Today, I welcome my old friend Bryan Thomas Schmidt back to the site. Every so often, Brian and I like to catch up on his latest editorial and authorial goings-on. He’s recently successfully funded a Kickstarter and has another on-going right now, both for anthologies of science fiction short stories. So, without further ado … my latest chat with BTS:
ANTHONY: Welcome back, Bryan. Good to chat with you again.
BRYAN: Thanks, Anthony. Always good to be here.
ANTHONY: Congrats on finishing Beyond The Sun. That was your first Kickstarter success story and from the Table Of Contents, I think it’s going to be well received. Of course, I admit I’m biased, since I have a story in there, but Robert Silverberg, Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, and many more recognizable names are a part of it. I feel lucky to be included.
BRYAN: Me, too. It really came together in an amazing, blessed way, and the stories are far above what I expected. Tons of variety on the theme of colonial science fiction stories, and just top notch writers. I’m grateful.
ANTHONY: Was the success of Beyond The Sun part of the impetus for your present Kickstarter Raygun Chronicles?
BRYAN: In part. Every Day Fiction wanted to work with me. And being a small press, they were throwing around ideas to fund this. They really want to pay writers pro rates, and they also wanted to take it to the next level of writers. Plus, they had some great writers they’ve been working with who deserve a better audience. With my experience and contacts, I was able to recruit some top name talent to the project to appear alongside this developing talent, which will ensure greater interest in the project than we would have had without it.
ANTHONY: For sure, with names like Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick, A.C. Crispin, Allen Steele, Seanan McGuire, Brenda Cooper, Robin Wayne Bailey and Sarah A. Hoyt, who could resist?
BRYAN: I know, they are great choices. That’s three Star Trek writers (Smith, Rusch, Crispin), two Star Wars writers (Crispin, Rusch) and five others with experience and demonstrative skill in space opera. Resnick has the Starship space opera series from PYR, Allen Steele has written several, including Apollo’s Outcast, his latest, a YA in a definite Heinlein vein, and Hoyt’s Darkship novels from Baen. Seanan and I met at a Con last year, and I’ve heard her wax on about her love of Firefly, so that’s what I pitched her. “How’d you like a chance to write a story with the Firefly feel?” She jumped on it. Crispin, Resnick and Cooper actually had trunk stories that were perfect. Everyone was very quick to jump aboard when asked.
ANTHONY: You have reprints as well as new stories, correct?
BRYAN: Yes, we have picked some reprints from a defunct space opera zine called Ray Gun Revival, which EDP funded. There were a lot of old school stories with larger-than-life characters and that older feel, but still contemporary, and a few with diverse takes and I thought they deserved a bigger audience and would make a great remembrance as well for RGR fans, so EDF suggested we combine the two and add some new stories and Raygun Chronicles was born.
ANTHONY: Tell us about the Kickstarter. How’s it going?
BRYAN: Well, we’re almost half funded with 9 days to go. We launched in January and end March 7th, so we need $500 each day for the next 9 days to fund. If we don’t fund, it doesn’t happen. It’s tough because Kickstarters often start slow and drag until you reach a certain level. Then, if it’s a success, people pile on. Projects which fund 50% tend to be more likely to get 100%, so we’re hoping the next 9 days will be exciting, but it’s hard. No matter how you spread the word, people often think “I’ll do it tomorrow” or it gets buried in posts. With all the people who love pulp fiction out there, I know we have an audience. The challenge is to find it. We had a PR firm signed up before we launched, but right after we launched, they backed out, which was a big blow, because we hadn’t planned a huge PR campaign on our own. They were handling it. With all we have going on, including one of the publisher’s first son being born in the midst of this, we’ve really had to scramble. But it’s paying off. Last week was our best week since the launch. We got $900 in new pledges and had our best day ever with over $500 coming in. So that’s the big hurdle. Now we need some slightly smaller big days to make it happen.
ANTHONY: This is your third anthology project as editor, correct?
BRYAN: Yes, I edited Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6 for Flying Pen Press last year, and then Beyond The Sun, but in addition to Raygun Chronicles, I have an anthology of military fantasy, Shattered Shields, I’m coediting for Baen Books with Jennifer Brozek, and a YA reprint anthology I’m packaging as well. I have 9 more ideas in development.
ANTHONY: So you enjoy editing anthologies? Why?
BRYAN: Yeah. Anthologies allow me to create a concept and play with other writers, including my own writing heroes like Rusch, Silverberg and Resnick. I also get to help and encourage writers in developing their stories and pay them decent money to do it. And since I love doing that, it’s become part of how I make my living, and it’s a blessing to do what you love, you know?
ANTHONY: For sure. So tell us a bit about some of the Raygun Chronicles stories.
Bryan: Well, as far as the new stories go, Peter J. Wacks has written us a story called “Space Opera” which has a conductor conducting an orchestra as a historical battle replays. It’s actually quite well executed and unique. Brenda Cooper’s “Holly Defiant” about a writer who discovers a talented singer and fears she’s about to be kidnapped by slavers and sets out to save her, finding surprising connections to her (the writer’s) past. That’s just the new ones I’ve seen. Some will be written once we fund. As far as reprints, both Milo James Foreman and TM Hunter have series about classic-style space opera heroes named Captain Quasar and Aston West, and these tales are full of action, humor and satire and a lot of fun. We also have a bit of all-American fun with humans tracking down a UFO in Lou Antonelli’s “The Silver Dollar Saucer,” A.M. Stickel’s Star Trek inspired “To The Shores of Triple, Lee!”, another of Mike Resnick’s great and funny Catastrophe Baker tales, and a never before released short from AC Crispin which is excerpted but expanded from her fantastic space opera novel Starbridge about three travelers fighting to survive and find oxygen to continue their journey, who discover a new sentient life form.
ANTHONY: Sounds great. How can we help?
BRYAN: Well, for as little as $5, you can get the ebook of the entire anthology when it’s published. For $25 you get both print and ebook. There are hardbacks available for as little as $40 and also t-shirts, exclusive bookmarks, story critiques and more. We tried to offer something for everyone at various income levels. We even have a trip to OryCon for the book launch at the highest level. All you have to do is go to the Kickstarter and select your level to preorder the book, and we’ll do the rest. It’ll be in your hands in November.
For those curious about the type of book Bryan puts together, you can find the announcement of the Table of Contents for BEYOND THE SUN at sfsignal.com. You can also find the TOC for his first anthology, SPACE BATTLES, on sfsignal.com as well. You can follow Bryan on Twitter @BryanThomasS, sign on to his Facebook Author page, and visit his website, where he also posts transcripts of the weekly Science Fiction / Fantasy Writers Chat #sffwrtcht that he hosts on Twitter every Wednesday night at 9pm Eastern.