Kickstarter campaign for Disturbing the Body: Speculative autobiography from women

We’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund Disturbing the Body: an anthology of speculative autobiography about misbehaving bodies from women in the UK.

Disturbing the Body is a collection of speculative autobiography centred around experiences of misbehaving bodies from women writers in the UK. It explores themes ranging from chronic illnesses, disability and major life changing operations, and puts before the reader moments where women can feel powerless and out of the ordinary from their own bodies.

Submissions were gained through an open call out process and Verity Holloway and Louise Kenward were commissioned to feature in the anthology. Submissions closed on 7th May 2020 so watch this space for an announcement of all the authors involved!It will be published by Boudicca Press in October 2020 (COVID19 dependent!) and we’d love your support to raise £2300 to fairly pay all involved in the book process.

Why disturb the body?

Verity Holloway approached Boudicca Press back in 2019 with an idea for the anthology following her scrape with a life changing operation. Verity, author of Psuedotooth, Beauty Secrets of the Martyrs and The Mighty Healer, started writing about her perception of pain in intensive care following her experience with open-heart surgery. Tanked up on morphine, Verity met a lot of people who turned out not to be real, time was warped and she felt that the sense of her body completely changed. After speaking with Georgina Bruce of This House of Wounds and Louise Kenward, artist and writer with a background in the NHS, working as a psychologist and psychotherapist, she discovered that they had all written creative non-fiction pieces in response to their unnerving experiences with their bodies.Verity says “Inhabiting a body is inherently weird. It’s a political statement you never signed up for. It seems you aren’t allowed to exist inside one without having a strong opinion on each and every component, and inevitably those opinions on the body grow monstrous legs and become opinions on the self. Our bodies will all be disrupted, by accident, design, misfortune or the passage of time. And when they are, we find ourselves in the absurd position of juggling mortality, the self, and what socks to pack.”Read more about the inspiration behind Disturbing the Body here.

What is speculative autobiography?

Speculative non-fiction, just like speculative memoir, harnesses the strange, eerie or weird to tell its story. These fantastical elements can be used to elaborate and reinforce truth and to capture the horror or absurdness of experiences.

What’s the money for?

We’re seeking to raise £2300 by June to be able to fairly pay:- All authors involved- The editors and proofreaders- The cover designer- The typesetter- The printers- Marketing and PR for the book launches- For some exclusive art work to be made for you lovely lot

Why now?

Our bodies are always under scrutiny. It’s almost impossible to have an experience of your own in your bodies that doesn’t have a public eye observing and judging it. How do we maintain control of our own bodies when they misbehave? By writing about it! Are bodies political? Abso-bloody-lutely.The crowd funding campaign comes at a time when many businesses, bookshops and independent publishers are striving to survive the wide reaching effects of COVID19. Boudicca Press hope that this campaign will ensure the fruition of a much deserving anthology and the fair pay of all involved.

Our timeline

Once we’ve successfully funded the anthology (fingers crossed all!) we will get our heads down to finish editing the pieces, working with our proofreader and typesetter to get the inside of the book looking spick and span, and working on getting the books out to bookshops and in to your hands!We’re currently working our way through the submissions which closed on the 7th May, so we can announce the authors, and we’re working up an amazing looking book cover, which you will get to see half-way through this campaign! We’re also working with reviewers and bookshops in this tricky time to establish stockists and publicity coverage.All being well, we hope to have all rewards, e-books and paperback books printed and in your hands by October 2020!

Who are Boudicca Press?

Boudicca Press is an independent publisher who celebrates the strength, courage and literary talents of women. They publish weird, literary fiction and non-fiction by women in the UK. It’s run by freelance writer, editor and workshop leader, Nici West, who publishes stories from her little London flat while looking after her 18 month old daughter.They published an anthology of weird fiction by women in the UK called Disturbing the Beast, which was successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Disturbing the Body is a sister book which looks to enhance and play on the feminist themes of the previous anthology. Read more about Disturbing the Beast here.

Risks and challenges

The biggest one to address is the affects of the COVID19 pandemic, which is mostly out of our hands. We know our printers are still open at the moment, and most freelancers are lined up to work on the book. We may delay a launch into the bookshops depending on where we are at with the lockdown, and there may be some delays with postage due to what’s happened. But who knows where we’ll be at in October 2020. We will keep you updated as to how this affects the books. We’re quite experiences with budgets and book publishing, so we don’t expect any other challenges with this project!SUPPORT THE BOOK AND PRE ORDER YOUR COPY. 


