Today on Skiffy and Fanty, an interview with SCOURGE OF THE SEAS editor Catherine Lundoff.
1. Deceptively simple question: Why pirates?
Because pirates are awesome! Less simplistic answer: Like many genre fictions readers who become writers, I was a precocious reader. I devoured Treasure Island when I was a wee tyke and followed that up by discovering Rafael Sabatini and The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood when I was a teen. Then I discovered pirate movies. Then historical pirates. So, basically, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) is the culmination of years of multi-faceted fandoms finally coming together. It was a project that I always wanted to tackle and now I have.
2. Scourge of the Seas represents a leveling up of Queen of Swords Press. How did you go about gathering authors to seed the anthology?
I sent out a few invitations to writers I was hoping to see work from and then I did an open call. It went out on the Queen of Swords Press website, my blog, Ralan, Duotrope and a fair number of other market sites and publications. I explicitly stated that I wanted to see international contributors and that the call was for all genders and orientations of protagonists. I got 100 submissions from authors from 14 countries. Stories featured gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer and straight pirates in all kinds of stories; it was pretty magical! I also said that I would consider reprints, but didn’t get many of those. I read everything that got submitted, split the pile up into yeses, noes and maybes, then did some additional sorting of stories that were set in different time periods/fantastical backdrops that I wanted to include. I was fortunate to get a wide-ranging variety of tales to choose from. The final TOC is split between female, genderqueer/trans and male authors, features authors from 8 countries, including the U.S., and includes straight pirates, gay pirates, bi pirates, lesbian and genderqueer pirates. Settings range from ancient Greece to the Golden Age of Piracy to the South China Seas and onward to outer space. And the stories are fun! (I’m not even the only one saying this).
3. Themes above and beyond the basic remit of an anthology call are an emergent property. What kinds of themes did you see in the stories you chose for the anthology?
I think redemption arcs are always a big theme in stories about pirates and there are a few of those in this anthology. But there are also a number of stories about becoming a more successful pirate, about revenge and love and adventure. And treasure of various kinds, of course. That part’s a given with pirate-themed stories.
4.What stories did you choose to lead and anchor the collection with? What drew you to place those stories there in the story order?
I opted to lead off the TOC with “Treasured Island” by Ginn Hale. Ginn is a terrifically talented writer who’s best known for her gay fantasy romances, like the award-winning The Wicked Gentlemen, and as part of the team that runs Blind Eye Books. This story is about a marooned pirate on a fantastical island and is one of the aforementioned redemption arc stories. It’s a moving and charming story that also includes treasure of both traditional and nontraditional varieties. I think it’s a great jumping off story to ease the reader into the pirate narratives that follow.
I wrapped up the anthology with a longer piece, “Search for the Heart of Ocean” by New Zealand writer and two-time Sir Julius Vogel Award winner, A.J. Fitzwater. This tale is one of the more unusual stories that I got. It’s a new installment of Fitzwater’s linked stories about Cinrak the Dapper, lesbian capybara pirate captain extraordinaire. Cinrak made her debut appearance in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and I’m told that there are more tales on the way. This story has a lovely modern fairy tale quality to it, along with captivating characters and underlying themes about identity and understanding, that make it a really nice ending note for the anthology.
5. How do you think this editing and anthology work will translate into your own future fiction writing?
I think any time that a writer embarks on a big editing project, particularly one that involves other writers, you learn from their work as well as from the editing process. In this case, I’ve gotten a really solid reminder not to take rejections personally; I knew this already, but it’s always good to get a reminder. I think editing other writers’ work also makes me more aware of my own grammatical foibles and things I’d like to change about my own storytelling style.
I have also started a series of linked pirate stories of my own. These are historical, rather than fantastical, and center on two women, a spy modeled very loosely on several historical female spies, and pirate captain Jacquotte Delahaye, who may or may not have been a real person. They are set in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy (1650-1720) and deal with machinations of the various colonial powers in the area. You can read “The Letter of Marque” at Curious Fictions and listen to/read “One Night in Saint Martin” at Alpennia.
6. Now that you have an anthology under your belt, what other anthology projects appeal to you to possibly bring to Queen of Swords?
Well, it’s actually my third anthology, though it’s my first with Queen of Swords Press. I previously edited Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories and co-edited, with JoSelle Vanderhooft, Hellebore and Rue, an anthology of stories about queer female magic users. Both of these were published by Lethe Press. Next up, I’m hoping to bring in another anthology editor to edit an anthology of fantastical mannerpunk/comedy of manners tales, which will also be all orientations and identities. I’d like to crowdfund that book, if possible, so that I can pay the authors and editor professional rates. That didn’t happen this time around because I didn’t think Queen of Swords Press had a large enough footprint to successfully crowdsource yet. I’m hoping that Scourge of the Seas brings additional renown, both to the Press and the authors, so I can build on that and continue to publish ambitious projects.
7. Where can readers found out more about the anthology, and buy it?
Check out the Queen of Swords Press page for Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) for the table of contents, story descriptions, links to reviews and available formats. I also post author updates, review links and related into on the Queen of Swords Press Twitter feed and Facebook page. The book is currently available for preorder in print and ebooks as well as at IndieBound. Libraries can order it through Overdrive and IngramSpark and independent bookstores can order it in through Ingram, IndieBound, Kobo or though Queen of Swords Press directly, by arrangement. Queen of Swords Press books are also available through various booksellers in other countries, the various Amazons, Foyles Bookshop, Book Depository, Booktopia and so forth.