Lost Citadel team. Whether you're an international backer who can't easily justify prints, or just someone who enjoys a good, evocative slideshow up on the monitor, the Digital Art Pack just might be for you.
- Lost Citadel Mugs: Backers can add either a Lost Citadel tall mug ($15) or a travel mug ($25) in their choice of blood red, undead green—choose yawning skull or mountain moons design—or the Tales of the Lost Citadel logo design.
Note: Backers outside the U.S. please add $25 shipping and handling on physical products.
The core of this project remains the shared-world anthology of stories, and it's important to see that core realized, but what we're really excited to do is to fulfill the transmedia promise of the project, and create a setting that's shared not just by the writers who contribute their words, but shared also by the artists, musicians, cartographers, and others who might bring their talents to bear in bringing that shared-world to life.
With your help, we'll start by rounding out the table of contents with two veteran masters of dark fiction who are excited to share this world with us, and from there, it's all about fleshing out the world we're building with art, music, maps, and more. Note that all of our stretch goals will exist to create new content and value for those already backing the project: The more stretch goals we unlock, the more everyone gets for their pledges.
Risks and challenges
In crowdfunded publishing projects such as this, the risks are pretty consistent, generally speaking, and boil down to a couple issues:
Experience: This is C.A.'s first independent anthology project, isn't it?
That much is true, but it doesn't mean it's my first rodeo in publishing. I've been lucky enough to be around the business for many years, and I've learned a lot about what to do and not do in that time, both on the writing and editorial/production sides. I've invested three years into this project for some good reasons, and one of them has been the cost in time for doing one's due diligence.
Delays: One of the potential drawbacks of ambitious, cast-of-many projects like this is that if anything goes wrong with any link in the chain, it typically means delays all around, doesn't it?
As you can see above, I did my best to curtail potential delays by getting in front of them: I made sure to have either finished drafts (several) or at least full synopses with story titles (the rest) in-hand before this project even launched. It also helps to be working with established professionals who carry a collective track record of extreme reliability. (We've even got a back-up plan in the unlikely event of a contributing writer dropping off the project at this late hour, with so much already in-hand.) In addition to all the great and proven writers, I'm also working with rock-star graphic designer Shawn King on the book production.
If we build it, they will come, these folks, and they'll come correct.
An outgrowth of the same general topic of delays concerns the stretch goals. If we're fortunate enough to have such problems, it's true that the art and music will require additional time to pull together. However, this has already been taken into account on the art side -- any new art that is funded through the campaign and intended for the anthology will appear in the anthology when our backers receive it, just as intended; and on the music side, the Tales of the Lost Citadel soundtrack is a separate entity from the books, and will likely be sent along to backers ad seriatum thereafter, and should therefore pose no threat of delay to the books.
- (26 days)