Why Disturb the Body? From Louise Kenward

Louise tells us about her motivation for getting involved with Disturbing the Body (submit your speculative autobiography about bodies going wrong by 7th May 2020.)

In 2011 I got sick. It was the kind of sick you don’t recover from. The kind of sick no one really understands. It was the kind of sick that, for some, was assumed to be ‘in my head’.

It was not in my head, and over the years I have checked this. I wish it were in my head, that it was something I had imagined and could then identify as ‘not real’ and understand why I might have imagined such a thing. 

In 2012 I was diagnosed as having post viral fatigue. Some people around me nodded sagely. As if this meant something else. I now know what that was. 

I have spent a career working with people with complex and distressing mental health conditions, many with experience of trauma and many with life times spent in hospitals and under the care of mental health services. Whether physical or mental health condition, ‘all in your head’ does not cut it. 

The illness I have had, and continue to live with, has been widely thought to be psychological for many years. Unhelpfully reinforced by a large scale research project conducted in the UK with poor science and even poorer conclusions, the rest of the world is now moving on – research in genetics, biochemistry, immunology and elsewhere are learning new things, and it may be a whole spectrum of illnesses and conditions.

I have spent a career working with doctors and nurses and diagnostic criteria. By the end of almost twenty years I had reached a number of conclusions: when we have been in services and ill for a long time, people do not fit diagnostic criteria without leaking into other ones; those diagnostic criteria often offer very little in the way of understanding or information on how to live with or manage them. One thing I found helped me in my work was to find a way of making sense of things, of looking at the bigger picture and understanding the person and their experience. 

I began to write about my experience of illness as a way of facing my fears of being sick and what it meant to me, of the stigma and the debilitating impact it had on my life. Writing, and importantly, sharing my writing, helped me with some of the distress that stigma of weird illnesses has. 

We are not good at talking about illness. We are not good at talking about things we don’t understand, without being frightened by them and reacting as we always have done with denial and a refusal to look. I have more recently been diagnosed as hypermobile – a disorder of the connective tissue. It may account for previous difficulties, it might be another thing. 

I am so pleased to be a part of this new project with Boudicca Press, where voices of illness, pain, disability and other experiences of our bodies not doing as they’re supposed to, will be embraced and celebrated, and given new frameworks beyond limitations of diagnosis and medicine.

Louise Kenward is an artist and writer with a background in the NHS, working as a psychologist and psychotherapist.

Submit your speculative autobiography piece about experiences of mis-behaving bodies by 7th May 2020. 

Why disturb the body? From Verity Holloway

Verity tells us about the inspiration behind the idea for Disturbing the Body.

Verity HollowayThis time last year, I was packing socks into sterile ziplock bags in preparation for what I was calling ‘the other side’, a vague Someday where I might wear something other than a hospital gown and slippers. Before that day, I would have to pass through the ordeal of having my heart stopped for seven hours while a surgeon I’d met twice removed my aortic root and replaced it with a plastic tube. I focused on the socks.

I was thirty-two and needed open heart surgery. I won’t say “and my world was turned upside down” because as a chronically ill person my life was already dangling at a 45 degree angle. My body – this overly tall soul receptacle with stringy hair and weak ankles – had changed from something I spent my energy fighting to a fragile artefact I was tenuously attached to, balloon-like.

I’ve had an antagonistic relationship with my body for as long as I can remember. Nothing unusual there. Growing up with the pain and awkwardness of a connective tissue disorder is one thing, but consider the background radiation of the media:

Should you have hair there? (No. Yes, obviously, but no.)

When is it okay to admit you’re in pain? (Never.)

Why are your toes like that, Karen? (Amputate if possible.)

Inhabiting a body is inherently weird. It’s a political statement you never signed up for. It seems you aren’t allowed to exist inside one without having a strong opinion on each and every component, and inevitably those opinions on the body grow monstrous legs and become opinions on the self. Our bodies will all be disrupted, by accident, design, misfortune or the passage of time. And when they are, we find ourselves in the absurd position of juggling mortality, the self, and what socks to pack.

