A guest blog from Shona Kinsella (requested because I’m really interested in how publishing house Unbound is doing things). Over to Shona…
My debut novel, Ashael Rising, is currently being crowd-funded through the world’s first crowd-funding publisher, Unbound.
Unbound give readers the chance to choose what books are published. You find a book you like the sound of and pledge your support. At the basic level, you get your name in a list of supporters in each edition as well as a copy of the book and the rewards go up from there, tailored to each book. When a book has reached its funding target it gets published and marketed in the same way as it would with any traditional publisher. Authors receive royalties of 50%; considerably higher than the standard 10% – 15%. Unbound is a truly innovative way to approach publishing and I’m really excited to be involved with them.
Ashael Rising is the story of a tribal filidh (healer and spiritual leader) who finds herself in the position of having to protect her people and her world from the evil Zanthar, invaders form another world who extend their own lives by feeding on the life force of all around them.
When I decided to write a novel, I knew that it would be epic fantasy, and that it would have a female protagonist, something that’s not particularly common in the genre. That was about all I knew at that point. You see, I’m a discovery writer so every day I sit down at my computer and see what words fall out. I was surprised at how much I came to love Bhearra, Ashael’s mentor and the spiritual leader of her people. I love how vibrant and complete she is and she became one of my favourite characters, despite being old enough to be my grandmother.
Iwan, a slave of the Zanthar sent to spy on Ashael’s people, started out as a plot device but as I wrote him, he came to life and demanded to have his story told. He is a man of principle, who has to walk a tightrope between protecting his mother and protecting the woman he has come to love.
As I wrote, I realised that Ashael and her people were not white, though I initially pictured them that way. I wrote a same-sex couple who are accepted and loved for who they are. I tried to imagine a community of gender equality.
I also came to realise that much of the spiritual story came from my own beliefs and experiences as a Celtic Polytheist. The Heart-Fire that serves as the heart of the community is kept burning eternally and given offerings for the gods. It reminds me of Brighid’s sacred flame. The folk even take shifts to tend their sacred flame just as I and my Cill mates do.
Bhearra’s and Ashael’s relationship with the All-Mother reflects my own relationship with Brighid, leaning on Her, serving Her, asking Her for guidance and giving Her thanks. Ashael’s certainty in the presence of the All-Mother is the same as my own certainty in Brighid’s presence in my life.
Ashael Rising is ultimately a story about balance and relationships. It explores the nature of our relationships with each other, with our gods and with the earth that we live on. It is my attempt to find a world that I would want to live in.
I can’t say for sure if this book would be accepted by a traditional publisher because Unbound is the first publisher I submitted it to. I have my doubts though. Within the fantasy adventure, there are lots of unusual aspects and that’s the kind of thing that gets books rejected. One of the reasons for that, is that traditional publishers don’t believe that there are readers for books that do things differently. With Unbound, we have the chance to prove them wrong, to show that we do want female protagonists in our fantasy, that aged characters can still be exciting, that we want PoC in the lead roles.
We have an opportunity to change publishing. I would love it if you joined me.
Find out more about Unbound and about Ashael Rising at: https://unbound.co.uk/books/ashael-rising where you can read an excerpt of the book and pledge your support.
Shona is running a prize draw at 50, 75 and 100% of her funding target. When each of these are reached, Shona will draw the name of a pledger from a hat and that person will win an Amazon gift voucher, signed page of the manuscript and a handwritten thank you note from Shona. For further details, read the post here: https://unbound.co.uk/books/ashael-rising/updates/prize-draw
You can connect with Shona on Twitter (@shona_kinsella) or Facebook as well as following her blog at www.shonakinsella.com where she blogs about the experience of being a writer, warts and all.