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 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

Tour dates Disturbing the Beast

Yes! That’s right! We’re taking Disturbing the Beast on tour! Check out the events below to hear the authors read and get your hands on a copy of the book.

Manchester

Wednesday 8th May – Bad Language presents Disturbing the Beast: Women of weird fiction (FEMINIST BOOK FORTNIGHT)

Blackwell’s Bookshop, 7pm, FREE, GET TICKETS

View event on Facebook

Edinburgh

Thursday 16th May – Listen Softly special with Disturbing the Beast (FEMINIST BOOK FORTNIGHT)

Golden Hare Books, 6.00pm, FREE, GET TICKETS

View event on Facebook

London

Wednesday 26th June – For Books’ Sake That’s What She Said LND ft. Disturbing the Beast

The Book Club, 7.30pm, Tickets TBC

 

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 boudiccapress@gmail.com for any queries!

Interview with writer Abi Hynes

Read Abi’s story The Gastrosophist

Hi Abi. Can you tell us about a writing moment of yours that you’re most proud of?

Abi at VerboseI recently had my first short story published in Interzone magazine. Seeing my name on that cover was a really big deal for me. I’d been putting off submitting to them for years because I was waiting to feel like my writing was ‘good enough’. But then I had this weird sort-of science-fiction story, ‘The Mark’, that I felt really proud of, but no one else wanted it, even though I’d been sending it all over the place for literally about 3 years. And I just had this feeling that it was good, and that it would be at home somewhere like Interzone, so in the end I bit the bullet and sent it in. I danced around my living room when I got that acceptance.

There’s something extra satisfying about getting into something that feels like an established part of the science fiction world that is so often still a bit of a boys’ club. It felt amazing to see them publish my strange story about monkey-people and periods and love and childbirth.

What’s your favourite short story?

I think I’d have to go with Joanna Quinn’s ‘War of all against all’. It was on the reading list for a brilliant short story writing course I did with Comma Press, taught by the fabulous Sarah Schofield. For me, it delivers on its science fiction concept beautifully with such empathy and humanity, and the reveal happens at just the right time to give you a real punch in the gut. I still think about it a lot.

Who’s your favourite female author and why?

Arrrrghhhh that’s an impossible question! I love so many and they are all very different sorts of loves. I’m working my way through all of Ursula K Le Guin’s work that I haven’t read before at the moment, and it’s her wisdom that keeps taking my breath away. That sense of ‘Wow, yes, that is the way of things, even though no one else says it. How does she know??’

She also makes me believe that big, wild, ambitious, strange books can be important and powerful, when it sometimes seems to me like the literary mainstream is only interested in restraint. I was reading her guide to writing, Steering the Craft, the week she died, and it taught me so much. Her advice is so practical and no-nonsense, however huge and other-worldly her stories are.

What does weird fiction mean to you?

I think I write weird fiction even when I don’t mean to! It’s the main thing people comment on about my work, even when I don’t think what I’ve written is anything to do with the science fiction or fantasy genres.

I suppose it’s more about a way of looking at the world that twists things a bit, or comes at ideas from an unusual or surprising angle. I like to point at things and go: ‘Isn’t this thing here odd/funny/poignant if we look at it like this?’ All my favourite writers, who you could probably describe as ‘weird fiction’ writers in some form or another, it feels like what they’re all doing in their stories is: ‘Yes, but. What if?’

What’s a trope of fiction that gets on your nerves and why?

You know what, I really hate a clunky ‘and this is how come I’m writing this down and you get to read it’ explanation in first-person narratives. It’s just a bit inelegant, isn’t it? Like, I know I’m reading a novel. You don’t have to force your protagonist to be the sort of person who always carries a diary around with her because she’s trying to jog her memory about her dead sister or some other thin backstory reason.

Where can readers find out more about you?

You can read some of my short stories and other ramblings over on my website at abihynes.wordpress.com

Or I’m much funnier on Twitter at @AbiFaro

Keep your eyes peeled for Disturbing the Beast

Disturbing the Beast anthologyDisturbing 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.