Wednesday 22 June 2016

Interview with Bart & Kay from Crossed Genres

Hidden Youth cover (Julie Dillon)
Our friends over at Crossed Genres Publications (whom someone once described as “justly famous for producing high quality, genre-bending, innovative and inclusive magazine issues, anthologies, and the occasional novel”) are currently running a fundraiser for a new anthology, Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke, a follow-up to the acclaimed Long Hidden (which was edited by Rose Fox and Daniel J. Older). They need to raise $23,000 to pay everyone involved fairly, and as usual the rewards, whether electronic or physical copies of the anthologies, stickers or poster prints, or higher echelons such as the opportunity to pick the brains of the publishers, are remarkably good value.

Support the Hidden Youth fundraiser at Kickstarter

Crossed Genres co-publishers Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt joined us to answer a few questions about Crossed Genres’ work.

TFF: Long Hidden was an amazing and hugely successful anthology—your fundraiser was big enough to expand it in size and ambition, even add illustrations; the editors were both rising stars, the stories have been widely acclaimed and the anthology was nominated for two major awards. Tell us how this project met and surpassed your expectations.

Long Hidden cover (Julie Dillon)
CG: Long Hidden surpassed pretty much every expectation we had. We thought our initial goal of $12,000 would be tough to reach, and we made it in a week. Stretch goals we never thought would be factors ended up adding 50% more words and interior art. It’s the first title we published to be nominated for a major SFF award (the World Fantasy Award). We knew that this type of story was something a lot of people wanted, but we had no idea how important it was.

How did you decide to follow that up with Hidden Youth?

Funny story. We were driving our son and his cousin somewhere, answering their questions about Long Hidden and our other books, and they flat out asked us when we would make a book for them. We brought their question to social media, and the idea of a YA sequel to Long Hidden emerged almost immediately.

Will the third volume be untold stories of old age? Hidden Elders, perhaps?

That’s not a bad idea! We have several related project ideas, but a third volume might not happen for a long time. (We did already publish a collection of 4 novellas starring older protagonists, called Winter Well.)

Without dwelling on the difficulties or delays, is there anything about the project that you’d like to clarify or inform people about?

We talked about the delays in a blog post. This has definitely been a difficult project, and not just because of the project itself. But we love Hidden Youth and feel it’s very important.

Also, since several people have asked: While Hidden Youth’s protagonists are all under 18, the stories deal with very adult topics. It would not be considered a MG anthology, and possibly not even a YA depending on who you ask. Whether it’s appropriate for kids to read is subjective, and we’d recommend anyone to read it and consider the kid in question before handing it over to them.

What’s the best thing about this project, for you, for the contributors, for the future readers?

For us, one of the very best things about publishing has been accepting authors for their very first publications. That continues with some of the Hidden Youth authors, but Long Hidden and Hidden Youth have taken that a step further: publishing stories where contributors and readers get to see themselves in published stories to extents they never have before.

Interior art from Long Hidden #20
(Artist: Nilah Magruder)
What is the fundraiser paying for? What happens if you don’t make the full amount? What happens if you make more than you’re asking?

Almost all the money we’re raising funds for is to pay the editors, authors and artists. Another portion will go to production and shipping of the book itself, and the other Kickstarter rewards, and the rest will pay the Kickstarter and Amazon fees.

If we don’t make the goal, as per the rules of Kickstarter, we don’t get any of it. And that would mean that Hidden Youth won’t happen, since there’s no way we can afford it otherwise. If we do somehow surpass our goal with time to spare, we’ll consider a stretch goal - we have a few ideas but don’t really anticipate it being a factor. Really, if we reach the primary goal and get to make Hidden Youth, we’ll be ecstatic.

Children are often braver and more determined than adults tend to believe. Do you remember a very courageous thing you did as a child?

Kay: This is a tough subject for me because of my PTSD, but by the time I was old enough to leave home for college, I’d been shot at, hit by trucks, beaten, sexually assaulted, and attacked with knives, usually by men, who could not handle being told NO by a little girl. About anything.

That’s really the best courage I ever had, growing up. Saying no. Loudly and often, even if they came to kill me for it.

And, kind of like the story of my childhood, some stories in Hidden Youth deal with very adult subjects. Including sex, abuse, and violence. This book is about young people, and it is FOR young people, but it will probably be shelved with books for adults in spite of its title.

Interior art from Long Hidden #25 (Artist: Esme Baran)
What’s next for Crossed Genres Publications? Or, if you don’t know yet, what’s your dream project?

We have so many ideas, picking just one would be impossible! We’ve talked about publishing an anthology in two languages - both in the same book. We’d also love to branch into visual stories with a comic anthology (another potential Long Hidden-type project). But we’ll have to see how things go with Hidden Youth, both the funding and the publication, before we decide what Crossed Genres’ next step will be.

Thanks, Bart and Kay, for taking time from your hectic fundraising month to come talk to us.

You can support the Hidden Youth fundraiser at Kickstarter, and pick up an early e- or print copy of the anthology. You won't regret it!

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