What am I creating?
A book! This alphabet of fantasy creatures illustrated with original block prints will be
- 8.5 inches square format
- printed on premium 70lb paper
- about 90-94 pages long (depending on final formatting)
- printed by a commercial printer (i.e. not a hand-made book)
Every letter of the alphabet will be represented by a creature, and half the letters actually ended up with two for a grand total of 39 creatures (plus a few bonus beasts that you may be able to find hidden in the details of other illustrations.) Chances are good that some of your favorite creatures will be represented, such as the dragon and the unicorn, but chances are also excellent that you’ll find some new fabulous beasts to love here, because there are creatures from a wide range of folklore, mythology, and fantasy of different times and places.
Every page will have decorative borders to complement its creature, and there will be extra little illustrations tucked in here and there.
In addition to its illustration with my original relief block print design, each animal will also be illustrated with a description and just a little story or vignette written in a poetic, old-fashioned style. Many of them also include brief quotations from sources ranging from Herodotus to Lewis Carroll.
Taking this collection of creatures from a mere alphabet to a true bestiary, there’s the moral lesson drawn from the story of each beast. My moral lessons are not quite the same as those featured in medieval bestiaries, though. They’re words of wisdom that I think will really resonate with people from a range of different backgrounds. They’re my idea of some important things to consider for anyone who’s actually just trying to be a good person and help make the world better in their daily lives and interactions.
Finally, there will be notes at the end giving brief additional background information about bestiaries and about each creature, with sources of all quotations, and so on.
Who am I?
I’m a writer, an artist, and a stay-at-home mother with an undergraduate degree in linguistics from Yale, a background teaching middle school, and an enduring love of fantasy, history, alphabets, and beautiful old books.
I’ve self-published 14 books so far, ranging from fantasy novels, to children’s picture books, to a book of block prints and poetry inspired by medieval Books of Hours. My middle grade fantasy The Extraordinary Book of Doors won a Bronze Medal in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards, and reviewers consistently note the professional editing and appearance of my work. I’ve also exhibited most of the original block prints of my mythical beasts at a variety of art shows, including two major sci fi/fantasy conventions in Boston, where my artwork (with an emphasis on the fantasy creatures) won awards at both cons in 2019.
Why do you need a bestiary?
Bestiaries were bestsellers of medieval Europe. They developed out of the proto-scientific natural histories of the ancient Greeks and Romans and developed into the early scientific natural histories of renaissance Europe, but all of those works included a lot of “facts” that we would call fantasy, such as information about unicorns, dragons, and griffins. What made medieval bestiaries unique is that in addition to descriptions of animals, many of which were, frankly, pretty far-fetched, bestiaries were often lavishly illustrated, and an integral part of the information about each animal was the moral lesson derived from it. So that’s what I wanted to create: fantasy animals for each letter of the alphabet, original block prints for each animal, and moral lessons drawn from every one.
What are the details of this Kickstarter campaign?
The book (and other goodies) will be ready to ship in November, so that you can count on them for holiday gift-giving, should you so desire. I’ve already nearly completed the illustrations and text, so all that remains will be final rewrites and editing, and final formatting. I’ve left plenty of time for this, plus fixing any problems that might show up in initial proof copies.
About 80% of my budget covers the cost of printing books and making nifty pledge prizes. The rest includes the up-front set-up fee at the book printer, proof copies of the book, Kickstarter’s share, and so on.
- $5 pledge: You will receive a set of 4 magnets featuring creatures from the bestiary. Each magnet is 2x2 inches square, commercially printed on vinyl with a thin magnet backing (like a car magnet).
- $10 pledge: You will receive 8 different magnets, the better to surround yourself with magical creatures.
- $25 pledge: This level gets you the book itself, in addition to the bonus of all eight magnets.
- $50 pledge: I will send you a copy of the book itself, 8 magnets, AND a printed, full-color 2020 wall calendar featuring a fantastical beast every month, to keep the magic going all year. (Yes, the pledge rewards are cumulative.)
- $75 pledge: I will include your name (or the name of someone special you wish to honor) in the dedication of the book for all to see and admire. You will, of course, also receive a copy of the book, plus the calendar, plus the set of 8 magnets.
- $150 pledge: One truly special patron will receive their very own creature included in the book. (This will not be one of the featured animals representing a letter of the alphabet, but it will be one of the extra bonus illustrations that are sprinkled throughout the book.) If you like, you can give me an animal for inspiration and I will incorporate some features of that animal in my design. Or give me a name (your name, the name of a pet, or an original made-up creature name) and I’ll incorporate that in some way. You will also be included in the dedication, and of course I will send you a copy of the finished book - where you will see for the first time your very own mythical creature. And then there’s the 2020 wall calendar, and the set of 8 magnets. Wow, that’s a lot of fantastic fantastical stuff!
For preview fun...
I am participating in the April A-Z Blog Challenge and featuring a creature from my bestiary in every post. Check out my blog for a sampling of illustrations, snippets from the text, discussions of my process, and other behind-the-scenes details.
Risks and challenges
I'm pretty confident that this project will go smoothly, as I have almost completed the content and I have extensive experience with the editing and formatting necessary for self-publishing. However, I am using a new printer for this project, so I'll have to learn any differences in their process. Also, when color is involved there are more opportunities for printing not to turn out as expected. I've left plenty of time in my schedule to tweak or even redo elements if necessary.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)