S2/ E6: Eclipsing, an interview with the editors of Sunvault, Part 2

Hello, favorite readers! Last month, was the first part of my interview with the editors (Phoebe Wagner and Bront Weland) of the upcoming Sunvault, an anthology of eco-speculative writing and solar punk, which is being published by the lovely Upper Rubber Boot Press. A Kickstarter to help fund the anthology will begin soon and submissions will also soon be open!


1.) How did the idea for the anthology come about?

PW: The lack of anything else in genre today. As I become more environmentally aware, I wanted to see how fantasy, science fiction, and horror were affecting these conversations. What I read usually leaned more toward apocalyptic stories, not always, but often. I hoped to find stories about characters trying to overcome rather than survive. My first introduction to solar punk emphasized the hope or positivity the genre tried to inspire, so I was drawn to that hope.

BW: This is all Phoebe’s fault. One day she came up to me and said, “I’ve been thinking about putting together an anthology of environmental SF. Do you want to help?” and here we are and its all been downhill from there.

2.) You both are currently first year students in an MFA program with a focus on Environment. What does Environment mean to you in terms of your own writing? In terms of the pieces you hope to receive for the anthology?

PW: In my work, environment primarily means setting. How woods or fields or farmland shapes different people. I’m branching into more environmentally pointed stories, but I like searching for the magic in a landscape and invoking it through words. For the anthology, I hope to read stories that directly engage with the environment, whether it’s a changing landscape or fossil fuel dependence. As long as there is a clear and creative engagement with the environment, preferably during a tipping point, I’ll keep reading.

BW: My environment has always been community. Language. Culture. Obviously, I’m invested in the health of our world’s physical environment, but I like to see the way these ripples disturb the ponds of smaller groups of people. For the anthology, physical, traditional environment is a priority, but I’m still hoping to see how this affects communities, not just the world.

3.) Have either of you done editing work like this previously? What aspect most excited you about this project? Do you have plans of how you’ll be working together?

PW: I’m finishing the transition to managing editor of the national journal Flyway: Journal of Writing and the Environment, and what excites me about working with the journal is also what excites me about the anthology: seeing the work of fellow creators. As for how we will be working together, we already share an office in addition to weekly Dungeons & Dragons sessions, so we have plenty of chances to check in and rearrange workloads or argue over our favorite pieces that have come in.

BW: I’ve spent some time as a slush reader and copywriter/editor, but this will be a totally new experience! I’m excited to dive into the creation of this project. The slush reading. The art. The reading. The reading. The reading. Finding that one story that you didn’t know you needed until it ended up in your slush pile. As I answer these questions, Phoebe is off to my right working on website design. She’s handling our main sites and I’m taking charge of social media and the majority of contact with the authors were talking with for commissions. Come submissions time, I have a feeling we’ll split the reading pile and still be overwhelmed, swimming in stories to get through.

4.) I know that you’re planning a fundraiser for the anthology. Can you tell us about it?

PW: The publisher, Upper Rubber Boot, will be hosting a Kickstarter in April. I’m excited to pick out the rewards, and hopefully some of those rewards will give us the opportunity to interact with our future readers! One reward is definitely going to be some space spray art painted by me, which I’m excited to give away! We have some exciting stretch goals to allow even more great artists and writers to submit work to the anthology.

BW: We’re running a Kickstarter that will be up in April. The rewards will be standard for anthology fundraisers, meaning different levels for eBooks, paper copies, personal thank yous, etc. but well also have extra flare at the higher levels. Not to mention stretch goals for more stories.

5.) What will catch your eye as editors (in terms of pieces that will get accepted)? Is there anything potential submitters should stay away from in their stories? Any other advice for them?

PW: Stay away from ending on the disaster. There’s more beyond that. I want the tipping points, but I want to see how people are fighting for hope or working toward change, even if the characters fail. Be creative! Don’t be afraid to try to solve these environmental problems.

BW: When I’m reading, my constant question is: Where’s the magic? I’m looking for stories that are magical in their language, in their ideas, in their execution. So twist my mind with prose that’ll blow me away. Make me think from new perspectives. Send us your stories that haven’t been told this way before. We especially hope to see submissions from authors outside the dominant, Anglophone world of SF: queer authors, disabled authors, and any underrepresented voices. We also want to see stories about these voices that we don’t often hear in SF. Hard sells will be overly didactic stories or stories that are just the patriarchy. I’ve read plenty of both and they never work for me. When it comes down to it, though, submit! If your story straddles the genre/non-genre line or walks the line of solarpunk or eco-speculation, send it. What’s the worst that could happen?

6.) When will submissions open? How long will they stay open?

At the moment, we are looking at about two months, starting in May.

7.) Whats the thing you’re most excited about going into this project? Most nervous about?

PW: I’m most excited to see the ideas of change that I want to find in these pages. Most nervous, making an anthology our readers can’t put down.

BW: I cant wait to explore this new genre and see what impossible things we will find in our submissions pile. I’m also giggly levels of excited about our cover art, too. Nervous? Do editors get nervous? As it turns out they do. Running a Kickstarter is scary. There’s a lot riding on it and in the end we can’t choose whether or not we get funded. So please, please consider backing us!

8.) If you had to sum up the anthology in one sentence, you’d say:

PW: This anthology will inspire you with a creative look at the environmental questions of today and tomorrow.

BW: Sunvault is something new entirely.

14.) Question you wish I’d asked?

PW: You did a wonderful job! Thanks, Chloe!

BW: When will the anthology be published? Were anticipating a Spring 2017 release. Which one of us is the real editor and which is the fake that hides behind the others hard work: The answer is Phoebe, to both.

Well, a big thank you to Phoebe (and, also, Bront). For now, check out Sunvault on Facebook, on Twitter (@Sunvaultantho), on Tumblr, WordPress, and the official page at Upper Rubber Boot Books. As always, join the conversation @PintsNCupcakes and til next time: Keep Fannin On!