Why Disturbing The Body? I had to write something about my surgery experience. Putting my life in the hands of strangers, coming to terms with new scars and radical new limitations, was too much to take in and put away. I’m a speculative fiction author, comfortable with the weird, and my own narrative of such an intense personal experience naturally fell along those lines. It reads like fiction because it felt like fiction. I’m hoping that with Disturbing The Body, women writers will feel free to put down their unique perceptions of their bodies and their experiences as creatively as they please. To take back their bodies, to own them, and maybe even make sense of them.

Submit your speculative autobiography piece about experiences of mis-behaving bodies by 7th May 2020. 

By Verity Holloway, author of Psuedotooth, Beauty Secrets of the Martyrs and The Mighty Healer

Authors for Disturbing the Beast

Hello all! We hope you’re enjoying the new year in style!

The Disturbing the Beast collection is looking stunning and nearly ready to send to print. We’re still on schedule to get the books out to you by the end of February and we’re so excited to hear what you think of it!
In the meantime, we can announce the authors and story titles for the collection:

Girls Are Always Hungry When All the Men are Bite-Size by Kirsty Logan

Dolly by Jane Alexander
Burning Girl by Rosie Garland
This is Not Forgiveness by Lorraine Wilson
Wrapped by Aliya Whitely
How to knit a husband by Cheryl Powell
Electric Girl by Carolyn Jess-Cooke
The losses by C A Steed
Andromeda by Sam Mills
Congratulations to all the authors involved, we were blown away by the quality of all of the submissions.
Don’t forget to update your address on our Kickstarter survey if you haven’t already. You can contact us on for any queries!

Interview with artist Hannah Mosley

Hannah Mosley created the stunning front cover for our soon to be launched collection, Disturbing the Beast. We were so impressed by her artwork that we wanted to find out more about what drives and inspires Hannah as an artist!

Hi Hannah. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your illustration career…

Hannah Mosley Disturbing the Beast cover artHi there! I’m a Manchester based illustrator and tattooer. I’ve been doing this full time for about 7 years, but I started drawing seriously much longer ago, when a family friend called Barbara McCabe gave me my first ‘proper’ sketchbook for my 13th birthday.

I studied illustration with a view to getting skilled up for tattooing, and inadvertently fell in love with telling stories through pictures along the way. Drawing keeps me sane, and I feel very lucky that it’s such a big part of my daily life. I’ve worked for a wide range of clients, from individuals wanting tattoos to organisations like the NHS and CBBC.

Please tell us about an art moment of yours that you’re most proud of.

Hannah MosleyTough one, but recently, finally finishing the manuscript, dummy book and sample artwork for my personal project, ‘My Mummy Comes From The Sea’. It’s a story that had been rattling around my head in various forms for nearly ten years. Although it’s not been seen by many people, and I have no idea if or when it will be published, the sense of joy and achievement in having it as an actual physical object rather than just a persistent thought is driving me on to make more stories. It’s a deeply satisfying feeling.

What does Disturbing the Beast mean to you?

That moment when you realise you have more power in a situation than you knew, and the resultant urge to exercise that power. It can be slow and creeping, or sudden and violent.

Who’s your favourite artist and why?

Hannah Mosley art workJust one?! That’s impossible. There are so many incredible artists out there, living and dead! But I guess I’d have to go with a tattooer called Steve Moore. He has a real narrative bent to his work that I love, and he has a way of taking ancient ideas and making them new again. He really nails both the craft and the emotive aspects of his work. He’s an incredible draughtsman. I’ve also been lucky enough to get tattooed by him, and the care and humanity he brings to his working relationships are really humbling. Nobody makes art in a vacuum, it’s about communication and relationships, and Steve kind of embodies that for me I guess.

Do you have a favourite author? Why do you love them?

Hannah Mosley art workAll the tough questions!! I really don’t think I can pick just one author, but maybe I can love them all for the same reason? Angela Carter, Roald Dahl, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez all craft really wonderful short stories, with a perfect mix of lightness and darkness in them. I can totally lose myself in just a few pages of each of their writing, which I think is profound and kind of silly at the same time – like drowning in an oil-rainbowed puddle.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

You can find my work on skin and screen, and links to all my social media, at


Find out more about Disturbing the Beast

Disturbing the Beast is a collection of weird fiction stories by some of the best women writers in the UK, featuring Kirsty Logan and Aliya Whiteley. Submit to the collection by the 14th September. 

Support the Disturbing the Beast Kickstarter campaign: Weird fiction from women writers featuring Aliya Whiteley, Kirsty Logan and more.